Wilfred FX Season Premiere 2 (Airs Jun. 28, 10:00 pm e/p) on FX
by Cheryl Shuman for Smell the Truth
Robin Williams will guest star on the series premiere of Wilfred, the hit FX Channel comedy featuring Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) as Ryan, a suicidally depressed, introverted medical marijuana patient who sees his neighbor’s dog Wilfred as a pot-puffing man in a dog suit.
Wilfred is based on the award-winning Australian series of the same name, and was adapted for FX by writer David Zuckerman (Family Guy, American Dad, King of the Hill), who also serves as the series “show runner” and executive producer, along with series co-star Jason Gann.
Gann, who co-created and starred in the Australian series, plays the title character as bit of a shamanic trickster, leading Ryan to overcome his fears and joyfully embrace the unpredictability and insanity of the world around him. Series regulars also include Fiona Gubelmann as Jenna, Ryan’s beautiful neighbor and Wilfred’s owner, and Dorian Brown as Kristen, Ryan’s uptight sister.
I’m the medical marijuana marijuana consultant on the show, hired to recreate authentic scenes for the “Wilfred Collective.” Within 48 hours we transformed Ryan’s bedroom on the set into a lifelike medical marijuana collective, complete with (faux) medicine, vaporizors, edibles, medicated chocolates, and magazines. It was so authentic that many of the crewmembers said they felt like they should pull out their patient ID card and place an order.
The series premiere of Wilfred was the highest-ranking debut sitcom ever for FX Networks, and it stayed in the top 10 shows for Thursday night cable TV throughout the first season. The show has also met with critical acclaim. Curt Wagner, writing in Redeye (The Chicago Tribune), said: “Wilfred is the strangest new show on TV. And the funniest.” David Wiegand, in the San Francisco Chronicle, said: “Wilfred works on many levels, something that may not become apparent until after you stop laughing.”
In the last season’s cliffhanger ending, viewers were left with more questions than answers. Is Wilfred real? Was Ryan successful in his suicide attempt? If the dog who appears as a human in a costume does exist, will he remember Ryan? What consequences will Ryan pay for ruining his sister’s marriage?
“Ninety-five percent of the cliffhanger is resolved in the Season 2 premiere,” Zuckerman told me, adding, “That’s not to say there aren’t new questions asked.” While the cast is tight-lipped on spoilers — Gann called himself a “story Grinch” — Zuckerman said that the sophomore season would continue to “explore Ryan’s journey toward enlightenment, with Wilfred tripping him up along the way.”
Going above and beyond to get Jenna her job back after she accidentally ate a brownie laced with pot, Wilfred was hit by a car in the last season. He wound up at the vet, and didn’t recognize Ryan when he woke up. Ryan questions whether or not Wilfred appeared to him at all, setting up a crisis of faith that was worsened when he returned home to find the door to the basement Wilfred inhabited leading only to a closet.
Writers on the show are currently “breaking” stories, with Zuckerman, Gann and Wood all hoping to see the return of Mary Steenburgen as Ryan’s nutty mother whose cat, Mittens, appears to her as a woman played by Rhea Perlman. “We do explore her relationship with Ryan and their unique shared traits in sort of a fun arena,” Zuckerman said. Also on the cast’s wish list to return: Dwight Yoakam’s “Bruce,” who also “sees” Wilfred and appeared to test Ryan’s faith in his canine companion. A podcast for the new episodes, allowing the cast and creators to provide hints along the way, is another possibility. I’m hoping to add content about vaporizers (a healthier way to medicate) to this season’s plot lines.
Wilfred is an amazing, groundbreaking show that I am honored to be a part of. The show is a catalyst for discussions about marijuana at dinner table and water coolers across the country. One criticism of medical marijuana collectives is that they seem to cater to healthy-looking young men. If those men are like Ryan, they may have serious reasons that are not obvious to the eye. According to a forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.Perhaps our modern souls need some salve-ation from the Hobbits’ “pipe weed.”
What’s next, you ask? Find out yourself! Tune in on June 28 at 10 p.m. for the premiere of Wilfred on the FX network. In addition, FX will offer viewers a Special Preview Episode of Wilfred for viewing across multiple platforms over a two-week period beginning on Thursday, June 14 in advance of the series’ official Season Two premiere.
On Thursday, June 14, the never-before-seen Special Preview Episode with guest Robin Williams will roll out on Video-on-Demand through the network’s cable, satellite and telco distribution partners, and also will begin running that day online on HULU and Yahoo! TV, as well as FXnetworks.com and the Wilfred Facebook page.
On Thursday, June 21 at 10:30 PM E/P, the Preview Episode “Progress” will be preceded by an encore run of Wilfred’s Season 1 finale at 10:00 PM E/P.
Known as the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” Cheryl Shuman has 25 years of branding experience working with celebrities, media and public relations. She has transitioned her medical marijuana activism as cancer patient, Executive Director of Beverly Hills NORML, and founding member of the NCIA (National Cannabis Industry Association) into a career pioneering product placement for medical marijuana companies in the film industry. This is the first of a series of her celebrity interviews for Smell the Truth.