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Wilfred – Anger

This episode of Wilfred should have been one of the best, but unfortunately it ended up being another half hour of hit-or-miss comedy. For an episode featuring the funniest recurring character, “Anger” didn't provide nearly as many laughs as would be expected. In addition to just not being that funny, the episode highlighted two problems with Ryan and Wilfred's relationship that have been plaguing the show since it started.

With Ryan helping Kristen organize a party for her boss, and Wilfred spitting out one great line after another, all signs were pointing to “Anger” being a hilarious episode. As it turned out though, it would only produce sporadic bits of hilarity with a lot of deadwood filling the gaps. The early moments were some of the funniest, thanks mainly to Wilfred, and the brilliant performance of Jason Gann. As I've said before, the man's commitment to the role is unparalleled, and it shows through in almost all of his scenes. Most notable this week was his disbelief at the idea of anyone not liking him, “No one hates me. I'm Wilfred, I'm adorable.” Framing his face with his ears, and the coy looks he shoots Ryan were even more uproarious than his lines of dialogue. Unfortunately, outside of a few lines, these early scenes would end up being the funniest moments in the episode.

In Kristen's first appearance in the Pilot, and in just about every scene she has had since then, the character has been a tremendous source of comedy. In this episode however, she just wasn't her usually hilarious self. Definitely more the fault of the writing than Dorian Brown's acting, the writers just didn't seem to have enough material for her. With only a couple of biting lines to Ryan that got chuckles, the character was mainly there to serve the plot, not get laughs. The introduction of her husband and boss did lead to one of the funniest quips in the episode though. Lost alum, Nestor Carbonell, made an appearance as Dr. Ramos, Kristen's boss, and his self-aggrandizing story earned a great reaction from Kristen's husband, Leo; “Wait, let me get this straight. An obstetrician delivered a baby without killing it?” Kristen was still bringing the catty attitude in this episode that has made the character so memorable, but the lines she were being fed were missing their mark comically.

Wilfred's attempts to make Ryan standup for himself with Kristen took a bizarre turn -even for this show-when Ryan's old dog possesses his current canine companion. As with most of Wilfred's antics, it is never quite clear if he is telling the truth or just deceiving Ryan so he can teach him a life lesson. Either way, the plot wasn't particularly funny, and Wilfred as Sneakers isn't nearly as entertaining as Wilfred just being Wilfred. The comedic low points came during an Exorcist inspired shot of Wilfred puking , and an even grosser repeat of the joke with Wilfred swallowing his vomit back down. Wilfred does manage to bring Ryan and Kristen closer together by getting his soft-spoken friend to finally stand up for himself. Considering, however, that it came after an attempt to electrocute Kristen and Dr. Ramos, the supposedly possessed pooch was a little past redeeming himself. In a show as surreal as Wilfred, it is one thing to have a plot that is outlandish, but if it also can't provide humor than there is little reason to watch the episode at all.

Even though Wilfred was right about Kristen being responsible for Sneaker's death, and likely was actually possessed, was the cathartic experience Ryan received really worth his sister almost dying? While it is foolish to look for realism in a show where dogs are becoming possessed by other dogs -let alone having conversations with people- it is still becoming harder and harder to believe that Ryan would put up with Wilfred. Of course, his acceptance depends on just how much of Wilfred is in Ryan's head, and how much of the dog's actions are really Ryan's. The answer to which seems to shift from episode to episode, and even scene to scene, with little effort by the writers to pin it down one way or another. Every comedy series is given leeway when it comes to suspending disbelief, but Wilfred is beginning to cross over the acceptable line. The story has to have enough realism -or at least consistency- to keep viewers from becoming fed up with the show. Otherwise, laughs quickly become groans of frustration, and eventually even the good jokes the writing does produce will become overshadowed by the problems the series has.

“Anger” came close to being Wilfred's worst, despite it actually being funnier than the other episodes on the bottom. Annoyance with both Ryan and Wilfred's characters is drowning out the humor, and unless the writing addresses those problems, it will only continue to do so. There has yet to be an episode of the series that was without at least one laugh-out-loud moment though, and “Anger” certainly didn't break that streak.



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