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DVD Review

DVD cover

Wilfred (USA Series)
The Complete First Season


Starring: Elijah Wood and Jason Gann
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 August 2012

Ryan is struggling to successfully make it in the world and on the brink of suicide when he strikes up a bizarre friendship with Wilfred, his neighbour’s not-so-domesticated dog. To everyone else Wilfred is just a loveable pup, but to Ryan he is man’s best bud in a dog suit... Together the gruff but brutally honest man in the suit and down in the dumps Ryan enjoy a bromance of beer-guzzling, dirty deeds and lewd lust-fuelled affairs. Can Wilfred help Ryan conquer life in the mad, messed up world surrounding him or will he make a dog’s dinner of it all...?

Wilfred: The Complete Season 1 collects together all 13 episodes of the USA series which is based on the original 2002 Australian TV show. I started watching the Australian series a while back and lost interest almost straight away. The idea behind Wilfred sounded great, but the humour was just too dark in the original show. Add to that the fact it wasn't overly clear whether Wilfred was a man in a dog suit or actually a dog and the fact that most of the jokes weren't actually that funny, and it's not overly surprising that it had a niche audience. So, I came to this reworking of the show for an American audience with a little apprehension.

The series is adapted by David Zuckerman (Family Guy, American Dad, King of the Hill) and stars Jason Gann (the original co-creator) reprising his role as Wilfred, and Elijah Wood as Ryan. The show is told through the eyes of Ryan, who has recently quit his job as a lawyer and has already tried to kill himself. It is after this failed suicide attempt that he meets his neighbour, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) and her dog, Wilfred - who Ryan quickly realises he can communicate with. The jokes come thick and fast, and the majority of the gags come from the way Wilfred is as dumb as a dog, but thinks he's more like a human.

Highlights in this first season include:

Trust: Ryan tricks Wilfred into going to the vets to get his teeth cleaned. While under the influence of the anaesthetic, Wilfred tells Ryan that Jenna has a dick.

Fear: Everyone is annoyed by Spencer (played by Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl)) who is a rude and loud biker that lives in the street. In a previous episode Wilfred has tricked Ryan into breaking into Spencer's house and trashing it. When Spencer suspects Ryan knows something about it (as his wallet was found nearby) Ryan pretends he too was broken into. The two bond over this, much to Ryan's annoyance, and Spencer seems to want to spend their time together watching porn. Ryan must find away to break up their very one sided friendship.

Respect: Ryan volunteers to help at a hospice for the dying. Wilfred becomes an overnight success when he seems to be able to comfort those that are close to death; acting as a loyal friend to help them cross over. But Ryan discovers that Wilfred may be killing the old folks to gain recognition.

Anger: Ryan is plagued by nightmares of his childhood dog Sneakers, who Ryan has always believed he was responsible for accidentally killing - because he left the gate open and Sneakers fell into the family pool and drowned. Wilfred becomes possessed by Sneaker's spirit, which has an important message for Ryan.

Compassion: Ryan's mother wants to discharge herself from the asylum she's been in for the last 20 years. Her free spirited outlook on life is a little too much for Ryan to take, but Wilfred loves her. This episode stars Mary Steenburgen (Back to the Future III) as Ryan's mum and Rhea Perlman (Cheers) as Mittens. Steenburgen looks almost as young as she did in 1991's Back to the Future III, which is quite amazing. She obviously has a wonderful plastic surgeon.

Doubt: A mysterious man from Wilfred's past confronts Ryan and shows him evidence that Wilfred will ruin his life. This man can also see and hear Wilfred like Ryan does. Is Wilfred really out to destroy him?

Extras include Wilfred at Comic-Con 2011 (6 min, 33 sec Q&A); Deleted Scenes (15 min, 45 sec); Wilfred & Bear: A Love Affair (1 min, 04 sec edited scenes from the show with Wilfred having sex with Bear); Mary Jane Mash-Up (1 min, 01 sec edited together clips of drug references from the show); and Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life after Film School with Jason Gann (9 min, 58 sec interview. This extra isn't overly easy to find as it's on the second page of extra material which you could easily miss if you don't see the little arrow indicating another page. In addition the aspect ratio seems to be incorrect, which means you'll have to change your screen settings on your TV).

Wilfred is certainly a series I'd recommend checking out. If you're a dog lover then some of Wilfred's actions will have you nodding your head in recognition. I particularly liked how he hates the young boy in the neighbourhood because he believes he practices black magic after he pretends to throw a ball for Wilfred and when Wilfred can't find it he produces it from behind his back, blowing poor Wilfred's feeble mind.


Darren Rea

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