A lot of what you need to know about FX's new sitcom about a man and a dog can be deduced from the show's explanation of their TV-MA rating. "Wilfred," FX explains, is not suitable for people under the age of 17 and episodes may carry one of the following ratings: V for graphic violence, S for explicit sexual activity, or L for crude or indecent language.
You also need to know that the show, while incredibly crude, is also incredibly funny.
The premise of "Wilfred" is that a depressed man, played by Elijah Wood, forms an unusual friendship with his neighbor's dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann). Except while the rest of the world sees Wilfred as a regular dog, Wood's character, Ryan, sees and interacts with a gruff Australian man in a dog suit.
Wilfred, it turns out, is a bad dog. A very bad dog. Wilfred steals, vandalizes, manipulates, smokes pot, and abuses stuffed animals. He gets Ryan into all kinds of trouble, but is he really getting Ryan into trouble, or is Ryan imagining these interactions and self-sabotaging his own life?
This show is different. This show is unlike any other show you've ever seen. It's so witty and so well-written, but it's also some of the crudest comedy I've ever watched.
I asked a colleague to also view the first three episodes sent by FX, just to get a different perspective. Nate is much younger and also a guy -- the target demo for the show, we decided (I got him to watch the dvds by asking him, "Hey, you want to watch something sick?" Who could say no to that?!). Nate returned the dvds, shaking his head and saying, "I don't know..." but laughed hysterically the entire time we discussed Wilfred's antics.
He'll keep watching, and so will I, even if I'm wincing through some of the potty humor and stuffed bear abuse.
The show also stars Fiona Gubelmann as Wilfred's owner, and Dorian Brown as Ryan's sister, who is also a doctor. There are some really great guest stars dropping in this season: Ethan Suplee ("My Name is Earl"), Ed Helms ("The Office"), Rashida Jones ("Parks and Recreation"), Jane Kaczmarek, Nestor Carbonell, Mary Steenburgen, John Michael Higgins, Dwight Yoakam, Chris Klein, Peter Stormare, and George Coe.
"Wilfred" debuts Thursday night on FX at 10 p.m. (too early!), right before the excellent second season premiere of "Louie."