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I guess I just like liking things

Standard operating procedure for ensemble shows is to pair the ensembles off in different configurations and situations. If you have strong enough characters and good writing, these pairings don’t seem forced or weird, they just grow from what would naturally happen if those personalities were put together in those circumstances. The trick can be either having an interesting setting for the pairings or having great characters that make the situation interesting. I think this episode has both of these, even while I don’t think this is the strongest Better Off Ted episode.

The Medieval Fight Club is the setting for Ted hanging out with Phil and Lem, and while it is certainly fun to see the characters interact in this environment, it sure does require a pretty hefty suspension of disbelief. No matter how crazy things are at Veridian, I find it very difficult to believe that they would let their employees have at each other with swords and maces in the sub-basement.

Linda and Veronica’s storyline is a bit more mundane, but Veronica’s horrible confessions are almost as fantastical. I’m not exactly sure how we can hear about a character deporting her grandfather and sleep-feeding her sister and still like her, but I think that’s a testimony to Portia’s portrayal more than anything else. I also find Veronica’s response to death fascinating – there’s more a sense of inconvenience than of loss (a sense repeated in a later episode when a coworker dies at the office), as evidenced by Veronica talking about her driver dying before mentioning that her grandmother had. Veronica is ultimately pretty selfish, but, again, remains likable. Nice trick, Better Off Ted writers!

The overall theme of this episode, of course, is “can employees and bosses be friends?” The question gets answered in several different ways, a much more realistic approach than an all-or-nothing yes or no. In the case of Linda and Veronica, the answer seems to be “no,” and it’s mostly because of Veronica’s misunderstanding of how friendship works. Again, it’s more because of her selfishness than anything but it still doesn’t look like there’d be any way past that, short of Veronica changing drastically, and we saw how that went last week with her trying to soften her image. For Ted and Phil and Lem, I think the answer is more of an “it depends.” While the whole fight club thing went poorly, the initial offer from Ted to go get beers together sounded like something they had done before and would have been fine.  Then, of course, there’s Ted and Linda, who are friends and could most likely be more.

If we had talked about this episode before I rewatched it for this write-up, I would have remembered it more fondly, I think. There are many things to like about it, but it didn’t hold together as well as I remembered. I think a big part of it for me is how much suspension of disbelief is required for Veridian hosting the Medieval Fight Club, even though I really liked Medieval Fight Club. This might have been solved if it had been moved offsite from Veridian, I think.

Bits and Pieces:

  • Veronica’s grandmother was her driver and housekeeper
  • “I always thought Veronica lived here” – Lem
    “Me, too. You know, she just finds a comfortable chair and powers down for the night.” – Phil
  • “Which, by the way, is a year Botswana’s never gonna get back.” – Ted, about his ex-wife, who we find out is named Stacy
  • Lem wants to talk to Phil about inviting Ted to Medieval Fight Club and says to Ted “It’s not about you” and then “Still not about you” when they haven’t moved far enough away
  • “Street crud” – Phil
  • For some reason, Phil specifying “The dummy” after Lem tells the story about the ventriloquist and the dummy: “At the end of the day, you know who’s gonna end up sleeping in a suitcase” just cracks me up. Thanks for clarifying, Phil!
  • Veronica doesn’t get drunk…until she does and then thumps her head on the table
  • Linda’s “You want one of these?” to a sleeping, drunken Veronica is something I not only enjoy, but also used with a coworker last week, though I’m sure he had no idea what it was from
  • Of course Ted is good at fight club.
  • Phil and Lem think Ted’s ex was crazy and crazy-hot.
  • Veronica finds it very easy to fire someone, and she demonstrates hilariously to Linda the different ways she could do it. Linda’s not being sure if Veronica is really firing her or not is completely believable!
  • “We like that you’re successful at everything you do,” says Lem to Ted about him being good at fight club, because of course Ted is good at fight club.
  • “I’m like her brain toilet” – Linda, about Veronica’s admissions
  • “I don’t think so, fellas. I’m done with Medieval Fight Club. I have a girlfriend now.” – the Groth. Sure it’s an easy joke, but it’s handled subtly and is better for it.
  • “Let’s not get into who shrunk whose office or who cancelled whose dental plan” – Veronica
  • Veronica’s intense gaze when she says “I’m listening now” to Linda. It’s extremely brief, but very unsettling.
  • Did anyone else feel like Linda’s dress was a bit too cleavage-y for an office setting?  It seemed very odd.
  • “I guess I could go beat up some single dads.” – Ted
  • I’m a little afraid of Xena-Linda, too, Phil and Lem. I feel your pain.

Coworkers seen/mentioned in this episode:

  • Gil, the IT Guy/King
  • Joe, who Veronica hates and gives Linda’s work to
  • Francis “the” Groth


Veridian Dynamics. Bosses. Everybody has one. Without bosses we’d be like these worms: disgusting. Bosses make everything better. So listen to your boss, and don’t question them. Otherwise you’re no better than a worm. Veridian Dynamics. Bosses. Necessary.

Ideas/Inventions mentioned in this episode:

  • Taste-Altering Brain Implant – a nanodevice surgically implanted in the braing that makes everything a person eat taste sweet. “Elective brain surgery still tested higher than diet and exercise.”

Next week: S01E09 – Bioshuffle

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