[UPDATE: Sorry for the karaoke version. It’s the best replacement I could find for the original intro post.]
When you’re sick on the couch or in a chair like I was last week (which was an upgrade from zonking out in bed most of the day) you tend to end up watching one of two things (or maybe it’s just me), game shows and cartoons for little kids. With so few game shows during the day unless you have Game Show Network, which is above the current cable tier we can afford, kids shows took up the time not filled by Let’s Make A Deal. I also found out they made a new Chipmunks cartoon that for some reason still uses the 80s theme song and just puts in some extra “n”s in Alvin’s name in the title. Go figure. I didn’t care for it. I also saw a few episodes of Sophia The First, which is a good show for little girls and even cameos Disney’s princesses to help her through her problems thanks to a magic amulet the inept sorcerer of the kingdom wants to secretly take over. Also, Sophia can talk to animals and in classic Disney fashion something happened to her parents or something. I didn’t follow the backstory very well.
The show that most caught my attention was an Canadian computer-animated series called Paw Patrol, a show about rescue dogs who are all puppies with gadgets and dog houses that transform into rescue vehicles for some reason. And for the target audience it’s quite good.
Created by Keith Chapman (also know for Bob The Builder) the series takes place in Adventure Bay (not to be confuses with the place in Tasmania) and follows the adventures of human Ryder and his team of talking puppies as they rescue people in need. With the “battle” cry “no job is too big, no pup is too small”, Ryder (who appears to be about 10 and still rides an ATV around the streets and leads a team of rescue pups) selects the right pups for the rescue mission and gives them their assignments. There’s usually two pups at a time although some emergencies call for more. There are two stories per episode and Nick Jr. claims the show focuses on teamwork and problem-solving, which the show does well.
Unlike so many of the preschool shows I see on Nickelodeon’s “Nick Jr” lineup, Paw Patrol doesn’t follow the Blue’s Clues/Dora The Explorer route of having the characters call on the kids at home to shout things at the television to pretend it’s interactive when it isn’t. It’s a simple narrative. Each of the pups that make up the Paw Patrol have their own identities and specialties:
- Chase: The police dog is always on the job and refers to Ryder as “Ryder, sir”. He is the only one with two different vehicles, one a traffic cop car with an extendable winch and the other outfitted with a tracker drone to find lost people and animals. Both come with their own outfits, but while I’ve seen the regular outfit (the traffic one) include a flashlight and bullhorn I don’t recall seeing the drone outfit’s backpack have any special tools.
- Marshall: The firedog may be clumsy at times (like every time the Patrol is called to their giant tower, crashing into everyone in the elevator almost every time they’re summoned) but he’s good at his job of putting out fires and rescuing people with his ladder truck. His backpack has a medical scanner and its own firehose. Marshall can recover well from a goof-up with a laugh or just getting back into things. He’s my favorite of the characters.
- Rocky: An engineer who believe in recycling by reusing (hence he drives a recycling truck), Rocky can build anything the team needs to perform a rescue and his pack has special tools and arms to help build things. (The pups still walk like pups and aren’t humanoid. The rest of the animals can’t talk, even the cats.) He does, however, hate water as if he was a cat.
- Rubble: Rubble, however, loves taking baths, which is good because of how dirty he gets as the construction and demolition expert. His doghouse becomes an earthmover. He is the youngest member of the team and during the episodes I’ve seen there was even a flashback to his origin in the team, showing talking doesn’t come with the badge. His pack also has a small shovel to help him dig, although the bulldog does a good job digging on his own.
- Skye: The girl of the team is in charge of aerial rescues thanks to her helicopter and jetpack. She loves to fly as much as Rubble hates water. I also think Chase likes her a bit more than the others. Yes, the man who doesn’t ship anyone thinks the cop dog likes the flying dog. I’m weird like that and I’ve been sick the past few weeks. Give me a break.
- Zuma: The only one who likes water more than Rubble, Zuma is the underwater rescue expert. His backpack has scuba gear and an underwater propeller and he drives a hovercraft. There isn’t much else to him in the episodes I saw. Zuma probably goes into action the least of the crew…except for one.
- Everest: The latest recruit to the team, Everest is the mountain rescue specialist. Unlike the others she doesn’t live at the Lookout but at a chalet the gang goes to after a snowy mission, where another human has a biplane that she uses to help on missions. (I don’t remember her name.) Her doghouse turns into a snowmobile but I don’t recall seeing what her backpack does.
The show is a bit formulaic. One of the show’s supporting cast gets into trouble and calls Ryder. Ryder summons the pups who are busy playing or something else, exclaims “Ryder needs us”, and runs to the Lookout. Marshall crashes into everyone, make a joke, they all laugh, and the elevator goes to the top of the tower, stopping behind the sign where everyone gets into gear…somehow. Kind of like the Batpoles in that regard. They get their assignments, the two main dogs go down a slide to their waiting vehicle and they race off to save the day. The rescues themselves vary and uses the skills of the assigned canines, sometimes calling on one of the others for additional help. The citizens of Adventure Bay aren’t inept necessarily but you can see why they only need a young boy and some puppies with high-tech backpacks who can somehow drive a car or fly a helicopter to save the day. It’s not exactly Rescue Heroes or Rescue Bots level threats in this city.
Paw Patrol is a good show for the age demographic. There isn’t a sly attempt to sneak some hidden “adult” idea in there for the parents, but the characters have their own personalities, the gadgets are pretty cool, and the stories are fun and sometimes even funny. It’s probably not the show for most of you out there not sick on their couch with nothing else to watch, but for the kids it’s something I recommend. And yes, there are toys so be forewarned, but they aren’t sold during the show. I only knew about them from the official website that also has games and video. A new season is starting soon and it’s worth letting the kids have a sit down to watch.