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Wilfred – Pride

After putting out fantastic episodes for the past two weeks, Wilfred fell back down with its latest installment. “Pride” wasn't the worst the series has done, but it also failed to build on the momentum of its predecessors. Starting out strong, most of the jokes didn't make it past the halfway mark before they started souring. The episode did feature some top notch acting though, including the episode's guest star.

Things were looking up early on, with one of the funnier recurring characters making an appearance. Kristen didn't stick around for long, but she got in a few humorous jabs at Ryan with her brief screen time. If the character had stayed, the episode likely would have been better, but her small role mainly served to setup the plot. In which, Ryan is trying to save face, only to lose more than he ever thought possible. Refusing to ask Kristen for money -which she makes clear is the only way he is getting any- Ryan contemplates finding a job, which Wilfred voices his firm objections to, “Jobs are for immigrants.” Wilfred's plan to make some quick cash actually winds up putting Ryan deeper into debt. Proving dogs don't know much about the law, Wilfred veering Ryan's car into a parked Escalade probably seemed like a good idea to him at the time.

Filling the role of the irate owner of said SUV, was veteran actress, Jane Kaczmarek(Malcolm in the Middle). The character might as well have been written for her, as Kaczmarek was doing what she does best: playing a prickly and unpleasant middle-aged mother. The role was not a new one for the actress, but it is one she has mastered – and then some. Not unlike Kristen, Beth was a woman you just love to hate. Kaczmarek was pitch perfect in portraying Beth's icy attitude and derogatory demeanor. Her laughs did drop off somewhat, as she softened for Ryan's insincere flirting; which was spurned on at Wilfred's insistence of course. However, her highly disturbing sexual persona as a bunny did provide some creepily comedic moments; especially that voice. By the end though, Beth's -as well as Ryan and Wilfred's- only source of comedy were overly crass sex jokes; which did their best to make the audience forget the hilarious scenes the character did have.

After starting the whole mess, Wilfred lets his libido overrule any concern for Ryan's predicament. With his and Bear's relationship becoming strained, Wilfred spends the episode lusting after a new stuffed animal. The plot highlighted how little material the show's initial concept has generated -just more attempts to find humor at a man doing things a dog would- but Jason Gann's performance did redeem it. During his conversation with Ryan after first meeting, “Raffi”, the stuffed giraffe, the actor flawlessly captured the nervous and giddy behavior of a young girl who has just met a boy she likes. Wilfred's smooth talking as he makes the moves on Raffi, was also elevated by Gann's commitment to the role. The doggy Don Juan couldn't help but get laughs, mainly because of the actor believably selling he is not talking to an inanimate object. This was the second episode of the US adaption that Gann has written, and while he may not be deserving of much praise for that, the Aussie more than earned his paycheck with his acting.

After Wilfred pinch-hits for Ryan in the bedroom with Beth, Ryan's sense of pride is strained to its limit. Though Wilfred's influence was out of Ryan's control for most of this episode, it is still becoming harder to believe that he would listen to anything the psychotic mutt says. Or that Ryan would put up with having him around at all. Even after Wilfred's bad advice culminates in Ryan being caught by Beth's son humping his stuffed animal, Ryan seems to bear no ill will to Wilfred, or even hold him accountable. At some point soon in the series, an episode either needs to be dedicated to Ryan attempting to remove Wilfred from his life, or focus on why Ryan allows him to stay. Because lately it seems the only time Wilfred isn't trying to ruin Ryan's life, is when they are getting stoned together, and Wilfred often manages both at the same time.

While many of the jokes did hit, the ones that missed their mark hurt this episode quite a bit. Wilfred has proven itself capable of delivering episodes that are hilarious from start to finish, but “Pride” wasn't one of them. An incredibly funny first half dissolved as the show went on, due to a weak storyline for its titular character, and bad jokes steeped in debauchery. Though there have been worse episodes, “Pride” did point out some of the key flaws the series is dealing with, and how important it is to the life of the show that they be fixed.



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