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Based on the Australian show of the same name and adapted by Family Guy’s David Zuckermen, the US counterpart follows Ryan (Elijah Wood) and his friendship with his neighbour’s dog, the titular ‘Wilfred’. While that may not seem like the most sustainable premise, it worth mentioning that while everyone else sees Wilfred as the dog he is, Ryan sees him as a man in a dog costume . . . with an Australian accent. Cue hilarity.
Ryan is an out-of-work lawyer who, feeling fed up with his lot in life, attempts to commit suicide with an overdose of pills. However, morning comes and the seemingly unaffected Ryan has an encounter with his neighbour Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) who asks him to watch he dog for the day, enter Wilfred (played by Jason Gann who created the original version).
Unsure if the pills (which are in fact just sugar) have had an effect on his mental state, once Ryan overcomes the initial shock, the duo begin a mutually beneficial relationship, skewing heavily on the side of Wilfred.
Wilfred sees himself as something of a life guru, and seeks to rescue Ryan from the mundanity of his normal existence. With ulterior motives for nearly every action, Wilfred’s apparent selfishness is often undercut by a supposed life lesson he’s tried to teach Ryan, highlighted by the single word titles or each episode, such as ‘Happiness’, ‘Pride’ and ‘Control’.
Despite the later seasons losing some of the original charm, the show offers some great comedy as well as a mystery element surrounding the origins of Wilfred which keeps the audience guessing, albeit at the expense of a little frustration. Featuring a host of famous faces, from ‘The Last Man on Earth’s’ Mary Steenburgen and Kristen Schaal, to the likes Dexter’s James Remar, Saw’s Tobin Bell and even the late, great Robin Williams, there’s a lot of appeal to ‘Wilfred’, and that’s not just in the form of the foul-mouthed, weed-smoking dog/man.
Unique lines like “I dunno’ Ryan. Why is the grass grey? Why is the sky grey? Why is everything grey?” are definitely part of the reason why ‘Wilfred’ deserves a recommendation.