I loved the pilot of Wilfred when I reviewed it some weeks back, and I enjoyed the second and third episodes that FX sent out at the same time. But the main concern I had with the show was that it had the potential to either be a rewardingly weird and dark show or a more broad setup for one kind of dog joke after another. With the two episodes that followed, last week’s “Acceptance” and this week’s “Respect,” I’d say it’s 50/50; last week was probably my least favorite outing so far, but “Respect”—in which Ryan and Wilfred worked at a hospice—was much stronger, as it played with the role-reversal of a dog putting humans to sleep. (It was a bit peculiar, between this and Louie, that it ended up being old-people-dying night on FX. But those characters were long out of the 18-to-49 demo!)
As I wrote initially, what I love about Jason Gann’s performance is that he gives Wilfred a human’s intelligence but a recognizably dog-like psychology, and it makes sense that an animal (one, of course, who may or may not be “real”) would have a blunt, unsentimental attitude toward death. It wasn’t perfect (I thought the “I am God!” moment was a little predictable), but it was a sign of what Wilfred can do at its best: put the human condition in perspective by viewing it from the outside. Tuned Inlanders: did this episode make your tails wag?