After a promising first few episodes of the season, a comedown may have been inevitable, but that doesn’t make that comedown any better. “Now” is an episode that, with a few tweaks, could easily have aired in the doldrums of the first season. Perhaps it was even written for then, then bumped back to this season with a few dialogue changes.
A major issue is that there aren’t enough characters. With Jenna still out of town and Amanda sidelined, the episode is almost exclusively Ryan and Wilfred. Rob Riggle, playing against type as an bro-tastic finance jerk from Ryan’s office, tilts the usually male-oriented comedy even further out of balance. Riggle can be great sometimes, but we already have Wilfred for over-the-top masculinity and putting pressure on Ryan.
Wilfred’s not entirely himself for most of the episode, thanks to a contrived scene where a pair of robbers point a gun at him and the stress triggers him losing his sense of smell. This triggers a mental awakening where Wilfred starts thinking, reading, and eventually, protesting. There’s a slight subversion of the show's old form—where Wilfred is the one who is unhappy and good while Ryan attempts to be evil and better-off for it—but the core is still Ryan and Wilfred wandering through town, attempting to manipulate one another into becoming different people.
The biggest issue, though, is that the episode isn’t particularly funny. I know that this is something of a common complaint that I have about the show, but it’s less a lack of “laugh-out-loud” moments here, and more of a “not even a smile” at most of the jokes. There was just something awkward or lacking about the episode, as if it were hurriedly put together, or if it were a mostly competent Wilfred parody. It has the pieces of what made for a typical Wilfred episode last season, but very little of the spark that makes the show interesting.
Alternately, this may simply be the kind of Wilfred episode that I don’t like. I’ve mentioned in season one reviews that the conceit of Wilfred simply trying to make Ryan a slightly better person rubs me the wrong way—any significant change would ruin the show’s premise. I much prefer the episodes that focus on dealing with Wilfred, either where he’s crazy in a human way, or can’t control himself in a canine way. There’s a brief moment of this, during the robbery, when it’s unclear just how insane or honest Wilfred. But that disappears, leaving behind easily the weakest episode of the season so far.
- “So when Jenna leaves the house, she doesn’t cease to exist? She’s just somewhere else?” This scene, with Wilfred slowly becoming not an idiot, was probably the best of the episode.
- “Do you know what I dreamt last night? Nothing.”
- “Awww. KJ, what have you done to your beautiful little scrotum.” True fatherly love.