Oct 27, 2011

[TV] Wilfred (US): Season 1

Wilfred (US): Season 1Some shows seem bizarre when you just read the synopsis of the series. You know what I mean - the things that seem absolutely ridiculous when on paper but seem very different in terms of actual implementation.

This show definitely felt that way when I first stumbled across it. Take one suicidal guy and add in one anthropomorphic dog and you get...this? That's a good an attempt to summarize things as any.

But the show oddly worked for me and my partner (and I'm not just saying this since I often joke that he behaves like a dog). The humor of the show is definitely at tad blacker than most and I can understand why it was picked up by a pay TV channel and not a mainstream network. It's the sort of thing that is hilarious to some and oddly disturbing to others.

Oh wait, I thought of another way to describe this show. This is sort of like the natural progression if you maintained a Calvin and Hobbes type of relationship and make Calvin grow up into a rather depressed and slightly pathetic man.

Yeah, that sort of sounds better to me.

Wilfred is a 2010 US comedy series based on a prior Australian series of the same name. The show was originally created by Jason Gann, Adam Zwar and Tony Rogers and was adapted for US audiences by David Zuckerman.

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Elijah Wood and Jas...Image by PopCultureGeek.com via FlickrThe show centers around two main figures. One is Ryan (Elijah Wood), who is a washed-out lawyer who attempts to commit suicide but even fails at that. His neighbor Jenna (Fiona Gubelman) then asks him to look after her dog for a day. Thus we come to the second star of the show, Wilfred. While he is in fact a 7 year old dog (and is treated as such by everyone else), Wilfred appears to Ryan as a man in a dog costume for reasons that have yet to be disclosed at this point in the series.

While Ryan is a neat and organized person, Wilfred somehow manifest as a slovenly, rude and highly offensive individual with a propensity for recreational drugs and alcohol. Thus Ryan continues to hang out with Wilfred while he tries to put his life together. And one way or another Wilfred tries to help, although his solutions are hardly what anyone would consider to be traditional (or even effective for that matter). After all, he is still a dog.

Each episode is titled using what becomes Ryan's personal goal or achievement for the episode from an almost psychological sense, hence names like "Happiness" and "Conscience". So clearly the show does have some somewhat hidden message about how Wilfred is playing a role in Ryan's recovery from his depression. But at the same time, we as audience members can't be entirely certain that Wilfred's brand of support is healthy for Ryan in the long term.

A lot of the odd charm of the show is how disturbing it is to see a grown man in a dog costume, well, be treated like a dog. And I'm not talking like some perverted brand of sexual play or anything. It's just watching Wilfred be subjected to the sorts of things that we do to our pets on a regular basis. Belly rubs take on a completely different tone when you see a grown woman doing it to another guy, who is still more or less behaving like a dog would. But one that can talk and only Ryan can hear. So yeah, a tad freaky and strangely funny at the same time.

Elijah Wood does make for a great door mat of a character. I had not realized how scarily thin he's become in recent years and this really works for the nature of the character he's portraying here. You can imagine that he's a guy down on his luck without a clear direction for the future and at the same time you appreciate that Wilfred's efforts do have some positive effect on him. It may not be 100% positive, but steadily Ryan is becoming a somewhat better and stronger individual.

Wilfred is definitely a bit of a guilty pleasure - a show that we've come to enjoy even though we probably couldn't fully explain why. Thus it gets 4 crazy things that Wilfred decides to rape out of a possible 5.

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  1. Ang sarap naman ng poster! Talagang dilaan ba si Elijah Wood? :)

  2. Does this make you wish you were a dog or something? LOL

  3. Gusto ko s'yang dilaan bilang tao :)

  4. Haha, I bet! Go lang, medyo skinny na siya for me. =P