Wilfred Comic-Con 2012 Panel Recap
FX brought Wilfred to Comic-Con for the second time this year and once again the panel didn't disappoint. I would have loved to live-blog the event but thanks to the glorious WiFi set-up at the Indigo, a recap will have to suffice. For those new to the series, here's a brief synopsis:
Ryan (Elijah Wood) is a troubled young man fed-up with his job and his life until he meet's his cute neighbor Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) and more importantly, her dog Wilfred (Jason Gann). The hook? Ryan doesn't see Wilfred as everyone else does, namely a regular dog, instead he sees a man in a dog suit. Why? Well, we don't really know but it sure produces a situation rife with dark comedy potential. And it almost always lives up to the hype.
The panel, moderated by HitFix TV critic Alan Sepinwall - who did a great job when he wasn't laughing but you can't blame him, we all were - kicked off at 4:00 p.m. with Wood, Gann, Gubelmann, Dorian Brown (Ryan's sister Kristen), David Zuckerman (executive producer and head writer) and Randall Einhorn (series director) all in attendance. But, before they were even introduced, they screened an upcoming episode from Season 2 called "Avoidance."
Obviously, I don't want to go into too many details about the screening because that would spoil it for the rest of you but let's just say it was an explosive episode, as funny and foul as the previous installments. "Avoidance" involves some doggy dancing and the return of a former friend of Ryan's played by Eugene Byrd. It's another hilarious immorality tale that closes with the most expensive sequence in the show's history. It's a wonderful, 'Old Hollywood' ending and Einhorn noted the irony of bringing in a $100,000 crane to mount their $3500 stills camera. The use of a stills camera is what separates the show aesthetically from almost all other programs on television.
After the screening things really got raunchy and the jokes were flying as fast as, if not faster than, the episode. There was a particularly disgusting scene for Elijah Wood in "Avoidance" and Sepinwall opened by asking if the former Hobbit has now done everything he ever wanted to do as an actor. The incident was so gross that you won't actually get to see it as we did today because FX won't be airing that particular, uh, shot. They also talked about the inspiration for the sure-to-be-legendary sequence between Ryan and Wilfred citing one of the writers' particularly interesting party trick. Intrigued yet?
Once the in-depth discussion of the episode ended, and there was a lot to talk about, the questions moved to the more general including Jason Gann commenting on how Wilfred should have more scenes with Kristen, mainly because Dorian Brown is gorgeous (as well as married with a kid). Gann once again stressed how much fun he has with the show but that being in the suit is certainly not since he's stuck in it for hours on end and dog-suit technology has not improved. Ganns analogy, "fireworks are fireworks." Zuckerman's joke for Gann's days in the suit is that he never heard the star complain once. Not once (many).
The cast's rapport is amazing and it extends right to Zuckerman and Einhorn. You can really sense that the smallish production has become a close-knit unit, especially the relationship between Elijah and Jason. They have the same chemistry off-screen as they do on and the series is built upon their 'buddy comedy.' However, when asked why the move to the office setting this season, Zuckerman said that it was fun to write Wilfred as a workplace comedy but that the setting didn't turn out as fertile for laughs as they had hoped. It sounds like Ryan's tenure at his new position is temporary and won't end well.
Before throwing to the crowd for questions, the cast was pretty unanimous in their love for Bear and his extended role in the second season. Jason's love for Bear may go a little beyond healthy. The first query was a painful rehash of last year's panel by asking Elijah a Lord of the Rings related question, which he deflected by saying 30 years from now he'll still have to answer how he made the transition from Tolkien's epic to whatever he happens to be working on at the time.
But even after the Frodo crap was out of the way, most of the questions were directed at Elijah even though they could have easily been opened up to the whole cast. Not that Wood wasn't funny and gracious (and I appreciated one fan's North reference) but it would have been nice for somebody to ask the co-creator and star Jason Gann more than one question: what is the difference between the Australian and American versions, to which he simply said that Wilfred is more fun and more fun to play. And now that they've made double the episodes, the US version feels like the show.
Lastly, Zuckerman was also great during the panel, deflecting the 'what is your take on the show's reality' query with a very smart and funny answer. Basically, he's confused that people actually want to know because once the secrets out (like some other serialized mysteries, quoting Lost and the awful ending of Battlestar Galactica) half of the audience is guaranteed to hate it so why not just enjoy the journey. And a great journey it has been and, going by the episode they screened, it will continue to be. Don't miss it.
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