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The cameras have officially started to roll on the living teddy bear with the mouth of a sailor and an absolute heart of gold. Catching up with SYFY WIRE this past weekend for an in-depth discussion about the Season 3 finale of The Orville: New Horizons, Seth MacFarlane confirmed that Peacock's R-rated Ted series is now in active production. The creator of animated hits like Family Guy and American Dad! not only returns to voice the crass plushie, but also serves as co-showrunner, executive producer, writer, and director.
"I can tell you what you probably already know," says MacFarlane when asked about what he can tease. "It's a prequel that takes place in 1993 that deals with Ted and John growing up in Framingham, Massachusetts. It very much is a return to the dynamics of the original movie [in that] it all takes place in this town and deals with the give-and-take of adolescence and growing up and the pitfalls and such. I'm trying not to spoil anything. I think fans of the original movie will be delighted by what we have in store."
In terms of the storytelling format, MacFarlane admits that while there is a modicum of serialization, each installment has the capacity to stand on its own merits. "This isn’t The Handmaid's Tale," he explains. "We're not doing a single arc that stretches over a season, we are treating it in more of the classic comedy style of individual stories. There is an episodic memory from one show to the next, but these are individual stories that highlight different moments in John and Ted's history."
Max Burkholder (The Purge) leads the flesh and blood ensemble as the teenage John Bennett, who was played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg in the franchise's big screen adventures. Naturally, we have to ask whether or not the ex-leader of the Funky Bunch has had any input on the show's direction. "Not thus far," MacFarlane admits. "I know everyone would love to find a way to to see him in a cameo role at some time, but there’s nothing of that nature yet."
The only conceivable way to make it work would be a flash forward to present day — unless Wahlberg plays a totally different, we're-winking-at-the-audience-type of character. In any case, it helps that a major precedent already exists for random celebrity cameos in the Ted mythos. Ryan Reynolds, Sam Jones, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Tom Brady, Patrick Stewart, and others can be seen (or heard) in both films. MacFarlane says this may carry over "to some degree. Maybe not to the extent that we did on Orville, but to some degree. There’s always that possibility. We've written the scripts and now we're in production and obviously things are still malleable. So I’m sure that's always a possibility."
Giorgia Whigham (John's politically correct cousin, Blaire), Scott Grimes (John's hard-headed father, Matty), and Alanna Ubach (John's naive mother, Susan) round out the cast of blue-collar Bostonians who will interact with the CGI bear. Both Whigham and Grimes are veterans of The Orville.
With almost $550 million in global box office returns, the first Ted movie remains the highest-grossing R-rated comedy that's not a sequel or an adaptation of an existing IP.
Erica Huggins, Alana Kleiman, and Jason Clark are executive produces on the Ted series alongside MacFarlane's fellow co-showrunners, Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh. Fuzzy Door, UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, and MRC Television co-produce.
No premiere date has been announced as of this writing.
The At-Home Variety Show Featuring Seth MacFarlane is currently available to stream on Peacock. All six episodes of The End is Nye — which MacFarlane executive produced and guest stars in — arrives on the platform Thursday, Aug. 25.