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Heads up: I was able to watch this series before its recent release via a screener sent to me by Netflix. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Netflix.
The super talented teams who are making cartoons from 2010 to now are truly bringing in a new generation of stories and experiences. It doesn’t matter if they show up on Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Nickelodeon, Hulu, Netflix, and what have you, we are in a much better state of storytelling and what kind of stories we can tell now more than ever. Sure, we still get spin-offs, reboots, sequel series, and such, but that’s going to happen with every decade of TV animation. What’s so fun about the 2010s-to-now set of series coming out is that they are more committed to telling stories with themes that would have been shrugged off from the 70s, 80s, and even in the 90s. There were shows before then that dealt with heavy topics, but they were rare and definitely were not the norm. Now we have shows that deal with much more story-driven experiences and it helps make more substantial characters and experiences. Even shows aimed at little kids are becoming better, and one example we can look at for that is the new series from Jeremiah Cortez’s Dogs in Space.
Created by Jeremiah Cortez and soon to be streaming on Netflix, the story follows a group of scientifically enhanced dogs that are set into an ‘out of this world’ adventure to find a new home for the humans. These dogs include our corgi leader Garbage, voiced by Haley Joel Osment, a shetland sheepdog warrior named Stella, voiced by Sarah Chalke, Nomi, a brash excitable pilot shih tzu voiced by Kimiko Glenn, Ed, a thieving Jack Russel Terrier voiced by Chris Parnell,and Chonies, a scientific chihuahua voiced by David Lopez. We also have our scared surveillance officer Loaf, voiced by William Jackson Harper. Can they find a planet good enough for the human race? What other dogs will our crack team of dogs encounter? What aliens will come into contact with them?
This series is the 2021 version of 2020’s The Fungies, as in it’s a series with charm, some very sharp humor, and a lot of heart. It’s essentially Star Trek, but combined with animation, and no I don’t mean like Star Trek Lower Decks or that new Star Trek Prodigy series, but more with cute dogs and a “golden age” Simpsons era wit and humor attached to it. It might be a show aimed at younger kids, but there’s a bit of a peppery kick to the dialogue and character dynamics that make this show stand out from the rest. The show is definitely more about the adventure and comedy aspect, and while there is action, it’s not the overall focus. It might even be its weakest part, but we will get there when we get there. Most of the episodes are Garbage and his crew exploring the galaxy and encountering the dangers that come with every planet and for this first season, the planet hunting is only half of the plot as our fluffy heroes deal with the inner politics of how the colony deals with spats and rebellious dogs being bad boys instead of sweet little good boys. The different personalities of the teammates from Garbage’s doofy arrogant confidence, to Stella’s stalwart bravery, Kimo’s bombastic nature, the opportunistic kleptomaniac Ed, the calm and collected Chovies, and the hyper paranoid Loaf all work well to bring in some truly great and charming laughs. It even has a few dark jokes and many dog puns for those that like that kind of humor. Luckily, the personality is spread across the many side characters from the council on the ship, to random aliens and side characters seen throughout the show’s first 10 episodes. It makes for a lived-in world as we see what kind of ship the dogs run.
What always amazes me about modern cartoons is how, while goofy at points, a majority of more story-driven shows introduce a more serious tone or theme to the overarching story. This show’s major theme is not only about trust and that typical friendship conquers all, but the running theme of Dogs in Space is our characters dealing with distrust and abandonment. It makes sense due to how dogs in real life become attached to the hip of good owners and when the owners have to leave or something happens to them, they get worried, scared, or maybe angry for feeling abandoned. It’s the main driving emotion for one of the characters in the show, and Garbage always worries that his messages aren’t getting to his owner who’s back on earth. It makes for a very endearing and heartfelt story, as you see these otherwise adorable poof balls fight space aliens and travel across the stars.
Art direction-wise, it’s an adorable-looking show. The designs are simplistic, but in a good way, the characters are expressive, especially Loaf, and the team making this show was able to make characters with small eyes feel very expressive. Now, is it well animated? Why, yes! It might use a simpler design style, but if you have seen shows like Atomic Betty or Star vs. The Forces of Evil, then you know what kind of animation style they are using. It definitely feels similar to how they move in both shows. While the action is not the flashiest, it gets the job done, and due to how likable the characters are, you want them to do well and make the fights satisfying to watch. The voice cast is also stellar. It’s the most stand-out part of this overall show. As mentioned previously, you have Haley Joel Osmont, Kimiko Glenn, Chris Parnell, Sarah Chalke, David Lopez, William Jackson Harper, but due to this being fairly Star Trek-inspired, we also have Will Wheaton and Michael Dorn. Other incredible voice actors include Debra Wilson, JP Karliak, John DiMaggio, Rena Strober, Bobby Moynihan, and Dee Dee Magno Hall.
Dogs in Space is a cute, charming, and ‘out of this world’ animated series. It sets out to be an amusing sci-fi space adventure, and that is what you will be getting. If you like dogs, which you had better, and adorable sci-fi adventures for all ages, then you will probably enjoy this series. Animation is in a healthier place than ever, and while there are plenty of improvements that need to be done within the animation industry, if we can get more shows like Centuarworld, Maya and The Three, Kid Cosmic, City of Ghosts, and Dogs in Space, then I’m all for seeing what the animation future has in store for us. Next up, we take a trip to both the US and China with this new US/China collaboration effort, Extinction.
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Rating: Go See It!