This evening, Wilfred [FX, 10/9C] – about a suicidal ex-lawyer who sees the girl next door’s dog as a large Australian man in a cheesy dog suit – wraps up its first season with unexpected drama.
Over the course of its first season, Wilfred [Jason Gann] has manipulated Ryan [Elijah Wood] into becoming a better marginally person – if only to benefit himself [even he admits he’s a selfish dog]. In tonight’s season finale, Identity, Ryan has had enough.
Wilfred’s owner, Jenna [Fiona Gubelmann] is about to become engaged to her obnoxious boyfriend [Chris Klein] and could be about to lose her anchorwoman job [due to being high on air, thanks to Ryan and Wilfred]. Wilfred exhorts Ryan to take extreme measures ‘this one time’ – and he promises to help Ryan get Jena if he does.
Naturally, Ryan’s success at saving Jenna’s persuades him to take questionable steps to deal with Jenna’s engagement and things get out of hand to the point where… well, let’s just say they don’t go well – as his efforts have a negative impact on his sister, Kristen [Dorian Brown, and her husband, Leo [J.P. Manoux] as well as Jenna, drew and, especially, Wilfred. Everybody, in fact, except for grouchy neighbor, Mr. Patel [Gerry Bednob].
Identity is particularly sharply written, by David Zuckerman [whose take on the series has given it range beyond Gann’s original Australian show], and Ryan’s seduction by the dark side is completely believable – as is his tactic for distracting Wilfred when the dog tries to save him from himself [‘BUBBLES’!].
Gann, Wood and Gubelmann are excellent throughout, as are Klein and the rest of the cast – and Ray wise has a great bit as Jenna’s boss, station owner Colt St. Cloud. The ep moves at a good pace, and produces the most effective dramatic moments of the season.
Wilfred is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of series. Those critics who love it, love it like it was the second coming of My So-Called Life; those who hate it, loathe it more than According to Jim. O fall squarely into the love it section, though even with its outstanding overall quality, it baffles me.
It’s rude/crass/vulgar and/or poignant/heartwarming/nuanced – often at the same time. There are really no characters that I’d care to know personally [especially not Wilfred!] – other than Jenna – and the show’s unique heightened reality just shouldn’t work. Somehow, though, it all does. Maybe it’s the odd balanced of philosophical pondering disguised as grotesquerie; maybe it’s just the sheer oddness of the series.
Whatever the case, Wilfred has become a show I won’t miss if humanly possible.
Final Grade: A
Photo by Robert Zuckerman/courtesy FX