John Ritter as Ted Buchanan
was a robot duplicate of his creator, the original Ted Buchanan.
The original Ted, a sickly inventor in the 1950s, created the robot after his wife left him. It was intended to be “a better Ted” — possibly the man he thought his wife should have for a husband. The robot then kidnapped Ted’s wife and held her captive in his bunker until she died.
Subsequently, the cycle continued long after the original Ted’s death until he began to date Joyce Summers in early 1998 after redoing her computer system at her gallery. At that time, he fed her — as well as her daughter Buffy’s friends — cookies laced with a drug called “Dematorin,” which made them compliant and mellow, encouraging them to like him.
However, Buffy became increasingly unnerved by Ted’s actions. While it initially seemed she was just reacting badly to Ted’s intervening influence, it became clear that something was wrong when Ted threatened her after he caught her cheating at miniature golf.
In order to get a better understanding of what was going on, Buffy snuck into his workplace at Lorrin Software, where she discovered that Ted already had plans of marrying Joyce. That night, Ted, aware that Buffy went through his office, came into Buffy’s room while she was on patrol, where he discovered her weapons and diary, which contained information about her life as the Slayer. Believing she was delusional (and not realizing that vampires do exist in Sunnydale), Ted tells her to toe the line, or else (as he puts it), he would show the diary to her mother and Buffy would “spend (her) best dating years behind the wall of a mental institution.”
Ted refused to give Buffy back her diary and smacked her when she didn’t take her hand off of him; with that, Buffy, grateful for what she saw as an excuse to hit him, unleashed her Slayer wrath and overpowered him just as Joyce walked in. Despite her mother’s pleadings for her to stop, Buffy continued to kick Ted around until he fell down the stairs and broke down.
Destruction and Legacy
Buffy: “I wouldn’t worry. He’s not coming back.”
Joyce: “I wish I could be so sure.”
Buffy: “Trust me. He’s on the scrap heap... of life.”
—Buffy and Joyce Summers
Although Ted was declared dead, he later reactivated at the morgue and angrily returned to the Summers house — but was now even more unstable because of his damaged state. He knocked out Buffy in her room just after his ‘skin’ was pierced when she stabbed him with a nail file, revealing the now ruptured wires in his arm. Covering his sleeve, Ted proceeded to reunite with Joyce, and subsequently knocked her unconscious when his instability was raised to the point where he became completely unreasonable.
Buffy ultimately destroyed him by beating him with a fry pan, thus exposing the metallic under wiring in his face. The body of the robot was then disposed of in a scrap heap while some of his parts were kept by Willow Rosenberg as study components, which further helped her in the aiding of the Buffybot.
Personality and Traits
“I’m not wired that way!”
Unlike Warren Mears’ creations, Ted’s robot was an independently adaptive and socially prevalent being that could maintain himself and even get a job at a telemarketing company selling software and earning more sales than any other worker, which was extremely impressive considering he was built more than five decades before Warren’s own robots. Ted was also said to be an impressive cook (though whether his cooking was that good or simply the drugs he laced them with remains unknown).
However, his programming made him follow a strict code of how to act, obeying rules and strongly holding that “right is right and wrong is wrong” — which led him to overreacting when Buffy attempted to cheat at mini golf where he threatened to attack her, not willing to tolerate that kind of “malarkey” in his “house.” Similar to the Buffybot, a specific degree of damage could create flaws in his system, causing him to randomly short out and make irrelevant statements.
He also apparently held 50’s social norms, as he claimed he didn’t take orders from a woman when Joyce made a mere suggestion.
From my perspective, the character of Ted is really neat, and John Ritter (September 17, 1948 — September 11, 2003) sure did an awesome job bringing him to life the way he did. Plus, the episode Ted
is really neat, as it has mystery, suspense and romance (which are three things I like in a story as well).
Also, I found out that John once said on the Season 2 BtVS DVD commentary for Ted
that the episode was a big influence in helping him to understand his own step-daughter.
Plus, the plot of “Ted” is similar to that of the 1987 horror film The Stepfather
— loosely based on the life of mass murderer John List — where a teenage girl has suspicions about her new stepfather, who is like Ted in that he has an obsession with “old fashioned values” and having the perfect family from the 1950s (although Ted was a robot, whereas Henry Morrison/Jerry Blake was human), and thinks that he is a serial killer who murders the women he marries when they fail to live up to his expectations (which are, unfortunately, exceedingly high).
Regardless, I give this episode (and its title character) a double thumbs-up, as well as a rating of five stars, too. I also highly recommend it to any fan of John Ritter as well (RIP)..
Ted with Joyce
Ted and his mini pizzas