Ryan and his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred, are back in this second season of one of the more clever comedies on television at the moment. Last we left the comedic duo, the show questioned Wilfred’s existence in a shocking cliffhanger from season one. Season two of Wilfred reverts to the status quo of season one very quickly, largely dismissing the ramifications of the season one cliffhanger in a bizarre opening episode that features a dopey cameo by Robin Williams.
The first season of Wilfred was wildly original and creative. The show took its premise of a grown man dressed in a dog costume, which only Ryan can see and talk to, to its comedic limits. Ryan (Elijah Wood) once again plays the straight man to Wilfred’s id-driven brand of sarcastic comedy, in this second season of FX comedy. Jason Gann marvelously handles the role of Wilfred with amazing delivery, quips, and uncanny understanding of body language, blurring the line between man and dog. The basis of the show is the interaction between Ryan and Wilfred, usually how Ryan must cope with trouble Wilfred invariably brings about with his antics. Wilfred provides a sounding board for Ryan, acting like a personal therapist for the troubled lawyer’s psyche.
The core premise of the show remains from the first season. Ryan’s search for his place in the world as he deals with the broken relationships in his life is still a predominant theme, as he copes with his father issues. Is Wilfred a figment of Ryan’s imagination, or has some higher power given Ryan the ability to talk with the dog? What doesn’t work so well in the second season is how the new story arc completely shifts focus from Ryan’s pining over Jenna, his neighbor and Wilfred’s nominal owner. The second season introduces a potential girlfriend for Ryan in Amanda (Allison Mack), a nerdy scientist he meets at work. Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) has her hands full all season with her engagement and wedding to Drew (Chris Klein), a mindless jock type that Wilfred strongly dislikes and is the antithesis of Ryan.
The show is at its best when the comedy is centered around Wilfred’s antics, like his claims in one episode of the perpetual cuteness war between dogs and babies. When Wilfred finds out Ryan’s sister is about to have a baby, he does everything possible to induce a miscarriage. Everything Wilfred does is over the top and has a mean streak to it, particularly when he perceives it is in Ryan’s best interests. Playing up the dog nature, Wilfred’s ongoing rants against the Postal Service and its mailmen are hilarious. Other funny subjects include Wilfred’s adventures at Ryan’s place of work.
After a brilliant first season, Wilfred’s second season retains much of the formula that made the first one so creative and funny. However, the overall storyline is not as compelling as Jenna takes a backseat to Amanda in Ryan’s romantic affections and the season gets off to a clunky start with a couple of poor episodes. Writing does get stronger as the second season develops and eventually hits the right comedic pitch.
Fox has spread the thirteen episodes of season two over two BD-50s, at a claimed average video bitrate of 33 Mbps. Wilfred is a low-budget comedy series intended for cable broadcast. It is primarily shot on semi-professional digital cameras that produce a respectable, but hardly reference, picture. Some minor problems in the source material are evident.
The video encode has a number of instances with moderate banding and posterization, a rare sight these days considering advancements in Blu-ray encoding. I have to believe some of the artifacts are due to the nature of raw footage and cameras used on Wilfred. A strong contrast and fairly neutral color palette are the best attributes of the average picture quality. Exterior scenes in broad daylight are sharper with more detail, while interiors are flatter with uninvolved lighting. The actual level of detail can jump from extremely good in certain close-ups to muddy and soft in medium-range shots. Black levels lack the type of refined shadow delineation seen in better theatrical fare on Blu-ray.
A number of scenes have an abundance of noticeable aliasing, which at first made me believe the original video was made from an interlaced source. The transfer itself does not look to have been processed, the aliasing is possibly endemic to the raw footage from the low-grade cameras. This definitely affects some of the secondary shots in the scenes using multiple cameras.
Fox has done a credible effort on this Blu-ray set of season two, though I expected more after watching it on broadcast cable in HD. The 1080P presentation reveals flaws in the picture that were glossed over in the lower fidelity version on cable. Wilfred is still worth a purchase on Blu-ray, but don’t expect much in the way of eye candy.
Wilfred comes with a satisfactory 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, the only audio option included on the discs. As a comedy, the sound design is limited in its directionality and wow factor compared to the latest actioners. There is no appreciable amount of bass to the soundtrack and a somewhat narrow dynamic range to the mix. Yes, there is a fair amount of ambient information coming from the surround channels, but none of it is going to knock your socks off. Strength lies in a clean and effortless reproduction of funny dialogue, mixed in perfect harmony with a pleasant musical backing.
20th Century Fox has provided three subtitle options, all presented in a white font: English SDH, French, and Spanish.
A paltry selection of special features are included for a complete season, especially since they are all so brief and inconsequential.
Deleted Scenes (02:28 in HD, 00:37 in HD) – Four incredibly brief deleted scenes are included from different episodes. None of them amount to much and one wonders where the rest of the deleted content went.
Blooper Reel (04:41 in HD) – Funny outtakes of the actors flubbing their lines or laughing it up, as a scene goes off the rails.
Wilfred / Ryan Mash-Up (00:52 in HD) – This very short promo edits together every instance of one character on the show saying the other’s name.
News At Noon With Jenna (01:02 in HD) – The funniest extra feature by far, this is the YouTube spoof of Jenna’s meltdown from season one. It becomes a huge viral video hit and the basis of an ongoing joke in season two.
Stay (03:43 in HD) – An exclusive short featuring Ryan, Wilfred, and Wilfred’s imaginary lover, a stuffed animal named Bear. It’s a fun watch the first time, though its repeat value is questionable.
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