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Dog days are here

Elijah Wood cable comedy is more traditional than it lets on

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Wilfred

series debut
10 p.m.
Thursday
FX

Now that FX has achieved the nearly impossible with Louie – to pull off scripted comedy is to formally validate an ambitious cable network – it's understandable that they would want to follow it up with something equally groundbreaking and subversive. On its scruffy face, Wilfred seems like just that kind of show. Created by Family Guy writer-producer David Zuckerman, the show stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, a hapless malcontent who attempts suicide in the pilot episode. He later meets Wilfred (Jason Gann), a pot-smoking Australian in a cheap dog suit, and their friendship gives them both something to live for. Of course, everyone except Ryan sees Wilfred as simply a dog. Beyond this interesting premise, which is adapted from Gann's own Australian TV show, however, lies a disappointingly formulaic dramedy. Ryan and Wilfred's adventures – going to the vet, traipsing along Venice Beach – only break the sitcom mold insofar as the meta level (he thinks the dog is a dude!) sustains it, and Wood's face is more blank than tortured, though with a schedule of guest stars that includes Ed Helms, Rashida Jones and Dwight Yoakam, there's hope for this mangy pup yet.

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