Review: The Dog Days of Summer Strike with “The Accidental Pup Star” and “Angry Beavers” Season Three, Part Two
Wait, dogs can talk and sing?
That’s the reaction of a Girl Scout in “The Accidental Pup Star,” a Pound Puppies episode debuting on the Hub this Saturday, August 25. It was also my reaction, since I don’t remember that little fact being mentioned in any the episodes on Pound Puppies: Homeward Pound. It might seem like a small thing, totally in place in a cartoon show about a lot of tech-savvy dogs moving puppies around the world. But that’s what a lot of shows think as they suit up for a shark-jumping moment.
The story in “The Accidental Pup Star” manages to be simple but complex in exactly the worst possible way. The simple premise has the Pound Puppies trying to cover up the fact that dogs can talk after Rebound, the yappy dog belonging to the pound owner’s mother, accidentally lets it slip. The complex exposition and development has Rebound accidentally caught talking and singing and dancing by a cell phone-wielding Girl Scout. The video, once uploaded to the internet, becomes a sensation, and Mr. McLeish (who is looking after Rebound while his mother is out of town) decides to chase fame by getting the dog to repeat the act; he winds up faking the footage when she refuses to play along. Meanwhile, in the background, the Pound Puppies brainstorm ways to cover up or mitigate the damage caused by Rebound’s accident. Of course, things end happily, and the Girl Scout herself winds up with a puppy.
It’s an awful lot of busywork for what is a very bland and uninteresting idea. The first batch of Pound Puppies episodes made me very happy because they didn’t worry very much about the show’s bizarre mechanics: the fact that these dogs could hack into computers and manipulate complex machinery was just taken as a given, as an expression of canine cunning and doggie devotion. “The Accidental Pup Star” takes it all seriously, and so raises very uncomfortable questions, like, Why is an intelligent species debasing itself by pretending to be stupid and placing its members in subservient positions in human households? It’s the kind of conceit that, if it were found to be true, would turn almost everyone into the kind of animal rights nut who objects to “pethood.”
But even leaving that aside, it reduces a clever show to the status of junky sitcom. The early episodes, at least, concentrated on the characters, and what they meant to and for each other and their humans. They were about love and the need to love and to be loved. “The Accidental Pup Star” is about idiots and their plots.
Otherwise, the show still looks and sounds great; and Rene Auberjonois gets to reprise a very silly song.
Separately, this month has brought Angry Beavers Season Three Part Two to DVD. If you know the show, you will basically know what to expect: a lot of aggressive nonsense involving some beaver brothers. The only question is whether this is a decent collection of episodes.
Of the episodes on this batch only a handful match the dizzying insanity of most of the episodes in Part One: “Mistaken Identity”, “Stare and Stare Alike”, “I Am Not an Animal; I’m Scientist #1”, “El Grapadura y El Castor Malo”, “The Loogie Hawk”, “Brothers … to the End?” and “Euro Beavers.” Most of the others, even when they start with a promising premise tend to be oddly lackluster.