'Running Wilde' Premiere Moment: Emmy Moves In to Make Steven a Better Man (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Sep 22nd 2010 9:40AM
It's hard to imagine that talents such as Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett could get together and make something as unfunny as 'Running Wilde.' But it's even more unbelievable to think that, even though half the cast was changed from the original pilot and 80% of the scenes were re-shot, the version of the pilot that ran last night (the show airs Tuesdays at 9:30ET on FOX) ended up being even worse than what critics saw in the spring.
It's hard to put my finger on what's wrong. Yes, the show evokes memories of Hurwitz's 'Arrested Development,' with some of the same asides, throwaway jokes, and absurdist elements 'AD' had. They don't fly as fast and furious, mainly because 'Wilde' is more about the relationship between Steven Wilde (Arnett) and Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russell) and not a big messy family like in 'AD.' But a lot of times, those jokes fall flat, which is what we see in the final scene of the pilot, where Emmy decides to move in with Steven in order to make him a better man.
We know what Emmy's motivations are here. And we know what Steven's are. Steven wants Emmy. Emmy wants Steven, and she also wants to get out of her rainforest existence and still look noble. None of that, though, seems to be communicated in that scene. It's the scene that's basically supposed to set up the entire series, yet it feels like Russell and Arnett are going through the motions.
At the end of the scene, there is a classic Hurwitz line; when Emmy says she'll make Steven a better man, he attempts to flirt by shooting back, "Not if I make you a worse woman first." Then he says "oh, we're not doing that," in a weaselly manner as he realizes Emmy's not buying it.
That's the kind of line that should make someone who's a fan of that kind of silly-but-clever comedy howl. They're the types of lines that made 'AD' such a joy to watch. But it didn't work here. Maybe it's because I haven't bought into the relationship between Steven and Emmy yet. Or maybe I can't get past the convoluted way the two of them have been brought together. It could be because Russell isn't the most comedically-adept actor and has a hard time keeping up with Arnett. Or it could just be that Hurwitz and Arnett are trying to hard with the writing.
Whatever the reason is, though, I didn't laugh, and that's too bad. I've seen next week's episode, and things don't get much better, despite the heavy presence of David Cross as Emmy's environmental warrior fiance Andy. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Hurwitz and Arnett can get their acts together and make 'Running Wilde' into a good show. The bones of one are there, for sure.