Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wilfred has "Avoidance" issues

This week, on FX's Wilfred, Ryan (Elijah Wood) encounters an old friend named James (Eugene Byrd, Bones) who betrayed him years ago. Ryan doesn't want to talk to James, but Wilfred (Jason Gann) thinks Ryan should really get James's side of the story. When Ryan doesn't seem receptive to this, Wilfred stages a situation to prove to Ryan that he's right. Things end all warm and happy, with friendships restored.

Maybe it's just me, but this episode, entitled "Avoidance," didn't feel special. The formula of Wilfred has now been established. Wilfred gives Ryan advice, Ryan dismisses the advice, Wilfred hounds him until he makes his point. Many times, bad things happen to Ryan en route, but it all ends up happy enough.

"Avoidance" also feels pedestrian, in that it takes the plot of a standard sitcom. Comedy of errors is not new, by any means, but done in such an obvious way keeps the story from feeling fresh, since so many other shows have done the same thing.

Where is the mystery of Wilfred in "Avoidance?" Where are the questions of morality, and the hints at what really might be going on? When do we question Ryan's sanity? These are the questions one watches Wilfred to see, and none of those even come up in this episode.

Admittedly, it is kind of interesting to learn a bit more about Ryan's past. We know he was a lawyer, and that he has issues with his father. Bringing James into the tale, adding another chapter of back story, gives some depth to the lead character. It would be good is James began recurring now, considering their relationship has supposedly been fixed. But sadly, I doubt that will happen.

Also, clearly Wilfred will have to bring Ryan's father on board soon, and all of this is just set up so that viewers will know who the man is when he finally shows up. In this, Wilfred actually deserves credit. Many series will just toss a new character in without warning or prior mention. Assuming I'm right and daddy will be coming, I like that Wilfred actually takes the time to prep for his arrival, so that it makes sense within the larger arcs.

The thing that saves "Avoidance" from being mundane are the dance numbers. Yes, they get a little bit silly, but they also look like fun. It's hard not to be caught up by Wilfred and Ryan's infectious enthusiasm for their new hobby. The montage is a bit like an '80s flick, but that's OK, too. And the entire thing gets the modern, Wilfred-esque twist when Wilfred jizzes on Ryan, another humorous happenstance.

One does have to wonder if some clever writer wanted the dance stuff in this episode simply because the word 'dance' can be seen in the word "Avoidance." Yes, the writers on this show do appear to be very clever, and while that's something a lot of people may have missed, once it's seen, it's pretty on the nose. A little too much so, for my taste. Without catching this, the dance bits would have been slightly more enjoyable.

Overall, Wilfred is still a serious worth watching. It's original enough most of the time, and there are parts that are sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. The actors totally commit to the ridiculous scenario, lending the entire thing credibility.

Wilfred airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

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Article first published on TheTVKing 

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