Wilfred Review: (Suicidal) Man’s Best Friend

WILFRED: Tuesday 16th August, BBC3, 10.30pm

Despite living a very plush apartment, Elijah Wood seems to be a bit down on his luck as this American remake of an award-winning Australian comedy kicks-off. Without a job and harbouring a mild but apparently unrequited obsession with the girl next door, he attempts to take his own life, only to come round with a headache and knack for seeing his sexy neighbour’s pooch as an Aussie bloke in a dog suit. To everyone else, Wilfred is a dirty grey mongrel, but to Ryan he’s a the only person who seems able to bring him out of his funk. His main line in advice revolves around encouraging the ex-Hobbit to locate his balls and take control of his own life rather than let his sister shout down the phone to him.

The premise is an interesting one and only time will tell if it is as successful over here as it has been the US (where it was renewed for a second series a couple of weeks after its debut), but there is definitely a harmless quality to it that many will enjoy. It’s almost like the TV series of The Beaver, but without all the baggage.

Jason Gann – who helped create and starred in the original – is the antipodean mutt in question, but while his inclusion both makes sense and works well, some other parts of this seem implausibly easy. Creating an imaginary friend ala Fight Club, has been a staple for many tropes in recent years but while much time is spent developing the relationship between these two, we still have some questions for Elijah Wood’s character, Ryan. Why is he considering an overdose? Why doesn’t anyone notice the fact that he seems to be conversing with a dog? ..And what has he done to make his family so bloody angry with him?

In reality it’s probably best to ignore these issues (most of which will probably be answered in due course) and go with the low-key nature of this offering. There’s plenty to enjoy here and you get the feeling that this simple but very watchable slow-burner could end up drawing us in with an irresistible combination of warmth and humour. Only time will tell..