The Canine and the Frog: “To Paris With Zoe” review

The weird thing about romance in your typical, modern-day, Saturday morning cartoon, is that it’s not often portrayed on-screen.

This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. In the case of some shows, like Littlest Pet Shop, or My Life as a Teenage Robot, our main cast is composed of teenagers. And generally, teenagers get involved in romance, whether they want to or not. Obviously this is not true in all cases. But I remember when I was in high school, around fifty per cent of all students were in some type of relationship. Not only that, even if you’re not in a relationship, at that time of your life you tend to want one. So in those shows, a lack of romantic sub-plots, would feel like they’re actively avoiding it for no reason.

On the other hand, having every episode feature that kinda thing would actually be… kinda sad. And it would get stomach churning pretty quickly. Imagine every episode featuring our main characters doing nothing but talking about the opposite sex. And even if it didn’t make you sick, there’s no way to make likeable characters out of that. If they’re girls, they’d come off as vapid stereotypes; and if they’re boys, they’d come off as slimy pickup-artists.

However, if they only feature romance once, where a main character crushes on a one-shot character we’ll never see again, then that one-shot character will get so little characterization, and be so pointlessly bland, that our hero might as well fall in love with a brick!

Flash SentryJosh Sharp

Oh, you knew I was gonna bring up these two. And you’re thinking, what exactly do our heroes find so attractive in these characters!? They’re not interesting, they do very little, they have nothing in common with the girls… and yet, our heroes fall in love with these characters at the drop of a hat. Suddenly, Blythe and Twilight seem pretty shallow, don’t they?

Then again, one’s into fashion, and the other’s a princess, so… this isn’t exactly new.

However, that’s quite natural for a hormone-infused teenager. A pretty face is all that’s needed for one to turn starry-eyed. But eventually, that kind of relationship would collapse. Eventually, one of them would realize that their love had been built on nothing, and either torpedo the relationship, or just put it out of its own misery. It’s most likely they’d realize this when they find that they’re bored out of their fucking minds around their significant other.

Which, thankfully, Zoe learned quite quickly on a recent Littlest Pet Shop, as she makes a special trip to France of all countries, and falls in love. It’s not contrived or anything.

Our story starts at the pet shop, where Blythe is studying for French class, and knows not a lick of it. So Pepper tries to help her by reciting some French. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know French either so…

Yeah.

So Blythe doesn’t know any French. Which is why it confuses me when she gets so excited about the sudden opportunity she has to go to Paris, France. You see, that’s where they speak French.

Even the pets are excited, despite the fact that they ain’t goin’.

But the reason for this little trip is Zoe. She’s participating in a dog show over there, and since her owners are ill, someone needs to watch after her, and because Blythe can talk to animals, she’s the perfect fit. Wait, they don’t know that. So, I don’t know why they picked Blythe. I guess no one else could be asked.

On the plane, Blythe meets her father’s copilot’s daughter, Emma.

Her lifelong dream is to be a travel guide, and lead tours. That’s right, aim high.

Okay, seriously, what!? Travel guide? That’s her dream? I mean I could understand travel writer, or travel agent, or travel television presenter. But travel guide? Not to diss travel guides, I mean sure, they’re nice, but that’s kind of an entry-level thing. Saying your dream is to be a travel guide, is like saying your dream is to be a dishwasher! Sure, valuable position, but I highly doubt anyone would want to do that for their entire lives.

But Blythe isn’t here to talk to some future tour guide, she’s here to look after Zoe. Whom she finds pretty easily since there’s no one else on the plane.

Wow, this PetJet thing is really taking off innit?

Meanwhile, at the pet shop, the gang is getting ready to watch the dog show, which is apparently being broadcast on television. But unfortunately, Vinnie finds the insect channel, and refuses to let anyone watch anything else. Which is a plotline that goes absolutely nowhere. Not only that, it doesn’t even make sense. Why is Vinnie obsessing over the insect channel? Sure, insects are a part of his diet, but he’s well aware that it’s just a TV show. There’s no indication he’s confusing it for reality. So, what the hell?

But we do get a bizarre musical number where the remaining five pets sing about how great Paris is. It’s bizarre for a few reasons, but the biggest oddity happens when Sunil’s singing about romance.

That’s right, he’s wooing a human. What the fuck!? How hard would it have been to design a female mongoose for that role!? Or even, some other small furry animal. He could woo a squirrel, I’d be fine with that! Why the fuck would he be wooing a human!? I know what you’re thinking: Why wouldn’t he be wooing a human? He’s a mongoose, that’s why! He’s also a quarter her height, and she wouldn’t even understand him! Sure, it’s a fantasy, but it’s supposed to be Sunil’s fantasy, and I just don’t see why his fantasy would involve romancing a human! And not only that, I think I know why it was written this way. Because it was written by humans, and their mind defaulted to: “Every species wants to fuck a human.” That’s the same kinda shit that was in the Star Wars Holiday Special, and time has not sweetened the concept! It was stupid then, and it’s stupid now! At least in Star Trek, every alien species looked sorta human, so you could buy cross-species wooing in that context. Not true here.

Not only that, I don’t think there should’ve been any humans in this number, with the exception of Van Gogh’s appearance. Because there are a few more and I honestly think it would’ve made more sense if their fantasy was less human-centric. They’re not humans, why the fuck would they be fantasizing about humans! The PetJet fantasy made more sense than this!

But back in Paris, Zoe and Blythe are on their way to the dog show, where a street mime named Philippe catches Zoe’s attention.

And look, he’s a dog, like you’d expect. I know some may say it’s a bit odd to see a dog as a street mime. But given the universe this show takes place in, it works.

Anyway, Zoe immediately finds herself wooed. And also, quite distracted.

Pay attention! Someone’s talking to you!

The next day, Zoe’s still smitten by the street mime, and is continually daydreaming about him. Then Emma arrives, and offers to bring Blythe exploring. On that note, I find Emma annoying. It’s not just the, “I wanna be a tour guide,” thing. It’s just-she’s stupid. She also speaks with the heaviest American accent I’ve ever heard, even when she’s trying to speak another language. Generally, if you want to learn another language, like she would have to if she wanted to be a tour guide in a foreign country, and you want to speak it properly, you’d want to try to speak in the native accent. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to pronounce things properly. Also, throughout the episode, she starts pulling out travel books of other countries. Why did she even bring a map of Tokyo, when she’s not in Tokyo!?

But Blythe apparently doesn’t mind the moron, so she decides to drop Zoe off at the dog show early, while she explores the city with her new friend.

Which is an opportunity Zoe takes advantage of, by ditching the dog show in order to meet up with Philippe. And when she finds him, he ends up doing his standard mime performance, which Zoe interprets as declarations of his love for her, because she’s thick.

So, she drags him over to the dog show, to meet her friend, and former rival, Madame Pom.

And Pom responds by taking Zoe aside and telling her that her feelings are wrong. It doesn’t end well.

It’s a very important scene, as Pom tries to talk some sense into her. Pom is on the outside, and can see things a lot more clearly. She can see that Philippe is really just a street performer without an off switch, and Zoe’s blinded by her infatuation. But because Zoe’s blinded by her infatuation, she refuses to believe it, and runs off with her love.

Meanwhile, at the other end of town, Blythe is in a café, enjoying a café. That’s right, she’s in a coffee, drinking a coffee. I don’t understand French.

But unfortunately, time got away from her, and she suddenly realizes she has only a few minutes to get back to the dog show. And she doesn’t even know which way to go. All she knows is that it’s near the Eiffel Tower. So? Scan the skyline for the Eiffel Tower, it’s pretty easy to spot isn’t it?

So, Emma suggests catching a cab, which seems to be the goto method in these situations. But then, Sod’s Law.

The girl is cursed.

Meanwhile, Zoe and Philippe are skipping down the street, and he keeps doing his mime routine.

So Zoe tries to coax him into saying something, anything, but he doesn’t. Because he’s a mime.

You know, I remember doing some mime work in high school. I was in a drama program, and a supermarket was opening, so they recruited our class to act as entertainment during their grand opening. And one of the rules I remember quite clearly, was that one is to never talk… ever. Though at some stage, one should know when the act is over. When they should quit. When they should fucking say something. But he doesn’t.

And I guess it’s at this moment that Pom’s words finally sink in. Because Zoe suddenly realizes how stupid she was being, and runs back to the dog show, hoping she can still make it back in time.

But Blythe won’t make it in time, since she’s still stuck in traffic. So Emma comes up with a solution to beat the traffic jam.

By climbing over cars. Like many superheroes, Blythe gets around in an atypical fashion, I love that!

Back at the dog show, Zoe arrives just in time to learn that she’s been disqualified for being late. Nonetheless, she apologizes to Pom for being so insolent. And right on cue, Blythe arrives, not even out of breath, oddly. But since Zoe’s disqualified, the dress she designed is useless. Until Pom comes up with a solution.

She signs up with Zoe as a double act.

How they actually managed to inform the judges of this is beyond me. I guess they used Blythe as an intermediary, but how Blythe managed to convince Pom’s owners is again, beyond me.

They blow the crowd away, even causing one man to have a stroke.

The fuck is that!? I keep expecting him to tear in half and have a green tentacled alien beast appear in his place.

Anyway, they win instantly, somehow, and the episode ends, happily ever after.

I think the most valuable take away from this episode is that love can mess with your head. It can make you see things that aren’t there. It can put you in denial.

I love the fact that this episode features Zoe falling in love with a block of wood, and later on, realizing that he’s a block of wood. It’s much more realistic than any other romance subplot on this show. Hopefully, any future romantic storylines would either feature this kind of progression, or actual personalities.

Come on writers, I’m sure you can write characters if you put your minds to it. Give it a shot!

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