Saddled with the pressure of being creator Mitch Hurwitz and star Will Arnett’s follow-up to Arrested Development, Running Wilde never was quite able to catch on with a wide audience. While many viewers might have expected a comedy operating on many different layers and filled with hidden jokes, Running Wilde was just a fun show whose only goal was to let its leads be silly. I for one had no problem with that, and I was more than happy to receive the Running Wilde DVDs to review. Hit the jump for my full breakdown.
Running Wilde follows the life of Steve Wilde (the brilliant Will Arnett), a clueless billionaire who inherited his fortune. He lives in a massive mansion with two butlers. He alternates between disappointment in himself and partying heavily at lavish gatherings in the mansion. His world is turned upside down when he runs into his high school crush (and daughter of his old nanny) Emmy (Keri Russell) and her young daughter, Puddle (Stefania Owen). Emmy and her fiancé Andy (David Cross) are (very ineffective) environmental activists.
When Emmy and Puddle return home to Long Island without Andy, they’re invited to an awards ceremony by Steven. Emmy thinks that maybe Steve has finally grown up, but those hopes are quashed when she learns he’s giving the award to himself. Nonetheless, Emmy is homeless and she agrees to move into a tree-house in Steve’s backyard.
This starts the main storyline of the show: Steve’s pursuit of Emmy. Over the short course of the series, we could see Steve maturing (ever so slightly) and Emmy losing her edge, and it was apparent that the show would reach a really funny balance. While the show lasted, we were treated to the occasional guest spot from David Cross as Emmy’s fiancé who is a little less of a hippie then he wants everyone to believe. The gag early on in the series when his braided beard falls right off his chin was played perfectly by Cross.
Another great comedian on the show was Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) as Steve’s equally wealthy neighbor, Fa’ad. Fa’ad and Steve’s rivalry was one of the funniest aspects of the show, and it was a real shame that Serafinowicz’s first really visible role in America was so short lived. He brought a real air of unpredictability to the show that made for some great moments.
As you can tell, I was more than a little disappointed that Running Wilde didn’t find a larger audience. It was definitely going somewhere great, a lot like the too-soon cancellation of Arrested Development. However, unlike Arrested Development, which got a first-class treatment on DVD (which undoubtedly led to the show’s enormous resurgence in popularity), the Running Wilde DVD is one of the most bare I’ve ever seen.
The DVD set has literally just DVDs. There isn’t even an insert piece of paper inside the case. The DVDs themselves just have the episodes, no special features whatsoever. Overall, despite my feelings for the episodes themselves, this DVD set is incredibly disappointing.
Running Wilde wasn’t a show ahead of it’s time or too smart for its audience. It was just a show that wanted to take some great comedians and let them have fun. It’s a real shame that the DVD box set doesn’t do the show any favors, but if you can find it a relatively low price, it’s definitely worth your time.