Two Comedies Push Boundaries of Hilarity on FX

Elijah Wood and Jason Gann in "Wilfred" (Photo: FX)

For proof that just about anything goes on TV these days, just check out the two comedies on FX Thursday night.

The two – one new and the other returning for its second season – employ language and plot devices that were once unheard-of on commercial-supported TV. Well, apparently those days are long gone, which you’ll learn as soon as you meet “Wilfred” and “Louie.”

“Wilfred” is the new one. This new half-hour series – premiering Thursday night at 10/9c – stars Elijah Wood as a young man whose life is so aimless that, when the show opens, he’s contemplating suicide. He fails in the attempt – which doesn’t really qualify as a spoiler because, as you might have guessed, if the main character of a new show dies in the premiere, then you’d have no show.


Watch a preview clip of “Wilfred,” starring Elijah Wood, here:


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What happens next is: The man – Ryan – strikes up a friendship with his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred, although this dog appears to Ryan (and no one else) as a slovenly Australian in a dog costume walking on his hind legs. At first glance, “Wilfred” might remind you of “Harvey,” the 1950 movie in which Jimmy Stewart befriended a giant imaginary rabbit.

But that movie was from a much quainter era. In “Wilfred,” the dog (played by Jason Gann, who co-created and starred in the original Australian version of this series) gets Ryan to do things only a dog would do (including some bodily functions we never saw Harvey doing), as the dog helps Ryan cast off the inhibitions, fears and insecurities that are holding him back.

Meanwhile, following the premiere of “Wilfred” is the second-season premiere of comedian Louis C.K.’s sitcom “Louie” at 10:30/9:30c. C.K. is what other comics call “a comedian’s comedian.” In other words, he’s been at it a long time, working the clubs and doing very personal material that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his steadfast refusal to sanitize himself in order to broaden his appeal has earned him wide respect in the community of comedians.


Watch a sampling of Louis C.K.’s standup act, as seen on “Louie,” here:


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Well, it turns out he doesn’t really have to clean up his act to get a sitcom in this day and age because TV is a lot more permissive than it used to be. On the quasi-biographical “Louie,” the comedian plays a 40-something club comedian who’s a divorced dad living in New York City. Much of each episode features C.K. performing in a club setting, and if you’re unaccustomed to the state-of-the-art of standup comedy these days, your ears might redden at what you’ll hear.

But for everyone else who’s familiar with Louis C.K. and other comics like him, watching “Louie” is like enjoying an evening at a comedy club – one that’s strictly for adults, of course. And on the subject of bodily functions, this season premiere episode has a “punchline” to it that has to be seen (or perhaps heard) to be believed.

“Wilfred” and “Louie” premiere Thursday night (June 23) at 10/9c and 10:30/9:30c, respectively, on FX.

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