Wilfred (U.S. TV series)
|Developed by||David Zuckerman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||49 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||20-26 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Prospect Park
Fox Television Studios
St. Western Films
|Original network||FX (2011–2013)
|Original release||June 23, 2011– August 13, 2014|
|Related shows||Wilfred (Australian TV series)|
Wilfred is an Australian-American comedy television series which aired from June 23, 2011 to August 13, 2014 for a total of four seasons. Based on the Australian SBS One series of the same name, it stars Elijah Wood and series co-creator Jason Gann, reprising his role of the eponymous dog. The series was adapted for the American television channel FX by Family Guy veteran David Zuckerman. Season 4 premiered on June 25, 2014. Wilfred moved to FXX for its fourth and final season.
The show follows a young man named Ryan (Elijah Wood) and his neighbor's dog Wilfred (Jason Gann). In the opening episode, Ryan concocts a drug cocktail in order to commit suicide. After this failed attempt, Ryan's neighbor, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann), knocks on his door to ask him to look after Wilfred, whom Ryan sees and hears as a man in a dog costume.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||13||June 23, 2011||September 8, 2011||FX|
|2||13||June 21, 2012||September 20, 2012|
|3||13||June 20, 2013||September 5, 2013|
|4||10||June 25, 2014||August 13, 2014||FXX|
- Elijah Wood as Ryan Newman
- Jason Gann as Wilfred
- Fiona Gubelmann as Jenna Mueller
- Dorian Brown as Kristen Newman
- Mary Steenburgen (seasons 1–3) / Mimi Rogers (season 4) as Catherine
- Dwight Yoakam (seasons 1–3) / William Baldwin (season 4) as Bruce
- Ethan Suplee as Spencer (season 1)
- Ed Helms as Darryl (season 1)
- Jane Kaczmarek as Beth (season 1)
- John Michael Higgins as Dr. Cahill (seasons 2 & 4; guest season 1)
- Allison Mack as Amanda (seasons 2 & 4)
- Robin Williams as Dr. Eddy (credited) / himself (uncredited) (season 2)
- Brad Dourif as P.T. (season 2)
- James Remar as Henry (seasons 3–4)
- Kristen Schaal as Anne (season 3)
- Angela Kinsey as Heather (season 3)
- Gina Gershon as Gloria (season 3)
- Barry Watson as Michael McDerry (season 3)
- Rutger Hauer as Dr. Grummons (season 4)
- Tobin Bell as Charles (season 4)
- Chris Klein as Drew
- Rodney To as Dr. Bangachon*
- Gerry Bednob as Mr. Patel (season 1; guest season 3)
- J. P. Manoux as Leo (season 1)
- Rob Riggle as Kevin (season 2)
- Steven Weber as Jeremy (season 2)
- Harriet Sansom Harris as Lonnie Goldsmith (season 4)
* ^ To is also credited as a special guest in the season 3 premiere.
Wilfred is based on the critically acclaimed Australian series of the same name and was adapted for FX by Family Guy veteran David Zuckerman. Wilfred is produced by FX Productions while the executive producers include: Zuckerman; Rich and Paul Frank; Jeff Kwatinetz; and Joe and Ken Connor from the original Australian series. Wilfred co-creator Jason Gann and Randall Einhorn serve as co-executive producers. Einhorn directed 10 episodes of the first season and Victor Nelli, Jr. directed three. The pilot episode was filmed in summer 2010, written by Zuckerman, and directed by Einhorn.
Adapting the Australian series
There was interest in continuing the series on SBS, and even talk about a possible movie. However, Renegade Film, the company that produced the original Australian series, was unable to sell it in its original version to any other countries. Gann left to create an entirely new series for the US that used the format of the original and additional Australian seasons were not pursued. Gann was initially hesitant to make a US series stating, “I had no interest in making the same show again, just surrounded by people with different accents.” However, the show in the US differed greatly from the original series.
When the show moved to the US head writer and show creator Jason Gann took a more advisory role in the writers room, only penning six episodes of the show's four season run. Gann has expressed that writing the US version is more taxing than writing the Australian version. His pitches often got rejected and ultimately in the transition he gave up a lot of creative control. This resulted in departing from the Australian series in several ways.
When David Zuckerman took over the series he expressed that the show's lack of international appeal was due to a lack of clear rules that the fantasy elements of the show could follow. He made it a priority to set and follow certain rules in the new series. In reworking the character of Wilfred and his relationship with Ryan for an American audience Gann used the film My Bodyguard as a reference point. The show took on a much more lighthearted and hopeful tone as the original series was often cited as being extremely cynical.
The show was pitched to Gann as a whole different vehicle for the same character he played in the Australian version. Because the character was so crude, and because he'd have to be in a dog suit all the time, Gann originally didn’t want to play Wilfred. However, he feels the character is actually very different from Australian version having a lot more sides and overall “more fun.”
On more than one occasion Gann has suggested that part of the reason the show had poor ratings in the US was because the show got bogged down in mythology and at times made comedy secondary stating, “Season Three, we really tried to steer it back closer to where we were Season One, and make it really comedically satisfying. I really felt we achieved that, but it wasn’t enough, I guess.” 
After the close of the final season in the US, Gann has considered going back and doing a third Australian season.
The casting of Elijah Wood as Ryan was announced on June 29, 2010. Ryan is described as "an introverted and troubled young man struggling unsuccessfully to make his way in the world until he forms a unique friendship with Wilfred, his neighbor's canine pet." Series co-creator Jason Gann also reprises his role of the eponymous dog Wilfred, a character described by Zuckerman as being a mixed breed dog who is "part Labrador Retriever and part Russell Crowe on a bender". Fiona Gubelmann stars as Jenna, Wilfred's owner and Ryan's next-door neighbor, who works as a local news producer. Dorian Brown was then cast as Kristen, Ryan's controlling and condescending older sister.
Allusions to Goethe's Faust
It has been suggested by some on the message board Reddit that Wilfred is, in part, a modern retelling of Goethe's Faust. This owing to the fact that both Faust and Wilfred open with the main character disillusioned by the world and attempting to commit suicide by drinking poison. Shortly after his failed suicide attempt, Ryan is visited by Wilfred; in the case of Faust, he is visited by Mephistopheles (who appears at first in the form of a black dog). Faust's love for Gretchen is comparable to Ryan's love for Jenna, and likewise, Wilfred's influence over their relationship recalls Mephistopheles' manipulation of Faust and Gretchen.
Critical reception of the US adaptation of Wilfred was comparable to that of the original Australian series, with generally positive reviews. Review aggregator website Metacritic gives the series an average of 67 out of 100. Curt Wagner, writing in Redeye (The Chicago Tribune), said "Stuffed with absurd situations and piles of bad taste, Wilfred is the strangest new show on TV. And the funniest." David Wiegand, in the San Francisco Chronicle, said "Wilfred works on many levels, something that may not become apparent until after you stop laughing."
Some of the less positive reviews included Mike Hale, who wrote in The New York Times: "Some shows aspire to cult status; this one goes straight there, practically bypassing the need to be broadcast at all," but concluded: "Gann’s bits of doggie business ... are reliably humorous, but beyond that the show doesn’t offer a lot of bark or bite." Tom Gliatto of Weekly also gave a less positive review, saying "The show is The Odd Couple redefined by psychosis and whimsy. I'm not wagging my tail."
The series premiere hit a positive note with viewers as it became the highest-ranking debut sitcom ever for FX Networks. It continued to remain in the top 10 shows for Thursday night cable television throughout the first season. It was picked up for a second season on August 6, 2011. The second season aired from June 21 to September 20, 2012. On October 31, 2012, Wilfred was renewed for Season 3, which aired from June 20 to September 5, 2013. On October 2, Wilfred was renewed for a fourth and final season which aired from June 25 to August 13, 2014.
The final season of Wilfred aired in 2014. The show moved from FX to FXX for its final 10 episode run. The crew was given warning well ahead of time so the show's creators could tie up loose ends with the final season. The decision to end the series was ultimately made by FX. Show creator Jason Gann was intent on continuing the series stating, “We would have kept going. I think you would have to be crazy to quit a job like this.”
Elijah Wood has stated that the fourth episode of the final season is one of his favorites of the series saying ” I read the season kind of in order and I read like one through three and then I read four and it just totally blew my mind.”
The return of show runner David Zuckerman, coupled with the focus on answering some of the show's deeper mythological questions, prevented Jason Gann from writing any episodes in the final season.
Elijah Wood's friend has taken the basement set and recreated it at his house. Wood himself has possession of a stuffed bear and a bong made from a Gatorade bottle, both featured prominently throughout the series.
Jason Gann stated in a recent interview that he and Elijah Wood would be interested in a Wilfred film “if the story is there…” In another interview he expressed that it's completely out of his hands, but if fans wanted it he could see the show coming back in a streaming capacity much like Arrested Development.
- Australia – Premiered on Eleven, June 28, 2011, in the Tuesday 9:30 timeslot, and currently repeated on The Comedy Channel in the Monday 9pm slot. Season 3 screened on Eleven on Sundays at 10.30pm.
- Belgium – Premiered on 2BE, March 21, 2013
- Canada – Premiered on October 31, 2011, in the Thursday 10 pm timeslot, as an anchor title for the launch of the FX Canada network.
- Ireland – Airs on RTÉ Two since June 2013.
- Philippines – Premiered on Jack TV, March 20, 2012, in the 9.00 pm timeslot.
- United Kingdom – Premiered on BBC Three, August 16, 2011, in the 10.30 pm timeslot. Season 2 premiered on August 16, 2012, during the 10 pm timeslot, remaining on BBC Three.
- Latin America – Premiered on FX, November 13, 2011, in the Sunday 11.00 pm timeslot.
- Russia – Premiered on 2×2, August 27, 2012.
- Spain – Premiered on FOX, September 14, 2012.
- South Africa – Currently airs on Vuzu,
- Portugal – Premiered on FX, February 13, 2012.
- Poland – Premiered on FOX Poland, June 11, 2012, repeated on Eska TV from September 23, 2013
- Germany – Premiered on ProSieben Fun, February 24, 2013
- Turkey – Premiered on FX, March 1, 2013
- Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Premiered on FOX, March 2013
- Austria, Switzerland – Premiered on ProSieben, June 17, 2013
- Netherlands – Premiered on Comedy Central, March 2, 2014
After winning awards at MIPCOM in 2013, Renegade films sold the Wilfred concept to Russian producers. A third version is being created for Russian networks retitled “Charlie”.
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- "Interview with the dSLR professionals behind the "Wilfred" TV show". Eugenia's Rants and Thoughts. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
- "Wilfred adds Nikon D800 it's hdslr mix" on Creativeplanetnetwork.com, article of 17 September 2012, online the 8 January 2014
- Curt Wagner (June 22, 2011). "Review: FX's 'Wilfred' has a dog complex". Redeye (The Chicago Tribune). Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Wiegand, David (June 22, 2011). "'Wilfred' review: Show could be man's best friend". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Mike Hale (June 22, 2011). "Two Men Hang Out on a Couch. But One Appears to Be a Dog.". The New York Times. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Gliatto, Paul and Chi, Tom (June 27, 2011). "Picks and Pans Main: TV". magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
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- Todd VanDerWerff August 6, 2011. "FX renews Wilfred, Louie, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Newswire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Bibel, Sara (October 31, 2012). "'Wilfred' Renewed by FX for Season 3". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- Goldberg, Lesley (October 2, 2014). "'Wilfred' Renewed for Fourth and Final Season". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
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- "US Wilfred premieres tonight; Renegade Films interview". Encore Magazine. June 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Alex Strachan (October 24, 2011). "Man & dog & man in dog suit". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Cassandra Szklarski (October 19, 2011). "Wilfred's surly Aussie in a bad dog suit anchors FX Canada launch". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "Wilfred Premiere on Jack TV". JackTV.com.ph. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- BBC Three – Wilfred – Series 1 Episode Guide
- BBC Three – Wilfred – Series 2 Episode Guide
- Idato, Michael. "Wilfred producers seal Russian deal". The Sydney Morning Herald.
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