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Dogs in Space

Entry updated 6 December 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2021-current). GrizzlyJerr Productions, Atomic Cartoons. Created by Jeremiah Cortez. Directed by Ed Chee, Monica Davila, James Suhr and Carl Upsdel. Writers include Jillian Goldfluss, Megan Gonzales, James Hamilton and Amalia Levari. Voice cast includes Sarah Chalke, Kimiko Glenn, David Lopez, Haley Joel Osment, Chris Parnell and Debra Wilson. Ten episodes of circa 21 minutes. Colour.

Sometime in 2223, Captain Garbage (Osment) is explaining to suspicious Aliens that he, a Genetically Engineered corgi ("Look – thumbs!"), is one of many Uplifted dogs tasked to find humanity a new home (see Colonization of Other Worlds), as Earth is fast becoming uninhabitable (see Disaster). When the alien leader enquires why they should share their planet with a species that has ruined its own, Garbage clarifies: actually, "Humans won't want to share ... they're kind of used to being in charge; but you can be their best friends – just like dogs." He is chased off the planet.

Over the past "fourteen dog years" the Space Station M-Bark has sent Spaceships to explore the galaxy for a suitable planet; so far, unsuccessfully. Garbage's ship is the Pluto, its crew comprises Tactical Officer Stella (Chalke), a sensible long-haired collie; Pilot Nomi (Glenn), a happily reckless shih-tzu ; Medical and Technology officer Chonies (Lopez), a nervous chihuahua; and Ambassador Ed (Parnell), a dishonest Jack Russell. The M-Bark dogs' devotion to humans is reinforced by propaganda – so when Garbage's crew rescues Kira (Wilson), a dog shipwrecked for 10 years, they are shocked to find she hates humanity for having left her to die. Nonetheless, Kira works well with them, so she is assigned to the Pluto.

Adventures follow, including some Planetary Romances. In one the crew revert to puppies (see Rejuvenation); when the M-Bark's genetic enhancement booth restores them, Kira – a product of an earlier version of uplift – acquires thumbs. The crew apply to tree-like aliens for a seed that will restore Earth to a verdant state; when Kira informs them humanity were the cause of the Pollution and cut down forests, their request is rejected and Garbage attempts a heist, which goes disastrously wrong ... his desire to save humanity means he almost sacrifices his crew, whereupon Kira gets him to swear to put dogs before people in future. A planet of Shapeshifting emotional Vampires imitate the crew's beloved owners to create and then absorb their happiness: their claim that this is a symbiotic relationship is refuted when the crew discover their drained previous victims (see Horror; Parasitism and Symbiosis). Garbage sees parallels between the shapeshifters' behaviour and humanity's: he decides that if any habitable planet is discovered it should be for dogs.

However, Kira's plan to reprogram the genetic enhancement device to reduce dogs' loyalty to humans is a step too far for Garbage, as it reeks of brainwashing. Kira strands him on a magnetic planet, then regresses the rest of the M-Bark team into normal dogs as a temporary measure whilst she seeks out a new home. But Garbage discovers the planet naturally stores historical broadcasts from Earth, including a heartfelt one from Kira's owner. With the help of his crew, Garbage returns to the M-Bark and plays the recording: Kira happily surrenders. The season ends with Stella replacing Garbage as captain of the Pluto, whilst Kira is sent to Earth with messages from the dogs to their owners.

Early episodes cheerfully familiarize viewers with the set-up, the Humour often arising from the uplifted dogs still retaining canine traits. An action plot kicks in when Kira implements her plan: though still amusing, it flirts with some darker themes. As humans so far have only been seen as recordings or in flashback, there's a possibility that Kira's trip to Earth might not end happily (though only a few months have passed there since the M-Bark left, due to Time Distortion from Relativity). A second season of this enjoyable, nicely animated show has been commissioned. [SP]


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