Last week saw a glut of new TV pilots, and there were three of them that stood out to me. At two hours long, Kings may take me awhile to get to, and since I don't get Starz I'm taking my time with Party Down. But after seeing the pilot to Better Off Ted, I can say it's a good show that won't be getting a series pass on my DVR.
Like many a sitcom (or non-sitcom, given the lack of a laugh track), Ted takes place in an office. But unlike the paper salesmen of Dunder Mifflin, Ted (Jay Harrington) works R&D, providing plenty of opportunities to create wacky things. The show begins with his boss, Veronica (Portia de Rossi playing a sort of Lindsay Bluth-with-power), making any number of oddball requests, from an uncomfortable chair that boosts productivity to a weaponized pumpkin.
It's all amusing enough, but the upbeat wackiness comes off a bit earnest. It's the kind of show more likely to make you say, "Oh, that's funny" than actually laugh. Its biggest asset is the likability of the cast. Jay Harrington makes for an extremely charismatic lead, reminding me of George Clooney mixed with Lost's Richard Alpert (not that I could say why). And it's great to see Portia de Rossi back in comedy after that unfortunate stint on Nip/Tuck (not that she gets any of the blame).
Ted's a likable enough show to be worth a look, and if there wasn't so much on TV right now maybe I'd give it another try. Instead, I'm more likely to wait and see if it suddenly picks up some more buzz. Given the track record of quirky comedies without Arrested Development's intense fan support, it's not looking too likely.