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Wilfred (US)

I’d been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of season 2 before writing an article on this most superb of television series. Wilfred is one of the most interesting and well-done series I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve not been gripped like this since I first stumbled upon Being Human. Starring Elijah Wood as Ryan, it’s the story of a lawyer who quits everything because he’s tired of living his life the way he’s been told to. After retreating to his home and vowing never to leave his basement dwelling existence, he’s greeted by his neighbor Jenna and her pet dog Wilfred. Now whereas everyone else sees a grey mutt, he says a man in a dog suit. He talks, smokes, drinks and does everything else a dog would do if they had thumbs.

The series opens up with the most delightful ditty and a quote pertaining to the theme of each episode which is centered around an event in Ryan’s life and how he learns to grow as a person while coping and dealing with everything. Episodes range from Ryan’s overbearing sister to his affections for his neighbor Jenna and his envy of her boyfriend. Wilfred acts as the best friend and confident (as every good dog does) by offering seemingly terrible advice which can turn out to be genuinely terrible or surprisingly wise. Regardless of his role in the episode, Ryan grows as a person as he learns to cope and handle the various strenuous situations that rise and occur in our lives.

The camera work is spot-on, and the sound effects and music are succinct, just enough to add flavor to everything without drowning out the rest of the elements in the scene. But the humour is what really does it for me. It’s occasionally cheesy and they love to slip in quotes and references here and there. It’s sparsely utilized but to great effect. The acting is just the right amount of dramatic without being overbearing. It’s a perfect balance of all the elements and never ceases to entertain. When I first began watching this one Saturday with my beau we quickly became entranced and didn’t stop watching it until we realized we had just seen the first season in its entirety. The smoke-out sessions at the end of each episode during the credits is like that little bit of dessert at the end with Ryan and Wilfred just hanging out in the basement smoking pot from a homemade piece whose water is never changed and gradually turns into brown sludge by the end of season 2. Speaking of the ending to Season 2, the brain-shocking multiple twists surprised even me and the cliff-hanger final minutes only serve to mock the viewer further as to Wilfred’s true identity. While there are only two seasons and a third hasn’t been confirmed yet, rest assured they’d be fools to not renew this bit of televised fried gold.


Being Human

So a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf all rent an apartment together in Bristol where they go to work, drink tea and hang out together all while solving the ghost’s death and keeping the vampire from relapsing into a mass-murderer. Also, the werewolf is a fantastic cook. What sounds like the premise to a bad joke is in fact the premise of the most excellent series on BBC4 called Being Human. I stumbled across this entirely by accident while surfing the BBC website with my newfound proxy. The thing that I like most about this series is how well-balanced and paced it is. What would normally have taken an entire 26 episode series in america to resolve such as the ghost’s death, only take a few episodes to discover and already resolve before the end of the 8 episode season. Admittedly, each episode is a full 55 minutes and not the watered down 46 minutes that is padded out with commercials. The characters are compelling and my favorite part of the whole show is the way they interact with each other, their genuine friendship tends to shine through very well and it adds to the show. Also, the vampires actually run around killing people all the time, and even though they can stand the sunlight, they do not sparkle like faggoty vampires do. They’re the more traditional world-dominating type of vampire with an aversion to crosses.

George Sands (Russell Tovey), Nina Pickering (Sinead Keenan), John Mitchell (Aidan Turner), Annie Sawyer (Lenora Crichlow)

So series 1 tells the tale of George the werewolf and his best friend Mitchell the vampire and they move in together in a flat occupied by Annie the ghost. They try to find love and friends and a general purpose in life all while dealing with the cons of being supernatural beings. Vampires are notorious for their unscrupulous behavior and their general dislike of werewolves, often beating them to death when encountered if they don’t have other ideas in mind for them, causing Mitchell to be at odds with the general vampire populace (as well as his vow to abstain from blood drinking). They’re eventually joined by George’s girlfriend Nina (I’ll leave her status as supernatural or not spoilered) who gradually joins the cast as a main character. But things change and the cast evolves. Currently going up for series 5 is Hal as the new resident vampire (one of the Old Ones), Tom as the werewolf (he was introduced in series 3) and Alex as the new ghost in town.
Tom McNair (Michael Socha), Hal (Damien Molony), and Alex (Kate Bracken)

Tom McNair (Michael Socha), Hal (Damien Molony), and Alex (Kate Bracken)

The cinematography and acting are top notch and the production team seem to really enjoy their work. When they encountered a zombie in series 3, the entire episode was shot as an homage to zombie films with a few cliche moments thrown in cleverly. Series one is naturally the best season, whereas the evil scientists in series 2 were somewhat weak. Series 3’s wolf-shaped bullet storyline, however, certainly brought the series back around again and I would have to say it rivals the first series in terms of craftmanship and suspense. I have mixed-feelings concerning series 4, but newcomer Hal is a welcome surprise and watching him adjust to being reintroduced to society brings a good number of laughs and chuckles as he takes advice from the socially uneducated Tom. Pacing and storylines aside, it’s interesting to note that the cast in this popular horror-comedy is willing to drop characters once their time has ended. It is only when they have run out of ideas to successfully incorporate the character do they rid of them. It’s this willingness to keep things fresh and changing that prevents the series from stagnating too far or very much.

An interesting little tidbit is that Peter Jackson was fond of this show and kidnapped Aidan Turner,the actor who plays Mitchell the vampire, for his production of The Hobbit (he plays Kili the dwarf and is the only dwarf without a beard). A quick note on the american remake that is airing on ScyFy: having watched approximately 2/3 of the first season (I couldn’t stomach more), it feels very much like a watered down version of the original and the pacing is atrocious. I will plainly say that I really dislike the actor they chose to portray the vampire (he’s such a jock and feels very out of place. He’s not the smooth-talker that Mitchell is and watching him try to be is terribly awkward). The girl who plays the ghost comes off as simpering and whiny rather than outgoing but insecure. The werewolf character is the only one that stays true in his portrayal of the character. He’s sympathetic and likable, a genuinely nice guy. Owing to it being made for american shores, there is a larger number of episodes and therefore that much more filler and plotlines are stretched out to accommodate the longer air time. If you had to watch only one, I strongly suggest you stick to the BBC production of the show. The mediocre american one did nothing but leave a bad taste in my mouth.