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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Running Wilde: Into the Wilde

I'm a little perplexed at the generally down critical reaction to Running Wilde. I think that many of them are just disappointed that it isn't Arrested Development. But that kind of thinking, when you get down to it, is really short-sighted and self-defeating. Running Wilde has flaws, like every TV show does, especially a first-season TV show, but it's at least an effort to do something with real creativity and intelligence behind it. Critics don't waste their time with stuff like Two and a Half Men because it's boilerplate and uninteresting week-in week-out. The consequence though, is that there is harsher criticism of shows that are a little short of brilliance than there is of shows that have no shot at being brilliant.

Tonight's episode of Running Wilde featured a lot of jokes and set-ups that I think anyone would laugh at. The confusion at the tree house, when everyone heard "coming down" as "calming down" leading to a pile-up on the ladder, was really clever. I also laugh reflexively ever time Fa'ad is on screen, with his (hopefully) fake chest hair and mixing-up his v's and his b's. ("We'll take my S.U.B.")

Running Wilde also displays an encouraging tendency to mix real emotional moments with hilarity. Migo breaks the news that Steve's father decided not to pay the ransom because the premiums on his kidnap insurance would go up, and then breaks into tears when he can't think of a segue out of the news. It's heartbreaking and humorous, which is a neat trick.

I think that if people (and the network, which has already shown an itchy cancellation trigger finger) stay tuned to Running Wilde, the chemistry between Arnett and Kerri Russell will really surprise them. Tonight's episode really only featured one scene with them, but it was a winner. Their argument-while-really-agreeing was perfect. The writers seem to have a handle on the characters' conflicted feelings; the obvious attraction and the underlying antagonism. It's a real treat to watch.

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