If you want to join me for another trip down 'I'm Losing It Lane,' I'd be more than obliged. This quaint thoroughfare runs through the neighborhood where my middle-aged male self wants to argue the superiority of the new HUB series Pound Puppies over the pink 900LB gorilla known as My Little Pony. It's all just a matter of subjective taste, of course, but this sit-com quality cartoon packed with cute, idiosyncratic puppies and great voice talent is an actual pleasure to sit down and watch with the kids!
Based on another popular family of kids toys from the 1980s, this incarnation of the Pound Puppies is poised to do much better than its 'made in China' forebears. Whereas My Little Pony as a brand has basically lived forever and launched its own universe of everything, the puppies were just stuffed animals that managed to eke out a shabby, short-lived '80s cartoon series and movie. But now, they are poised to strike at the very heart of any and all HUB cartoon network dynasties!
This latest version, presented here with five 20-minute episodes from the first season, is pure sit-com goodness. It's formulaic, to be sure, modeled loosely after Hogan's Heroes, but rides that formula with Cesar Milan's assurance. Anchored by a core group of five dogs, the show is free to trot out a new, unrelated story every week, as puppies of all stripes wait for their turns to be helped out by the Pound Puppies, a quasi-military group of dog pound lifers committed to helping puppies find homes.
Sharp, well-paced scripts ride the line between pleasing kindergarteners and throwing a few bones to parental viewers. Character designs are adorable without being cutesy, while characters are much more earthy. There's Lucky, (Eric McCormack) the rakish, sincerely self-confident leader - pretty much Bob Crane with fur - and there's Strudel, (Alanna Ubach) a dachshund with the skills and attitude to run the technical side of this cuddly platoon. Niblet (John DiMaggio) is big, fuzzy, and dim, he's the perfect foil for Squirt, (Michael Rapaport) the street-smart, skeptical Chihuahua. Cookie (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a tough, compassionate Boxer who rounds out the crew. Everyone does a fantastic job bringing life to their characters, while McCormack and Rapaport seem to be made for their roles.
Consider non-showy guest stars and bit players like Betty White, George Takei, M. Emmet Walsh and Richard Lewis, and you'll realize that the Pound Puppies crew is shooting for the lights. Kids and adults will find something to like in each episode included here, while waiting hopefully for a complete first season. Episodes included here are:
Homeward Pound, in which Niblet and Squirt get lost in the mountains after a particularly tricky puppy placement operation.
My Fair Rebound, features Betty White as a wealthy Ms. McLeish, who wants to impress by enrolling her excitable puppy in the Northminster Kennel Show.
Quintuplets tackles a resonant theme, as Lucky and friends try placing five puppies who don't want to be split up.
The K9 Kid follows cute, spunky Pepper, who wants to be a police dog even though she's the wrong size, age and breed for the job.
Zoltron is an odd puppy who claims to be from outer space. How can the pound puppies find him a home when they can't leave the planet?
Five episodes out of 26 from the first season isn't much, but I suppose if a first season collection comes out, you won't feel too disappointed in having to purchase these five episodes one more time.
This is a sharp looking 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. Crisp, clean and stylish Flash animation means that detail levels are uniformly precise. No compression artifacts or any issues of that nature are to be reported either. It's good-looking stuff with a pleasant color palette.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or 2.0 Digital Stereo Audio are your available tracks. The 2.0 track is perfectly adequate for what is essentially a dialog-driven show, leaving everything up front and easy to digest for ears both young and old. The 5.1 mix obviously boasts a little bit more in the way of sound design, though it's nothing too spectacular.
The only extra of note is How To Draw Lucky, a short look at one of the animators using a computer sketch tablet to draw the lead character. A little bit of fun for your budding cartoonist.
Pound Puppies scramble into the digital market with this pretty-much bare bones DVD release, featuring five episodes from the first season of the adorable show. With sit-com smooth plots, lovable (and cute) characters, and top-notch voice talent, this is one (nominal) '80s nostalgia series that truly earns its new life. Pleasing to both adults and kids, this little offering will be a welcome addition to your DVD library. Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com