Making its third appearance at SDCC, the Wilfred panel finally managed to avoid questions about The Hobbit. FX's surreal comedy about a mentally disturbed young man named Ryan and the odd relationship he has with his neighbor's dog (or, more appropriately, man in a dog suit) stars Elijah Wood, no stranger to geekdom thanks to his role as Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings. The iconic part did cause some problems in previous years though, with Wood having to tell fans to keep on topic before co-star (and co-creator) Jason Gann would sarcastically start answering for him.
Not this year, all was smooth. Well, the crowd still featured its fair share of weirdos but that seems appropriate for such a bizarre show. More on the odd questions later, let's start back at the beginning. The panel, which featured Wood via satellite as well as Gann, Fiona Gubelmann, Dorian Brown, new showrunners Eli Jorné and Reed Agnew and executive producer David Zuckerman, began with a network rep introducing and screening an upcoming episode from the third season called "Stagnation."
The installment will air on FX in late August, making it one of the last of the season and since I also recap the show every Thursday (save last night), I won't say much about "Stagnation" except that is was another solid turn for Season 3. The theme or lesson of the episode involved Wilfred trying to get Ryan out of his 'funemployment' rut while the former found himself infatuated with Anne's boyfriend's dog Phyllis, who happens to be in heat. Yep, Anne (Kristen Schaal) is still around making my assumption that she was a one off way off base, especially in light of the cliffhanger ending.
"Stagnation" also featured several big laughs, including a vampire fleshlight and one film reference that made me spit-take. Sorry to the dude in front of me. After the episode ended, the moderator proper was given a longer introduction than any of the people actually on the panel (seriously, who cares) and it became immediately apparent that Dominic Patten was the type of guy who probably insisted on having every credit listed. Despite his pretty terrible job hosting (and they can make or break a panel), the cast and crew managed to still provide an entertaining hour and offer some great insight into Wilfred and how it has evolved over the years.
Zuckerman discussed why he started off his comedy with an attempted suicide, basically explaining that he was trying to create a character that would realistically need someone like Wilfred to come into their lives. And not just because he's a spirit animal of sorts but since it takes someone pretty messes up to start seeing the neighbor's dog as a man in a canine costume. Gann added that the Australian original had less dimension in general, with both the Ryan and Wilfred characters needing to be much more developed if the series were to have legs.
I mentioned last year that it seemed like Gann was almost checked out of Wilfred, like he had had enough or didn't see the potential for growth but this year there was a real renewed sense of vigour. He seemed very happy with how Zuckerman, as well as new showrunners Jorné and Agnew, have made him into a much more compelling character. The Aussie version (and perhaps the first season on FX) seemed like 'highschool' to him and they've since moved on to college. Several cast members also noted the growth as well as mentioned the various characters within the character than Gann gets to play like the religious zealot or love-starved pup.
One of the funniest parts of the panel was unintentional, with Wood's satellite feed not only on delay but also produced a weird disembodied voice (or giggle as was often the case) when the screen would cut away to the panelists. It was truly hilarious to watch Gann crack a joke and then hear Wood's cackle ring out over the ballroom. Even though The Hobbit talk was absent, a lot of the audience questions were still directed at Wood.
And, after being asked 'what is Ryan?' a particularly weird question (well, more of a failed joke) Wood even spilled the beans on his interpretation of what Wilfred really is, saying that he's likely a figment of Ryan's imagination created to help cope with his depression and get his life back on track. The comparison of id to ego was made and seems as good a guess as any. Zuckerman and the others were much more tight-lipped, refusing to share whether or not we would see Ryan's dad this season, a figure that has loomed large over the entire series.
The panel closed with Wood telling everyone to get into some weirdness at the Con, advice that could double as a tagline for Wilfred. Get into some weirdness. Wilfred airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX. Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't include anything from Gubelmann or Brown, well, its because they were never asked a decent question. Too bad cause it seems like there's been a renewed focus on both Jenna and Kristen this year, especially the later as the 'will-they, won't they' relationship.
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