Aired On: Peacock.
Release Date: 01/11/24.
"It's 1993, and Ted the bear's moment of fame has passed. He's living back home with his best friend, John Bennett, and his family. While Ted may be a lousy influence on John, he's a loyal pal who will go out on a limb for friendship."
Back in 2012, I went into a packed theater with my brother to see Ted as our father saw another film that day. To this day apart from 21 Jump Street and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, I have never laughed so haphazardly in a cinema and naturally as soon as it ended we booked another showing to watch with our dad. Ted remains one of the iconic memories of the early 2010s and to this day is still one of the best comedies ever created. The sequel failed to live up to what the original managed to accomplish but it still offered enough fun times and crude humor to suffice. So with a prequel now being released with an exodus of Wahlberg as John for Max Burkholder (Parenthood) and the return of the foul mouthed pair in their youth - I was both eager to see what the creatives could come up with but simultaneously worried. Luckily, Ted is a seven episode event series that hopefully will go on for some time beyond this because this was a clever and hilarious way to bring the once famous teddy bear back to the limelight.
With a short episode count of seven, with a majority sitting around the forty minute runtime, we get a ton of new material - along with some iconic callbacks. While not every episode is fantastic, two in the series’ run are a little too whacky even for the world of Ted but even if as a whole an episode didn’t work, the bits inside will remain in rotation for an infinite amount of time to come. The cast they’ve recruited to play John’s parents Matty (Scott Grimes) and Susan (Alanna Ubach) may not be accurate to what we know from the opening of the original Ted but this restructure works in the long run of things, even if logically it all doesn’t connect - but it’s worth noting this is a series based on a film about a talking teddy bear. They all work so well against one another and similar to Wahlberg and McFarlane in the films, Burkholder and McFarlane have irresistible chemistry. Newly established character, Blaire (Giorgia Whigham) delivers a fantastic opposition to most of the family's dumb antics and while this cousin comes out of nowhere in the history we know about Ted - it works in the compounds of this event series.
A worry I had was the CGI animation for Ted and how taking it from the big screen to the small screen would hinder the reality the series had built to that point. Luckily, Ted looks identical to his previous outings and truly becomes a living being amongst the cast. At the recent premiere, I was momentarily confused when Ted (the bear himself) wasn’t in attendance - that’s how real this relationship is between the viewer and the reality McFarlane has created.
Now where I do wish the series would’ve been better off is if it had some solid character development and plot progression as time goes on because it’s revealed this is all based around a single school year. School plays a minor part in a few episodes but it’s really about the Thunder Buddies dynamic throughout the town and especially at their house. I’d be down for more stories with these characters making their way to leaving the nest and eventually joining the adult world as seen in the 2012 original. McFarlane teased in an interview that this might not be the end of the fuzzy bear and let’s hope not because they’ve truly captured what made Ted so obscene, hilarious and memorable all those years ago.