Ten years ago, a talking teddy bear named Ted took on Magic Mike himself at the box office over the summer… and walked away $54 million richer. Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut, released on June 29, 2012, became one of the biggest success stories of the year, grossing over $200 million in the US alone and strong reviews from the likes of Roger Ebert, who played the CGI-generated title character. from the film called – voiced by the Family man creator – “the funniest movie character so far this year.”
Flash forward a decade and some might question Ebert’s judgment. although Ted certainly had its detractors at the time – Entertainment Weeklies Lisa Schwarzbaum described it as “full of nonsense” – in recent years more viewers have come under scrutiny for its R-rated humor and reliance on outdated stereotypes that have been criticized as misogynistic and racist. For example, in one scene, an Asian neighbor crashes into a wild house party that Ted throws and speaks with a broad Asian accent. In another series, MacFarlane’s alter ego invites four hookers to his apartment. “There are four terrible dads out there somewhere that I would like to thank for this great night!” he brags.
Even MacFarlane seems to recognize that the movie’s moment may be over, especially after the poorly reviewed Ted 2 came and went in 2015. But he still plans to revive the character for a new streaming series on Peacock. “Whether people are still interested in… Ted remains to be seen,” he said The Hollywood Reporter recently. “It’s a very specific kind of comedy, but we let it be what it is.”
Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment timed for the season 3 premiere of its sci-fi series The OrvilleMacFarlane makes it clear that he doesn’t regret the jokes in the original Ted† “Every comedy is a product of its time, and I think you have to accept that,” he explains. †Ted was what it was intended to be at the time.” (Watch our video interview above.)
“We are working on a Ted series for Peacock, and that was one of the big questions,” MacFarlane continues. “What do we lean on and what do we lean off? We were surprised how much of it was still true, because the characters are the characters. And if at the end of the day you have characters that are kind-hearted, though deeply imperfect, the audience will find a way to interact with them. So yeah, I’d make it the same way.”
If you made it the same way, you’d still be casting Mark Wahlberg as Ted’s best friend John, whose childhood wish brings the bear to life in the first place. “Mark was always the man,” MacFarlane confirms, adding that the Boston-born actor’s roots in the city where the film is set made him the “logical choice” for the role. At the time, Wahlberg was in the midst of his action movie phase and was making Ted required him to flex some of the comedic muscles he had previously shown in movies like Three kings and I Heart Huckabees. Just like Bob Hoskins in Who framed Roger Rabbit? although, Wahlberg was expressly instructed not to try to outdo the animated star of the film.
“I’ve always felt that Ted shouldn’t face a comic in the classic sense of the word, because you lose a bit of the realism,” explains MacFarlane. “This should feel like two guys who are real friends. If you look at the footage of… Ted before the bear was put in, and it’s just Mark sitting alone on the couch talking with empty air, you realize how much of it he really brought to the table because he actually sees that bear sitting there.”
Wahlberg is not returning for the Peacock prequel series, which turns the clock back to the early 90s when the characters are in high school. But another one Ted celebrity could potentially make an appearance. In the film, Ted and John are super fans of the 1980 cult classic, Flash Gordon, starring Sam J. Jones as the comic book hero. And Jones appears in both Ted and Ted 2 as an overly exaggerated version of himself.
“From now on, Sam won’t show up,” MacFarlane teases. “But I can definitely find a spot. He’s a great guy.” And as the song goes, he’ll save us all.
† Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee
Ted is currently available to rent or purchase from most VOD services, including Prime Video