I love the premise of Wilfred so much that I know I’m probably often guilty of overlooking its shortcomings. The idea of a man seeing a guy in a dog suit while everyone else sees a dog just tickles me so much that I can’t help but feel good about what I’m watching, even during the times that what I’m watching isn’t that good. Thankfully, though, there isn’t much in the first three episodes of Wilfred Season 3 that I need to feel ambivalent about enjoying.
Kicking off with a pair of episodes tonight, Wilfred Season 3 starts off in a place where I believe the show is its most effective: Exploring whether Ryan is effing crazy. “Uncertainty” picks up on a thread from last season where Ryan (Elijah Wood) is floored by seeing a drawing he did as a child that appears to have Wilfred (Jason Gann) in it. He concludes that the only explanation must be that he is suffering from some undiagnosed mental illness, and that Wilfred as he sees him is simply a figment of his imagination. Not a big leap, assuredly, but it is startling as a viewer to hear Ryan be so gung ho about it. (I’m still clinging to the theory that the entire series has been a Jacob’s Ladder-style death dream stemming from Ryan’s suicide attempt in the pilot, although Wood assured me that he didn’t believe that to be the case.)
Wilfred, however, believes it all proves something else: that he is a magical being, akin to a god, who pops up throughout history helping people and just in general being magical. To settle it, they do some digging into Wilfred’s past that leads them to Sacramento where Wilfred was born. Angela Kinsey from The Office awaits, contributing a very funny guest spot that also gives Gann a chance to show more range. (I’m not going to tell you how exactly, just watch.)
If there is one complaint about the new season, it’s that the next couple episodes pretty much drop this train of thought, and it goes back to being business as usual with Ryan blithely accepting Wilfred’s presence. In “Comfort,” Ryan adjusts to Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) and Drew (Chris Klein) returning from their honeymoon and being all disgustingly in love. He also befriends a really weird mailman named Bill (Zachary Knighton), a development that really ticks off Wilfred, given his canine disposition toward mail carriers.
Next week’s episode, “Suspicion,” has been generating some news the past day or so, because of a surprise guest star that FX is kindly asking reviewers not to divulge until next month after Comic-Con in San Diego. Having watched the episode, I’m a little puzzled as to what they have up their sleeves — although the identity of the performer may lead some to jump to certain conclusions. But hey, FX, your secret is safe with me. One guest star I can tell you about is Gina Gershon who plays the proprietor of a secret brothel that Ryan finds by following Wilfred’s ill-advised lead. Typical of the show, however, Ryan’s being in a brothel has something to do with the unusual relationship he has with his sister, Kristen (Dorian Brown).
Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX