Warning: SPOILERS FOR UNAIRED EPISODES
One of last years breakout TV hits was Wilfred, a little show about a guy who is best friends with a talking dog. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s one of the best new shows to hit US Television in the last few years, and one of only two comedies (Psych being the other) that graces our TV with any regularity (Glee doesn’t count, because it hasn’t been a comedy for a very long time). It makes us cry with laughter nearly every episode, and the panel at SDCC 2011 was one of the highlights of the Con.
So it was with great expectations that I walked into the Indigo Ballroom on Thursday to sit down for a viewing of an upcoming episode, and a panel discussion with the cast and creators of the show: Elijah Wood (Ryan, our lead), Jason Gann (Wilfred, the dog, and Co-Creator and Writer), Fiona Gubelmann (Jenna, Wilfred’s owner and Ryan’s neighbor), Dorian Brown (Kristen, Ryan’s sister), David Zuckerman (Showrunner and Executive Producer), and Randall Einhorn (Executive Producer and Director).
The episode screened was “Avoidance” which had yet to air. And boy was it a doozy, going pretty much as far as you could ever expect a show on Basic Cable to go. In fact, during the panel the audience was informed that the “money shot” which was indeed included in our version of the episode, will not be airing on TV. For the first time, the network did come back to the creative team and told them they’d taken it that one step too far. Personally, I think the point will come across just as well without the actual shot, but for those who lament the networks iron fist, you’ll get to see the scene in all its glory on the DVD release.
Here’s a brief synopsis of our panel:
- What was cut was a shot of Wilfred ejaculating on Ryan, and the rest of the episode focuses partly on Ryan’s reaction to that experience. Apparently the idea came from a writer who had a similar experience with a dog. Because the writer was in attendance we were then graced with the phrase “will the dog ejaculator please stand up.” Not something I would have ever guessed I’d hear out loud. Just saying.
- The finale of the episode was a well choreographed dance scene with Wilfred and Ryan which apparently took the length of filming the entire series to perfect. Wood and Gann were practicing on set at every spare moment, and the scene was the last thing filmed in this block of episodes.
- The dog suit that Gann wears during the dance sequence is actually the hottest of the costumes for Wilfred because of the coiffed look of the hair meaning that there is a lot more of it than the regular costume.
- Gann says he refrains from making faces or otherwise trying to distract the other actors when they’re filming as he understands that it is already difficult enough for them having to feign ignorance that there is a man in a dog costume standing before them, and not a regular dog.
- The episode that aired that night, “Guilt” was to be the first true interaction between Gann and Brown on set.
- Ryan’s new workplace was introduced because they kept getting questions about how he could afford such a nice home in Venice Beach if he wasn’t working.
- The office environment was chosen because the writers thought putting Wilfred into that environment would be a better writing mine than it turned out to be.
- Unsurprisingly, the job doesn’t last very long.
- There are two ‘Bears’ and one will see it’s arm torn off later this season.
- The writers and cast purposefully try to avoid referring to a gender for Bear, but someone pointed out that they slipped up once in season one and did refer to Bear as a ‘he.’
- When asked what it was like going from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to something like Wilfred, Wood responded “In thirty years people are still going to be asking ‘what was it like going from Lord of the Rings to this project.” He is very magnanimous about it, saying that he loves it, but it’s clear he gets this question quite often and kind of wishes it would stop.
- During the screened episode, “Avoidance,” Ryan speaks on the telephone with his girlfriend (played by Smallville’s Allison Mack) who is attending Comic Con. He jokes that he should go with her next time, and he’d be a great Harry Potter. An alternate for the joke was that he’d make a great Spider-man – both jokes come from the fact that Wood is evidently constantly confused for Daniel Radcliffe or Tobey McGuire.
- When asked about the pressures of delivering a show like Wilfred where inevitably there will be a reveal of what the true story is – of why Ryan sees a man in a dog suit while everyone around him sees a dog – Zuckerman stated that inevitably fifty percent of the audience would hate where they were going with the story, but that hopefully the audience would like the ride to get there. “Sort of like BSG.”
- Wood and Gann evidently make up songs between takes while they’re on set. Wood thinks they need a webcam on set to entertain the audience.
- During season one Wood managed to keep a straight face and get through all his takes until filming on the very last day. This season he broke on the first day.
- When filming the scenes with Ryan trying to sneak Wilfred into his office, Wood laughed on nearly every take.
- There was a camera on Gann during the scene where Wilfred ejaculates on Ryan, but they were unable to use any of the footage as Gann laughed every single time.
- On the differences between the original Australian show and the US version, Gann reflects that the Australian version was very dark. He prefers the US take on the show because though this one too can be quite dark, there is much more levity.
- When asked what would be going too far in his opinion, Wood stated that he’s pretty much up for anything on the show. “We know what show we’re making.”
- Wood is quite proud of his addition to the pilot episode, the classic line “We’re gonna need a bigger bong.”