‘Ted’ (2024) Review: The Surprisingly Heartfelt Spinoff Prequel Hits All The Right Notes

I was less than enthusiastic when I got the assignment to cover the prequel spin-off series of Ted instead of something avant-garde. Don’t get me wrong here; I do admire the original Ted film, which came out back in 2012. It was a pretty neat stoner-comedy (if you consider that a genre) about an adult man’s friendship with his talking teddy bear that was a decent entertainer. However, Ted 2 (2015), which had a wonky civil rights angle as its main plot, wasn’t quite able to yield the same magic for me. That was almost a decade ago. The idea of taking Ted and Johnny back to the nineties and making a seven-episode web series didn’t exactly look like a good prospect on paper, to be honest. Yeah, the adorable teddy bear talks like a man, and he has a fondness for profanity, but so what? That’s exactly what Seth MacFarlane decides to answer in the opening minute of the show. The answer is nothing at all. MacFarlane makes it pretty clear that the miracle that happened in 1985 doesn’t matter anymore. And by doing that, he finds the perfect opportunity to take the show into familiar teen drama territory, which worked out perfectly for me. The reason behind that has to be MacFarlane’s decision to load the story with a hefty amount of social commentary, mainly due to the inclusion of a character like Georgia Wingham’s Blaire.

I am not sure if Ted puritans exist, but this show can very well offend them by not being an endorsement of “plain and dumb” fun, if you know what I mean. In many ways, I felt the show actually slammed the whole concept of nineties’ sitcoms, as well as the Ted films, especially the first one. The biggest example of that is how they treat the character of Johnny’s father, Matty Bennet, played by Scott Grimes. Matty is exactly the kind of character that used to be glorified in the nineties, and all his problematic traits, ranging from blatant sexism to racism to homophobia, used to be deemed funny. While Ted doesn’t try to see this whole thing from a fresh and original perspective like what the fantastic Kevin Can F*k Himself (2021-2022) did, it never shies away from its “Matty” problem. In fact, I thought the primary reason for the character of Blaire to exist in a show like Ted was the reformation of Matty. The show constantly pits these two against each other, and Blaire appears to be the perfect antithesis of Matty. Both Grims and Wingham are very effective in their roles, and these two are easily the standouts of the show.

In case you are wondering, no, the show doesn’t sideline your favorite talking teddy bear and his best pal, John Benett. The dynamics between the two are obviously different from what we’ve seen in the movies, but it’s still the same old Ted and John. In fact, it’s actually refreshing to see Johnny as an awkward sixteen-year-old, instead of the manchild we have seen in the movies. This version is rather sweet, very earnest, and desperately in need of a course of sex education. Like every other teen show, Johnny’s virginity and the whole course of losing it are part of the very important story arc of Ted. But MacFarlane’s expert handling of the subject matter makes it worth watching and rooting for the guy. The whole thing reminded me of both Freaks and Geeks as well as any John Hughes teen romance, and being a fan of both, I can say I completely adored this story arc.

My only criticism of Ted would be the fact that it doesn’t try anything particularly original. While it does surprise us with a teen-drama makeover, the subject matter it deals with is something that we’ve already seen many times before. Although, I must say, the show does hit its stride in what it tries to be, and that itself is an achievement. Not to mention, it manages to surpass expectations by not adhering to preconceived notions about it. I can understand why MacFarlane would take this route instead of doing the whole thing like an episodic sitcom with every episode built around Ted and Johnny finding themselves in a strangely comical situation. That format has already run its course, and there’s always a risk factor in it. The times have really changed, and MacFarlane only did the best possible thing accordingly. The end result is actually pretty charming and even wholesome, which is all that matters.

Is the Ted franchise even relevant in 2024? I’m sure that’s the question many would ask here. And to answer that, I would say something as miraculous as a teddy bear randomly coming to life just because a little boy wished for it on a shooting star is a matter that is beyond the parameters of relevant or non-relevant, but MacFarlane has made a show based on substance and not gimmick. Ted in this show is only a teddy bear appearance-wise, but he is all human. And unlike the movie version, this one has a little more empathy. While Johnny and Ted’s friendship is most definitely the centerpiece of the show (and this franchise), the development between Blaire and Ted is quite fascinating to watch here. The friendship of this unlikely duo is really adorable and certainly one of the high points of the show. This also allowed Johnny to have his own adventure, especially in the Halloween episode, where Blaire and Ted go to a party and Johnny has a strange encounter with a mysterious man—a classic curveball that MacFarlane throws at the audience without any explanation. In conclusion, Ted the show not only works, it is clearly the best installment of this whole franchise so far. The approach has changed for the better, and that has actually made the whole thing relevant. Ted is still as funny as ever, like how he used to be in the first film, but both the character and the show are also much more than that.

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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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Ted is still as funny as ever, like how he used to be in the first film, but both the character and the show are also much more than that.'Ted' (2024) Review: The Surprisingly Heartfelt Spinoff Prequel Hits All The Right Notes