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Running Wilde Watch: Series Premiere

Meet Steve Wilde (Will Arnett), a relentlessly narcissistic and freeloading trust-fund baby who’s madly and maddeningly in love with the daughter of his childhood nanny, Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russel), a relentlessly selfless but not entirely fulfilled humanitarian single mother of one.

With the help of Migo, Mr. Lunt, and Fa’ad, Wilde hopes to win over the selfless humanitarian Emmy. Migo is the man whom Wilde pays to be his friend and driver; his primary addition to the show is his absence in most scenes. Mr. Lunt is Wilde’s lifelong secretary whose primary responsibility is to make Steve feel better when his spirits are low. And Fa’ad is Wilde’s filthy rich neighbor, equally spoiled and outrageous.

Based on excessive and materialistic competitive one-upmanship, Wilde’s friendship with Fa’ad shows promise of being entertaining. At the beginning of the episode, they are competing with each other regarding the size of their respective horses, only there’s slight confusion. Fa’ad’s horse is a tiny miniature while Wilde’s is gargantuan. While this wasn’t really that funny, one can see the comedic potential of two such rich people competing with their elitism.

Anyway, Wilde will do anything to impress Emmy, and he’s hoping the humanitarian award he is receiving will help her come around to him. Did I mention that this award is being given to him by the Wilde Oil Company? Well it is; he’s giving himself the award. Emmy is unimpressed, and Steve genuinely seems to care…until he sees the size of the plaque he is receiving.

Strangely enough, Emmy was attending the ceremony with a purpose of her own: to get Steve to ask his oil tycoon father not to drill in the Amazon, where she has feverishly lived and worked for six years to preserve the culture of a 2,000 year old tribe. In a feeble attempt to impress her, the dim-witted Wilde transports the entire tribe to his mansion overnight. This is supposed to be funny for us, and it’s supposed to satisfy Emmy. It fails on both accounts.

Emmy has brought her daughter, Puddle, along with her. Not unlike a real puddle in the sidewalk, she gets in the way. Truthfully, Puddle is merely the excuse to bring Emmy back to Steve in America. She has stopped talking for the last 6 months, and her mother doesn’t know why. When Emmy is packing up to go back to the Amazon, Puddle speaks to Wilde, telling him that she hates it and he has to help her stay in America.

With the help of Fa’ad, Wilde manages to convince Emmy that she and Puddle need to stay with him for a while. Shortly thereafter, however, Emmy figures out that she has been duped and starts packing up again for the Amazon. Puddle finally speaks to her mother and – combined with Wilde’s selfless act towards her daughter – convinces Emmy to stick around for a while.

The episode ended with Emmy telling Wilde she was going to make him a better man. Wilde responds by telling her, “Not if I can make you a worse woman, first.”

Takeways:

Arrested Development fans beware. Running Wilde is not the same perfect storm.

• The narrator of the show is Emmy’s daughter, Puddle. Ugh. It’s painful.

• I couldn’t tell whether the acting was that bad, or whether it was the tacky and over-the-top music that made it seem that bad.

• If you’ve seen Will Arnett in other things, he plays the same character as usual, only this time he’s the lead. I sure hope it works out, but I get the feeling that he’s just a wildly hilarious sidekick and nothing more. This could end badly.

• David Cross (Tobias from Arrested Development played Emmy’s boyfriend in the episode. His scenes were by far the funniest.

• I laughed out loud only once the entire episode, and that was when Arnett/Wilde got up from the piano and it continued to play. Not as subtle as it reads, but relatively hilarious.

It’s not tough to figure out that I thought this pilot was terrible. It was all over the place and not very funny. That being said, it was only the pilot, and it did what pilot episodes do: set up storylines and characters, however likely or unlikely any of them seem to be. While tremendously underwhelming, I have not given up on the show. After all, this is Mitchell Hurwitz and Will Arnett we are talking about; let’s give them some leeway and tune in again next week, but everything about it needs to drastically improve if it’s going to last.