The story of a boy and his (neighbor's) dog — who he sees as a guy in dog suit

By Dan Snierson
Updated June 10, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

What it’s about In this adaptation of an Australian comedy, premiering June 23, Elijah Wood stars as Ryan, an ex-lawyer with a nagging sister (Dorian Brown) and nothing else — he tries to commit suicide in the opening scene. Things turn surreal when he sees the pooch owned by his hot new neighbor (Fiona Gubelmann) as…a guy in a dog suit. Wilfred (Jason Gann) isn’t all cute ‘n’ cuddly, though. He’s crass, he drinks beer, and he’s got all sorts of suspect advice for Ryan.

What to expect Brace yourselves for prime time’s weirdest and perhaps most thought-provoking buddy comedy. ”Wilfred is like a f — -ed-up life coach — a life coach who’s asking him to smoke more weed,” says Wood, who was intrigued by the challenge of comedy. ”But there is wisdom within Wilfred, and Ryan has found himself in a place where he’s not only reached rock bottom, he’s stopped living. Wilfred pushes Ryan to barrel through that wall and do things he’d never do, some of which aren’t necessarily recommended.” (One example: Wilfred persuades Ryan to use sex as currency.) But what is Wilfred’s motivation? And how reliable a narrator is Ryan? ”One of the things I love so much about the show is that when Wilfred comes into Ryan’s life, he accepts this ‘person’ in his life without asking why he’s there or what he is,” says Wood. ”The larger questions are left to the audience.” While Gann, who co-created the Aussie series, hints that the show addresses ”different forms of recovery,” he too is cagey about our furry friend: ”He’s Ryan’s protector but at the same time seems to be his saboteur. The whole time you think, ‘Is Ryan doing this to himself? Is he self-sabotaging in the form of Wilfred?’ Sometimes when we’re shooting scenes and Wilfred’s doing crazy stuff like [humping] a teddy bear, we go, ‘Well, if Ryan is creating this, then he is one messed-up dude.”’