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Wilfred – Acceptance

This episode did see improvement over the last two, but Wilfred is still suffering from the same problems it has had since the pilot. Namely an overabundance of juvenile humor that doesn't come with the subtle twist necessary to take that kind of comedy out of the gutter. A strong finish and the return of one of its funnier characters helped “Acceptance” tremendously, but not enough to completely get it over the show's existing flaws, or another humorless guest star.

From the start this episode was highlighting exactly what is wrong with the series. The character of Wilfred is quickly losing his lovableness with the show treating him as nothing more than a source of toilet humor and physical gags. He was right back at it with his initial appearance, using Ryan's rug to scratch himself, which was immediately followed by an even shallower joke of Wilfred infusing his tea with Jenna's underwear. There were a couple of duds like this in the pilot, but Gann's delivery sold most of the broader jokes in that episode, something that hasn't been happening recently. Perhaps the sheer amount of base humor has overridden any attempts by the actor to elevate it? Gann certainly hasn't lost his sense of comedic timing, but when the jokes themselves are that bad, it is hard to see past them. Wilfred did earn one laugh with his arrival at the doggy daycare. Dressed like a kindergartner on his first day of school, he couldn't help but get a giggle for his attire, as well as for verbally abusing the other dogs: “And the Pug- 'I'm so ugly I'm cute.' No, you are ugly!” Gann also deserves credit or blame for writing this episode; his first in this US adaption of his original.

Also bringing down “Acceptance” was Ed Helms, or what the show did with Ed Helms. His role as Daryl, the man who runs the dog daycare center, felt like a waste of his extensive comedic talents. Giving him few lines
even less of which were funny was a bad decision as it meant his trademark delivery would go underused. Helms' gift for physical comedy, while definitely present, lost much of its charm from the sheer creepiness of his character. This left him with nothing but a highly disturbing persona that just wasn't doing it in terms of drawing a smile. As someone who was looking forward to Helms' appearance, his lack of laughs was doubly disappointing. He has proven himself capable of stealing any scene he's in when given the right material, whether that's a pratfall or a witty piece of dialogue. Unfortunately for the actor and the audience, Wilfred didn't come up with that material.

The return of Ryan's sister, Kristen, helped make up for Helms' character flopping. Just as in the pilot, “Happiness,” she provided some of the biggest laughs in the episode. Her air of superiority that borders on haughtiness is just a pleasure to take in. She expertly portrays the simultaneous sense of pity and disappointment that so often comes from older siblings who take on a parental role, even if you didn't want them to. Dorian Brown also does an excellent job selling Kristen's exacerbation with her little brother's refusal to rejoin the miserable masses in some kind of employment. Her funniest line came just after injuring her ankle, as she was bemoaning her current situation: “And my stupid husband is 'golfing' in Vegas... Leo's so boring he probably is golfing.” Though she has yet to become a fixture in the series, Kristen's appearances still manage to be some of the most memorable, and will hopefully begin coming with more regularity.

Showing they at least know how to go out on a high note, “Acceptance” saw its greatest laughs with the final moments. Wood's only laughs to speak of came from the last few scenes, especially the jam session with Wilfred and “Bear.” Taking grief off the stuffed animal for his bass playing ability and storming off in a huff, only to return a moment later, was all hilarious. They weren't done there, however, and finally managed a bit of intelligent humor. Wilfred's reverse of the Pavlovian response trick on Ryan was a nice subtle jab of comedy. Not the type of joke that will earn any guffaws, but can be appreciated far more than a lazy attempt at frat humor.

Acceptance” showed this series isn't finished quite yet. However, Wilfred is still very much in danger of burning out before it ever really starts. The writing has to find a way to take advantage of the actors' talents, as well as improve on the ratio of subtle to broad humor. Though this episode was the best since the pilot, it still made me question whether this premise has life in it.



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