Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Ted a Mad Man?

This morning in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of stopping by the set of Better Off Ted, aka "the best new show you may not yet be watching." For a few hours, I was happy to step into a lab deep within the bowels of the Veridian Corporation, where Phil and Lem -- aka the hysterically funny Jonathan Slavin and Malcolm Barrett -- fretted over a small cosmetic change in their premises which I can't tell you about.

From Victor Fresco, the creator of the cancelled-too-soon Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Better Off Ted films at the LA Center Studios on the edge of downtown, a complex I'd frankly never heard of before visiting the set of Mad Men there last year during the Television Critics' Convention. Turns out, CBS' Numb3rs is shot there, too, as will be The Station, the new comedy pilot for FOX from producer Ben Stiller .

But here's the fun bit of trivia I discovered today: while the lab and other sets like Ted's apartment are constructed on soundstages, Veridian's main office setup, cubicles and all, is filmed on a converted, formerly real office floor within the complex (which houses not just TV and film productions depicting corporate types but real corporate types as well, in fields like advertising. )

Mad Men's offices are also constructed on a floor within the same building. So watch Better Off Ted, then watch Mad Men, and then compare. Apart from the cosmetic changes in set dressing, the two office floors will look eerily similar. They have the same bones, because the Veridian Dynamics of the 21st Century and the Sterling-Cooper ad agency of the 1960s are located mere floors away from each other.

Better Off Ted debuted with a short run this past spring, and then returned to air 7 new episodes over the summer. Unfortunately for Ted, not a single broadcast network show in any genre -- comedy, drama or even reality -- which aired this summer got any kind of decent ratings. So I hope when Ted returns to ABC as a replacement for midseason (or earlier, depending upon the health of the network's other shows), execs will show some patience
for this so-far undiscovered, but worth discovering, gem.

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