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Featured TV on DVD Review: Running Wilde: Season One

August 28th, 2011

Running Wilde: Season One - Buy from Amazon

This is the second short-lived TV show I've reviewed this week. (Next week I'm reviewing at least two more. It's that time of year.) Running Wilde debuted on September 21st, and by the end of November, it was gone. It was advertised as, 'From the creators of Arrested Development.' Did that set too high a standard to live up to? Or would lowered expectations still be too much?

The Show

The show stars Will Arnett and Keri Russell as Steve Wilde and Emmy Kadubic, two polar opposites who knew each other as kids (he's the son of a billionaire oil tycoon and she's the daughter of one of their staff) but haven't seen each other in years. When the series starts, Steve's living in his family mansion with Migo Salazar, his "best friend" / driver, and Mr. Lunt (Robert Michael Morris), his nanny. The only other person he interacts with is Fa'ad Shaoulin, his neighbor / rival. Meanwhile, Emmy is living in the Amazon rain forest with her kid, Puddle (Stefania LaVie Owen), and her new boyfriend, Dr. Andy Weeks, a devoted eco-warrior.

In the pilot, Steve is giving himself a Humanitarian Award, but he's in a funk, because no one's coming. (Like I said, outside of his servants and Fa'ad, he doesn't actually talk to anyone, and even Fa'ad is giving this ceremony a pass.) Having no friends to invite wouldn't bother him much if Emmy would be there. She's the only one he wants to see, but he knows that's almost certainly not going to happen. When she does get his invitation, she shows up just to see if he's changed. He hasn't. So she decides to take Puddle back to the Amazon rain forest. This is when Puddle decides to conspire with Steve so she can avoid going back to living in the rain forest. The plan works, and for the next twelve episodes, Emmy tries to help Steve become a better person, while Steve tries to corrupt Emmy enough so that she will fall in love with him. Meanwhile, Puddle's just happy for a chance to live as somewhat normal life.

There are very few things normal about this show. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The characters are clearly overloaded on quirks, and for the first couple of episodes, they lack a central core of humanity. Once the show found its grove, the silliness of the show aided the humor instead of merely existing for its own sake. It does try a little too hard to be Arrested Development with a number of stylistic choices that were similar (the voice over by Stefania LaVie Owen, the cutaways, the general tone of the humor) as well as several in-jokes and a couple guest appearances. Some of the plot points were repeated too many times within just 13 episodes (we see Steve and Emmy both learn that they have to be more like each other multiple times). That said, the jokes were great and the comedic timing of the cast was impeccable. I really liked the chemistry between Keri Russell and Will Arnett, as well as the supporting cast. (Stefania LaVie Owen's narration was an important part of the success of the show.) Had the series lasted, I think it would have been a great show. Even with the early unsteadiness, it was great far more than it was merely good.

The Extras

There are no extras on this two-disc set.

The Verdict

Like most shows, Running Wilde takes a couple episodes to find its footing, but once it does it delivers a lot of laughs. It's not as good as Arrested Development was and I think the comparison is what sank the show in the end, which is unfair. The DVD doesn't have any extras, but it is worth checking out and I think the humor has enough replay value that if you are a fan of Arrested Development or of Keri Russell, Will Arnett, David Cross, etc., then it is worth picking up.

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