Seth MacFarlane’s Big ‘Ted’ Challenge: How Does This Character Exist ‘Without Mark Wahlberg’?

In the TV series prequel, Wahlberg’s John Bennett is just 16 years old

seth MacFarlane Mark Wahlberg ted
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Seth MacFarlane never considered adapting the “Ted” films for television until Peacock suggested it – partly because he thought it would be too expensive, and partly because it was hard to imagine creating a series about the foul-mouthed stuffed bear without Mark Wahlberg playing his trusty companion.

“For me, the challenge was really how does this character exist in a world without Mark Wahlberg?” MacFarlane said at Sunday’s PGA Produced By conference. “That was really a two-hander. The movie was a real feat of visual effects work for the artists who did it. But also, if you look at the raw footage before the bear was placed into it, a lot of it was Mark.”

The 2012 film and its sequel starred Wahlberg as John Bennett, a 30-something slacker whose best friend is Ted (MacFarlane), a stuffed-animal bear that he wished into life as a young boy. The duo mostly sits around and smokes weed until Ted decides it’s time to help his pal grow up. After the 2012 film and its 2015 sequel, “Ted 2,” scored big at the box office, Peacock approached writer-director MacFarlane about taking “Ted” to TV.

The only concept that appealed to MacFarlane was creating a prequel that dived into John’s teenage years – meaning that Wahlberg’s role would have to be recast. Max Burkholder (“Parenthood”) will play John, while MacFarlane will reprise the titular role (in voiceover only, of course).

The prequel will take place in the early ’90s, and will explore the “part of [Ted’s] life that we enter in the opening montage from the movie, and to now dig deeper into it and find out what exactly was the sequence of events that led to the character of John being such an underachiever and such a disappointment in his in his adult years,” MacFarlane said during the panel.

Speaking alongside Erica Huggins, the president of his production company Fuzzy Door, MacFarlane said that the writing is “fairly far along” and that production will begin shortly.

However, the longest and most unpredictable part of the timetable has to do with the CGI rendering of the bear.

“You can move as fast as you want in production, and you’re still sort of at the mercy of the six, eight months, however long it takes for the CGI to be completed,” he explained. “So you know, in many ways, it’s what we just went through with ‘The Orville,’ [it] was just a massive undertaking of post-production. The show was just now airing, and I feel like we we finished shooting a long time ago.”

In addition to the “Ted” franchise, Fuzzy Door Productions is also home to more than a dozen television series, including MacFarlane’s smash hits “Family Guy,” “American Dad!” and “The Orville,” which just began airing its third season this month. The production company is also in development on a Peacock series called “The End is Nye” in collaboration with scientist-TV personality Bill Nye, an animated take on “Good Times” and a limited series adaptation of World War II epic “The Winds of War” as part of his overall deal with NBCUniversal.