“Running Wilde” is the second half of a pair of new comedies on FOX, starring Will Arnett and Keri Russell in what FOX advertises as “when ego meets eco.” While the revamped version of the pilot is funnier than the first go-round, it’s still not where the show should be. However, there is so much potential that viewers should give it a chance.
Arnett is Steven Wilde, a rich manchild whose only friends are his rich, eccentric neighbor Fa’ad Shaoulian (Peter Serafinowicz), his driver Migo (Mel Rodriguez) and his nanny/secretary/keeper Mr. Lunt (Robert Michael Morris). Emmy Kadubic (Russell) is his childhood crush who works with a tribe in the Amazon, much to the consternation of her daughter Puddle (Stefania Owen). Wilde and Puddle, with some help from Fa’ad, conspire to keep Emmy and Puddle living with Wilde, in the hopes of making him a better man.
The show reunites Arnett with “Arrested Development” creator Mitchell Hurwitz and fellow “AD” alum David Cross as Emmy’s eco-terrorist boyfriend Andy. That right there gives us hope, but while Arnett does the arrogant, clueless playboy with aplomb, Russell and Owen do not yet have the Jason Bateman/Michael Cera heart to counterbalance him.
As a romantic comedy, Russell and Arnett do have some chemistry. The premiere has a sweet glimpse into their characters when they recall their childhood treehouse that Wilde built for Emmy. But moments like that were too few. Zany, absurdist comedy is fine but there has to be something else, like “AD” had in Michael and George-Michael Bluth or “The Office” has in Jim and Pam.
That being said, there is so much talent in one place that we want to give this sitcom a chance. The impending interactions between Arnett and Cross, who do not intersect in the premiere, is enough to get us to return, especially since Cross’s character kidnaps Arnett’s character in the second episode. Hopefully “Wilde’s” partner sitcom “Raising Hope,” which is very funny, will give the show a nice lead-in, because low ratings can be particularly damaging to sitcoms.
If the show can find its comedy legs, “Running Wilde” has potential for hilarious storylines. The “Brewster’s Millions” or “Annie” vibes alone provide countless opportunities. So while we aren’t running wild about “Running Wilde” right away, we see the potential.
“Running Wilde” premieres Tuesday (Sept. 22) at 9:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Photo credit: FOX