Wilfred, FX's new comedy series starring Elijah Wood, debuted Thursday night — and it's a far cry from Frodo's Middle Earth quest. Wood stars as Ryan, a gloomy lawyer who, after a failed suicide attempt, starts hanging out with his neighbor's dog, Wilfred. But there's a twist. While everyone else sees Wilfred as an actual canine, Ryan (perhaps as a side-effect of his depression) sees a walking, talking man dressed in a cheap dog suit. As Ryan struggles with confusion, Wilfred starts serving as his life coach, "a potty-mouthed, bitter" Oprah." Absurd as it sounds, the "brilliant, twisted" comedy is getting near-universal rave reviews. Can a show this weird possibly be that good? (Watch a clip from the show.)
It's "surreal"... in a good way: Wilfred is "strange, twisted," and, yes, "hilarious," says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. There's an unlikely cleverness in the way actor Jason Gann portrays Wilfred as a man and dog "in equal measure," eloquently expressing a real canine's "fears and fixations." And Wood's "wide, ridiculously blue eyes" are put to good use conveying horror, confusion, and disbelief at the whole bizarre situation.
"Review: FX's Wilfred a surreal, clever buddy comedy"
"A man in a dog suit is never not funny": The hilarity lies in the show's conceit, says Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter. While it's true this seemingly silly show if fortified by some "philosophical, existential, and surprisingly intimate moments," the real reason to watch is the "absurdist situations." There's just something uproariously delightful about watching a man in a dog suit chase a motorcycle. "The visual jokes alone are worth watching the series."
"Wilfred comes out of gate crazy great"
Actually, the concept wears out quickly: When a show depends so heavily on giving a voice to a dog's inner thoughts, says David Hinckley at the New York Daily News, what you get is "crude-guy humor, heavy on sex and body functions." Too often the rampant crudeness "makes you wince." The verdict? "Wilfred will probably not become your must-see TV."
"Wilfred review: Bizarre boy-meets-dog sitcom relies too much on crude, sexual humor"