Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann, and producers David Zuckerman and Randall Einhorn were on hand to present a new episode at the Wilfred Comic-Con panel. Wood referred to it as their “crowning achievement.” That is true, if the standard is the most depraved scenario they could conceive—to the point where you’ll never see the whole thing on television—interspersed with some Footloose-era dance montages. Hit the jump for a recap of the panel.
We saw “Avoidance,” episode 7 of season 2. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 had not aired at the time of the panel, so there was a bit of continuity catchup to get into the episode. Ryan bumps into an old friend from law school. After graduation, they worked together at Ryan’s dad’s firm, and bonded over their hatred of the job. They had a major falling out, though, and haven’t spoken in years because Ryan ignored all the old friend’s calls.
As Wilfred tries to lecture Ryan on the importance of confronting issues like that, he ropes Ryan into an upcoming dance competition. I am not familiar enough with Footloose to know for sure, but I recognized enough of the gesticulations that I believe they did a shot-for-shot remake of the montage where Ren teaches Willard how to dance. This is all the more adorable because Gann and Wood are terrible dancers.
This builds to a shocking moment that is simply too blue for basic cable. They need to cut certain elements to air it on FX, but I won’t spoil it, because the panel promised the full episode would make its way on to the DVD. The writers lean on a contrived explanation to unravel the sudden rift in Wilfred and Ryan’s relationship, but if the collective gasp in the Indigo Ballroom was any indication, it was probably worth it for the joke.
All is right by the end of the episode when the basement walls are pulled back to reveal old-fashioned movie musical set, and Wilfred and Ryan launch into an intricately choreographed dance number. (Again, adorable, because Gann and Wood cannot dance.)
That dance scene was the last thing they shot all season. Gann and Wood had to practice the complicated routine while shooting the rest of the season. Gann, a surprisingly thoughtful fellow, noted the poignance of shooting what could be the final scene of the series on this nostalgic 1940s-era Hollywood set. Of course, Wilfred is still very much a modern, low-budget production. Einhorn remarked on how they hooked a small $3000 camera up to a crane that cost hundreds of thousands to shoot the big musical number.
That’s part of the shaggy charm of Wilfred, which successfully combines shock humor, absurdity, and armchair philosophy into something that is different from everything else on TV. Wilfred gets solid ratings at a low cost, so I think the show will stick around for much longer than Gann fears.
- “Avoidance” features a blatant shout out to the Comic-Con faithful. Ryan is on the phone with a girl who is at the convention, lamenting at the fact that he can’t be with her. After all, he could “totally pull off Harry Potter.” Wood says he often gets confused for Daniel Radcliffe or Tobey Maguire, so they chose between Harry Potter and Spider-man for the costume reference.
- The panel gave a few hints about what’s coming up in season 2. Ryan’s new job does not last all season, and it doesn’t end well. Also, Bear loses an arm.
- The first fan question was, “What was it like to go from Lord of the Rings to Wilfred?” Wood—somewhat exasperated but composed—quipped that he looks forward to when he’s 50. Whatever project he is promoting then, the question will still be, “What was it like to go from Lord of the Rings to…”
- Another fan asked Zuckerman what reality he writes, whether or not Wilfred is real or part of Ryan’s imagination. Zuckerman addressed the unfortunate reality for a TV creator, that it is nearly impossible to write a completely satisfactory resolution to the mythology, where it is pretty much guaranteed that 50% of the audience will hate the ending. As Zuckerman put it, “You might really like the ride up until that last 15 minutes… like Battlestar Galactica.” He advises that you just enjoy the ride rather than look too far ahead to the destination.
- Wood, on what he and Gann do to pass time on set: “We just sing songs. All day.” He jokingly promised a Wilfred and Ryan record in the near future.
- One fan asked if they wanted Bruce Willis on the show in a pink bunny suit. Apparently this is a reference to North, when Willis appears in a bunny suit to a young Wood (I haven’t seen it). Zuckerman gave the natural answer: If Bruce Willis wants to be on the show, they will get Bruce Willis on the show. So how about it, Mr. Willis?
- Would they get Bruce Willis in a pink bunny suit. Apparently a North reference. Zuckerman says if Bruce Willis wants to be on the show, they will do it.
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