Wilfred Series Premiere Review: Be a Man!

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Wilfred is the kind of show you really want to like.

It's as unique as a sitcom can get, it features a strong lead in Elijah Wood and it aims for interesting, profound themes. Two and a Half Men this is not.

All that said, I didn't love the series premiere, "Happiness." It was cute and different, but not especially funny, and I can't help but wonder how long such a premise can last.

Wilfred Premiere Scene

In order to have staying power, Wilfred has to be more than a one-note series. How many times can a man in a dog suit hump a woman's leg? Or aim to shock viewers with the image of the same canine/human smoking? But let's not critique episodes that haven't aired yet.

Focusing just on the pilot, I can safely say I like Wood and I like Jason Gann, who originated the role of Wilfred in Australia. They play off each other well and Wood sold his character's downtrodden outlook on life perfectly.

My favorite moment is pictured above, when Wilfred went into full-on dog mode and gave us a look into the insecurities that plague our pets when we leave for the day. Do they really fear we'll never return?

Most of the time, though, Wilfred tried to impart lessons to Ryan, hoping he would act like a man by, ironically, acting like a dog. This is a guy who didn't really wish to kill himself (he rewrote his suicide note numerous times and mixed his pills into a shake), he just needed someone to actually focus on his confidence and insecurity issues.

Ryan's sister may have meant well, but yelling at her brother to shape up and just change his perspective didn't get the job done. At least not like crapping in some bully's shoe did.

Future episodes are titled "Fear" and "Trust," so we can assume Wilfred will stick with the concept of one pal helping another pal overcome various problems. It's really not much different than other buddy comedies in that sense, one of the friends in question happens to be a dog. There's potential there, and I trust FX more than any other network.

But if I'm not gonna laugh out loud at any of the jokes (and I didn't here), I need more than a man in a dog suit to make a show work. I need the focus going forward to be on Ryan, a troubled, layered character, and less on the Gann-based gimmick. I'll stick around for a few weeks to see if that happens.

What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (53 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


all the shows the reviewer said he thought were funny suck


A case of good idea, bad execution. I had little interest in watching more episodes.


Most times critic=idiot, because this show is hilarious. Watch it.


i think wilfred is 1 of the funniest shows i have seen. it's different and cute. u need to throw in a cat lilke wilfred. i love watching the show every time i watch it. wilfred is cool.


Only just got around to watching this. I was a big fan of the original and I think they've done a pretty good job with this version. If you didn't laugh out loud then this probably isn't your type of humour. "go climb over over the fence and get it [the ball]"
"What, with no arms?"
"What are they?"
"Legs" [while having a smoke]

Saad khan

its funny and has lot of potential.. we saw just a small portion of how far it can go C'mon Elijah Wood shits in a boot.. what else you can ask for ? :-P

Matt richenthal

@Jay Jr.: I assure you, I have no agenda. I hate to reference other critics, but reviews have mostly been VERY negative. Go check out what Entertainment Weekly wrote, just as proof that I'm not alone in finding this a one-note concept.
In terms of what I do find funny: Modern Family, Community, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation. Shows with ensemble casts that play well off each other and deliver witty, original jokes that don't always come back to the fact that a man is dressed like a dog.


I also fully agree with Jay. I'd like to know what show the writer of the article does find funny because I can't think of any other show that makes you laugh out loud the way this one does. The worst part of the review was characterizing it as a one line gig. That is like saying the talking dog in Family Guy is a one line gig when really the humor has nothing to do with the fact the dog talks, it is what he says and does. Same writer, funnier dog in this show. This reviewer must get something out of being a contrarian to say what he said. Don't miss something special just because this guy has an agenda.

Matt richenthal

@James: I don't think every sitcom is the same in terms of the one goal being huge laughter. This had great performances and I give it credit for trying to be different. Hence, the 3.8
That rating will slide, though, if it proves to be nothing but a unique premise.


Kinda curious how you could give a 1/2 hour comedy a 3.8 if you didn't laugh once. I actually wholeheartedly agree with the review. I think this version missed what is funny about the Australian version. I also think Elijah Wood and Jason Gann are good together.

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Wilfred Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Ryan: Get off.
Wilfred: I'm trying to!

Ryan: I thought it would make me sound Effete.
Wilfred: So does saying the word "effete."