On the Small Screen: “Wilfred”

August 7th, 2011, by

It’s a few weeks yet until the fall shows begin to appear, but there’s already plenty of new material to satisfy the discerning television viewer. First on my list of new favorite shows is Wilfred, the FX redo of an Australian program of the same name.

The premise is a bit ridiculous, and the fact that it works so seamlessly is a testament to the show’s many strengths. It stars Elijah Wood as a neurotic unemployed lawyer who meets and befriends a neighbor’s dog. Sounds reasonable enough, but here’s the thing: the dog appears to him (and no one else) as a burly Australian man in an unconvincing grey dog suit. Wilfred, the dog, is played by the show’s co-creator Jason Gann, who also played the role in the original series, and is best described as an even split between a fairly intelligent dog and The Dude from The Big Lebowski.

The duo’s adventures are slightly less ridiculous than the show’s premise, but not by much. Instance: in one episode, Wood’s character busts Wilfred out from a dog day care run by an alleged animal abuser; in another, Wilfred convinces him to burglarize a troublesome neighbor. Wood is at his comic best, with no sign of Frodo in sight, and Gann’s mischievous deadpan pretty much makes the show.

Wilfred came on the air in June and is finishing its first 11-episode season in a few weeks, but if you live in the U.S., episodes are available online from FX. If you enjoyed Lassie, The Littlest Hobo and all those other classic dog shows, you probably won’t like this one, and it’s not really for the kids either, but it is one of the most original ideas to hit the small screen in a long time.

Last modified: August 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm