A few critics I know who watched all of the initial three episodes of Wilfred at once made the comment that it appeared to be three different shows. The first episode promised a kind of dark, manic psychological comedy. The second was a more conventional sitcom with a side of funny dog humor. The third episode kept the dog humor, but went in the direction of a somewhat surreal, amorality play. I really liked the pilot, and probably would have preferred that the show stay with that tone, but it was possibly the most difficult to sustain, since so much of it was based on surprise.
If tonight's episode is any indication, Wilfred has decided that the third episode is the one to emulate moving forward. Like it, we have a guest star who is less of a person than an idea, with Ed Helms playing a doggie day care owner who forces Wilfred to lick his peanut butter-covered nutsack. Possibly – the show never entirely makes it clear whether it happens, though Wilfred's behavior certainly seemed to indicate that it's true instead of simply another manipulation.
Most of the jokes after Wilfred returns from the day care center are veiled rape jokes, which lends an air of tension to the proceedings. Yes, Wilfred is an anthropomorphized dog and the situation may not have happened, but seeing him sobbing in the shower while pretending to be using the toilet? Straight up rape humor. Now, given that this is an episode where you're supposed to find it funny that a dog got raped, I think Wilfred handled it decently well. It helps that here, unlike virtually every other time that Wilfred is unhappy about something, he doesn't feminize himself or Ryan when he's disappointed. Also, the jokes were generally funny, well-paced, and just absurd enough to work. I will forgive a lot for comedy's sake.
In one specific respect, this episode is a major improvement over all the others, in that it makes Ryan's sister Kristen more…if not quite sympathetic, more human. She's got one-and-a-half dimensions now, instead of simply being a nagging machine. Now she's a nagging machine who occasionally cares about Ryan's feelings. I do understand her character in the same way as Wilfred, as someone who appears through Ryan's filter of understanding, as an older sister who's constantly trying to force responsibility on him.
So if this is the groove Wilfred wants to settle into, I think I'll be happy. A bit of character work, a bit of boundary-pushing, clever dog humor, Elijah Wood's physical comedy (cape=awesome)? Yeah. I'll watch this. It may not be Louie levels of brilliance, but it's something perfectly good on its own.
- “Ryan, my anal glands need to be expressed.”
- “Do you know how Jenna stopped me from chewing on her panties? She didn't.”
- “How can I be racist? You know I'm incapable of seeing color.”
- “Yeah, Ryan. Stuffed with pain. And humiliation. And Darryl's cum!”
- “The way you constantly critique every shit I take.”
- “Hang on. Is Bear even in this band?”