The One Minor Tweak to “Fix” FOX’s “Running Wilde”

November 10, 2010 at 7:28 am (DVRtard) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Will Arnett- from imdb.com

Running Wilde is a sitcom that premiered this fall on Fox.  It has been widely reported that the show is struggling, in danger of not being renewed for a second season.  With a cast as talented as Will Arnett, Peter Serafinowicz, David Cross and Keri Russell, it would seem the show should be doing better than it is. 

This post is about what I believe the problems are but I’ll start with the one-word answer to the problem:

Flashbacks.

If that’s the answer, then what’s the problem?  Well, put simply, the audience has a dire dearth of background information on Steve Wilde or any of the characters that inhabit his world.  As a result, the audience isn’t becoming emotionally involved.  While I feel an affinity with the actors playing the parts, I can’t say the same for the characters.

Why doesn’t the romance between Steve and Emmy ‘click’?  Because the audience has yet to be shown the relationship that these two could have- the one they had as children.  Flashbacks would allow the audience to see these two engaged in youthful frolics and serve greatly to endear them to the viewer.  The audience must want these two to get together and then laugh and fret as their differences, pride, misunderstandings, etc. get in the way.  By allowing the audience to see how they can be together when free of all of this- as carefree children, their romance becomes more tangible and also serves to light the nostalgia button in viewers as they remember their own first loves.

This also brings up one of the biggest advantages to the flashbacks: they can be funny.  Look back at Arrested Development– full of flashbacks.  They were funny little vignettes that also helped to further the story.  Some of the best bits from that show were in flashbacks.  I can easily see the potential for some funny scenes like Young Steve and Young Emmy freeing the fox that Steve’s father was going to use in a hunt, only to have the loosened critter attempt to impregnate Young Steve- with Puddle filling in for Ron Howard’s narration.

The use of flashbacks could also help to explain Emmy’s attachment to Andy.  He has been presented as so unfathomably unlikable that there is no honesty to Emmy’s affection for him.  If we could see them together in the jungle, we might begin to understand.  Did he used to pick the bugs off of her at night, like a gorilla?  Of course, he was secretly eating them when Emmy wasn’t looking…

Peter Serafinowicz- from his twitter.com profile

Another problem is the relationship between Steve and Fa’ad.  There is a rivalry here, but there is also a true friendship. 

Steve and Fa’ad are brothers; to each, they are the only one to understand- they share similar baggage and are both geographically and socio-economically close.  While they are bitter enemies in a vacuum, they should always be partners against anyone else.  Flashbacks would serve perfectly to better define this relationship. 

Take the episode with the miniature horse- Fa’ad causes Steve to be jealous because his horse is smaller.  Fine, not too bad.  But here was an opportunity to show a sequence of 3 or 4 funny other rivalries.  Fa’ad and Steve dressed in outlandish costumes in a tug-of-war over some utterly ridiculous relic or objet d’art.  Why are they doing this?  That’s the great thing!  It doesn’t really matter.  The flashbacks allow a dash of absurdist humor to flavor up this gumbo. 

This is one show where the Family Guy-style non sequitur would work fairly well.  Because the main character is obscenely wealthy, it’s not unthinkable to have Emmy mention something about cruelty to animals, show Steve agreeing- then, reminiscing about the last semi-annual kangaroo kickbox deathmatch he held in his backyard.  Or have Emmy state, with indignation, “We had wine in the jungle!” and cut to her, in the jungle, pouring a glass out of a bottle of deadly looking liquid with a snake in it.

Because, while the ingredients are all here, there’s just no kick.  Flashbacks, I feel, are the spice that will allow this dish to really cook. 

Note: The author of this post has absolutely no experience writing, directing or producing filmed works.  The above is solely a work of “armchair-quarterbacking”.

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