Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer TV Follow-Up

The most recent season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, re-branded Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1,  has ended after a ten episode run. The finale was awesome, and they even pulled out some nice new animations! This was another solid, surreal season. If you love ATHF then you will certainly like AUPS1. But if you never got the show its basically more of the same, which is a good thing for fans of the show. I am curious to see if the next season will carry the AUPS1 moniker and the "moved to Seattle" gag or just go back to being ATHF. It's hard to tell with these guys!

Speaking of Adult Swim, I actually like NTSF:SD:SUV. Created by Paul Scheer, the show is a parody of police procedurals like CSI, and so far it is pretty funny. Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager) is hilarious as the leader with an eye patch. Live actions shows on Adult Swim haven't been very good, but this is the best one yet. I know that is not saying much, but its certainly a step in the right direction.

Jon Benjamin has a Van
just finished its first season of ten episodes this week. While I liked the season overall, it remains to be seen if Comedy Central will bring it back for another season. I am sure Jon Benjamin would like to do more of the show, and its post-South Park time slot certainly doesn't hurt. The biggest problem with the show is that it is pretty hit or miss. However, just when I am bored or don't find it funny, something hilarious will happen to keep me watching. I noticed that I tend to like the short segments better as opposed to the longer ones, so maybe the next season will do more shorter segments. Of course that is if there is a next season. They blew up planet Earth is the last episode(!), but continuity doesn't really exist in this show (even though it is a mock news show) so we'll see what happens.

FX's summer sleeper hit Wilfred has been renewed for a second season. The pilot was the highest rated comedy premiere for the channel, so this isn't a big surprise. So far 8 of 13 episodes have aired and I have been enjoying it. Although I think it could be a little less vulgar (I'm not a prude but it often feels forced) and could also do without the marijuana references, this writing is usually very clever. It has been a long time since I have been regularly watching a half hour show like this (Jon Benjamin has a Van is essentially a sketch show) show I must give Wilfred credit for that. IFC recently aired some episodes from the first season of the original Australian Wilfred. That show lasted two seasons and the actor who played Wilfred (Jason Gann) has reprised his role in the American show. It is interesting to compare the two versions. The Australian show is even more off-beat, indie, and low budget. If you aren't a fan of the American Wilfred, I don't think you would enjoy the Australian version. Both shows are different even though the basic concept is the same. In the Australian show the main character gets involved in a relationship, only to discover that he sees his new girlfriend's dog as a human in a dog suit and that the dog (Wilfred) is quite protective of his owner. All the episodes I saw came back to the theme of the love triangle between the couple and Wilfred, with the girl wanting her boyfriend and dog to get along since they are both important to her. There is also a theme of isolation as some episodes only had those three characters, but maybe this is simply a product of a low budget. Also it is pretty clear that Wilfred isn't a figment of the main character's imagination (which is a possibility in the American version although I think its just fantasy as it is in this show) as we see from Wilfred's perspective when he gets lost in a dog pound.

In the American show, Wilfred is the dog of Jenna, who has a next door neighbor named Ryan (Elijah Wood). In the first episode Ryan tries to commit suicide, but fails. The next morning Jenna asks Ryan to look after Wilfred for the day and Ryan accepts. But when Wilfred enters his house he sees him as a man in a dog suit! While it seems that Jenna and Ryan will eventually become a couple, Jenna currently has a boyfriend and Ryan is in the process of getting his life straightened out. The American show is more of a buddy comedy than the original. Although they are a bit different from each other, both shows are certainly cut from the same cloth. Before I had seen the original I wondered if the Australian version was as profane and contained the stoner reference,s and yes it does indeed have both. I need to see more of both shows, but so far I like them both as they are different but do compliment each other. Wilfred the dog is essentially the same on both versions, but the other two main characters are quite different and each feature different subplots. Both shows are "out there" and unlike anything else on television. Sometimes sitcoms have interchangeable plots that could be used on other shows with minor changes. But not Wilfred! Wilfred is refreshingly twisted and original, a combination which we need to see more often. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out as I am looking forward to seeing Mary Steenburgen's guest appearance and if Ryan and Jenna will get together by the season finale.

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