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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD. Fabulous Films.

Wilfred Season 2If you’ve been watching US comedy series Wilfred, recently broadcast in the UK on BBC3 (so you probably haven't been watching it), then these two DVD releases of the original Australian version might well be of interest – especially if, like me, you didn’t actually know that there was an original Australian version.

Expanded from a seven-minute short film, the basis for the series is simple. Adam (Adam Zwar) meets up with Sarah (Cindy Waddingham) and a Powderfinger(!) gig, and quickly moves in with her. The only problem is her dog Wilfred (Jason Gann). To everyone else, he’s a just a regular mongrel, but Adam (and the audience) sees him as a man in a (rubbish) dog suit. Strange enough, but Wilfred quickly turns out to be a jealous, overly-protective, manipulative sociopath with a penchant for junk food, dope, beer and smoking who cons Adam into getting involved in assorted capers – robbing a neighbours cannabis farm, climbing over a slippery roof in the pouring rain – while continually undermining his relationship with Sarah.

Season One is an interesting mix – the bizarre nature of the situation (and Adam’s casual acceptance of it) is the basis for much of the humour, as Sarah remains oblivious to the tensions and manipulations of her pet dog. This is not exactly a buddy comedy – the two main protagonists can’t really be called buddies – but it does have that vibe about it. And it is oddly entertaining. Rarely laugh-out-loud funny, the absurdity of the idea nevertheless sustains itself more than you’d expect, thanks to Gann’s cynicism and Zwar’s wide-eyed innocence. If Cindy Waddingham gets rather lost in the mix – and her character is hard to take to, to be honest - that’s understandable. The show mixes Wilfred’s human qualities with typical dog behaviour (digging holes in the lawn, humping toys, shouting (barking) at anyone who comes to the door) and there is always the question of whether Adam really is seeing something in Wilfred that no-one else can, or if he’s just losing his mind.

Wilfred Season Two makes a few changes – rather than a collection of individual stories, it develops more as an ongoing tale, starting with Adam and Sarah agreeing to marry and ending with their wedding – though nothing goes really smoothly. This series adds in more ‘animal’ characters, which could have been a disaster but actually works quite well, even if it does take away from the uniqueness of Adam and Wilfred’s behaviour. There’s a bit of plot redux too – in Season One, we’re told Wilfred was adopted by Sarah as a grown dog, but in this season, he’s the son of her parents’ dog. Character surnames are changed too.

The humour is perhaps a little broader this time out – it’s certainly cruder. The first series wasn’t exactly family viewing, but there’s more swearing, more turd jokes and some extensive middle-aged nudity (Waddingham also has nude scenes, but is all too obviously replaced with a body double) this time around – and while this might seem an absurd statement to make about a show with a talking dog played by a man in a suit, the situations Wilfred and Adam find themselves in seem increasingly implausible. Towards the end, they are making TV commercials, entering dog fighting rings (‘Bite Club’ would you believe?) and generally getting into wackier and wackier escapades. It’s actually funnier than Season One, but it’s also probably a good job the series ends here (and it does reach a sort of conclusion, albeit not a very satisfying one) before things became too stupid.

Still, this is an entertaining show that definitely grows on you as it goes along. Edgier and more outrageous than the US version, it’s well worth a look for fans of the new version as well as people like myself who didn’t quite take to it.






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