Review: Ted (TV Series) | Seth MacFarlane’s TV series is a fun romp but maybe too close to a US classic
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The television series “Ted,” a prequel to Seth MacFarlane’s popular 2016 film starring Mark Wahlberg, seems to have snuck up on fans in the UK. Sky is premiering the series next week (starting February 9 2024) and as much as there has been fanfare for it over in the United States, over here it seems a little muted.
The series takes place as John (played this time by Max Burkholder) is still in high school, with Ted in the first episode finding himself also attending the same institution, butting heads with teachers and even the school bully - who in later episodes we find out is suffering from parental separation anxiety; the deus ex machina for his problematic behaviour.
Could the “muted” response over here though be because of the pop culture references that MacFarlane is known for? The series itself is littered with references to ‘70s and ‘80s sitcoms such as “Full House,” while the family set-up is very much in the vein of “All In The Family,” with the patriarch of the house Matty Bennet (played by former “ER” actor Scott Grimes) moulded in the Archie Bunker archetype.
Need more evidence? His wife, Susan Bennett (Alanna Ubach) plays the softly-spoken, ever-hopeful wife and mother - akin to Edith Bunker. Then there is another trope of the US sitcom world; the audience surrogate in the form of a cousin, Blaire, the intelligent, politically liberal cousin who lives with the family due to the dysfunction in her own family. Blaire is no doubt going to draw comparisons to Ned “Meathead” Stivic (played by hallowed filmmaker Rob Reiner), another character not directly related to the Bunker family but shares opposing moral views to Archie Bunker… much like Blaire’s views differ from Matty.
But that’s what we get with MacFarlane, who is more than happy to wear his heart on its sleeve when it comes to his television fandom; that explains “The Orville” stemming from his love of the “Star Trek” franchise. If you were to describe “Ted” to someone with a knowledge of US television, you could call it “All In The Family with a crass-talking Teddy Bear.”
This is why the series might just be for fans of Seth McFarlane on this side of the Atlantic. When it doesn’t rely on pop culture references, the writing is very witty and as opposed to the absurdist nature at times of “Family Guy,” the trouble the pair get into are the usual pitfalls one expects from a comedy involving high schoolers and copious amounts of marijuana consumption. We even get a back story of how the characters in the film developed a serious weed dependency too because why not - “Ted” was considered a stone film, right?
If you’ve been a fan of the film series and MacFarlane’s writing (and I am one of those people) then you will no doubt get a lot of enjoyment from the series, but for those that haven’t been keen on his previous work or none too interested in what feels like a love letter to US sitcoms of yesteryear.
“Ted” arrives on Sky Max and NOW TV on February 9 2024.