*** Wilfred Season 1 (2011)
The first 6 episodes of the FX produced, Aussie-transplant series Wilfred are simply outstanding – smart, very funny and full of big ideas. That the balance of the 1st season can’t quite sustain the energy and wit of these initial few episodes was almost inevitable, but that shouldn’t deter you from checking out what might just be the best new sitcom in recent memory. Wilfred’s cynical, decidedly-adult and devious bravado is its best asset and they cover some darkly-comedic territory, so watch this after the kids have hit the hay. The plot is a variation on the imaginary friend theme that finds Ryan, a manic depressive (played by Frodo, listed here under his stage name Elijah Wood) who inexplicably is the only one who can see his neighbor’s dog as full grown man in a dog suit. The man in the suit is played by Aussie actor (and Wilfred creator) Jason Gann and the show hangs on the obvious chemistry between them. Wood is pitch-perfect as the straight man and the long gestation of Gann’s character (Wilfred’s been around since 2001, according to the supplementary material) is evident throughout. The show’s weak link might be Fiona Gubelmann who plays Wilfred’s owner and Ryan’s neighbour, Jenna. She’s easy on the eyes, but her character is underwritten.
This is a show that would have greatly benefited from the shorter 6-episode U.K. program model because it would have given the writers a chance to build a less-diluted, tighter story arc for each season. It’s also the kind of story that doesn’t easily fit into revisiting the characters each week and by the 7th or 8th episode, Wilfred starts to feel a little repetitious. Unfortunately, the writers seem too infatuated with the initial concept to explore the interesting possibilities the characters present, but perhaps they’ll get there next season.
Winner, but if the track were a little shorter, it might have destroyed the field.