Comic-Con 2013 'Wilfred' panel: Elijah Wood joins via satellite, new episode details

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The cast of "Wilfred" attended San Diego Comic-Con in full force Thursday (July 18), with stars Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann and Dorian Brown as well as executive producers David Zuckerman, Reed Agnew and Eli Jorné participlating in Thursday's "Wilfred" panel. Elijah Wood even checked in via satellite, his face hanging large above the audience.

The panel began with a full new episode from Season 3, titled "Stagnation." In the episode Ryan (Wood) discovers his roommate Anne ( Kristen Schaal) wants to move out. Loathe to actually get a job, he agrees that Anne's bulldog can move in, upsetting his anthropomorphic dog Wilfred (Gann).

"You're stuck in a rut," Wilfred tells him. Keep in mind the "dog" had just been intimate with a hole in a fence, and in a later scene he urinates in the house in protest. But the bulldog is in heat, driving Wilfred wild with what he perceives as love, causing him to display a rarely seen sensitive side. The episode touches on themes ranging from Ryan's eponymous stagnation to date rape, incest and genocide. In other words, typical "Wilfred."

During the ensuing discussion, Zuckerman says he was "blown away" when he saw the Australian version of "Wilfred" that the American show is based on. The American series opens with a suicide attempt, but Zuckerman says it was almost even darker. Darkness has been a theme throughout the series; episodes in the ongoing Season 3 carry titles like "Uncertainty," "Suspicion" and "Shame."

Gann adds that the American version of his character, Wilfred -- played by Gann in both the original and the American remake -- is much more complex than his Australian counterpart. "It's almost like the Australian version was high school and we're, I don't know, college," he laughs.

As co-stars who find themselves frequently together, Wood and Gann say they feel inspired by one another. "In some ways my character is informed by his," Wood says. "He's a character that's struggling for direction and he's looking at this 'person' for direction."

"They have such a great partnership," Brown adds.

"The characters have evolved in a lot of ways," Jorné says. "There's a psychological aspect to [Ryan]." The character's sanity is called into question on a fundamental level as he apparently hallucinates that Wilfred, who appears as a dog to most other people, is a walking, talking man in a cheap dog suit. 

During the fan Q&A one audience member asked Elijah the question that he said has been burning in everyone's minds. "What is Ryan?" he jokes, dancing around the real question of what Wilfred actually is. The audience seemed confused until Wood began chuckling on his satellite feed.

"This entire show is actually playing out in Wilfred's mind and his imagination," Wood quips. "I'd love to see that version, actually." Gann adds that they've discussed doing a black-and-white episode from the dog's perspective.

The show is built on the seemingly one-note joke of Wilfred, but throughout its three seasons it's become something more. "The buddy relationship between the two guys is just amazing," Gubelmann says. "There's so much truth to it, and at the same time you'll see them doing utterly ridiculous things."

Gann says it's rewarding seeing a live audience enjoy the show and that he no longer doubts its potential longevity. "How many more funny things can a dog do?" he asks. "I'm always amazed that these guys keep finding new things. But also the character Wilfred now kind of -- it feels like we found him."

"This is the first year that we were shooting it and I really thought this character has got some legs," he adds.

The third season of "Wilfred" is airing now.
Photo/Video credit: FX