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Archive for Thursday, June 23, 2011

FX unleashes an unfunny ‘Wilfred’

June 23, 2011

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Elijah Woods stars in "Wilfred" (9 p.m., FX) as Ryan, a washed-up, suicidal lawyer at the end of his tether. Or is it his leash?

After botching his own demise, Ryan is beset with hallucinations. Wilfred looks like the neighbor's frisky dog to everybody else, but Ryan sees only a man in a dog suit, a gruff Australian guy with a love for smoking pot and doing all the crude things dogs are known for — things that seem disturbing and dark when performed by a stoned Australian man in a dog suit.

Oddly, Wilfred (Jason Gann) lacks many positive dog traits such as love, devotion and acceptance. His sly, manipulative nature often seems more feline than canine. But I digress. This is supposed to be funny, but I never laughed.

"Wilfred" represents a certain kind of comedy and an angry and arrested male worldview. It's a place where men are divided between the strong (Ryan's biker neighbor) and the weak (Ryan), and where there are only two kinds of women. One is the kind that Wilfred likes to lick and rub himself against; the other kind is like Ryan's sister Kristen (Dorian Brown), who some would dismiss with a certain term for female dogs.

The notion of a protagonist suffering visions can make for slapstick and even charm. But don't go looking for "Harvey" here. "Wilfred" finds its humor in defecating in somebody's shoe.

"Wilfred" is based on an Australian TV show inspired by a short film. To toss a metaphorical shrimp on the zeitgeist barbie, this is the third recent effort (after "The King's Speech" and the Jodie Foster/Mel Gibson flop "The Beaver") in which a flawed man is counseled by an unorthodox mentor with an Australian accent. But who's counting?

• New on USA, "Suits" (9 p.m.) marries that network's penchant for heroes with extraordinary powers ("Monk" and "Psych") with its love of characters with good looks and sex appeal ("White Collar," "Royal Pains," "Covert Affairs.")

Mike (Patrick J. Adams) is a brilliant drifter and cheat who remembers everything he reads. He's coasted, taking tests for rich kids, but when a botched drug deal lands him in the lurch, he's hired by brash lawyer Harvey (Gabriel Macht), who sees him as a chip off the old block.

The pilot takes 90 minutes to set up a story that might have been summed up in a catchy theme song. Not a good sign. Rick Hoffman is typecast yet again as the corporate weasel. He's always fun to watch.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Four leave on "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

• A fatal fall is re-examined on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

• Ryan needs investors on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC).

• Fans of "Amazing Race" won't be terribly surprised to learn that the show has been cloned and called "Expedition Impossible" (9 p.m., ABC).

• Over the legal limit on "Glee" (8 p.m., Fox).

• "Titans" (8 p.m., CNBC) profiles Steve Jobs.

• Megan Mullally guest-stars on "Parks and Recreation" (9:30 p.m., NBC).

• Friendly competition on "The Mentalist" (9 p.m., CBS).

• A baptism by fire on "Love Bites" (9 p.m., NBC).

• "Rookie Blue" (9 p.m., ABC) returns with new episodes.

• Sisters visit on the second-season premiere of "Louie" (9:30 p.m., FX).

• First seen on Fox in 1999, "Futurama" (9 p.m., Comedy Central) returns with 13 new episodes.

Cult choice

• A boy way too old for a baby sitter discovers her dark side in the 2010 comedy "My Babysitter's a Vampire" (8 p.m., Disney).

Series notes

Penny fibs on "The Big Bang Theory" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Suspicious minds on "Community" (7 p.m., NBC) ... "Wipeout" (7 p.m., ABC) ... All in the family on "The Vampire Diaries" (7 p.m., CW).

Magic on "Rules of Engagement" (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... Innovation on "30 Rock" (7:30 p.m., NBC)

Insecure on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW).

Late night

Andrew Rossi is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Adam Levine, Nick Kroll and My Morning Jacket appear on "Conan" (10 p.m., TBS) ... The Black Belles appear on "The Colbert Report" (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central).

Jason Segel, Tim Harmston and Noah and the Whale are booked on "Late Show With David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Justin Timberlake, Kevin Hart and The Antlers on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Zachary Levi, Don Mattingly and Pitbull appear on "Lopez Tonight" (11 p.m., TBS) ... Rosario Dawson, Michael Angarano and Jill Scott appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11 pm., ABC).

Selena Gomez and Jon Benjamin chat on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Julie Andrews and Little Big Town on "The Late Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at kmcdonough@unitedmedia.com

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