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Existentialism in a Dog Suit

By Jac Kern · June 27th, 2012 · Television
ac_tv_wilfred 6-26 from fxElijah Wood and Jason Gann in 'Wilfred' - Courtesy FX
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When Ryan decides his disappointing, mundane life has come to an end, he downs a NyQuil-and-pill-spiked smoothie. But his plan to doze off into eternal sleep is foiled when his neighbor, Jenna, in a bind asks Ryan to watch her dog, Wilfred. Ryan (played to perfection by Elijah Wood) is shocked to discover that while everyone else sees a standard pooch, he perceives Wilfred as an upright, talking Australian man in a simple dog costume, with a painted-on black snout.

Between bong rips and romps with his lover, Bear (a disgusting, overstuffed carnival prize), Wilfred becomes Ryan’s closest friend — and greatest saboteur. While there’s plenty of hilarious human-dog hijinks (verbalizing dog thoughts/characteristics never gets old), it’s the deep, psychological undertones that give Wilfred a dark edge not found in many other current shows (and makes it a great lead-in to Louie). While American remakes of shows tend to dumb down or lighten up, our Wilfred (with the same actor, Jason Gann, playing the title character) takes even more disturbing turns than its Australian counterpart.

A second season preview (available online) featured surprising guest stars and more twists than Shutter Island. In the end, Ryan breaks through his closet’s walls to find the basement he remembers, and searches for an injured Wilfred’s will. After dozens of blank pages, Ryan finds one with a simple, yet incredibly deep message: “Keep digging.” Whether Ryan can truly communicate with canines, he’s suffered brain damage, everything is just a coma dream or something in-between, Wilfred isn’t telling.

On the second season premiere (10 p.m. Thursday, FX) Wilfred refuses to counsel Ryan due to his selfishness.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 27

Futurama (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Leela works on a 3012 presidential campaign and must deal with the drama surrounding a missing birth certificate.

THURSDAY JUNE 28

Anger Management (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., FX) – The (not-so) long awaited Charlie Sheen comeback is upon us with this new comedy about a non-traditional therapist coping with the same issues his own patients face.

Louie (Season Premiere, 10:30 p.m., FX) – Possibly my favorite current standup comedian, Louis C.K.

returns with this fictionalized account of his daily life. In this third season premiere, Louie is having a really bad day.

Brand X with Russell Brand (Series Premiere, 11 p.m., FX) – Rounding out FX’s efforts to own Thursday nights is this talk show hosted by the British bad boy (who is forever Aldous Snow to me). Brand will dish on current events, pop culture and worldwide politics.

FRIDAY JUNE 29

Comedy Bang! Bang! (10 p.m., IFC) – Michael Cera and the Cake Boss stop by the studio.

Bunk (10:30 p.m., IFC) – Kumail Nanjiani, Tom Lennon and Eugene Mirman face off.

SUNDAY JULY 1

True Blood (9 p.m., HBO) -– Pam decides to be a good maker, hopefully in time to keep Tara from frying; Bill and Eric must discover who else knew about Russell Edgington without triggering their iStakes; Roman scours Authority HQ for a traitor.

The Newsroom (10 p.m., HBO) – MacKenzie heads the new News Night, adding Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn) as a regular financial reporter.

Weeds (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime) – The Botwins are back to answer the latter part of season seven’s major cliffhanger: Who shot who? As the wounded is sent to the hospital, the rest of the gang tries to uncover whodunit.

Episodes (Season Premiere, 10:30 p.m., Showtime) – A British couple brings their hit show across the pond in hopes of American success, but when Hollywood casts Matt LeBlanc as the lead, their witty comedy turns into dreadful (but successful) cliché. In the season two opener, separated Sean and Beverly must continue working with show star and marriage-ruiner Matt as Pucks! rakes in ratings.

MONDAY JULY 2

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (Premiere, 9 p.m., HBO) – A look inside the life and work of the “grandmother of performance art,” this HBO doc follows Marina Abramovic as she prepares her 2010 retrospective exhibit at MoMA.

TUESDAY JULY 3

Workaholics (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Anders’ dad comes to visit, putting the guys’ friendship through the ringer.


CONTACT JAC KERN: jkern@citybeat.com or @jackern on Twitter

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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