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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' recap: My new dad

Season 2 | Episode 11 | “Ted” | Aired Dec 8, 1997 

“Ted” is one of the most memorable episodes in season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even though it was intended to be a palate cleanser from the previous two-parter, and it features a big bad who’s (almost) a regular old crazy. Plus, who doesn’t get a craving for mini-pizzas?

Buffy, Willow, and Xander chat while walking to the Summers’ house. It is quiet with Spike and Drusilla gone (or so they think). The assassins are gone, too, and Angel’s on the mend. But Buffy is wigged when they find the front door open. A new villain to contend with?

Nope, just Joyce locking lips with some guy named Ted.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Joyce and Ted, played by John Ritter

Played by the incomparable John Ritter (has he really been gone for more than 10 years?), Ted, a software salesman, meets Joyce at her gallery. He whips up some stellar mini-pizzas and apologizes to Buffy. He and Joyce want her to be okay with their relationship, and she lies through her toothy smile and says she’s fine.

Buffy insists something’s off about Ted, but Willow and Xander think she’s overreacting, expressing residual angst about her parents’ divorce. Ted shows up at school, under the guise of updating software the guidance office’s software, and invites the kids to golf and a picnic. At Xander’s insistence, Buffy reluctantly accepts.

Giles tentatively visits Jenny’s classroom to check on her. She’s okay after taking a break from demonic possession, but she needs space. Giles dropping by and making puppy dog eyes makes her feel bad that she isn’t feeling better. (A powerful line, and great delivery by Robia LaMorte.)

Buffy cares for Angel’s injured hand and rants about Ted (apparently ’90s vampires heal more slowly than today’s vampires). Angel, in all his wisdom, convinces her to give him a chance.

And so the Scooby Gang hits the golf course with Joyce and Ted. He slyly scolds Buffy about her grades and lectures her on right and wrong. Then he threatens to slap Buffy when he catches her cheating, only to do a total 180 when the rest of the group catches up. Something is definitely up with this guy.

Buffy tries to tell Joyce about the threat, but Joyce blows it off, and so do her friends. So Buffy goes it alone, starting at Ted’s office. One of his coworkers fills her in: He’s their top salesman and a total professional, and he’s taking off in a few months to get married—what?! Buffy finds a photo of Joyce on Ted’s desk, folded in half and literally cutting Buffy out of the picture.

Ted says a passive-aggressive prayer at dinner; he must know she skipped school to visit his office. She bluntly asks if the two are engaged, and though Joyce seems surprised, Ted makes it clear he’s not going anywhere.

Buffy excuses herself, then sneaks out, hoping to take out her rage on some vampires. No such luck, though, and when she crawls back in through her bedroom widow, Ted’s waiting.

He dug through her stuff and found her journal. But why would you a) keep a journal about slaying and vampires, and b) leave it around for anyone, including your mom or her weirdo boyfriend, to find? He threatens to expose what he thinks are delusions if she doesn’t shape up. She taunts him, and he attacks her.

It’s unsettling to see Jack Tripper violent! And to watch a teenage girl beat the hell out of him. They fight and she knocks him down the stairs. Joyce races to his side, but it’s too late. He’s dead.

The authorities arrive and wheel Ted away. Buffy admits she hit him, causing him to fall. The detective questions why Ted’s punch didn’t leave a mark. “I don’t bruise easily,” she responds, a nod to her superhuman strength. But he seems to believe her, and they aren’t pressing charges … yet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Joyce and Buffy, in her sad overallsWhat must be running through Joyce’s mind? First, her daughter sets the gymnasium on fire, then kills her mom’s boyfriend?

Everyone at school has heard. Buffy, wearing oversized “I’m in a funk” overalls, confesses her guilt to Willow and Xander. Even though he provoked her, he wasn’t supernatural, and she used her supernatural strength to fight back.

Xander, Willow, and Cordelia vow to prove Buffy was justified. Willow can’t find anything online, but she becomes suspicious when Xander flips from indignation to serenity after eating Ted’s cookies. At the lab, Willow learns Ted’s secret ingredient is a tranquilizer. Cordy finds his address, so they pay a visit and find a secret 1950s living room in the basement … and the bodies of Ted’s first four wives in a closet.

Jenny finds Giles on patrol at the park in Buffy’s place and apologizes for the other day, but she puts herself right back in harm’s way when a vampire shows up. Trying to help, Jenny accidentally shoots Giles in the ribs with the crossbow. Giles manages to dust the vamp anyway, and they laugh it off.

Buffy tries to tearfully apologize, but Joyce just can’t even right now, and she sends Buffy to her room. Buffy is quite surprised when Ted shows up. They fight again and he reveals he just “shut down” for a bit to get her off his back. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Ted the Robot

He’s a robot!

He knocks Buffy out and leaves to see about Joyce, who is, naturally, confused. He was only briefly dead, he explains, and woke up at the morgue. Falling down the stairs must have knocked a few circuits loose, though, and he starts spitting out fragmented phrases and orders Joyce shut up.

“I don’t take orders from women. I’m not wired that way,” he says again—a clue we maybe should have picked up on earlier. Buffy wakes up just in time to save her mom from Ted’s domestic time machine and shuts him down for good with a frying pan to the face.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Giles and Jenny Calendar in the libraryXander fills them in on Ted’s real story: Decades ago, he was dying and his wife left him, so he built a better Ted, kidnapped her, and kept replacing wives when the old ones died off.

What is it with grown-ups these days? They catch Giles and Jenny smooching in the library, happily ever after. For now.

Big Bad of the Week: Robot Ted, the nightmare of all children of divorce.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2 - Buffy at the golf courseQuote of the Week:

Buffy: Vampires are creeps.
Giles: Yes, that’s why one slays them.

Heinous ’90s Fashion of the Week: Buffy’s minigolf outfit—a cleavage-baring leopard-print tank, cropped khakis, and beige strappy platform sandals.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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