Top banana points for the first round of the National Fireworks Competition held in Plymouth on 16th August and as always a late return was anticipated but what a treasure to find a new precorded – Wilfred.
For sheer uniqueness, the image of the night was surely Frodo Baggins toking on a hash pipe while discussing the smell of fear with a talking man-dog.
Perhaps the funniest thing about BBC Three’s eccentric new US import, Wilfred — which spun the conceit of Ryan (Elijah “Frodo” Wood), a suicidal failed lawyer who starts to see his neighbour’s eponymous canine as a man in a scruffy dog suit — was in depicting what a dog would really be like if it could talk. Not adorably loving, but needy, territorial, attention-hogging, sabotaging your life for its own primal urges. “Got any DVDs? I like Matt Damon movies,” Wilfred demanded.
With that the mutt, played by Jason Gann with a mix of Aussie bonhomie and boorishness, joined a tradition of “imaginary friends” taking in James Stewart’s rabbit Harvey, and Woody Allen’s “Bogart” from Play it Again, Sam.
The whole show could have been dreamt up by a bunch of stoned psychology students. In hitting rock bottom, Ryan has found the doors of his consciousness blown open, creating some multiple collision between his ego, super-ego and his id. “When I’m eating out of the arse of a dead possum … I’m true to my nature, I don’t overthink everything, I act on instinct,” counselled Ryan’s canine id. While Wilfred berated the meek Ryan for his lack of balls, the latter watched in bewilderment as his “friend” dug up his garden, took a dump in a neighbour’s boot and gleefully humped against a buxom waitress. Of course, everyone apart from Ryan just saw a big dog innocently doing its thing.
The show is like one of those goofy old live-action Disney comedies (The Nutty Professor; Digby, etc) refracted through a Kevin Smith stoner movie. And so far, so amusing. But let’s hope that it lives up to its promise of exploring dark and downright weird comedic terrain, and not merely becomes another My Name is Earl — a high concept chasing its own tail.