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Featured TV on DVD Review: Wilfred: Season Two

July 5th, 2013

Wilfred: Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Wilfred is a high concept show, which is both good and bad. On the positive side, it makes the show more interesting than 90% of the shows on TV. On the negative side, a high concept usually means a really short shelf life. These shows tend to run out of things to do with the concept and have to either end early, or live long enough to become just a standard TV show. Are there any signs that the show is suffering from this problem? Or will fans be eager to check out season two, and season three?

The Show

First a recap... Elijah Wood stars as Ryan Newman, a previously successful lawyer who suffered from severe depression. It was severe enough to cause him to leave his profession, and in the first episode, he tries to commit suicide by overdosing on pills his sister, Kristen (Dorian Brown), prescribed for him. It didn't work out, but he does have a few reactions. While in the middle of this, his neighbor, Jenna Mueller (Fiona Gubelmann) comes by and asks Ryan if he can look after her dog, Wilfred, but instead of seeing a dog, he sees as a man (Jason Gann) in a cheap looking dog suit. At first Ryan assumes this is an effect of all of the drugs he took, but he later learns his sister gave him placebos, because she didn't trust him with real medicine. Throughout the first season, Ryan and Wilfred hang out in Ryan's basement smoking pot. Nearly every episode Ryan has a problem and Wilfred gives him advice, including advice on how Ryan can be with Jenna. Wilfred's advice nearly never works out and is frequently meant to hurt Ryan. (This part reminds me of Malcolm In The Middle, specifically a quote from Reese. "Don't listen to the voices in your head. They are not on your side.") Yet despite this, Ryan continues to listen to Wilfred.

At the end of the season, there's a major shake up. Jenna is about to marry Drew, due in part to a plan that Wilfred suggested. Ryan asks Wilfred to do something to stop Jenna from leaving with Drew, and Wilfred runs out into the street and is hit by a car. When Ryan visits Wilfred in the animal hospital, Wilfred no longer recognizes Ryan. Ryan doesn't know what to do without Wilfred's advice. ... Really? He rushes home to go to the basement, which is where Wilfred supposedly left the last bit of advice for Ryan, but when he opens the door to the basement, it is just a closet.

When season two begins, Ryan is dreaming that he is stuck in a boring business meeting, the kind that made him quit practicing law in the first place. He is being yelled at by his boss about a report due Thursday. One of his co-workers is shaking his head, while another co-worker hands him a note that says wake up. When the dream ends, he's in a mental institute and talking to Dr. Eddy. It's a big day. He's going going to meet Jenna and Wilfred for the first time in four months. He's looking forward to seeing both of them, partly because he is still in love with Jenna, but also because he wants to see Wilfred as a dog and not a man in a dog costume. Apparently four months wasn't enough. Ryan has a major relapse and this ends with him about to get shock therapy. Fortunately, a man helps him escape the mental institute before this happens. That man is Wilfred, in a man suit. And the guy driving the getaway van is Bear, the stuffed bear. Yep, it turns out his nightmares about working in an office were real life and his life in the mental hospital were his dreams.

On the one hand, this isn't a bad twist. On the other hand, it is a troubling sign that the high concept is accelerating.

When Ryan gets back in the real world, he finds out that Jenna and Drew are still together, and not broken up as he dreamed. When he gets into his house, he goes to the closet and realizes there is a false wall and stairs down to a basement. He does find Wilfred's will, but all it says is "Keep Digging".

Throughout season two, Ryan tries to adapt to the real world of keeping down a job, repairing his relationship with his sister, he even starts a relationship with a co-worker, Amanda. However, he still has to deal with Wilfred and all that comes with that. There also is more of a history between Ryan and Wilfred that we previously knew about. Last season we learned Ryan's mother has a history of mental illness and even talks to her cat the same way Ryan talks to Wilfred. This season, we learn... That's a spoiler, but I will say it rivals the big twist during the season one finale in terms of craziness.

I really liked season one of Wilfred and I think season two is a slight improvement in overall quality. It is a very bizarre show at times, but I get the impression that there is an overall logic behind the show, even if we the viewers are not aware what that is. We are getting a few pieces here and there. There are still some problems from before. I'm quite convinced that the show's shelf-life will be short. Also, many, many times Wilfred is less than sympathetic as a character. That said, I'm certainly interested in learning more and seeing next season.

The Extras

Extras begin with deleted scenes, spread over two discs. The rest of the extras are on disc two, starting with five minutes of outtakes. Up next is Stay, a four-minute short film. There is also a one-minute "news" clip of Jenna's on air freak out. And finally there is a montage of Ryan saying Wilfred and Wilfred saying Ryan. That's not a lot of extras.

Like last time, the technical presentation is good, but not great. It is a low-budget show, so you can't be too surprised that there's not a lot of visual flash. The details are good, as are the colors and the shadows, while there are no compression issues or digital artifact to deal with. The audio is likewise solid but unspectacular. There's enough activity in the surround sound speakers to not seem barren, but it is hardly active.

The Blu-ray costs $5 or 25% more than the DVD, which is great for this type of release.

The Verdict

Wilfred is a very good show, but strange enough that its target audience is more limited than with most network TV shows. I think season two is a little better than season one, except when it comes to the extras, but it is still worth picking up. There are no exclusive extras on the Blu-ray, nor will the technical presentation blow you away, but it is still a better deal than the DVD.

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Filed under: Video Review, Robin Williams, Justin Berfield, Allison Mack, Rob Riggle, Mary Steenburgen, Steven Weber, Elijah Wood