I promised you all ranting, and both of the articles I’ve done so far have been about shows I actually rather like. There are a few more shows like that I could do; while quite a lot of children’s programming is terrible, we seem to have come to something of a truce about what we watch with the kids around and mostly watch the not-terrible stuff as a family. On the other hand, my goodness but there have been terrible shows in the past.
PAW Patrol is set in the town of Adventure Bay. All community services are provided by a kid named Ryder and a handful of dogs. There’s a police dog, a fire dog, and so forth. Whenever there is a problem, people contact the kid, and he and the dogs figure out whose help is needed in order to do the job that needs doing. They live in a giant tower on the edge of town, which I can only hope is paid for by the government, since they’re saving a ton on services beyond that.
You may have noticed that one of my problems with this show is the municipal set up of Adventure Bay. But come on! One of the dogs drives a recycling truck; either all the recycling in this town is handled by one dog or else the dog is a token who is not actually necessary in order to keep the town moving smoothly. Or, and I’m spitballing here, it’s because despite the number of buildings we see, there are still only about twelve people in Adventure Bay anyway.
Worse from a “having to watch this a lot” perspective is that all the dogs have catchphrases. Now, from what I can tell (we don’t watch it by season, so I’m not sure), we start the series with six catchphrase-spewing dogs. Then, in later seasons, more are added. And these dogs tend to say their phrase at least once an episode, and some of them have more than one, and that’s an awful lot of the show dedicated to making sure the dogs say “Rubble on the double” and “Chase is on the case” and so forth.
Oh, and of course the Girl Thing. There is one female dog (let’s not use the formal terminology, here) in the early episodes, and she wears pink. The boys all wear bright, bold colours. Skye’s pink isn’t the palest I’ve seen, but it is still awfully light. Then, in later episodes, they added another girl. (Everest, I think?) Who wears pale purple. Not dark, bold purple like the boys but pastel. The mayor is a woman, which is nice, but she’s flighty and carries a chicken around everywhere. Ryder eventually gets a female counterpart, sort of, but she’s not in control of anything much and certainly isn’t as useful.
And of course the Cat Thing. The next town over has an evil mayor, like you do, who has evil cats, like you do. There’s one cat, I believe owned by the girl, who seems nice enough, but even she and Evil Mayor can’t talk to the cats. It’s subtle, but the only species that talks to humans on the show is dogs, even though other animals are implied to be intelligent—but only dogs are close enough to humans to really communicate with them.
The adventures are all pretty low-level—help turtles cross an expressway, help Good Mayor win a balloon race, and so forth—even if they don’t necessarily make any sense. My son Simon has a book of PAW Patrol stories where some kid loses a tooth in a carrot which is then flung off a merry-go-round and onto a seesaw and taken by a bird who drops it in a truck where it ends up in a bucket of dolphin food where it ends up in the ocean, and then the kid gets it back. I am making none of this up, though I may have some of the order wrong. Because why? Why is this a thing?
I don’t ask why Simon likes the show. He likes it because he is four. That is all the answer you need. Yes, I try to guide him toward watching less terrible programming, but there’s only so much that you can do other than wait for him to mature.
Actually, he broke our living room TV this week and doesn’t get to choose what he watches for possibly months; help us buy a new one by supporting my Patreon!