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Wilfred: The Complete Season Two(TV) (2012)
The story of Ryan, a depressed man who believes he is getting nowhere in his life and plans to kill himself. In the middle of his attempted suicide, he is asked to watch his neighbor's dog, Wilfred, but Ryan can only see Wilfred as a real person instead of an animal that everyone else sees. As they begin to bond more and become friends, Wilfred teaches Ryan a life lesson about people, love, and living.
For more about Wilfred: The Complete Season Two and the Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray release, see Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on July 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Directors: Randall Einhorn, Victor Nelli Jr.
Writers: Jason Gann, Scott Prendergast, David Zuckerman, Tony Rogers, Adam Zwar, Cody Heller
Starring: Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann, Dorian Brown, Chris Klein, Allison Mack
» See full cast & crew
Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review
Best in Show?
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, July 17, 2013
A little Mr. Ed, a little Harvey, a little "Donnie Darko meets Russell Crowe on a bender"—that last one is how series co-creator Jason Gann puts it—Wilfred is one of the weirder comedies on television. The show's first season introduced us to Ryan (the dapperly-dressed Elijah Wood), a suicidal lawyer who—for reasons still unexplained—sees his neighbor's labrador retriever, Wilfred (Gann), as a walking, talking, anthropomorphized dog-man in a cheap furry costume. Soon, the depressive solicitor and the foul-mouthed, teddy bear-humping canine-sapien are best friends, with Wilfred seemingly playing both the angel and the demon over Ryan's shoulders, motivating him to be his best self but also manipulating him for selfish purposes.
From the outset of the series, there have been a few obvious questions: Is Ryan certifiably insane? Is Wilfred a manifestation of his subconscious? The id to his ego? A moral compass in doggy form? Or, is there something even stranger going on? An incursion of the supernatural, maybe, or a deep- seated government conspiracy? The show has made hints at all of the above, but prefers ambiguity to an open-and-shut explanation. Like other "mystery" series—Lost, The X-Files, Twin Peaks—the what, exactly, is going on here tension is all part of the driving narrative force, and the show's writers would be unwise to answer our questions too quickly. That said, they also have to keep the story compelling, which is something they sometimes struggle to do in season two.
Yes, Wilfred has a "mythology" and an enigmatic premise, but setting all that aside, this is an otherwise simple show about the everyday moral failings—and occasional victories—of a depressed lawyer and his pot-smoking best friend. Who just happens to be a puppy-person. If Wilfred wasn't a man in a dog suit, the show would be just another mostly-episodic buddy comedy coasting along on situational humor. There's sometimes a conflict, then, between the show's higher narrative aspirations—the evolution of its stranger, darker elements—and the fact that, in TV comedy, it's hard to have the characters change much over the span of the show's duration. How much, for example, did Seinfeld's characters change over the years?
It's the challenge faced by all TV shows that try to tell a sustained story. How do you entertain both hardcore fans and the more casual viewers who drop in for random episodes? Wilfred tries to appease both groups, but not entirely successfully. In season two, the oh, hey, look what's on crowd might be confused by some of the plot turns, while more rabid followers may wish that the story were progressing a little quicker. It's a tricky spot for the writers to be in, especially now that the novelty of the show's core conceit has worn off, forcing them to find new ways of holding our attention.
They definitely get off to one hell of a start. Season two's premiere episode is a disorienting nightmare inside a daydream, with Ryan confined to a mental asylum—run by Robin Williams, in a brief cameo, no less—having suffered some kind of breakdown after Wilfred was hit by a car at the end of season one. We think for a few minutes that the show has finally given us an affirmative answer to our burning is he just nutso? question, but then Ryan snaps awake in the boardroom of the law firm where he works. He may or may not be certifiable, but Ryan at least thinks he might possibly be crazy, which—if the old crazy-people-don't-know-they're-crazy adage is true—is a solid indication that he possibly isn't. The jury's still out on the matter of his sanity.
If the show's first season was about Ryan's unexpected descent into something that may-or-may-not be madness, season two finds him making sense of his life and moving on, even if that still requires the help of his imaginary pal. He's given up on pursuing his season one crush, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann)—Wilfred's owner, who still figures largely in many episodes—and instead finds himself pursued by one of his coworkers, Amanda (Smallville's Allison Mack), who has her own intriguing relationship with Wilfred by the season's end. The ongoing story takes some unexpectedly grim—but still funny—turns. There's an office suicide played for uneasy laughs. Wilfred eats Ryan's pregnant sister's placenta. Ryan goes on an ayahuasca-induced hallucination only to see his Native American spirit guide murdered when Wilfred comes along for the trip. (This dream- within-a-hallucination episode can rightly be called the Inception of Wilfred episodes.)
The season does set up some interesting possibilities for the future of the series—which I won't go into here—but some of the individual episodes seem to drag, story-wise. Wilfred is better appreciated for its more immediate pleasures; namely, the healthy/unhealthy relationship between Ryan and his hedonistic hound of a friend, and the show's wickedly inappropriate sense of humor, which still lands more hits than misses. Comic highlight this year? I'm torn between the slo-mo moneyshot of Ryan inadvertently given Wilfred a massage with a "happy ending," or—in a similarly seminal bit—Wilfred describing sensory debilitation brought on by post-traumatic stress: "I've heard of trauma causing blindness, like when Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder walked in on each other masturbating." Between It's Always Sunny, The League, Archer, Louie, and Wilfred, the FX channel definitely has the lock-down on this kind of crass, wink-wink riffing. Who'd've thought a network once best known for airing NASCAR races would become home to some of the most unrestrained comedy on TV?
Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
Wilfred is further proof that you really don't need expensive gear to make a great-looking TV series or movie anymore. Since its inception, the show has been shot entirely with prosumer-grade DSLRs—the Canon 7D and, this season, the Nikon D800—that can be bought for a few grand each. Does the footage look as crisp and color-accurate as material shot with the comparatively pricy Red cameras or the Arri Alexa? No, not quite. But it's certainly far better than similarly-budgeted shows used to look. (See the early standard definition seasons of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.) The D800 outputs an image that has that distinct DSLR look—characterized by very shallow depth of field—and this has a form- equals-function way of emphasizing the series' dreamier, more surreal aspects. Some scenes go even further by using Lensbaby lenses that distort and smear the out-of-focus areas of the frame.
Clarity isn't exceptional when you start examining screen grabs—closeups are okay, while longer shots are almost always soft—but there's never any doubt here that you're viewing a high definition picture. Color has its peculiarities too, with occasionally wonky grading and blown-out highlights, but this is often the case with DSLRs, which have 8-bit video color depth compared to the 16-bit processor of the Red Epic/Scarlet. DSLR video is making great strides, though, from one generation to the next, and I'm eagerly awaiting the first feature shot using the Magic Lantern raw video "hack" for the 5D Mark III, which allows for uncompressed 14-bit raw output. But that's a tangent for another time. Compared to the first season, season two of Wilfred has fewer noticeable compression/aliasing/artifact issues, and considering how it's shot, I think the show looks fantastic.
Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like season one, Wilfred's second season features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound presentation. There's nothing particularly notable about the audio here, good or bad. It's functional and listenable—always clear, balanced—with good projection from the front speakers. The rear channels are used periodically for ambience and the rare effect, but, like most TV comedies, I wouldn't say the show makes much of a real effort to sustain a sense of immersion. And that's fine. Dialogue, most importantly, is consistently clean and comprehensible, and the musical cues fill out the mix nicely. No issues here. The discs also include English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles, which appear in easy-to-read white lettering.
Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I would've loved some audio commentaries with Jason Gann and Elijah Wood, but no dice. The season two set has a few decent extras, but nothing that would convince you to buy the discs instead of waiting for the season to show up on Netflix Instant:
Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In its second season, Wilfred grows in some ways—it introduces a new love interest for Ryan, explores possible reasons for Wilfred's raison d'être, and takes a few dark turns—but it also seems burdened by repetition and a need to please both hardcore fans and casual viewers just looking for a few laughs. It's still a funny show, don't get me wrong, I just hope that season three mixes it up a bit more and pushes at the boundaries of the series. I'm also a little underwhelmed with the extras in this 2-disc set. Some audio commentaries would've been killer; as it stands, there's not much here to convince you to buy the season instead of simply waiting for it to show up on Netflix Instant or other streaming services. Whether or not you need to own this season will depend on how rabid of a Wilfred fan you are.
Wilfred: Other Seasons
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Wilfred: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Wilfred: Season Two Blu-ray - April 2, 2013
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray Wilfred: Season Two. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the United States on June 18th.
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