Wilfred: Review: Season 1 Ep 1

FX, June 23 (US)

Despairing of his life, failed lawyer Ryan (Elijah Wood) attempts suicide. Having failed at that too, he strikes up a friendship with Wilfred (Jason Gann), a neighbour’s dog whom he sees as an Australian bloke in a dog suit (to everyone else, he’s just a dog)…

Based on an Australian comedy series that was in turn based upon a short film by Jason Gann (who plays the title character, right), this new US comedy series has pedigree. Whether it will have a long life is another matter: dogs pack a lot of living into a short time, after all…

Frodo actor Wood brings a lot to the schelp that is Ryan in this opening instalment, setting him up as a no-hoper who can’t even kill himself properly. The arrival of Wilfred—is he a hallucination, a result of Ryan’s pills overdose, or a real dog-man?—shakes things up and gives Ryan a reason to go on. Wilfred seems to function as a kind of life coach, giving Ryan the balls to stand up to his controlling older sister Kristen (Dorian Brown) and rejecting the paper-pushing job she’s arranged for him at her hospital.

The core of the series is the off-kilter, mischievous title character. Gann’s Wilfred is alternately child-like and a hooligan, switching from acting like a loveable pooch to a true hound-dog. Whether the joke will rapidly wear thin (as I suspect it might), this opening episode is very amusing. Does this dog have legs? Well just have to wait and see…

Verdict: The Australian series was long in development and ran for two seasons, but American audiences may not get the quirky humour that underpins much of Wilfred.

Episode 1: 7/10

Brian J. Robb

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