I always thought Ted could have been a stronger episode if it hadn't turned out that Ted was a homicidal robot. The idea of a sinister new presence suddenly appearing from within Buffy's home life is a great one, the possibility of exploring the resentment between child and step-parent intriguing. And while the episode does explore that to an extent, there's an inherent goofiness to the whole thing which makes it kind of a failure. In general, I'm a fan of that thing in movies and television where only one character is aware of another character's insanity, while everybody else floats around none the wiser. There are a couple of great moments in this episode which depict this, with Buffy pretty darn horrified by Ted's casual aggression and threats toward her. But then the whole thing quickly dove-tails into ridiculousness.
John Ritter, one of the few 'name' guest stars to ever appear on the show, has a ball here. He's a lot of fun in the part, rapidly swinging from one emotional extreme to another and layering everyday sentences like "beg to differ" with a terrifying, abusive tone. Elsewhere, I loved the representation of a teenager being spooked out by her single mother suddenly dating, and suddenly having to deal with another person in their household.
But the hour becomes increasingly more absurd as it goes on, right around the time when Buffy 'kills' Ted and the police bring her in for questioning. It's a plot twist riddled with holes, rendering the Sunnydale police force pretty insane and Joyce a denial-prone doormat. While the fact that Buffy was at one point a murder suspect is too huge a deal to casually drop in to a monster-of-the-week episode.
I admire what the show was attempting to do here, but it's an idea that just wasn't executed well. From the lazy explanation of Ted's history at the end to the underwhelming reveal of Ted's dead ex-wives, the episode completely flatlines midway through. Memorable performance by John Ritter, though. C
Guest stars John Ritter (Ted); Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers); Robia LaMorte (Jenny Calendar); Ken Thorley (Neal); James G. MacDonald (Detective Stein)
Writers David Greenwalt, Joss Whedon Director Bruce Seth Green