'Ted' cast explores naughty teddy bear's past

Max Burkholder stars in "Ted." Photo courtesy of Peacock
1 of 5 | Max Burkholder stars in "Ted." Photo courtesy of Peacock

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The streaming series Ted, premiering Thursday on Peacock, is a prequel to the two movies that starred Mark Wahlberg and his teddy bear sidekick. Set in the 1990s, Peacock's Ted series visits the Bennett family eight years after Ted came to life.

Max Burkholder, 26, plays John Bennett, the character Wahlberg played in the films. As a child, John wished his teddy bear would come to life.


Now a teenager, John and Ted (voice of creator Seth Macfarlane) are interested in girls, pornography and drugs. Burkholder said it was clear how John grew up to be such a slacker.

"We see the why and the how of how he turned out to be such a bum over the course of these episodes, for sure," Burkholder told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "It's all there in the movies and on the page in this event series."


By the time of the movies, Ted and John's exploits escalate to hiring prostitutes and partying with Flash Gordon star Sam Jones. The films also showed Ted kidnapped by a stalker and trying to become a father, for which he attempts to steal Tom Brady's sperm.

As teenagers, John and Ted confine their shenanigans to their school and family home. Scott Grimes, 52, and Alanna Ubach, 48, play John's parents, Matt and Susan.

When Ted first came to life, the Bennetts had to navigate Ted's celebrity as a famous talking bear. Eight years later, the world has moved on from Ted, but the Bennetts still have a plush family member.

"Now it's just real life," Grimes said.

While Ted and John swear like the R-rated movies and streaming service allow, Susan is an innocent housewife. Ubach, who has appeared in raunchy comedies like Waiting and Meet the Fockers, said Susan was a change of pace for her.

"She is an alien to me," Ubach said. "I sort of rolled up my sleeves."

The Bennetts live in Boston, and the show embraces Boston culture. The cast enjoyed putting on exaggerated Boston accents.

"He's born and bred Boston," Burkholder said of John. "He bleeds baked beans. It's gross."


Grimes hails from Boston and said he'd been looking for opportunities to unleash the accent he heard growing up.

"I'm so happy to be able to make fun of all my friends," Grimes said.

Grimes also is a regular in Macfarlane's shows, voicing characters on Family Guy and American Dad, and portraying a lieutenant on a spaceship in The Orville. Grimes said Macfarlane resisted casting him yet again.

"The more you work with someone, the more they're like, 'No, I know him way too well. He's not right for this at all,'" Grimes said. "I guess probably he couldn't find anybody and went, 'Let's try Scott because whatever.'"

After casting Ubach, Macfarlane also invited her to voice characters on his animated shows, Ubach said. Several of those aired before Ted, and she still is recording new ones.

The Ted series introduces a new character in John's cousin, Blaire (Georgia Whigham), who goes to college in the city but often visits the Bennett home for dinner.

Blaire gets annoyed at Ted and John's schemes to buy drugs or rent pornography. Once the boys calm down, Whigham said, Blaire does have affection for them.

"I have three younger brothers and I very much relate to she and John's relationship," said Whigham, 26. "She thinks that he's just an idiot and that's why he gets himself into these situations."


MacFarlane showruns Ted with Brad Walsh and Paul Corrigan. Corrigan and Walsh, veterans of Modern Family and King of the Hill, said characters like Blaire were necessary to balance out Ted and John.

"These guys are saying some really ridiculous stuff and it's good to have a voice of reason in the house," Walsh said. "That role can often become a scold and not that fun but she doesn't allow that to happen."

Corrigan said the entire family shows that John and Ted had good influences before the events of the movies.

"The family also helps balance out John and Ted really well," Corrigan said.

But, Ted and John aren't the only characters facilitating the show's edgy humor. Matt has a nude scene, which Grimes embraced.

"I have shown my bum in many things," Grimes said. "I'm not an exhibitionist, but I don't mind showing it for comedy."

All episodes of Ted premiere Thursday.

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