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"CatDog" Season 1 Part 2: Bad Cat, Bad Dog

After watching CatDog Season 1 Part 2 on DVD, it has become clear to me why the show never ascended to the top tier Nicktoons like the assorted Klasky-Csupo shows or Rocko’s Modern Life. In fact, I must somewhat sadly report that the 10 episodes on this 2-DVD set remind me most of latter-day SpongeBob SquarePants. As with the current crop of SpongeBobs, it’s clear that a lot of talented animators had a lot of fun making CatDog, but despite the manic energy and copious bodily and property damage, it just doesn’t ever consistently succeed at making you laugh that much. There’s lots of things that may remind you of humor, but surprisingly little viable humorous material can be mined from this show.

The driving idea behind CatDog is simple enough: It’s “The Odd Couple” with the exceptionally surreal twist that the Cat and the Dog in the title are conjoined at the waist, leading to plenty of moments when the persnickety Cat (voiced by Jim Cummings) has to endure some new indignity caused by the energetically moronic Dog (Tom Kenny). If the show itself ever managed to be as surreal as its central conceit, it would have been wildly entertaining (and probably just disturbing enough to give it a solid bite). However, the show just doesn’t ever really capitalize on the potential in such a bizarre premise. It’s just a weird excuse to do a lot of odd-couple sitcom nonsense, most of which has been done before and better. CatDog‘s brand of comedy is completely declarative, thinking that it’s sufficient to just drop a concept on the screen and presume that everyone watching will agree that it’s hilarious, even when the concept lands with a big, unimpressive thud. The show tends to get a little better whenever Billy West’s green-hued Rancid Rabbit shows up, with his oily unctuousness adding a nice bit of sleaze and inevitably complicating CatDog’s life in amusing ways, but it’s mostly due to West’s performance. Cummings and Kenny are also clearly trying hard enough that you really wish the duo were given much better material to work with.

There are a few episodes, especially on the second disc, where the show begins to stretch beyond the comic misunderstandings and exaggerated mishaps that have been driving sitcoms for decades. Even then, though, the end results are more likely to elicit puzzled looks than genuine laughs. For example, in “Dog’s Strange Condition,” Dog ends up sprouting trees from his head after eating too many pecan pies. However, as mentioned above, the episode never really does anything more with this other than saying, “Look! Dog has trees sprouting out of his head,” which isn’t inherently funny or even all that bizarre, at least as far as the average animated cartoon goes. The most interesting thing about the show is seeing Phineas & Ferb co-creator Dan Povenmire’s name pop up a few times in the credits.

CatDog was previously released by Amazon via their burn-on-demand service, and based on all the other Nickelodeon releases from Shout! Factory, I expect that this release will be almost identical to that one. The episodes look OK, but I can’t tell if the colors look a little washed out because that’s how the show was produced originally or if Shout! had inferior masters to work with. Each episode gets a chapter stop to let you skip the opening credits, as well as another one to get to the second segment of each half-hour episode and then one more for the end credits. The DVD set contains no bonus features.

I suppose if you’re already a fan of the show, this release may be a foregone conclusion, but if you’re that much of a fan then odds are you’ve already got the older Amazon releases, which make this one redundant.

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