Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dog with a Blog Reviewed: "Avery Dreams of Kissing Karl" (#3.08)

Our one-off episode reviews of non-GMW shows continues! Next up, Dog with a Blog. 

I wonder how fair doing this episode was, because I would assume it's actually not all that indicative of the basic premise. Stan (the titular dog with the titular blog) is a pretty small part of this episode, just around to crack a few jokes. You could have taken him out of this entirely and no part of this show's basic premise ("This family has a dog that can talk and writes a blog!") even matters so much. The dog himself is kind of obnoxious, and I don't like that this is a show about a talking dog, but I suppose once upon a time I did watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and really enjoyed the character of Salem. So, I could see where that would appeal to people. My guess, though, is that the more an episode would focus on Stan and his talking dog-ness, the less I'd be into it.

But, still, I chuckled at some of Stan's lines, I won't lie. The "One time I dreamed I was eating a giant marshmallow, and when I woke up--" "Let me guess, the pillow was gone?" "No. CHLOE WAS GONE!" bit actually really struck me as funny, I dunno. Sorry!  I will admit that the "joke" where Moby Dick is replaced by Stan was the dumbest thing I've ever seen. How is that even a joke? "What if, instead of Moby Dick was on the cover... Stan was on the cover!"
I actually didn't mind this one so much. I actually thought the cast wasn't bad - no one's as good as Dove Cameron, but it doesn't have the same problem of a worthless supporting cast. The little red-haired girl who played Chloe (Francesca Capaldi) is actually really really good for a bratty young sibling. She's not quite as young as Auggie and Ava so it may be a little unfair to compare, but she was just in another stratosphere as them in terms of acting ability. Her chill "I don't have to outrun the lion. I just have to outrun the clown." was fun. Chloe's my favorite character throughout the episode.

The older brother was, I dunno, fine. Didn't have a lot to do, but was better than either of the brothers in L&M. And the parents, including former Daily Show correspondent Beth Littleford at least have a presence even if that presence is extremely over-acted. I also liked that the dopey Dad didn't have some typical dopey dad job (like gym teacher a la Liv & Maddie) but was randomly a psychologist and it came into play. Take note, I think that's a really good "parent job" for a show like this. You don't need to try to force the parents into non-home environments, just give them something that may be relevant to the plot... like professional advice-giver.

And I liked the main girl too, played by someone who is, for some reason, named G Hannelius. Her first name is just G. It's actually Genevieve (a very pretty name) according to Wikipedia, but she has elected to go by G. So... liking her less. But anyway, I enjoyed her. She was pretty over-acty, but I actually found her a compelling heroine in that she didn't feel like a generic Disney protagonist - instead appearing defined by what a pompous little snob she was. She was almost like a little girl version of Frasier Crane. And I dig Frasier Crane. Watching her and her rival converse definitely smacked of Frasier and Niles. And I dig Frasier and Niles. So, I think that helps.

And, like, I don't know the whole like... story here. I don't know what kind of history Avery and Carl have, or if she has some other longstanding love interest who wasn't in the episode or what, but I kind of was rooting for them. I found it interesting that Disney would possibly make a guy like this the love interest for the main girl. 

So, yeah, Sean's about to hate on it. But I dunno. I mean, am I going to watch another episode? No. But I didn't think it was any worse than Liv & Maddie besides the fact that there's a talking dog, which was unimportant to this one. The humor wasn't top-notch or anything, but, like, I didn't find myself rolling in the aisles of L&M either. And I actually was genuinely curious where they were going with the Avery/Carl thing. I can't confess I was genuinely curious about anything in that L&M episode. 

Episode Rating: B
Episode MVP: Francesca Capaldi

And, I have to say, the episode ending with the dog having a dream where he and the mom were about to start making out? Seemed pretty mature for Disney Channel.

Christian is out of his mind. There wasn't a single line of dialogue in this episode that felt natural. There wasn't a single joke that worked. There wasn't a single interesting character or plot thread. If I were basing it solely on this episode, I wouldn't want to watch another, while I certainly would watch another of Liv and Maddie if it were on in front of me for some reason. 

Let's look at Christian's grading system. This got a B. Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels got a B. You think this episode is on the same level as Mr. Squirrels? MAYBE. MAYBE WE COULD ARGUE. BUT HERE'S MY SUPREME EXAMPLE. This Christian guy gave Teen Beach 2 a C+. You said yourself you don't know the story, so your B must be based on the characters. You're telling me that anybody on this show is more interesting than Lela? I just don't understand, a B? This was better than Teen Beach for you? This was as good as Meets Mr. Squirrels for you? Not to mention better than the Liv and Maddie episode... I am just in a completely different universe from you right now. 

Episode Rating: D
MVP: The credits

Actually, it looks like I gave Teen Beach 2 a C-! You gave it a C+!

While I will certainly agree there's nothing scientific about my grading system and it's mildly arbitrary and whim-based, yeah, I absolutely liked this episode better than Teen Beach 2. Was I not clear that I didn't enjoy Teen Beach 2? It was saved from a worse grade by a few catchy songs, but nah, wasn't into the characters or the story and a lot of the dialogue was painful. Sure, no one on this show is interesting in the sense that, like, I'm invested in them and want to see where their story leads, but I thought some of them were mildly entertaining. I'm really not seeing how you could think Liv & Maddie and Dog with a Blog are on two, like, completely different planes of quality. They both feel like standard Disney Channel fare. But at least, unlike Teen Beach 2 sometimes, they don't seem to take themselves all that seriously.

I'm not sure if it's that you're giving Liv & Maddie (and Teen Beach 2) too much credit or if you're giving Dog with a Blog too little, but it's one or the other, I think! I also wonder how DwaB would be faring if you had a crush on someone in that cast, like you do with people in the L&M and TB2 casts, hmmmmmmm?

As for comparing this episode to Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels, yeah, I think objectively they're probably similar in quality. Of course I enjoyed Mr. Squirrels better. It has Eric Matthews in it. But it wasn't a great episode or anything - it all hinged on a really dumb and unbelievable conflict to exist between Riley and Maya, and it brought with it some disappointment about what they did with Eric. On the other hand, sorry, I actually thought this was a fun plot for a kid's show. Main girl starts having romantic dreams about her rival? Sure. That's fun. I'm down for that plot. 

Is there a chance I'm grading GMW a bit more harshly than these other shows because I expect more from it? Maybe. But I don't feel way off here.

And I'm not going to let you not acknowledge that the little red-haired girl is by far the best little kid actor we've seen on any of these shows.

It's not just Lela though. Brady, Tanner, Harley Keiner, they were all more fun to watch (and better actors) than the leads on this show. Cook-a-Rooney made me laugh three or four times, this show had zero. Dove Cameron is a better actor than anyone on this show. Cook-a-Rooney had an unpredictable and satisfying conclusion. And L&M didn't have a fucking talking dog. Christian the show has a TALKING DOG! A talking dog who thinks lame photoshop is humor, how is this the better show!

Watch the red head girl sing "Ride The Bike" here at 8:46 https://youtu.be/r_rDEmrzABg?t=8m46s Tell me that's not painful for you to watch. 

I'm worked up folks, I'm worked up. I don't think either of us is going to give an inch. Closing statements: None of the characters are relatable. I can't empathize with any of them. There's a talking dog who writes on the internet and tries to set up humans in romantic situations. D.

Just to be clear: 

Pshh. Sure, that song was lame. That doesn't keep the little girl from being a good actress. You should be ashamed of yourself! Not willing to give credit where credit's due to a little girl!

And, see, I think that must be what it comes down to for you - the talking dog thing. Yeah, it's stupid. But a lot of things are stupid on Girl Meets World too. Just because a talking dog is fantastical, I'm not going to necessarily judge the show more harshly because of it. It's not trying to be a realistic coming of age story, it's trying to be a fantasy story about a family with a talking dog. That may be less my bag too, but I don't think there's some empirical worseness as a result. 

I will agree, though, that I'm also more likely to watch an episode of Liv & Maddie again than Dog with a Blog, even though I thought this episode was slightly more engaging. Because, yes, I'm just more interested in the kind of show Liv & Maddie is. I'm sure there's many episodes of, I don't know, Grey's Anatomy that are objectively better than any Girl Meets World episode, but I'm not going to watch it instead just because I'm not interested in the show. So, bear that distinction in mind. 

Lastly - you know what else was about some kids and their talking dog and was the best? Scooby-Fucking-Doo. *drops mic* I'm out!

Next, I dunno. Austin & Ally? Since we were talking about Teen Beach 2? You can pick the episode.


  1. I don't really have anything to add here, but I thought you might like some trivia. Francesca Capaldi voices The Little Red-Haired Girl in the upcoming Peanuts Movie.

  2. Sean, you are essentially hitting on the reason I've never really liked this show, outside of some decent background noise. Its a show about a talking dog who uses the internet. To me, it's such a bad concept that I never got into it. And the writing

    Now, don't get me wrong, I actually like Genevieve Hannelius. Oh, and Christian, she's going back to her full name, fyi. Anyway, she's been with the network since she was literally a 2nd grader. She started doing a small short program that would essentially act as filler between shows, which worked into her getting a recurring role on Sonny With A Chance, which morphed into her getting this show. Interestingly, this show was never really supposed to be what it is. Sometime roughly 5-6 years ago, maybe more, DC greenlit a show that was supposed to be a continuation of the High School Musical franchise called "Madison High". Well, long story short, it never got off the ground. That led to DWAB coming to be with G as the star. There's your DC history lesson for the night.

    1. Damn I suck a this commenting thing. I meant to write that the writing is terribad. It suffers from what I call the "ANT Farm" complex. Talented enough cast, horrible writing. And that can really hurt a show like this.

    2. I think you're right on the dot about Avery being like a mini-Fraiser. Interestingly enough it turns out that Micheal B. Kaplan, the creator of Dog With a Blog, was also a producer on Fraiser (and Roseanne).

      I don't know if this was necessarily the best episode to get into the series with since it's actually building on a story arc that goes back all the way to a relatively early episode in the first season. You'd really have to know all the backstory between Avery and Karl to really get what's going on (or what little backstory there is), plus those episodes actually tend to be the best of the series anyway. I don't know if any of those episodes will change Sean's mind or convince you to think that Dog With a Blog is a little more worth watching and if I had to put actual money on the line I would say they would not.

      I'll also go on to say that perhaps my unusual enthusiasm for Jessie might be a leeeeetle to do with maybe having a little bit of a crush on the main star. Just sayin', been there.

      Speaking of Jessie I looked to see what was available on Watch Disney Channel and except for maybe Dance, Dance Resolution all of the episodes on there are literally the worst (like I said, Season 4 tends to be garbage). I guess you'd have to go to YouTube or Netflix to watch a Jessie episode that's better than garbage so here's Tempest in a Teacup https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp4aH6qQw-c and here's Why Do Foils Fall in Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqPoh-STk9E

      Also, the Whodunit episode for Austin & Ally is a parody of Scooby Doo if you want to watch that one, though again if I had to put money on the line I'm going to say you'd probably be disappointed.

    3. I think the main reason why she goes by G. Hannelius is because "Genevieve Hannelius" would be ridiculously long on most credits. Even just "G. Hannelius" is pretty long as it is.

  3. OH! I forgot! The Austin & Ally episode Mentors & Austin Moon Week! That's the one with Sabrina Carpenter in it! It's airing right now though which means by the time you read this it'll be too late.

  4. If anyone is interested in more blogs about adults making fun of DOG WITH A BLOG, I reviewed a bunch of episodes in similar style to BMW/GMW Reviewed. I quickly got bored with the show and started reviewing ANIMORPHS, but hey, here is a shameless plug.