Let’s get this out of the way first: I know I am not the target audience for Dog With A Blog. I am, technically, an adult. Disney is not a network marketed to me. There are a ton of other shows I could (and should) be watching on a Sunday night yet I keep watching this one. Why? Because it’s about a dog! A dog who blogs! It has perhaps the most straightforward (and absolutely ridiculous) title I’ve ever seen, a title that has turned the show into an easy punch line—but it remains a show I watch every week. Dog With A Blog is cheesy and colorful, full of truly awful wordplay, and featuring the sort of overacting that only exists in high school auditoriums and Disney Channel sitcoms (Beth Littleford, bless her soul, is especially guilty of this and cranks up the meter on the “manic and slightly deranged mother” character). No, it’s not the smartest show on television, but look at that cute dog creepily banging his paws on the keyboard! I love it.
Honestly, my biggest problem with Dog With A Blog is that the dog just doesn’t blog enough. The show recently aired an episode about Internet safety and the dangers of revealing too much about yourself online, yet it wasn’t even centered on the dog who is, as far as I know, the only character on the show who even has a blog. Anyway, Stan, the Dog Who Blogs, is only seen blogging about once an episode. Twice, tops. It’s understandable—who wants to watch a half hour of a dog sitting at a computer sharing his thoughts on family, loyalty, and indestructible chew toys (besides me, of course; I’d give that show an A+ every week)? Instead, Dog With A Blog focuses on a blended family of strange characters: a child-psychologist father, a scatterbrained mother, a popular and Disney-cute slacker son, an annoyingly precocious middle-child, and a crazy (but verging on totally obnoxious) youngest daughter.
The series begins shortly after the parents marry and, upon realizing their children aren’t getting along, decide to buy the kids a dog for them to bond over. The kids soon realize Stan can talk and come together to keep that a secret from their parents. Nearly every episode involves the family (especially the children) learning to get along, learning to love each other, learning new lessons, and learning about learning. Avery learns not to abandon her best friend for a shot at popularity; Chloe learns to respect her parents; Tyler learns how to be a wingman for a dog. This is all standard fare for a show on Disney, and it’s definitely a welcome break from its usual programming which tends to be either a.) sitcoms about world famous teenage singers or b.) spin-offs of spin-offs of spin-offs about world famous teenage singers. In some weird way, and just bear with me here, a show about a talking dog that regularly blogs about his feelings is more realistic than what most of Disney has put on in the last decade or so.
Tonight’s episode, which is also the season finale (don’t fret, the show has been renewed for a second season), is a good example of the blend of absurdity and realism that runs throughout the series. “Stan’s Old Owner” is about just that: Stan’s former owner, a scientist named Dr. Calloway, shows up at the front door of the James-Jennings’ household claiming he just wants to make sure Stan is in a good home. Earlier in the series, the children agree to keep Stan’s ability to talk a secret because Stan said he had been experimented on. Dr. Calloway convinces Stan and the children that Stan’s memories were all convoluted and a huge misunderstanding. He preys on Stan’s insecurities (the episode is also about how Stan doesn’t fit in anywhere, not with the dogs at the dog park and not with the humans in his house), he lies about finding Stan’s real family, and he makes the children feel guilty for wanting to keep Stan away from them. Honestly, it’s a fucked-up scene even if it’s just about a dog. The children decide to return Stan to his former owner—but at the last minute, Stan decides he wants to stay with the children and the scientist reveals his true motive: to do more experiments, learn why Stan talks, and use that knowledge to make other dogs talk.
Aside from all that silliness, Dog With A Blog manages to fit in its lesson-of-the-week. In this case, it’s through a gooey conversation about how all families don’t necessarily have to be the same. Just look at the James-Jennings! They are all different and not all related by blood, but they make it work and they love each other! It’s the sort of stuff that’s boring to adults, but Disney’s aim with programs like this one is to sneak in tiny nuggets that make children feel okay about themselves. Ridiculous title aside, Dog With A Blog is actually a strangely successful program, one that manages to be silly and smart enough to keep a child’s attention while not being overly condescending. Also, the episode ends with a dog punching a grown man in the face.
- I’ve learned to just accept the fact that this dog can blog but under no circumstances will I accept that he is good at Photoshop. That’s too much suspension of disbelief.
- G. Hannelius, the young actress who plays Avery, is so similar to Eliza Coupe in both her looks and mannerisms that it is a little eerie and distracting.
- A few of my favorite episode titles: “The Fast And The Furriest,” “World Of Woofcraft,” “Bark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The Bone Identity,” and “Freaky Fido.”
- Not to totally bum you out, but Stan the dog has an official blog up on the Disney Channel website which means there is a person out there who gets paid money to pretend to be a dog on the Internet. I can’t even put into words how jealous I am.