After the first season of Wilfred on FX, it was nice to see that it was coming back for a second. And with the third season just starting and the second being released as part of the marketing effort, it felt like as good a time as any to revisit the life of a slightly suicidal, partially crazy boy and his aussie-inhabited dog.
The core cast of the film returns for its second season; you have Ryan (Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), his neighbor and crush Jenna (Fiona Gubelman, Blades of Glory) and the eponymous Wilfred the dog, played by Jason Gann in a further extension of his role from the Australian TV show. The show left things with a relatively unknown future for Ryan, with his coming to terms with his visions and interactions of Wilfred and how they may be impacting him from a real world perspective. And going forward in the thirteen-episode second season, some of the same hijinks do happen, though there are some moments of exploration for Ryan that go outside the house and the basement couch.
Note: Some mild spoilers may be touched upon over the course of the next paragraph or so. Proceed accordingly, tread lightly.
Things shake themselves out nicely in "Progress," the first show of the second season and includes a guest starring appearance from Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting) as a state hospital psychiatrist. Not only was Ryan trying to figure out his place in the hospital, but the episode as it turned out set up a new atmosphere for Ryan in the second season, that of his job. Ryan works as counsel for a biomed company who is attempting to develop a drug to help fight cancer, and his co-workers are part of a solid ensemble. The boss of the company is Jeremy (Steven Weber, Wings), while Kevin (Rob Riggle, 21 Jump Street) has an ulterior motive to make money for himself. One of the lab workers is Amanda (Allison Mack, Smallville), and who serves as a new romantic interest for Ryan during the season. The chemistry Mack and Wood share is charming and one that would even be fascinating in a feature film, and watching their relationship build, only to eventually fall, is compelling through most of the season. Along the same lines of Ryan's relationship, we learn who his mother is (Mary Steenburgen, Elf), which seems to be part of an additional insight into Ryan's general psyche.
While throwing a bunch of guest stars into the mix may perhaps distract or diminish Ryan's friendship with Wilfred, this does not prove to be the case. To be clear, Ryan and Wilfred do carry the show and provide many funny moments, but there are so many quality additions to the supporting cast that they take a quiet step back when required and let each play off a guest star when the moment calls for it, and it proves to be the rising tide to lift all boats. There are moments when Ryan and Wilfred get to be more ‘Ryan and Wilfred' through convenient character decisions (paraphrasing, but hey, ‘Wilfred can come to work with Ryan!' being chief among them), but they generally tend to be innocuous in their execution. And when Ryan and Wilfred get a chance to be at their most Ryan and Wilfred, the results continue to be hilarious.
With the new challenge of learning more about Ryan, Wood balances this challenge and Ryan's inherent neuroses well, and even tends to possess an amount of wisdom around his family members and co-workers that we would not likely experience otherwise. When it comes to Wilfred, Gann's non-Ryan interactions are not bad either, and even he tends to challenge Ryan, almost forcing him to evolve, such as in "Control" or "Avoidance." And Ryan continues to pine for Jenna to some degree, despite her engagement and pending marriage to Drew (Chris Klein, American Reunion). Ryan may have something with Amanda as the season goes on, but his heart and hope still lies with Jenna.
While Wilfred might have been gutsy in Season One, it tends to retain some of this yet broadening the universe of its characters and the planets that may revolve around them. It also makes the viewer forget at times that they may be seeing a guy talking to another guy in a dog costume with a painted nose, which may be the best trick that one could pull off with a show such as this. Wilfred looks up from the mire, sees what is in front of it and tackles it adroitly and to great effect, and establishes itself as another solid comedic entry into the F/X (soon to be FXX) library.
Thirteen episodes, spread over two discs, all of which use the AVC codec and are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, consistent with their original broadcast airings. I had watched an episode or two of Season Two when it first aired, and I say with reasonable certainty that the discs replicate that experience accurately, with the color palette of the show being reproduced nicely. In retrospect, seeing the dark conference room and office where Ryan works serving as a tone of sorts for the show consistent with the basement in the first season I have to nod to the cleverness of the creative team in that regard. Image detail is average and somewhat low-fi, but this is consistent with the production values of the show and the discs look good through the season.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround tracks for all episodes is decent without being egregious either way. Dialogue sounds clear and strong through the season, with occasional moments of channel panning and directional effects that make for a somewhat immersive listening experience. While the subwoofer is quiet for most (if not all) of the show, the action for virtually all of the season confirms that such engagement is not necessary. The discs do what is tasked for them to do without distracting from the product.
Not much material to be had here. Disc One has three deleted scenes (2:28) which are underwhelming, while Disc Two has several things. Once you get past the deleted scene (:37), a blooper reel follows (4:41) which is disappointing. Next is "Stay" (3:43), a Bear-centric segment with Ryan and Wilfred. "News at Noon With Jenna" (1:02) is an autotuned scene of the character's arguably most memorable moment, while "Wilfred/Ryan Mashup" is 52 seconds of one character saying the other's name.
The second season of Wilfred is akin to someone poking their head out of the capsule of a outlandish premise, realizing it is safe to walk around and does so, while managing a sense of abandon with its characters' development. It continues to be bold and funny and is worth diving into for some summer entertaining when you have some time. Technically it is decent even if the supplements kind of suck, but is worth checking out for sure.