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Running Wilde Watch: Oil And Water

We begin episode three of Running Wilde with the mundane narration of Puddle, but before I can heave my remote at the television in protest, I’m welcomed by Wilde (Arnett) and Fa’ad (Serafinowicz), two of the stronger characters in the show.

Steve and Fa’ad are in Steve's vodka cellar discussing why Emmy likes Andy at all, and Fa’ad suggests that he must get rid of Andy. Puddle overhears the conversation and helps devise a plan for Andy’s departure: send him to the latest pending Wilde Oil atrocity and have him try to fix it. Unfortunately as they exit the cellar, Fa’ad stays behind and gets locked inside.

Meanwhile, Emmy is a hot mess – she no longer seems attracted to Andy’s ecoterrorist dedication and anger, and Steve is stumped because she doesn’t seem to like “ungrateful and happy” either. Alas, Steve convinces Andy that going to Alaska to investigate Wilde Oil’s actions is the best thing for him to do. Exit Andy.

The next day, Steve’s paycheck – usually “only like $10,000 a week” – arrives from Wilde Oil. Emmy is devastated that he “works” there. Considering Steve’s only goal is to win Emmy’s heart, he listens to it and plans on going into the office the next day to quit.

However, a funny thing happens when Steve goes into the office; at first it seems like his coworkers are laughing at him, but by the end of the day, they all love him and value his apparent business acumen. So he doesn’t quit. As the pathetic narration tells us, he was a natural at the office, and he's looking forward to work again tomorrow.

Now let me interrupt here and say that this whole office and job subplot actually showed some promise of being the most entertaining part of Running Wilde. However, the writers managed to kill that by the end of the episode and whittle it back down to the same [predictable, boring] relationships with no sign of a decent, consistent plot to use as a vehicle for these characters. This isn’t Seinfeld, so it doesn’t work. End digression.

Emmy finds out that Steve didn’t quit, so she is planning on going into the office with him the next day to make sure he does. While Steve is supposed to be quitting, he’s actually wowing more colleagues in a meeting; on the other hand, Emmy answers Steve’s office phone to find Andy on the end, amazed that someone finally picked up his call at Wilde Oil’s complaint hotline. This is when Emmy comes up with the idea for Wilde Oil to pollute the Alaskan Inuit waterways, forcing the government’s hand into retracting it’s protected status and making way for Wilde Oil to drill.

Sounds counter intuitive for her environmentalist cause, I know, but she’s thinking that she can bust Wilde Oil after it’s all done and really take them down – break a few eggs to make an omelet, as she says. Steve, on the other hand, is really unnerved by her seeming change of heart and willingness to compromise her principles.

The next day, she cannot find Steve to go into the office. As she is searching for him in his enormous house, she comes across his vodka cellar and Fa’ad, nearly frozen at this point. In this frozen, nearly naked state, Fa’ad unwittingly shows Emmy the evil of her plans with Wilde Oil.

Finally finding Steve helping Puddle with her science project, Emmy asks why he isn’t in the office sending pollutants to the rivers in Alaska. He tells her he quit; that he wasn’t comfortable making the compromises that she was willing to make. In the end, nobody got hurt…except for Andy, who mistakenly borrowed Steve’s “Wilde Oil” coat for Alaska, only to be pounced on by the Inuit after they see the logo previously hidden on his jacket.

Takeaways:

• There is no plot vehicle for the characters to use and develop. As if this show weren’t struggling enough, this was starkly manifested in this third episode of fruitless and non-climaxing character interactions. The show is about Steve trying to win Emmy’s love. Unfortunately, that’s the only common theme from episode to episode, and that doesn’t even seem to move forward…because it can’t – without it there would be no show.

• I say it every week: Puddle’s narration has got to go.

• Good to see Mr. Lunt and Migo’s weak roles marginalized, but the show needs more strong characters, not just absence of unfunny ones.

• If the writers and producers were having a competition regarding whose storyline was more unbearable in this episode, Puddle or Fa’ad’s, both characters won. It’s a shame, because Fa’ad and Steve have so much potential on screen together.

• Nice homage to Arrested Development, Andy (David Cross) saying, “I’m freezing off my blue man group.”

After last week, I was hopeful and – dare I say – excited about this week’s episode. Short-lived that may be, however, for it was a step back from the general direction of funny. While it wasn’t as bad as the pilot, it wasn’t in the same ballpark as the second episode.

I’m sure I’m not the only one losing patience with this show, and it no longer has to do with the egregiously high expectations set on Hurwitz and Arnett. Rather, it’s just not that funny and has a limited potential to grow without introducing new characters and ongoing storylines. Arnett has his moments, as he always will, but he can’t do it all on his own.