Recently, I stumbled across a little known series called Wilfred that I thought I would give a watch. The series is comprised of thirteen twenty minute comedy episodes, so it is the kind of programme that you can happily tune into just to kill time and treat yourself to. However, it was so addictive and better than I expected it to be that I rushed through the entire episode list in just over a week.

The premise is a weird one. Ryan (played by a fantastic Elijah Wood), attempts suicide by overdose, but it doesn’t manage to kill him. It does, however, make him see the neighbour’s dog, Wilfred, as a human in a dog costume, whereas no one else can. Wilfred (Jason Gann) teaches Ryan how to enjoy and get ahead in life, sometimes playing dangerous mind games with him. However, there is the underlying factor that Ryan is not sure how much of his life is real and how mentally damaged his overdose left him.

Dark stuff. However, the writers are clever enough to keep the grim subject matter in the background for most of the series. What it focuses on is Wilfred, a character who takes pleasure in the simple things (digging, weed and his relationship with a teddy bear). The script is surprisingly witty, and in the nicest way, something I would not expect from American television. This is not the in-your-face humour that we get from Family Guy or the laugh-a-minute style of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, but it has its own charm that has a lot of appeal to it. It was an Australian program that America adopted and faithfully adapted (something that, up till now, the Americans have never been very good at).

Everyone walks their dog like this... right? Right?

Everyone walks their dog like this… right? Right?

The good thing about this series is that the writers have no desire to rush the story, and neither are the audience. Sure, the on-going storyline that Wilfred may or may not be real is really good (the writers left us with a fantastic cliff-hanger), but it is the kind of thing that can be brought up or dropped at any given time. As much as we love the serious side of Wilfred, the real pleasure is from the simple fun that the typical episode gives us. Also, while usually dropping a major plot development can look out of place on a series, here it actually suits the plot better. Sure, Ryan may have uncovered evidence that he could be severely mentally unwell at the end of the last episode, but at the end of the day, he is enjoying having Wilfred around, even if he could be a destructive hallucination. Brushing the serious questions under the carpet suits the series as we can imagine it is what Ryan’s character is actually doing: part of him doesn’t want to uncover the truth, because it could mean losing his dear friend.

Not that there isn’t any story to fall back on. Ryan’s life is so holistically a mess the writers can focus on any aspect of his life that they want to. When the comedy duo isn’t simply causing trouble for the sake of it, they are engaging with several of the other characters. There is Wilfred’s owner, Jenna, who Ryan has a crush on, despite her engagement to alpha male, Drew (a brilliant Chris Klein). Then we have Ryan’s mentally sick mother (suggesting that Ryan could have a hereditary illness), his obsessive sister and an over-powering father, who although we never see, is often looming over the story, causing a lot of Ryan’s grief. Basically, there is so much story to deal with, the series never gets old or repetitive.

It was impossible to write a series about a dog, without using this joke somewhere.

It was impossible to write a series about a dog, without using this joke somewhere.

Thankfully, despite modest viewings, the series has been commissioned for a third season. I am hoping that this series gets noticed in the way it deserves, because it really was a lucky find by me. I have really enjoyed working my way through the story, laughing all the way. Elijah Wood suits the comedy fine, yet at the same time as a good character to get to grips with as an actor. Everything about the series works.

And in all honesty, with How I Met Your Mother coming to a finale, we, as an audience, need more twenty minute comedy series to watch. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ isn’t as good as people make it out to be and ‘New Girl’ is trying too hard to compare to ‘How I Met’. Wilfred could be a dark horse as a contender to replace Ted Mosby’s quest for love, when he is gone. Basically, get this series. It will not disappoint.

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