What if the basketball-playing dog from Air Bud had no athletic skills or talent, other than making quips on the internet? He would be the star of Disney Channel's new sitcom, Dog with a Blog, which is about a dog who is also a blogger. After more than 15 years, bloggers have reached the level of pop culture acceptance that comes with having a dog do their jobs for comedic effect.
Last night, after learning on Twitter about Dog with a Blog, which premiered earlier this month, I felt it was my duty as a blogger to watch the show and make sure it wasn't a new viral video from the Onion. It's real, and actually surprisingly amusing. The premise is that Avery Jennings and Tyler Jennings are new step-siblings who can't get along, so their psychologist father gets them a dog named Stan to keep them from fighting all the time.
But, woah, it turns out the dog can talk. And blog. That's why it's called "Dog with a Blog." Dog. Blog. ("Meet a dog… who can blog!" is the show's tagline, which may also have been written by a dog.) Why or how Stan became a blogger is not explained, at least in the pilot episode. Was he a staff writer at a dog newspaper who got laid off during the recession? That Stan is a blogger does explain the fact that he is a sarcastic asshole, but the viewer is left with the impression that this particular Disney canine was made a blogger instead of, say, a fashion photographer or gourmet chef because a) "blog" rhymes with "dog" and b) blogging has to do with the internet, which is big with the kids. But do people under 20 years old even know what a blog is? Blogging is so old-school. Today's teens and tweens spend most of their time online cyberbullying each other on Instagram and uploading compromising pictures of themselves and friends to Facebook.
Unfortunately, there are only two short scenes where we see Stan blog in the pilot. From these it appears Stan's blog is like a dog version of a mommy blog. Stans writes posts about his owners, does product reviews and offers advice to other pets. The world of "Dog with a Blog" is one where pets secretly browse the internet, reading each other's blogs, and look up animal porn (seriously, Stan does this in the pilot). Perhaps one day they will use Twitter and Facebook to organize an armed uprising and depose their owners.
The jokes and characters in "Dog with a Blog" are better than you might expect for a show called "Dog with a Blog". I especially liked the psychologist dad, played by Regan Burns, a g-rated Louis C.K. type who punishes his daughter for lying by telling her to go to her room because there's a pony waiting for her there: "Now she'll associate lying with disappointment!"
But "Dog with a Blog" is doomed by its ridiculously hackneyed premise. Searching Twitter for "Dog with a Blog" reveals 1,000 variations of, "There's actually a show called 'Dog with a Blog?' SMH." And the show has been beset by real-life controversy as well: The internet culture blog Uproxx reported earlier this month that the original dog from "Dog with a Blog" was quietly, coldly fired and replaced due to minor contract dispute. At least "Dog with a Blog" gets one thing about being a professional blogger right.