'Wilfred': Are You Not Entertained?
Last season, Wilfred's executive producer David Zuckerman — who co-developed Family Guy with Seth McFarlane — described Wilfred's iconoclastic, pot-smoking dog as "a mixed breed, who is part Labrador Retriever and part Russell Crowe on a bender."
This season the Russell Crowe analogy is apropos again when, in the FX series' second episode, Wilfred — self-satisfied with the attention he's receiving from an office full of dog lovers — struts with his arms outstretched like Crowe's in Gladiator, mocking the group: "Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?"
Of course the crowd cannot hear Wilfred, played by actor and series co-creator Jason Gann, speak. To them he's just a cute little dog.
Only Elijah Wood's Ryan — Wilfred's next-door neighbor and sometimes dogsitter — can hear the mutt's mutterings. And to Ryan, Wilfred's not a dog at all, but an Australian nihilist in a dog suit.
FX has a full, half-hour special preview episode of Wilfred available online; it will also air Thursday, June 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Wilfred's second season premiere kicks off Thursday, June 28 at 10 p.m. ET, along with the return of Louie, the new Charlie Sheen sitcom Anger Management and Russell Brand's Brand X with Russell Brand.
If you're not up to speed, Wilfred's first season began with Ryan attempting suicide with an under-dosed pill-laced milkshake. Since then, he's been hanging out and doing bong hits with his neighbor's dog. It's unclear whether Ryan actually did successfully kill himself, and is in some sort of limbo, or has just gone completely off the rails, either through drugs or madness, and is hallucinating the whole thing. Bizarre stuff, when you think of it — but it does have its existential charm in the style of 1950's Harvey.
In the preview, Ryan has landed in a psychiatric hospital and seems to be recovering nicely, assured by his doctor (Robin Williams) that the whole thing was a self-made delusion. But the reality of the hospital quickly comes into question: Ryan's been given the blue pill by the nurse, as in The Matrix. Shortly after, Wilfred reappears.
"Maybe none of this would have happened if I would have been honest with you, about me," Wilfred says to Ryan. "Who I am. Why I'm here. After all we've been through, I think it's time I gave you some answers. Let's start with an easy one. Why are you the only person who can hear me speak? Ryan, you and I…"
But Ryan cannot bear to hear the answer. He walks off, and now he, and we, are off to another season of Ryan's alternate world where Wilfred professes to care deeply about him while simultaneously sabotaging all of his efforts to succeed.
At some level, Wilfred might simply be a folklorish, trickster voice summoned by Ryan's subconscious. Perhaps it's Ryan's way of challenging himself to not settle for a life as a pharmaceutical attorney and spend time doing work for which he has no passion.
After all, Wilfred wants Ryan to see the wonder and beauty that life has to offer. He's also all about anarchy and non-conformism, and digging up the back yard. A dog's carelessness and play, he continually submits, is the key to Ryan's freedom.
He says to Ryan, "Do you know why dogs dig? Because we're searching for truth."