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Wilfred – Doubt

Wilfred has given us some hilarious moments, some tragically unfunny moments, and a few perplexing ones, but with “Doubt” it said to hell with logic all together(you know, more than it has with a talking dog) and for the most part, humor. Not without a few bright spots -and I stress a few- this episode suffered from setting itself up to answer the series most troubling question, and instead brought the issue front and center only to leave it worse off than before.

As someone who has been wondering for awhile now why Ryan is such a glutton for punishment and refuses to at least try to oust Wilfred from his life, “Doubt” seemed like the episode I had been waiting for. With the arrival of the enigmatic, Bruce, and Ryan finally putting some thought into ridding himself of the demonic dog, things were looking up. Though Ryan actually needing someone to point out that Wilfred is ruining his life was beyond belief, even for his wide-eyed naivete. Dwight Yoakam(Crank) was certainly memorable, making an appearance as the disturbed shell of a man left behind from Wilfred's handiwork(Who wouldn't be a little unstable after making out with their dad?). Yoakam has that face that's hard to forget anyway, so his roles always make an impression. Though not even his performance was enough to save an episode doomed from the start.

Before the plot fell apart, even before Bruce showed up, it was the jokes themselves that were souring the episode. Wilfred has two comedic crutches it leans on far too often; those being overly crude attempts at humor and the “Oh look, it's a guy doing something a dog would!” gags. I don't have a problem with either, so long as you aren't being vulgar just for vulgarity’s sake, or are too lazy to come up with more than physical acts involving a man in a dog suit. Wilfred attacking the vacuum cleaner is the kind of joke that's funny once and then feels like you're hearing the same punchline over and over. The series used up that one shot way back in the pilot(with Wilfred chasing down a motorcycle) but that hasn't stopped the writers from returning to it repeatedly to try and score easy laughs. Wilfred inhaling the intoxicating aroma of yoga students' asses actually made use of both crutches, and stopped any thought of laughing in its tracks. The real crime against comedy came in watching Bruce run his fingers over Ryan's lips before he got around to washing them. It was unnecessarily disgusting, and had already appeared in more than one bad movie. There are times when it seems that half the jokes could be replaced with dialogue not even attempting to be comedic and the episode would actually be more enjoyable. Of course, there are also those times when the series brings the funny like few others.

It took awhile for “Doubt” to score a single laugh, but once it did, they started coming a little more freely – for a time at least. Wilfred's fear that his entire relationship with Ryan had actually been with a man standing behind him was charmingly clever and made up for the groans elicited from the earlier jokes with an outburst of laughter. The mutt scored again with the uproarious image of him putting some swagger in his walk when approaching the gang members. It was guest star Katy Mixon(otherwise known as the love of Kenny Powers on Eastbound and Down), playing Ryan's blind date, that really stole the show. She did it in only one line, though surprisingly it was thanks to one of the few good “He's not really a dog!” jokes the series has given us. Wilfred's hate of the post office isn't any more clever than the duds in this episode and others, but the way it's being used is; in this case the wonderful randomness of hearing Ms. Mixon announce: “I don't really know what snout rape is...but I hate my mail man too.”

The laughter ebbed away again with the frustrating final moments of the episode. After a standoff ends with Ryan shooting blanks -literally- it's revealed that Bruce and Wilfred are actually friends, or not, that's never really made clear. Equally unclear is why Ryan felt like he had come away learning something. It's one thing to have Ryan put up with the nightmare that is Wilfred in exchange for life-altering lessons, but when Wilfred's lesson is, “I can make you do whatever I want and ruin your life on a whim.” What's the point? He still needs Wilfred in his life because Wilfred has so much control over him? That's the only take away Ryan gets from having almost shot a man. He apparently also needs to keep smoking joints the size of double Coronas; which makes him quitting at the end of “Isolation” as pointless as this episode's entire plot.

The episode could have had Wilfred re-endear himself to Ryan, or at least had the hapless human finally realize how destructive his canine companion is, but instead it whitewashed the issue with a baffling turn of events. Which would be forgivable if the episode hadn't floundered just as hard in its attempts at humor. I don't need to understand what's happening so long as it's making me laugh; that just wasn't the case with “Doubt.”


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