Ted: Season 1

Genre: Coming-of-Age Sitcom
Service: Peacock
Creator: Seth MacFarlane
Release Year: 2024
Watch: Peacock

If you’ve seen a Seth MacFarlane show, you’ve seen Ted. In fact, if you’ve seen Ted, you’ve seen Ted. Because, if you thought there was also a show about a foul-mouthed, magical teddy bear come to life unrelated to the movie about the foul-mouthed, magical teddy bear come to life, you… Well, I can’t help you. I suppose this prequel to the movie series is kind of an expanded version of what the relationship between Family Guy’s anthropomorphic dog, Brian, and the idiot Griffin son, Chris, could be. Since, you know, MacFarlance voices both Ted and Brian. Though, Ted is essentially the pure id of his otherwise sweet teenage owner, John Bennett (Max Burkholder), roping him into his weed smoking and dumb-about-girls ways.

Again, if you’ve seen the movie version of John, who was played as an adult by one Mark Wahlberg, the show explains how John becomes the knucklehead he becomes. And it turns out it’s mostly Ted’s fault. John is a nice kid, but is easily influenced by the bad behavior and equally stupid suggestions of his teddy bear. In fact, most of the male characters on the show are pretty much complete morons and/or damaged, closed-off weirdos. Including John’s incredibly conservative, veteran, PTSD-laden father (Scott Grimes) and his school bully, Clive, who has some incredibly twisted daddy issues. John is less moron than sheltered dork who is naïve and under-motivated. Nobody seems to voice concern that his only friend is a talking teddy bear, but the setting of the show in 1993/1994 meant simpler times. No social media. No camera phones. A simpler, dumber time when people are not at all freaked out by a walking, talking toy.

To be honest, I only dialed this one up because I needed something to play in the background. But it turned out to be pretty damn funny. Burkholder — not fooling anyone as Irish American or a teenaged Wahlberg, by the way — is really good acting against this sarcastic, but clueless bear. Their antics are not atypical for coming-of-age sitcoms. You know, throwing a party, finding beer, trying helplessly to explore young love and scoring with girls, being bullied, smoking weed and generally doing dumb shit. All the good stuff. I’m not sure how exactly they animate Ted, but it actually looks really good, and after a while you almost forget that he isn’t a real character standing there. Just one of John’s dumb friends goading him into the absolute wrong decisions regarding talking to a girl he likes, or buying weed from his cool, live-in, older cousin’s (Giorgia Whigham) drug-dealing friend. Really the laughs come from the banter between the two of them. The cluelessness of the male, high-school brain. Like the whole discussion with their cousin, Blaire, about how periods work. MacFarlane is just really great at back-and-forth dialog between dummies, as each volley gets more and more ridiculous and heightened. Low stakes, but high hilarity.

I’m not sure how they decide what films get the TV series treatment. This wouldn’t have been one I’d thought about. It is kind of inherently funny seeing this cute, little-bodied toy jump up on things and cuss up a storm while not being able to reach the plates. I have to imagine MacFarlane watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit and asked himself how he could take the cigar-chomping, loud-mouthed Baby Herman and reframe it as something a little more involved. And then someone at Peacock — a service that must have figured out their audience is a bunch of soccer fans and immature stoned, college students — saw Ted and was like, “Hey, we should really take that little flashback snippet in the film and make it a series!” Of course the flashback in the film goes back to 1985 when John is eight. Which would probably be a little young for plots about John trying to get booze and lose his virginity. So they fast-forwarded eight years to make it more palatable. Good call. Anyhow, this show isn’t a critical watch. It’s not something that’s going to light the world on fire. But it is, at times, a hilarious watch. One that I actually lol-ed at several times. And I’m a total grouch. There is nothing wrong with a little fun here and there, and for what I imagine will be a pretty unfunny 2024, this is a good start.