"Wilfred" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA) enters its third season. Elijah Wood ("The Lord of the Rings" franchise) stars as Ryan, a depressed young man on the verge of suicidal despair when he is visited by a talking version of his neighbor's dog (Jason Gann), who provides counseling and the kind of
lessons in manning up that can only come from a free-spirited canine.
A remake of an Australian comedy, "Wilfred" presents itself as a meditation on guy culture, with a dialogue between a stoner hedonist (and public urinator) and a neurotic wimp. As season three begins, the story takes on elements of a cosmic mystery as Ryan begins to see evidence that Wilfred was part of his life as early as childhood.
"Wilfred" offers proof that not even an A-list star can turn a deliberately small comedy into something bigger -- or better. And it reminds us that Hollywood stars don't always lend themselves to television comedy.
---Some comedies start out small and stay there. Proof of that comes with "John Hodgman: Rag narok," a standup special streaming on Netflix beginning today. Hodgman is a familiar face. You may know him from such movies as "Baby Mama" or from his appearances on "The Daily Show." But chances are you've seen him as the deliberately unhip PC Guy on a series of Apple computer commercials that ran some years back.
On "Ragnarok," he maintains his so-straight-he's-weird persona. For starters, he sports an obviously fake mustache. It's essentially a standup routine disguised as a series of seminars lecturing an unseen audience on what they'll need to survive the looming Mayan Apocalypse. The fact that doomsday didn't arrive last December doesn't seem to matter.
Look for his usual low-caffeinated delivery and mastery of arcane knowl-
edge and challenging analogies, such as a long digression on hockey, which he describes as a "minor sport ... the mixed martial arts of curling."
The appearances of Woods, a really big star, and Hodgman, a decidedly modest one, on two
different, strenuously "small" comedies on the same night are completely coincidental. And the fact that one is "broadcast" on cable while the other is streamed is also incidental to their content. But these facts point to the ever-changing face of television programming.
---Ramsay bestows black jackets on "Hell's Kitchen" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---An early edition of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (8 p.m., ABC) anticipates the NBA Finals. "NBA Count down" (8:30 p.m., ABC) follows, then the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat meet in Game 7 (9 p.m., ABC).
---Faced with unemployment, a suburban couple (George Segal and Jane Fonda) turns to crime in the 1977 satire "Fun With Dick and Jane" (8 p.m., Oxygen).
---Andy pursues a dream on "The Office" (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG).
---Fiona tangles with an angry bookie on "Burn Notice" (9 p.m., USA, TV-PG).
---Charlie's house becomes a film set on "Anger Management" (9:30 p.m., FX, TV-14).
---A woman vanishes after a bad breakup on "Elemen tary" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Evidence points toward Will on "Hannibal" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
---Russell Crowe and Henry Cavill appear on "The Graham Norton Show" (10:30 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).
---Lauren takes on Rus-
sian mobsters on "Grace land" (10 p.m., USA, TV-14).
Police scour hipster coffee houses in the 1959 thriller "The Beat Generation" (9:30 p.m., TCM), starring Steve Cochran and Mamie Van Doren.
---On two episodes of "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, r): a government bailout (8 p.m., TV-14); recognition (8:30 p.m., TV-PG).
---Home improvement on "Does Someone Have to Go?" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Tom Brokaw is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Charles Barkley and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, r).
---Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ben Gleib, Arden Myrin and Nico Santos are booked on "Chel sea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Joss Whedon sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---John Travolta and
Japandroids appear on "Late Show With David Letter man" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Kristin Davis, Harvey Fierstein and The Mowgli's on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Anna Paquin, Brad
Keselowski and Muse appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (12:05 a.m., ABC).
---Elijah Wood, Grant Bowler and Yeah Yeah Yeahs visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
Reach Kevin McDonough at email@example.com.