Cartoon Country: 101 Dalmatian Street
Back in March, Jason did a Peeks for Disney’s new British/Canadian animated series, 101 Dalmatian Street.
Well, now that we’ve since seen some episodes via clips on the internet (since we still have no frelling idea when this show is coming to the U.S. !), we’re able to cover it on Cartoon Country!
If you read Jason’s Peeks (or are lucky enough to live in one of the countries that’s actually started airing the show), you know the premise: set some 50 or 60 or so years after the 101 Dalmatians book/movie, this series focuses on a new Dalmatian family: A London dog named Delilah (who’s a descendant of Pongo and Perdita from the original 101 Dalmatians) who marries an American dog named Doug. Each of them have a litter of pups from their previous marriages (don’t ask how dog marital issues work), making a total of…wait for it…101 Dalmatians in total, all of whom live together in a rowdy house in swingin’ Camden town. However, the lead characters of the show are not the parents, but rather the 2 eldest pups, teen Dalmatians uptight, pedantic Dylan (Delilah’s biological son) and free-spirited, fun-loving, mischievous Dolly (Doug’s biological daughter) who look after the house and their 97 younger siblings while their folks are at work during the day (Doug works as a fire dog while Delilah works as a nurse, respectively).
Now, you’re probably wondering:
Well, yes, but don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t some alternate reality where animals are just stand-ins for humans.
The animals still live alongside humans on the show, and the domestic ones are still pets. You see, the Dalmatians’ owner is an eccentric billionaire named Dodie (after the original book’s author, Dodie Smith) who left the house to the family after retiring to live on an island. The house is technologically advanced and full of gadgets and gizmos designed to give these dogs whatever they need (given how the animals’ speech only sounds like animal noises to people on this show, I imagine the Dalmatians ordering takeout on the phone must be an interesting experience). As you can imagine, a house full of rowdy dogs with no live-in master is a mailman’s nightmare.
One touch that I like is how all of the Dalmatians in the family have ‘D’ names, and that’s not just because that’s the first letter of my name. Not only that, but Disney managed to come up with a ‘D’ name for each and every member of the family. All 101 of them.
Oh yes they di-id! Here’s a little ditty someone came up with listing all of their names, so I don’t have to. (Warning: this song is an earworm. It’ll be stuck in your head for days.)
Wow, just wow. Now that’s dedication. I doubt Peyo Culliford ever sat down and said “I’m going to come up with a name for all 100 Smurfs.” Disney can be quite meticulous when they want to be. I marvel at the fact they still chose to go with 101 dalmatians when they didn’t have to. They could’ve easily taken the lazy route and said: “101 refers to the street number on the show, not the number of dogs.” Heck, that’s what I would’ve done, but I’ve been declared legally lazy by a doctor.
Another cool thing about this show is its’ aesthetics, especially when it comes to the Dalmatians themselves. Instead of all the dogs being uniform, like androids, each of the main characters have physical distinctions which makes them stand out design-wise and gives you a little insight to their personalities. I’ll give a brief (?) run-through of all of the named Dalmatians who are actual characters on the show; I can imagine what sort of characters some of the background puppies have, going by some of the names, but I’ll leave that to the inevitable string of fan fiction writers.
Likable nerd Dylan is voiced by Josh Brener, whom you may know as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on HBO’s Silicon Valley. Dylan loves astronomy and aspires to be the first Dalmatian in space, as evidenced by the star tag on his collar and how the spots on his left ear are in the shape of the constellation Canis Major, aka the Dog Star.
Dolly is voiced Michaela Dietz, perhaps best known to cartoon fans as the voice of Amethyst from Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. She loves to skateboard (among other things), as noted by her Sk8er style ring-shaped collars and sock-like marking on her front paws. She also really wants to make “Bow-Whocka-Wow!” into a catchphrase.
As previously stated, dad Doug is a fire dog, note how his tag resembles a fireman’s uniform shield. Personality-wise, Doug is a big, loving, sensitive teddy bear of a guy…
Delilah the organized, orderly mom of the family (or should I say ‘mum’, since she’s British and the show is set in London?) shares Dylan’s black left ear and white right ear. As previously stated, she works as a nurse, note how her tag resembles a nurse’s badge.
Dante (named after the title character in Dante’s Inferno) is the life of the party, if said party were being held inside a Doomsday bunker. His constantly on-edge personality is further illustrated by his spiked collar. I like how he’s a reverse Dalmatian (black with white spots instead of the usual opposite, save for the blue spots on his right ear), however, his voice and personality aren’t exactly what I was expecting. Dante’s very paranoid and gloomy (surprise, surprise!), which is to be expected, but I thought he’d be calmer and more aloof…
DEEDEE & DIZZY
Deedee & Dizzy are hyper, excitable twin pups (FTR, Dizzy is the one with the bandit mask style marking around her eyes, while Deedee wears a Dolly-esque set of ring-like collars and black sock-like marking on the toe tips of her paws). They are irremediably cute and desperate to please, though they hinder things as often as they help. So they’re like actual younger siblings.
Dawkins is the brains of the house (named after English ethologist Richard Dawkins), able to operate most of the house’s tech as well as inventing some of his own. You can tell he’s really smart because he owns a laptop and by the atom design on his collar. Dawkins must be one of Delilah’s pups since he refers to Doug by his first name rather than “Dad” for reasons unknown. I guess as an intellectual, he doesn’t have time for such sentiments.
Not the sharpest pencil in the box, Diesel has a mania for dirt and digging, as is evident by the chunks or dirt which adorn his body. He’s also distinguishable by his monobrow and blank expression, which I’ve only ever seen on one other character.
DESTINY, DALLAS & DEJA VU aka TRIPLE D
These hyper-adorable, high-end, full-on diva triplets have “Future Plush Toys” stamped all over them. They’re the only family members aside from the parents who have jobs: they work as models for magazines and in commercials. This makes them a little vain and high-maintenance, but they’re bringing home some bacon, so if they have a bit of attitude (which they do) it’s understandable. Their dialogue typically consists of the 3 of them saying a single line which each of them sharing in the sentence; one will start, another will say the middle and the third will finish it up. The Disney Wiki claims that each of them has a distinct personality–with Destiny being the “woke” member of the trio, avidly aware of trendy celebrity causes and the like, Dallas being the fashionista who loves dressing up and being pampered, the full-tilt diva with a heart of gold and Deja Vu being the quirky ditz, as evidenced by such episodes as “It’s My Party” and the micro-short Diva Pups. FTR, you can tell which is which by their jewel-encrusted collars: Destiny’s is decorated with hearts, Dallas’ with diamonds and Deja Vu with circles.
Deepak is named after author and existential philosopher Deepak Chopra. Note how the markings on his head and his collar make the shape of a Yin-Yang symbol. He’s very New Agey but a bit of a Nervous Norvus, often slipping into panic mode when things go awry and having to meditate hard to calm himself down, or tending to try and embrace his inner cat, despite his being a dog.
Yup, his name is D.J., and he’s an aspiring DJ. They don’t all have to be complicated.
Your eyes don’t deceive you; Delgado’s got no hind legs, he rolls around in a makeshift wheelchair (’cause progressiveness and representation are kewl!). If he has any grievances about his condition, he has yet to be shown voicing them; rather he seems to enjoy his situation as it allows him to zip around at high speeds, his passion. He tries to impress Dolly with his speed prowess; his idolization of her is further represented by him having the same black sock markings on his front legs as her.
Despite the name, DaVinci is a girl. No prizes for guessing, she’s an artist, as evidenced by the spots on her pelt in other colors besides just black. According to Dylan, her colored spots are the results of paint blobs permanently drying on her fur, not because she’s a mutant who’s half clown.
Dorothy is the youngest pup. She has no spots and a pink collar with a bone tag on it. She’s also the only character in the main cast whom I’m not really crazy about. She’s basically a baby, great. But unfortunately, she embodies all the reasons why I usually don’t like baby characters on shows. Mainly because they’re not funny! The original incarnations of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm weren’t funny. Baby Smurf wasn’t funny. Jack-Jack from The Incredibles isn’t funny (no, being ridiculously over-powered and annoying does not equal comedy) and sorry, but Dorothy is not funny! There are of course some notable exceptions, such as Stewie Griffin or Lily Loud, but for the most part, baby characters are not funny.
Now I know some of you are going to say to me: “Come on, Damon. How can you be so down on Dorothy? She’s so cute!”
-Yeah, but she’s not funny.
“She has such a cute little laugh!”
-She’s not funny.
“She’s so precious and adorable!”
-She. Isn’t. Funny.
Look, I have nothing against cute characters or little characters, but they have to be more than just cloyingly cute. An example of a ‘youngest kid’ character done correctly is Chelsea from Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.
Yes, a lot of Chelsea’s shtick revolves around her being the youngest and aggressively cutesy, but the difference is that Chelsea has a personality and does things. She’s not just there to make the audience go “Aaaaawww” and send the other characters into a blind panic when she goes missing. I challenge anyone to describe Dorothy using an adjective besides ‘cute’, ‘adorable’ or ‘precious’; you can’t, because she doesn’t do anything.
One viewer thought that Dorothy was supposed to be Oddball from the movie 102 Dalmatians because she has no spots (though–spoilers!–she gets spots at the end). I actually think that would’ve been a better idea for a character; they could’ve exploited her oddness beyond just having no spots to an all-around eccentricity, like female version of Gonzo from the Muppets. Now that would’ve been a character I could get behind.
There are also a set of wacky neighbors, including a snooty neighbor dog named Clarissa who looks down on the ‘ruff-raff’ for not having an owner, even though they do, she just doesn’t live with them, a police officer horse, a fox, a squirrel and a rat who live life on the streets and a husky whom Dolly has a crush on (though he might be more interested in Dylan–yeah it looks like they’re going there!). And we get treated to scenes like this:
Aack! Cute puppy overload!
-Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
The question many fans are asking (though not me personally, for reason I’ll get into)…
Well, keep in mind that this show takes place about 50 years after the movie, so Cruella would have to be pushing 100 by the time of this series…but the producers haven’t forgotten about the DeVil legacy; for the 2-part season finale, we get an appearance by a descendant of Cruella’s, one Hunter DeVil, who is, well, a hunter. Fair enough, it is the brand and that’s what the audience will/would be expecting, but (and I know this is an unpopular opinion) I personally like that there is no real villain on the show. One of the things I like about 101 Dalmatian Street is how it’s not an adventure show, just a pure comedy; no villain-dodging, just wacky shenanigans. I figured we’d get a DeVil, but I hope this character is just someone they encounter every so often and not a regular foe to defeat. There are other things I’d like to see the writers do on this show first…