FX’s Wilfred doesn’t like to give us answers. A weird ‘comedy’ about a man, Ryan (Elijah Wood), who sees his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann), as a guy in a dog costume; the show has never yet attempted to explain its premise. They dance around the issue, sure, but only the tiniest progress has been made in tying everything together.
The Complete Third Season, now out on DVD, starts to push the show in that direction, though. Serving as the penultimate batch of episodes, this run begins with Ryan probing Wilfred’s roots for information. Then, as per usual, most of the rest of the installments ignore the bigger picture entirely, providing interesting side adventures and character development without giving much away, before touching on the mystery again at the conclusion of the year.
I don’t have any predictions for exactly what the end of Wilfred, whose final season is airing right now, will be. What does seem certain is that the answer has as much to do with Ryan as Wilfred. The Complete Third Season looks into our human protagnoist’s past as well. His relationship with his father (James Remar) helps bring Ryan to this place on the edge of sanity. And while there is a heck of a finale that seems a huge setback, with Wilfred’s owner, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann), forbidding Wilfred and Ryan to spend time together, it’s easy to figure out that the new rule can’t last, the fates of the two leads closely intertwined.
There are two types of fans of Wilfred: those fascinated by the enigma and who long for answers, and those who just enjoy the buddy comedy of two friends, no matter that one is dressed as a dog, getting high and getting into trouble. The Complete Third Season strives to satisfy both those sets, though gives more screentime to the latter. The installments in this release are almost uniformly good, but as someone who definitely falls more in the former category, I am disappointed by the incremental movement forward on the mystery front.
Among the elements of the third year are Ryan finding a new roommate (Kristen Schaal, Bob‘s Burgers), Ryan’s crush, Jenna, now living as a married woman with Drew (Chris Klein), Ryan finally trying to get to a good place with his sister, Kristen (Dorian Brown), Bruce (Dwight Yoakum) making a return appearance, and a handful of half hours where Ryan doesn’t know if Wilfred is sinister or not. These are all solid, entertaining stories, even if they don’t quite get into the meat of what I’m looking for. At least the plot is serial, with the events of one week affecting the others, and the character of Ryan undergoing much examination and reflection, rather than just participating in stand-alone stories.
Wilfred also seems to attract a terrific array of guest stars. Besides those mentioned above, which include several recurring characters, season three boasts the likes of Angela Kinsey (The Office), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings), Gina Gershon (Rescue Me), Barry Watson (What About Brian), Lance Reddick (Fringe), Mary Steenburgen (The Help), and more. I feel like when a short, thirteen-episode cable season can assemble a guest list that rich, it says something about the quality of the show. Wilfred deserves to be included on such a list.
Sadly, like other recent Fox releases, Wilfred – The Complete Third Season has no bonus features whatsoever. I’m not sure why the studio is doing this now, but it’s a huge disappointment. While not everyone makes use of the extras, some of us do, and to ask us to buy a set that includes no fresh material, having already watched the episodes as they air, is kind of a jerk move, in my opinion. I hope this company reverses course on this decision in the near future.
Wilfred – The Complete Third Season is available now.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00L9IJF8A, B004YM6J8W, B008NERFVW]