First Impressions

Downward Dog

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                When I saw promos for the new ABC comedy, Downward Dog, I thought, “How silly…but funny at the same time.  Where can they go with this?”  I heard that it was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and, interested in seeing where the show would go, I decided to check out the debut episode on May 17, 2017.

                The series is somewhat narrated by Martin (Ned, voiced by Samm Hodges), a dog who lives with Nan (Allison Tolman).  Martin is apparently a long-suffering mate of Nan’s, finding their “relationship” lacking now that she is throwing herself into her work at Clark and Bow Outfitters.  Martin is lonely and missing the way he and Nan used to spend time with one another.  In hopes of getting his Nan back, he decides to try the negative attention approach.  This gets him into what he would call couples therapy and what Nan would call Obedience School.

                On the other side of the coin, we watch as Nan, just coming off of a failed relationship, gets more involved at work, pitching new ideas to a jerk of a boss (Barry Rothbart) who is less than enthusiastic.  Having begun spending less time at home in an effort to find a pitch that will put her ideas for selling to progressive women on the map, she is surprised to find Martin behaving in a way he never behaved before – destroying shoes, tearing up the house and more. 

                Both feel as if they are at all-time lows, but the return of the ex-boyfriend (Lucas Neff) seems to perk them both up.  Jason pays a great deal of attention to Martin and Nan is able to focus on her work project.  But when Martin realizes that Nan is now paying more attention to Jason and her job and less attention to him, he takes revenge, destroying the project she was preparing for a presentation the next day.  All works out for Nan in the end as her tale about her dog eating her homework and their relationship sparks a new idea and one that goes over well with the client.  Unfortunately, this may mean Nan will spend even less time with Martin…what’s a sensitive dog to do?

                I wanted to like this show, I really did.  I thought the idea of having a dog vocalize about his relationship with his owner as if it were a relationship with a girlfriend or wife would be hilarious.  At times it is, but at times the dialogue is a bit dry and lacking.  I did like that we saw Martin’s world through his eyes and narration, but that seeing Nan’s point of view was different.  We heard her observations as she spoke them to her friends while we heard Martin’s point of view straight from the puppy’s mouth. 

I think I expected more from this show, but I found that I hadn’t laughed all that much until the very end of the show when the neighbor’s cat (Maria Bamford) began taunting Martin.  Sharing a home with a cat for many years, the scene was just perfect and I marveled that the idea that the funniest part of the entire show would come just before the end credits and have nothing to do with the relationship between Martin and Nan.  Since that is what the whole show is supposed to be about, I find it silly to continue watching, hoping for better, and so,I won’t be watching Downward Dog when it continues in its regular time slot on Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC.


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