Netflix, New Show, Show

“Dogs in Space” is sweet but not special

Dogs in Space is one of the shows that start out light and simple, but you quickly realize that there’s something darker lying underneath the surface. Or well – it tries to be one of those shows. Dogs in Space tries to deal with mature themes and ideas but those are overshadowed by its optimistic outlook, relatively lighthearted plots, and generally low stakes…

It’s kind of muddled – like it doesn’t know exactly what kind of show it wants to be. It doesn’t revel in its absurdity like Centaurworld or try to imply that there’s something more sinister at hand like Adventure Time. 

It’s much more childish – which isn’t a bad thing, but Dogs in Space also desperately wants to be a show that gets kids to think about the systems of power – but ultimately ends up reinforcing a sort of status quo in the end.

It’s not what I was hoping for – and I guess I was kind of disappointed.

PLOT

When Earth starts to die- humans decide to send genetically engineered dogs into space to ‘fetch’ them a new planet. Aboard the ship Pluto – corgi Captain Garbage and his crew are one of many trying to find a new home for humans and dogs…When they come across a planet that hadn’t been on any charts – and find a long-lost dog named Kira, questions arise.

Plenty of shenanigans ensue.

The Good

Credit where it is due – a group of super-intelligent dogs being sent to space to find a new home for humans is an adorable idea. It has a lot of potential for exploring the special relationship between humans and dogs…If we had to send another species into space to find a new home for us, it would definitely be dogs.

The show is cute. The dogs all have adorable designs; some of them have chubby neck rolls that stick out of their uniforms.  The color palette is full of pastels and isn’t too hard on the eyes. It’s visually very pleasing and adorable.

And since this series is intended for children, Dogs in Space is very lighthearted. The dogs miss their humans (of course) and they show their loyalty by continuing to look for a new home…even though they haven’t received any messages from Earth.

The show leaves a lot of room for the viewer to question how this world works: why are the humans sending dogs and not going themselves, how long did it take for the humans to develop this technology, what did the dogs think about becoming evolved…how did the humans feel about sending their best friends into space?

But there’s an issue with all this space the show gives us to question and wonder.

The Bad

Dogs in Space, while it brings up a lot of good and interesting questions about its world — doesn’t really answer them satisfactorily. The worlds the Pluto explores are fun and cute – but they all have clear and obvious flaws.

There isn’t a ton of time dedicated to exploring these worlds – or outer space. The characters spend a lot of time aboard the M-Bark, the home base space ship. It makes the whole thing feel more like a workplace comedy, at times, rather than an adventure.

And because it’s another show where each ‘season’ is 10 episodes, it feels like things get barely set up because of this. We’ve barely scratched the surface of these characters and premise. And yet – I’m not longing for more. I’m not satisfied…I’m just…meh.

Because we don’t actually see the relationships between humans and their dogs. We don’t get to see them actually interacting – and we never get to see what life is actually like on Earth…It makes it harder for me to care about the dogs’ mission. 

The show presents the situation in such a way that I’m just told it’s bad and I’m expected to feel about it rather than just showing me the situation. It’s harder to conceptualize the stakes when the stakes are never really emphasized.

I get it’s a show for kids – but…still. It feels too watered down.

And the questions the show gives the audience to think about – like how humans actually feel about sending their pets into space – get very simple answers. It’s a bit sad knowing that due to being in space – three years have passed for the dogs but only a few months have passed for humans and their messages haven’t reached each other yet – but it kind of feels like this was the easy way out.

Kira, the stranded dog the Pluto crew finds, questioned the status quo – rightfully so – but her mistrust of authority was misplaced and she’s framed as wrong because of her extremist actions. While obviously, turning everyone into normal dogs is bad – it turns out the animals still retained their hyper-intelligence…it’s Not Good ™ but it’s not death. Not even close.

The stakes are there but they’re not presented in a way that makes me care enough as to whether or not the protagonists succeed – and the fact the ‘villain’ actually has a point is never critically examined because of her extremist actions just leaves me feeling a bit bored.

Conclusion

This show has a lot of good ideas and a lot of potential but it just doesn’t live up to those expectations. Some of it may just be me (and probably is) but Dogs in Space just seems like it’s stuck in this kiddie box, when it actually wants to explore some greater themes and ideas – so it just waters them down.

Which honestly doesn’t really work in its favor.

While the show is still fun and cute – it’s very immature, the darker aspects of the show don’t quite mesh well with its childish appeal and present them in such a lighthearted and offhanded kind of way that it makes me wonder if these darker elements should have been included at all.

The show was enjoyable enough that I’m willing to give a second season a watch – as its possible this show is still trying to find its identity. And that’s mainly on Netflix for imposing such short ‘seasons’ rather than the crew.

And that’s the scoop.

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Score: B –

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Release Year: 2021

Length: 10 episodes; 20-22 minutes

Executive Producers: Jeremiah Cortez, Adam Henry, Matthew Berkowitz, Kristin Cummings, Jennifer Twiner McCarron

Producers: Joel Bradley, Patty Jausoro, Darrell Yeo 

Creator: Jeremiah Cortez

Developers: ​​ James Hamilton, Adam Henry, Jeremiah Cortez

Voice Actors: Haley Joel Osment, Sarah Chalke, Kimiko Glenn, Chris Parnell, David Lopez, William Jackson Harper, Debra Wilson

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