by Jayden Leggett, Assistant Editor
A somewhat dark and bizarre Australian comedy series that has recently been adapted into an American release, Wilfred isn’t the sort of show that just anybody can enjoy. However for those whose minds are open to the possibility that a man can communicate with his girlfriend’s dog, Wilfred might just be right up their alley.
Beginning rather unspectacularly, the first episode begins with Adam coming home to his new girlfriend Sarah’s house. Upon entering her bedroom he is surprised to meet her dog Wilfred, whom apparently only Adam has the ability to communicate with and perceive him as being a bong-smoking man in a dog costume. Thus begins a very strange relationship in which the overprotective Wilfred does everything a dog can do to prevent Adam becoming Sarah’s main focus of attention.
The only way I can think of describing Wilfred’s character is by making comparisons to Brian from Family Guy, as he is a dog who can speak to Adam yet is ultimately a typical dog at the end of the day, however with the personality of an absolute jerk. Wilfred giggles with glee as he tears up sheets, leaves smelly presents on Adams possessions, urinates all over the toilet bowl and the surrounding floor and causes other doggy-style havoc in an attempt to cause a break-up between the two humans, with Sarah always taking Wilfred’s side and assuming Adam is the one to blame. The overall style of the humor is very dry and bleak, and while not “laugh out loud” funny, falls into that other category of bizarre yet enjoyable.
Admittedly the series begins with a rather slow burn, with the first few episodes being entertaining enough but by no means extraordinary. However towards the end of the first season and definitely the entirety of the second season, the ultimate payoff is provided for those who stuck around from the beginning, as the writing and stories dramatically improve in quality. Highlights include Wilfred defecating on Adam’s laptop and Adam in turn setting him up to be caught by the dog catchers, Adam coming to terms with the fact that Sarah’s parents are nudists and want him to join in on their nudity, and the various interactions that Wilfred has with other animals (like the cat that he has sex with, or his dad who gave him a hard childhood, or the cockatoo who has a lover’s argument with his reflection in the mirror) who are actually more people wearing animal costumes.
In fact one of the best aspects of this show is its casting, as the actors are all perfect in their roles and deliver top-notch performances. Jason Gann (The Wedge, Mark Loves Sharon) is great as the surly, insulting dog you love to hate, while Cindy Waddingham’s (Lowdown) strong-willed and no-nonsense portrayal of Sarah perfectly and entertainingly clashes against Adam Zwar’s (The Wedge, Lowdown) slightly neurotic and insecure character of Adam. I also loved how many of the actors wearing the other animal suits were other well-known Aussie actors such as Stephen Curry (The Secret Life Of Us, The Castle), David Field (City Homicide, Two Hands) and Angus Sampson (Insidious, Where The Wild Things Are) who played their roles brilliantly.
Technically, much like the quality of the story lines, the visual quality also improved a lot after the first few episodes, where the film was somewhat grainy and the cinematography wasn’t as good as it gets later on as the series progressed. On the other hand the music used was consistently great, and perfectly added to the dark atmosphere of much of the black humor that occurs during the show. DVD extras include behind the scenes footage, out-takes, bloopers and other stock-standard features.
All told I was well and truly hooked on Wilfred right until the very end. There’s just something so funny about a man in a dog costume yelling “F*** off!” instead of growling at strangers and referring to sex as “doing the naughty boy” that I found particularly funny and clever, and when the series really picked up its stride and focused on split stories following the two individual exploits of Wilfred and Adam within the one episode it really worked wonders in creating a compelling narrative dynamic. I am yet to watch any of the American version of this show, but if it is anything like the Australian version then consider me already addicted.
ComicsOnline gives Wilfred: Series One & Two 4 out of 5 chain smoking canines.