Stars: Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Dorian Brown, Ed Helms, Fiona Gubelmann
Writer:
Jason Gann
Director:
Randall Einhorn
Network:
FX, Thursdays @ 10 PM
Airdate:
July 14, 2011

Come with me in the Wayback Machine, Sherman. Remember when the original PLANET OF THE APES came out in 1968? No? Well, it was hailed at the time for, among other things, its social satire. Talking apes could say and do things that, had humans been depicted doing the same, could have really annoyed some folks. Later, ALIEN NATION grappled with some of these things in the same way, and STAR TREK gave an extraterrestrial sci-fi spin to some topics that would have been verboten at the time in straight drama.

What the hell, you may be asking, has any of this got to do with an episode of the FX half-hour comedy WILFRED? Well, the episode “Acceptance” boldly goes where it is unlikely that too many other half-hour comedies, or indeed, many serious dramas, will go – into the realm of sexual molestation at day care centers. Yes, the words “half-hour comedies” did crop up earlier in that sentence.

In this case, it’s doggie day care, where Wilfred (Jason Gann, who also wrote the episode) is left for the day when his owner Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) and regular dog sitter Ryan (Elijah Wood) both have other things to do. In Ryan’s case, he’s reconnecting with his judgmental sister Kristin (Dorian Brown) after she sprains her ankle on his property. Things actually go well for once between the siblings, but when Ryan returns to get Wilfred, the dog’s behavior is very odd and subdued. Ryan at first doesn’t understand, then is horrified when he hears Wilfred’s tale, but then decides Wilfred is manipulating him with lies and puts him back at doggie day care. Then Ryan starts to envision what may be happening to Wilfred and runs to the rescue after all.

This would be where all those science-fiction examples come in. No material featuring a toddler in this situation would be construed as sitcom fodder. With a grown man dressed up in a dog suit, it is somewhat less queasy-making, though whether or not it is actually funny – whether or not it can by funny – is up for grabs. It should be noted that the title of “Acceptance” is about Ryan and Kristin coming to grips with each other’s respectively unambitious and control freak personalities, rather than what’s happening at the doggie day care center. “Acceptance” gets points for nerve, certainly, and also for coming up with a scenario in which, if it happened, Wilfred is somewhat complicit in his own exploitation and isn’t being violated in a way that could cause grievous bodily harm. (This explains on a practical level why Ryan doesn’t take Wilfred to the vet for confirmation.)

However, the parallels are unmistakable, and either way, they’re pretty horrible. A child subjected to something like this would be tragic, and the suggestion that a toddler might invent this story in order to stay home isn’t precisely hilarious, either. If the idea was, “Well, would this be funny if we substituted a talking dog for a child? Only one way to find out,” the answer can now safely be said to be “no.”

It’s not that WILFRED can’t go here – of course it can, it just did – or shouldn’t do it. The show does what it does very well. It’s just that it’s hard to figure out exactly what it is doing and what it hopes to achieve. In this, the show is actually very much like its title character a lot of the time.

AGREE? DISAGREE? LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD – COMMENT BELOW

Related Link: The Scoop on WILFRED Season 2

 

Related Link: Exclusive Interview with WILFRED co-creator and star Jason Gann

 

Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 premiere – “Happiness”
Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Trust”

Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Fear”
Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Respect”

Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Acceptance”
Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Conscience”

Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Pride”
Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Anger”
Related Link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Compassion”
Click on link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Isolation”
Click on link: AX’sreview of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Doubt”

Click on link: AX’s review of WILFRED – Season 1 – “Sacrifice”

 


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: Review -WILFRED – Season 1 – “Acceptance”

 

 

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Comments:

  1. Pingback: TV Review: WILFRED – Season 1 – “Acceptance” - MyTVNews.net

  2. Maybe it’s because I’m Australian and this show very much reflects ithe Australian sense of humour, but I found this episode laugh-out-loud funny. I totally agree that the storyline would be appalling if it featured a child, but Wilfred is not a child. He’s not even a defenceless animal. He’s a smart-mouthed, devious, manipulative, and occasionally dog-like man dressed up in a dog suit. If we impose another persona upon Wilfred in the context of this episode, or indeed in the context of the whole show, I think we’ll start finding problems that don’t exist. In this episode, if Wilfred’s account is true, and not just a manipulative ploy, then the comedy comes from Wilfred’s obsession, as a dog, with peanut butter. And let’s face it, there have been plenty of TV shows where a character is lured into doing something unpleasant (or worse) by an obsession.

    Grant Sutherland
  3. I’m so happy to see Elijah Wood in the new show “Wilfred”. My co-worker from DISH told me all about this show and I’m excited to see it.

    Rah
  4. I agree there was nothing that made me think of a child being abused in any context it was a kennel not a nursery full of children. As Grant succinctly put it, he’s a smart mouthed manipulative dog. He is mature enough too. I just love this programme it’s really brave of them to put so much into and I accept Wilfred as a dog straight away, it’s so well done, but the bits that also count are the reminders of dogs behaviour and I often think wow these people know a dog and how a dog reacts thinks etc. That’s really funny. The laser one was soooo funny. He was really sweet and naive to think he was going to the farm. Also his excited barking at a pelican. If you’ve known a dog on any level even if you have never had one as a pet you’ll know how amazingly accurate these guys are. Keep up the Great Work. Wilfrid is TRULY amazing

    Suzy

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