"I'm not crazy!"
"Said the man to the dog."
I don't care who I insult when I say this, but stoner anything should never be this smart. Ever. I've been around potheads plenty in my life, and while it may not be fair to judge since I've never taken a single hit, when I see people making stupid, selfish mistakes in their adulthood because they haven't outgrown a childhood act of rebellion, then I feel plenty fine about myself for being judgmental. I see people excited to get new jobs, then suddenly realize they have impending drug tests, who still don't learn that stupid shit like getting high isn't worth the consequences. I see plenty of people who had plenty of potential in life, only to see it squandered, their one and only ticket to easy street canceled.
Ryan (Elijah Wood), the non-eponymous lead of the FX show 'Wilfred,' is exactly the kind of person I'm apt to loathe. A former lawyer, the reason for why he's no longer practicing is a mystery to viewers for 90 percent of the first season, Ryan is down on life, and as we meet him, he's prepared his suicide note's fourth revision, then fails miserably in his attempt to end it all. The morning after, his beautiful neighbor (Fiona Gubelmann as Jenna) imposes on him to watch her dog, Wilfred, only Ryan doesn't see the pup the same way everyone else does. To him, Wilfred (Jason Gann) looks like a full sized man in a dog suit, who does nothing but smoke weed (and tobacco products, though far less frequently), drink, and generally wreak havoc on anyone in his path.
'Wilfred' is an interesting piece. For starters, it bucks genres with ease. For the most part, the show is a dark, mostly episodic comedy, with a heavy "buddy" aspect to its foul-mouthed fare and the obvious saga of a secret infatuation with the literal girl next door; however, due to the ambiguity of the mental state of Ryan, and why no one else sees Wilfred in the same light, we're sent down a very troubling path, where each and every show can seem like a continued psychological analysis of a man who has clearly lost his shit. Continuity between episodes doesn't matter, as any tale between characters can take place a day or a month later, the constant state of change opening up new doors, avenues, and alleys to explore in the very curious relationships between the leads.
The thirteen episodes in this first season of the USA adaptation of the Australian show are beyond unpredictable and madcap, even if there is some redundancy. From the most horrifically wrong "molestation" PSA episode featuring Wilfred and a doggy daycare operator to the tables being turned when Wilfred finds a new suitable mate in a stuffed giraffe, this show is one that never lets you know where it's going all that far in advance. If anything, the only constant is the gatorade bottle-turn-bong, and the fact that Wilfred seems to want to put his new best friend through the ringer day in and day out to teach him a lesson or two about how to live his life properly. Good dogs don't get their masters put into insane asylums for observation. Good dogs don't make everyone on the block think you're a thieving asshole. Good dogs don't plant evidence at the scene of a crime to implicate you. Good dogs don't kill people for pizza. Then again, Wilfred just isn't a good dog.
The dialogue in the show is biting (sadly, I didn't even intend for that to be a pun), with the abusive relationship between the two leads generating an absolute riot of horribly politically incorrect exchanges, featuring more than a few innuendos and a comment or two about "lipstick." The thing is, everyone knows what it's like to have a dog, and 'Wilfred' imagines a world where the dog talks back, and we're invited to a whole new worldview, one that's about fifty shades of grey. We hear Wilfred's view on the world, on how everyone treats him, and as awful a friend as he may be, we believe Wilfred truly does care about Ryan, perhaps even for more reasons than his own selfish needs.
This first season is also loaded with surprises. For example, is there any form of Chris Klein better than a surprise Chris Klein, one you don't see coming and ruining scenes a mile away? Didn't think so! Heck, even Ed Helms checks in for an episode for one of the most degrading roles imaginable. Surprises don't just end with guest appearances, though, you'd never guess that a show would ever be made featuring a dog channeling the spirit of a long dead pet, but here it is, and it's glorious. This peak into the souls of both man and animal is dangerously funny, painfully crude, and uniformly bizarre, from conceit to execution. The first season has a great story arc that works as a whole (for a rapid fire marathon session, no less), and also functions nicely out of order, with each episode featuring a very snugly closed story.
In closing, perhaps a line from the pooch may describe what potential viewers are getting themselves into far better than I could ever describe. "Alright, here's what i'm thinking... we wait until drew is asleep, and then we put his hand in warm water. Then, just when he starts to pee himself, we take a rock and crush his skull!"
The Disc: Vital Stats
Fox brings FX channel's 'Wilfred' to Blu-ray across two Region A marked BD50 discs. This season set includes a season play option that makes broken up viewing sessions a breeze, and even skips the pre-menu garbage on the second disc. There are no packaging or menu gimmicks of note.
The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer on the first season of 'Wilfred' is a bizarre one. In fact, it has been some time since I've seen a television show release with so many visual maladies, even small ones, packed into such a short runtime. For the most part, the picture looks fine, and most viewers will hardly notice any issues. For example, skin tones are fantastic, in any shot, and are beyond phenomenal in well lit exteriors. Detail levels are solid, with some fantastic textures at times (particularly in Wilfred's suit), and picture depth is regularly uncharted. Color saturation is solid, stray hairs are regularly visible, and the picture is free from edge issues of any kind.
The way the little things add up, it's really something to behold. I've never seen a Blu-ray disc with even half the moments of moiring that is found here, as Ryan's clothing regularly takes on some pretty trippy patterns. Aliasing pops up in random moments in random objects, for a fun game of hide and go seek, while minor banding and a few specks of noise can be concerning. There are a couple of moments where grain acts very peculiar (most noticeably in the first episode, in the giant hole Wilfred digs), while in the same episode an ominous shadow gives off some serious artifacting issues. Throw in some peculiar textures at times, as well as randomly flat and blurred facial hair (again, see Wilfred), and you have enough issues to really bring a solid release down to size.
The audio on 'Wilfred' is passabe, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track presenting this sometimes inadequately designed (from a sound perspective) show to the best of its abilities. Dialogue is always clear, but it's also always from the front channels and only the front channels. Rear use is incredibly sporadic throughout the show, and what few noises do originate from rear channels are unintelligible and generally inconsistent, with heavier crowds feeling like one or two man bands. Sadly, bass levels are also a miss, as the motorcycle has just the tiniest whoomp to it, while the strip club sequence has absolutely no thud to it whatsoever. Dynamics are accurate, dialogue is warm, but design is so lacking, it's hard not to notice.
Every extra, sans the Comic-Con footage, is found on the second disc of this release.
'Wilfred' seems like a mixture of Ricky Gervais' signatue style and American toilet humor, but it's actually a very intelligent, outright hilarious program, with plenty to offer dedicated viewers. This thirteen episode first season does a great job mixing serious and light-hearted story arcs, and has you dying to see the new episodes the moment it ends. The Blu-ray, though, should have been much better, as the technical side has more than a few hiccups. It's a show worth a look, most definitely, and may be an impossible to miss title once it hits a fair price!