FX brings the awkward with both “Wilfred” and “Louie”

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By TRESSA ECKERMAN, SENIOR STAFF WRITER

A crude Australian man in a cheap dog suit and a painfully awkward single dad just trying to get by. They don’t exactly sound like the most common TV stars, but when has anything on FX ever been common?

Adapted from a hit Australian show, “Wilfred” is FX’s newest show, airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. Ryan, played by Elijah Wood, is a depressed and suicidal man who has spent all his life playing by other people’s rules. His bossy older sister, his father and even a disrespectful and loud neighbor walk all over him.

That is until his latest suicide attempt fails and his sweet neighbor, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann), for whom Ryan harbors a crush, comes over and asks if he could watch her dog, Wilfred, while she’s at work. He accepts but is surprised when he realizes that Wilfred is actually a man in a cheap dog suit who likes to smoke pot, dig holes in the back yard with a shovel, loves Matt Damon movies and creates a general air of anarchy.

Instead of being alarmed by the fact that he’s the only one who sees Wilfred as a man while everyone else sees a dog, Ryan accepts it and the freedom that Wilfred gives him.

“Maybe it’s time you stop playing ball with them and start playing ball with me,” Wilfred tells Ryan at the end of the first episode.

Jason Gann, one of the original creators of the show, plays Wilfred.

Perhaps one of the funniest aspects of the show is that although Wilfred is human, he acts like a dog. He spins circles before sitting on the couch, is dedicated to his owner (“There’s nothing wrong with Jenna,” he tells Ryan. “Jenna’s perfect”), is terrified of the vet and, in what had to be one of the funniest scenes on the show so far, loves playing in the water at the beach and killing pelicans.

Gann is bitterly funny as Wilfred while Wood makes the transition to TV perfectly. With his wide, expressive blue eyes and manic movements, he can go from depressed to hopeful to ecstatic in a moment.

“Wilfred” finds its biggest drawback in the pacing. Intensely funny moments are sandwiched inbetween scenes that don’t really go anywhere. It’s also bizarre to the point that some may find it hard to truly enjoy its storytelling.

Following “Wilfred” is a show that’s a world away. “Louie” has entered its second season. It’s based off the real life of its star, comedian Louie C.K. He  plays himself, a recently single dad with two daughters in New York trying to navigate a world he doesn’t understand and filled with people that he doesn’t particularly like.

The episodes usually have unconnected storylines held together by clips of Louie’s hilarious stand up.

Larry David has been mining this very specific genre for years on his show “Curb your Enthusiasm,” and even though you might think it couldn’t get any better than that, “Louie,” is a genius show.

There are many scenes in Louie that actually hurt due to their raw honesty and humor, such as Louie’s pained look when his youngest daughter asks him if they can go back to their mother’s home because she likes it better there. However, instead of weeping like a sitcom character, Louie flashes a look between shock and agony and then flips her off as she leaves the room.

Guest star Ricky Gervais played Louie’s highly inappropriate doctor in the first season.

“I cannot believe you’re a doctor,” Louie deadpans after Gervais makes a few jokes about incurable diseases.

It’s that deadpan that sets the tone of the show. You see the world through his slightly amused, slightly disbelieving eyes. Between that and Wilfred’s charm, FX has found itself a great night of television.

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