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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Wilfred: "Fear"
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Writing about what makes a comedy work and what doesn't can be tricky. For example, the criticisms I leveled against last week's Wilfred – that it was too much like a generic sitcom, primarily – could easily be applied to this week's episode as well. Here we have the traditional sitcom plot of an unavoidable confrontation that someone cheats, but the fallout from cheating is worse than the confrontation. Hijinks ensue and lessons are learned.

And this is what happens here. The motorcycle jerk from the pilot, Spencer, returns, demanding an answer to why Ryan's wallet was at his house after the break-in. Ryan tells him that same people broke into his house, so really they're both victims and should be friendly. But Spencer, well, Spencer is not a great friend for Ryan. Wilfred wants Ryan to fight him, Ryan wants to get away, Spencer wants to porn out.

Spencer is a ludicrous, totally unrealistic character in this episode, as is his friend Jesse, introduced later in the episode. This is what makes the episode work: the show's premise involves a slightly insane, cartoonish view of the world based around a talking dog. It makes sense that other people would appear less as humans, and more as Ryan's emotional reactions to them. Since Ryan is afraid of Spencer and wants to get rid of him ASAP, we see Spencer staying around as the height of annoyance and awkwardness.

Of course, the key ingredient in a comedy is whether it's funny or not, and this episode has much more sustained humor. Elijah Wood gets to play the straight man again, a role which seems to suit him slightly more than last week's semi-insanity. Wilfred also walks the thin line between funny dog things and philosophical guide, in addition to getting some more physical comedy – chasing a laser pointer is great fun, as well as a perfect wanking motion when Ryan gives a Jeff Winger-esque speech.

Wilfred also does some interesting structural experimentation, which is rare in a sitcom, though not, perhaps, rare for a show that airs on FX on Thursdays (its neighbor Louie may be the most formally daring show on television, comedy or drama). A pot-induced haze causes Ryan to view the events of the episode slightly outside of chronological order. It makes sense within the story, given just how damn much pot Wifred and Ryan partake in, but it also serves as a kind of in medias res opening, and one which doesn't piss me off. This made for a deliciously weird episode, and one that I hope is the direction that Wilfred chooses to travel over its lifetime.

Stray Observations:

  • “You don't have to say open it, Ryan. I know to open it.”
  • “You want me to have sex with him?”
  • “Have you done this with another dog?” “Every goddamn day.”
  • “Why is the sky grey? Why is the grass grey? Why is a rainbow grey grey grey grey grey grey and infragrey?”
  • “Now we can porn out all night!”
  • “Anything goes at Club Midia!”
  • “My sweet, innocent mom, when she was on ecstasy.”