Tag Archives: Sitcom

TELEVISION: The Goode Family – Safe as Milk – Pasteurized, Bacteria-Free, Boring Old Milk!

ABC’s new animated series, The Goode Family [Wednesdays, 9/8C], is the series from Mike Judge of King of the Hill fame. If it was a tenth as funny as that series, The Goode Family might be worth checking out. Instead, this comedy about the Goode family – vegan, non-confrontational, recycling, hybrid-driving – bends over backwards to balance the family’s save-the-planet sensibilities by making one character an Archie Bunker type. Instead of provoking genuinely spirited exchanges, however, it just renders both sides inoffensive.

Goode Family

The Goode Family – Gerald [Mike Judge] and Helen and their son Ubuntu and daughter Bliss – live by the simple motto, WWAGD [What would Al Gore Do]. Gerald is a college administrator and Helen a community activist. Ubuntu and Bliss are high school students. The family’s politically correct plans always go wrong – as when Gerald and Helen adopt an African-American baby and one who, though technically African-American [being from Africa] is as white as they are.

Whether they’re trying to put in an organically sound garden [elephant dung from a circus!!!], or find something that the hulking Ubuntu can do competently – besides eat [can you say “football family?”], everything the family does to minimize its footprint on Planet Earth goes horribly awry. Or, at least, that was the plan. Somewhere along the way, the series creators [Judge, John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky] forgot the funny once they got past the white African-American thing. Even the vegan pet dog, Che is a one-gag character.

To say that The Goode Family is boring is being kind. It’s more like the TV equivalent of an MST3K clunker waiting for its commentary track. Spare yourselves – unless you’re suffering from insomnia.

Final Grade: D

EM Review by Sheldon Wiebe

Posted May 26, 2009

TELEVISION: Better Off Ted – R&D Becomes Fodder For Sitcom!

Ted [Jay Harrington] is the head of a Research & Development team at Veridian Technologies. As the central character on Better Off Ted [ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30C], Ted is faced with the moral, ethical and legal situations that can arise out of the search for new and exciting products and processes – like the one where a member of his research team, Phil [Jonathan Slavin] is to be flash frozen for a year to see if the company’s suspended animation process will actually work.

BetterOffTed

In his position, Ted is aided by scientists the aforementioned Phil and his lab partner, Lem [Malcolm Barrett]. He relies on Linda [Andrea Anders] to check out the paperwork to make sure that the testing of the company’s various products and processes are safe enough to test on human subjects. He answers to Veronica [Portia de Rossi], a morally and ethically bankrupt vice-president of the company.

The premiere opens with a Veridian Technologies orientation video that explains exactly what it is that Viridian does – which seems to be almost everything [they don’t make cows, for example, but they have made a sheep]. After viewing the orientation video, it’s easy to see why the characters have their specific attitudes – something that makes situations like Ted and Linda’s attraction [which he fights and she ignores, for the most part] make sense.

Harrington is excellent as the morally and ethically sound Ted who has to try to squelch the many potential fiascos that Veronica causes through her complete obliviousness to even the concept of ethics [weaponize pumpkins, you say?] – and when Ted isn’t clear on the ethics of the situation, he has his daughter, Rose [Isabella Acres] to set him straight.

As Veronica, it’s good to see de Rossi working in a sitcom again, though I expect Better Off Ted to be another one of those shows that quickly gain critical acclaim but only a cult following. That would be a shame. She does have a way with blithe demands and matter-of-fact indiscretions. The support team of Anders, Slavin and Barrett complement Harrington and de Rossi beautifully. The five cast members have good chemistry and each possesses excellent comedic timing.

The script for the premiere does a good job of giving us the essentials of the premise and characters in a concise and remarkably thorough manner. Better Off Ted has the potential to be a bright spot in the diminishing universe of sitcoms.

Final Grade: B+