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”Our biggest problems arise from the avoidance of smaller ones.” Jeremy Caufield
Once you accept the inherently outlandish premise and outrageous nature of some of the jokes, Wilfred is usually a pretty typical comedy series. It’s a nice mix of the weird with the easily digestible, striking a middle ground instead of necessarily breaking any new. The show throws in elements of serialization (Ryan’s daddy issues, girlfriends, boyfriends and will-they-won’t-they with Jenna) but no more than most episodic sitcoms, especially since FX’s black comedy is not concerned with revealing the ‘reality’ behind Wilfred’s and/or Ryan’s existence. Not that it should be but there is so much potential for the series to deviate from the conventional in more ways than just the “Calvin and Hobbes” set up. Like, for example, cutting loose, or should i say Footloose, and throwing to two completely different but equally amazing extended dance sequences in one episode. By the way, dance is in the word “Avoidance.” Mind blown? Let’s dance!
The episode opens on Ryan out with a very pregnant Kristen who is no longer acting mean, just desperate to find a baby daddy. The pair are interrupted by an old, best friend named James (Eugene Byrd) who Ryan couldn’t want to see any less, especially since he’s being asked about a banquet for his father. Kristen would love to see more of James - you know, the whole desperation thing - and keeps jumping in on the inside jokes before wondering if the one-time friend of her brother likes kids. She does look radiant. When Ryan finally gets to be alone with Wilfred, he spills on how he and James were supposed to ditch out on the former’s father’s law practice to start their own boutique firm but in the end the latter sold him out and stayed for a promotion. Wilfred, as usual, takes the contrarian position and reinforces the titular lesson that avoidance can often lead to misconceptions, missed opportunities and ultimately regret. Something he would never let happen between him and Dennis.
Uh oh. That’s awkward. Wilfred is Ryan’s best friend but Ryan is like sixth on Wilfred’s list after Dennis, Steve, Bear (of course), Blue Bunny and Jenna. Speaking of Jenna, with her going out of town to see Drew, somebody needs to fill in with next week’s Doggie Dance recital and Wilfred insists because he always gets his Churro treat after dancing. Ryan goes with the easy jab, telling his pal to call Dennis to dance with him, but it doesn't take long before they're toe to toe, practice dancing in the basement. To try and loosen him up, Wilfred asks Ryan to talk about the first time he made love and it's a nice story about a study partner and her interrupting dad. Always the dads with Ryan, eh? Wilfred counters with a similar story, saying how he had his first sexual encounter with a helpless dog who was just stuck by a car. Just thinking about it brings on the giggles. To balance that seriously fucked up story (similar to the one about Lady last week), the two soon feel the beat and take to dancing in the street.
The montage of movement is nothing short of amazing. I was entertained by Elijah Wood and Jason Gann trying really hard to pull off some memorable dance moves from throughout history. You know, walking like an Egyptian and such. After killing it for a few minutes, Wilfred pulls his groin (that's not a dance move) and has to take a minute to stretch it out. Well, technically Ryan does the stretching and then something else altogether comes out. And the doggie facial is the perfect time for James to call and see if his old buddy's still coming to meet him. Not surprisingly, it takes a long time for Wilfred to realize that the problem forming between him and his fifth best buddy might have something to do with the jizz blasting. Kristen continues to crush on James, the inside joke factory, but Ryan still isn’t interested in hearing him out. But he's even less interested in dancing with Wilfred again, especially after being embarrassed by the black light. Dude.
The mock horror movie sequence, starting with the noise in the basement and ending with Wilfred’s confession of ejaculating everywhere, was brilliant and creepy. Ryan arrives home late and finds Wilfred waiting downstairs in the dark. And this doggie dancer in the dark loves his… well, you can’t see it but I’m making a hand job gesture. After a couple of geek references - the Shining-like bathroom scare and comic-con cosplay with Wood passing for Harry Potter - Wilfred seems to calm down, apologizing and even bringing Ryan a slipper. Things once again ramp up and start feeling, uh, a little rapey before Ryan exclaims no ejaculate! Wilfred is shocked. All he wanted was a Churro and if Ryan had only been forthright and talked it out, all this silliness could have been avoided. Avoidanced. To be fair to Ryan though, who shakes the sugar off a Churro? Ridiculous. And he still has been living in that dog semen soaked apartment for some time. Don’t eat the mayo.
Ryan finally stops avoiding his past and agrees to meet with James, where it turns out, his former friend didn’t really have a choice when it came to quitting. Ryan’s father - the now infamous unseen character, who I hope meet by season’s end - scared James into staying as a last ditch effort to keep his son in the fold. Darth Vader indeed, maybe Ryan will lose a hand in the finale? He might have mended a lost friendship but Ryan and Wilfred weren’t able to make the Doggie Dance recital. All that practice was a waste. Or was it? In a spectacularly ambitious dance sequence, the walls recede for the duo, now clad in tuxedoes, to strut their stuff. Seriously, it’s a few minutes long and impressive from just about every angle except the dancing. Okay, Gann and Wood do a good job too but the real stars are the production team who designed that great set. The sequence must have been the most expensive in the series history and it was worth every penny.
Wilfred’s “Avoidance” reminded me that the seres can not only be wildly original but it’s also damn good when it forgets the formula and since the story lines are increasingly limited by the fact that Ryan must be in every scene (world and character building is hard through only one point of view) the show needs to take more risks. The camera work consistently innovates, it’s exciting when the writing keeps up and the basement tag was a terrific way to allow some visual flourish and a completely bizarre yet fitting finish. I’m still hoping for Wilfred to realize the potential it showed in “Progress.” Oh, and the version aired at Comic-Con showed the doggie money shot in all its disgusting, gooey glory and the cast were (obviously) asked about the filming the sticky sequences. Apparently Randall Einhorn was very hands on and did the shooting himself. Wait, that sounds wrong. He was the one who squirted on… never mind. Wilfred returns with Episode 7, “Truth,” Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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