The one thing that rich, pampered and self-indulgent oil tycoon offspring Steven Wilde (Will Arnett) can’t have is the romantic love of his childhood activist friend turned adult humanitarian and environmentalist Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russell). It’s either a stroke of comedic brilliance from executive producer Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) or a cruel twist of fate that the one thing Wilde can’t have is named Emmy as it just so happens to be the name of the very same award that his new comedic series Running Wilde won’t be nominated for next year. It’s sad but true. Fox’s new comedy series doesn’t pack the same punch that made Arrested Development the cult favorite series it is today and while there are a couple genuine laughs to be had, the series almost requires a laughtrack to gain the comedy label. More after the jump:
Running Wilde follows the exploits of Steven Wilde as he attempts to win the heart of his childhood sweetheart, Emmy Kadubic, who is almost his polar opposite. Though they shared plenty of time in their favorite treehouse as teens, Emmy’s activist ideals led her to the jungle in an effort to preserve a primitive culture living in the jungle (where Wilde’s father just happens to be drilling for oil). Meanwhile, Steven stayed back home to live the easy life, getting everything for nothing, and having his life made fanciful by his devoted personal secretary Mr. Lunt (Robert Michael Morris) and his paid best friend Migo Salazar (Mel Rodriguez). Steven finds solace in his on-going competition to see who can be more self-indulgently wealthy with his neighbor Fa’ad Shaoulian (played hilariously by British funnyman Peter Serafinowicz).
Now living her adult life (though Steven still seems to be stuck in the childish antics of his own), Emmy finds herself inexplicably drawn to Steven back home as he’s accepting some sort of humanitarian award. thinking he’s change for the better, Emmy and her daughter Puddle (Stefania Owen) head back to America. This comes as a relief to Puddle who has decided to stop talking in an effort to make her mother listen (this is one of the few great subtle jokes in the pilot) as she just wants to get out of the jungle. But when the humanitarian award is discovered to be from Wilde Oil (Steven is giving the award to himself), Emmy can’t help but leave him behind again no matter how badly she’s not-so-secretly attracted to him.
But Puddle has the same scheming ways that would make Gob Bluth proud as she desperately attempts to stay out of the jungle and thereby keeping Steven and a reluctant Emmy together. While the pilot certainly has a couple truly hilarious moments, mostly it lacks any of the smart and nuanced laughs of the aforementioned comedic triumph from Mitch Hurwitz and star Will Arnett. An attempt to cash in on the same fantastical and even nonsensical humor that made Arrested Development so great, Running Wilde just doesn’t seem to have the legs of a comedy series that can run the length of a whole season. Not even David Cross can get us any closer to this series great potential.
Lacking any of the smart and subtle laughs of the aforementioned comedic triumph from Mitch Hurwitz and star Will Arnett, this new series is doomed to the fate the falls upon nearly every new live-action comedy series on Fox. Like its predecessor, the humor and story of Running Wilde borders on the fantastical side complete with nonsense and surreal situations (it takes quite a suspension of disbelief to accept that a character like Emmy would believe Fa’ad Shaoulian is a child psychiatrist) but it never really hits the funny bone in the right spot.
THE FINAL WORD: Honestly it hurts to have to hit this comedy series right in the gut, because I really wanted to love it. However, when a comedy series only makes me laugh out loud a few times, then someone isn’t doing their job right. Sadly Running Wilde is just silly and lacking any real comedic bite to keep up a series recording on the DVR when you could just go back and watch three season of Arrested Development on DVD.
Running Wilde premieres Tuesday, September 21st at 9:30/8:30c on Fox.