Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pilot Review: Wilfred

Wilfred (FX)
Premiered June 23 at 10pm

If you’re looking for a show unlike any other, this is it. While past series have seen people talking to dead or imaginary people on a regular basis, like “Six Feet Under,” “Rescue Me,” and “The Book of Daniel,” I can’t remember a series where a character so blindly and fully accepted the existence of something like a man dressed up in a dog costume. Somehow, it works here, and this show is instantly offbeat and eccentric even before Wilfred the talking dog shows up. Elijah Wood is perfectly cast for the role of the doe-eyed Ryan. He’s just right as a clearly doomed protagonist, who isn’t even able to kill himself thanks to placebo pills prescribed to him by his sister and now has the misfortune of having his life incrementally complicated by Wilfred. Jason Gunn plays very well off of Wood as the wicked Wilfred, and he gets the most out of every scene in which he appears. My favorite member of the cast so far is Dorian Brown, who plays Ryan’s fury-prone sister Kristen. This is a small, tight-knit cast, supported by Fiona Gubelmann as Wilfred’s owner Jenna and Ethan Suplee as Ryan’s motorcycle-riding neighbor, and I think that each member contributes just enough to make this show work. It’s definitely enthralling, and it’s hard not to sympathize with Ryan and to lament the unfortunate and unbelievable situation in which he’s been put. This, like most of FX’s other fare, is certainly not contained in any box.

How will it work as a series? I’d imagine that there have to be more characters added at some point, but for the moment it’s all about Ryan’s journey back towards some sort of self-satisfaction and fulfillment in life, and Wilfred’s going to be around to ruin his life in the process of making it better. Half-hour installments will likely be just the right dose of this particular brand of crazy.
How long will it last? Ratings for the pilot were great, and given the fact that the Australian original on which this show is based was such a hit, I’d expect this show to live on for as long as its creators desire. Given the long-running success of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and recent shows like “Louie,” “The League,” and “Archer,” I think FX will be more than eager to welcome another oddball comedy to its lineup.

Pilot grade: B+


Greg Boyd said...

Consider me surprised that you liked this one. As someone who's been reading you for a long time, I don't think there's ever been an FX comedy you liked. (You missed the boat on both "Archer" and "Louie", by the way.) I very much enjoyed this show as well, and am pleased by the strong ratings that will hopefully result in a season 2 renewal. In any case, both it and "Falling Skies" should help tide TV viewers over for the next few weeks until "Breaking Bad" returns.

Movies with Abe said...

You're correct that I don't usually like FX comedies. I think my enjoyment of this one was aided by the presence of a friend who found each and every line hilarious, but it's also not like most of the other comedies FX produces, and I think that's why I liked it.