It’s time once again for our ongoing series surveying the awful shows you’re forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours.
The Theme Song
Whenever you’re in trouble!
We’ll be there on the double!
PAW Patrol takes place in a (Canadian) town called Adventure Bay that apparently has no functional fire department, police department, or local contractors. So whenever someone around town has a problem, they have to go crawling to a volunteer squad of seven puppies (not even grown dogs!) and one (Canadian) boy, all of whom work out of the town’s space needle. This is what libertarianism looks like, people. Think about that the next time you read an Ayn Rand book.
Every episode starts with some moron in Adventure Bay getting into an easily preventable jam: Oh, no! Mayor Goodway’s chicken got caught in a tree! Bereft of any municipal infrastructure, they’re forced to call up Ryder (that’s the boy) and the PAW Patrol to come save the day. Once Ryder accepts the assignment, he cries out, NO JOB IS TOO BIG, NO PUP IS TOO SMALL, which is a hilarious lie. Imagine calling in a teacup poodle to solve the Syrian refugee crisis. What a fucking joke.
While off-duty, the PAW Patrol pups are basically just a bunch of average, stupid dogs. But then Ryder summons them to their Lookout (that’s the space needle), and they transform, Voltron-style, into a bunch of highly trained rescue canines, each one able to drive and operate a rescue vehicle of its own. I bet they can also sniff for heroin and everything. Anyway, Ryder gives each of them a task (“Marshall, I’ll need YOU to recover Mrs. Fisk’s tampon box from the ocean floor”). Then they go save the chicken (or whatever), and then Ryder rewards them by telling them that they’re all good pups (but how can anyone feel special if EVERYONE is special?) and gives them biscuits for their trouble.
Ryder. The leader. Has a phone AND a Canadian accent. I don’t know why there are so many Canadian children’s TV programs. There’s this one, and Max & Ruby, and the universally despised Caillou. What is Canada doing making all this shit? Is this some passive-aggressive manifestation of your resentment of the United States’ near-total domination of North American economics and pop culture? If so … well played. Well played, you maple-humping ice farmers.
There is some controversy around the voice of Ryder, because he’s been played by two different actors: Elijha Hammill and Owen Mason. Why the switch? What did Owen Mason do wrong? Did they sub him out for a less Canadian voice? Did some insane stage dad demand triple the salary for his child so that he could afford to rent an apartment for his mistress? Did they REALLY expect us to not notice the switch? What are they hiding? Someone get me a squad of trained cats to quietly investigate this.
Chase: The cop dog. Hence the name. Get it? It was two years before I made that connection. Same with ...
Marshall: The fire dog. Hence the name. Sensing a pattern yet? Also, whenever Ryder calls on Marshall, Marshall cries out, I’M FIRED UP! Very subtle. Roughly 90 percent of this show is catchphrases.
Rubble: Bulldog. Has his own digger. It’s pretty cool. I’ve already told my kids that Rubble is my favorite PAW Patrol dog. The rest of them can go get hit by a truck. Rubble’s the one I’m taking home. WHO’S A GOOD PUP?! IS IT YOU?!
Skye: Girl dog. Has her own helicopter. Is likely paid less than the male puppies on staff. Her lack of character depth is highly problematic. ANSWER FOR YOUR GENDER IMBALANCES, CANADIAN ANIMATORS.
Rocky: Another dog. Drives a recycling truck. What fucking good is that? The only time I need a scheduled truck pickup is if I’m throwing out a piano or I’ve murdered someone.
Zuma: Drives a race car.
Everest: Snow dog. Was NOT an original member of the PAW Patrol. CAVING TO THE SNOW LOBBY ONCE MORE I SEE. Anyway, Everest makes her debut in a special hour-long episode called “The New Pup.” Did it ruin the show forever? Yes. Everest is the Cousin Oliver of the PAW Patrol. Shame on you, Guru Studios.
Mayor Goodway: Mayor. Incompetent. Has a pet chicken. Is afraid of hot air balloons.
Chickaletta: The chicken.
Any episode without commercials. A while back, Nick Jr. would air entire episodes of this show without ads, but now that PAW Patrol is a big deal and PP toys are flying off the shelves at Target, you get ads in between each vignette. They even have ads right after the title sequence, reminiscent of the NFL cutting to commercials after any kickoff. Really gets my goat. My children are spoiled 21st-century TV consumers with NO patience for commercials of any kind. The second the show cuts to commercials, they cry out for me to fast-forward as if there’s a fucking boat on fire somewhere. Not cool, Nick Jr. I expect you to indulge my children as horribly as I do.
Any episode with commercials. Parking a child in front of a television is my oasis. It is my release: a touch of peace of quiet in an otherwise hectic day. I need the viewing (and hence, the silence) to be continuous.
I actually have no real problem with PAW Patrol. The animation is shit, but what do you expect? This isn’t Pixar. The pacing is gentle. The lessons are fine. And kids love puppies, so it only makes sense to have a show featuring puppy garbagemen and the like. The pups help everyone out, the problem is solved, and my children come out of the exchange relatively unscathed.
My kids want a dog now. Many of them, actually. I’ve managed to hold out so far, but it’s only a matter of time. At some point, I WILL crack. And then what will happen? I’ll tell you: They’ll feed and walk the dog for ONE day before abdicating their dog chores. And then I’m stuck with a de facto fourth child. No. No fucking way. No dogs until you people are 30 years old or older.
Lead illustration by Jim Cooke.
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