A Dog and a Half: “Grounded” review

“Circumstances of birth are nothing more than random, and should never be a source of pride or shame.” – Penn Jillette, Penn and Teller: Bullshit, Season 4 Episode 7: Reparations

I don’t really know why people think their ancestry actually matters. I guess it’s because of this weird obsession some people have with the past.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?, which takes celebrities on a tour of their ancestry. And the title is enough to annoy the hell out of me. I’m sure it’s interesting to learn what our ancestors did for a living, but saying that in any way tells us who we are (as implied by the title), is just fucking asinine! But I guess, Who Do You Think Your Ancestors Were? doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

I’ve said all this before. The only practical thing genealogy teaches us is: What type of genetic predispositions we have to certain illnesses. It’s not really useful to anyone other than medical professionals.

But what about ancestry in a broader sense? I hear you ask! Surely it matters if our ancestors come from Asia or the middle east! It’s our heritage, our culture! If our ancestors were from Africa, shouldn’t we start practising ancient African tribal religions? If our ancestors were Jewish, shouldn’t we start practising Judaism as well? And what about royalty!? Surely if we have pure royal blood, that’s something to be proud of! We should start wearing crowns, and demand to be called lady or lord or whatever!

No! No! No! No! And finally: No!

Whether our parents are Jewish, or African, or the King and Queen of Spain, or anything else, doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s certainly interesting, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t change who we are. I mean, if I found out I descended from Jewish people, I might gain a greater hatred for the events of World War II, but it wouldn’t change who I am, nor what I believe. And I wish this was a message that was told more often. But when they had the perfect opportunity to do so, the writers of Littlest Pet Shop decided to squander it instead. Which I find very fucking irritating.

The story begins as Blythe returns from taking Zoe and Minka out on a walk. Lamenting the fact that people are weirded out seeing a monkey on a leash.

I’m with Blythe, that’s not weird, that’s logical. You don’t want a monkey running around off-leash, she’ll cause a lot of trouble that way!

Just then, mail arrives for both Blythe and Twombly, and both are excited. Blythe just received two ballet tickets. She’s been waiting on these for a long time, and is so excited to be able to go. But her bubble is bursted when Roger walks in. He just lost his job.

That doesn’t really surprise me. In case you didn’t notice, that PetJet thing never really took off. I’m pretty sure it only had seven customers.

Actually, no, that’s not why he’s fired. He’s actually fired because, “every three years on the second Tuesday of the fourth month they lay off someone whose name begins with ‘B’ until four days before the next full moon that falls on a Saturday.” Because apparently, unions! Amirite!?

No seriously, that’s stupid, and random, and it makes no sense. I don’t know what the joke is supposed to be, especially considering I don’t see how a ‘union rule’ would involve screwing over a member of the union for no reason. But given that they did include that dig at unions, I’m guessing it was written by a Tory, boom. Oh, wait, the writers are American aren’t they? Republican then, boom.

And on that note, this is why Republicans, especially in this day and age, should not do comedy. Because they’re not funny. Every fucking conservative thinks that because Jon Stewart spent eight years straight doing nothing but making fun of George Bush, it’s fair play that they make fun of any random Democrat they can find. But they forget, or don’t realize, that the reason Jon Stewart did that was because George Bush was a laughable individual, and that’s not quite true when it comes to most Democrats. Obvious exception: Vice President Biden. Ah yes, no one’s an easier target than America’s Prince Philip.

But getting back on track. This apparently throws a wrench into the ballet plans. Why? She already paid for the tickets. Is she gonna have to return them? I don’t think they’ll let her. Scalping?

Anyway, Roger starts making himself busy by helping out at the pet shop. Which is apparently something he does. I actually remember him doing this kind of stuff before. He did some repairs at the shop while Twombly and Blythe were out for the whole day. And I thought Twombly was okay with it. But she seems nervous this time around. It’s not surprising, Roger’s incompetent. But still, why was she ever okay with it in the past? Kick him out! Say, “Roger, you suck.” And get him to leave. And he’s not allowed to do any more IT work!

Has he not even set up a home entertainment system?

Meanwhile, Twombly also got a package, remember? Yes, a DNA kit. It’s basically a little machine that can do genetic analysis on any animal. Well, they did have a home-built holographic projector in one episode, so I’ll buy anything.

Anyway, Twombly’s planning on selling these at the shop. But to ensure they’re reliable, she wants to test it first. Zoe’s up for it! After all, she already knows she’s a purebred. A purebred what? A purebred Shih Tzu? A purebred Maltese? A purebred Dachshund?

Probably not.

Anyway, she’s quite proud of her heritage. And brags about it constantly. So it’s only fitting that we discover that she’s not as purebred as we thought.

“Who am I if I’m not perfect, amazing and unique!?” she cries. Yes, it’s horrible that she’s not unique by being perfectly identical to every other purebred of her breed. She obviously doesn’t know what words mean. Unique would be some rare mixed breed. Like half Chihuahua, half Doberman.

But yes, according to the DNA test, she’s a mutt. What kind of mutt? Oh, just a mutt. Um… mutt is actually a synonym for mixed breed. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, it’s a bit derogatory. So what is she a mix of? Again, we’re not told.

Meanwhile, we also discover that Minka is actually a rare species of Monkey called a Minkey.

So, in light of this great news, all the other pets start coddling her, to watch out for her precious DNA.

But what about Zoe?

She’s not taking it well. I don’t understand the exact logic behind this, but apparently, she is now white trash. However, one thing does make sense, Zoe’s breakdown. You see, this was a dog who sorta defined herself by her heritage. And for her to find out it was all bunk can be quite unsettling.

Eventually, Minka realizes that she needs to bring some sanity into the pet shop. Which is ironic when you think about it.

She tries to talk some sense into Zoe by explaining that she’s still the same dog she always was. She quickly agrees, and decides to prove it by belting out an amazing song, but instead coughs up a hairball. Well, that was unexpected.

At this point, I think Minka’s brain broke, because she suddenly decides to take the opposite approach, and together, they decide to embrace the DNA results.

Da hell just happened? Why is she from Brooklyn? Yes, for some reason, Zoe decided to completely alter her personality into a what-the-fuck-are-you-looking-at persona. In your face, arrogant, slovenly and rude.

But what about Minka?

She ends up acting as if she deserves getting everything handed to her on a silver platter. Because she decided to alter her personality into an arrogant-cunt persona. Turning up her nose, arrogant, pretentious and rude.

So basically, everything’s fucked. That is, until we learn that Twombly read the results wrong. How exactly she misread that in such a drastic way, I have no idea. Anyway, turns out Minka’s just a normal monkey, and Zoe is a purebred, er, Zoe.

Well, that undermined half the episode didn’t it? And this really bugs me. Oh, sure, the episode could’ve ended with Minka learning that being a rare species doesn’t make her better than anyone else, and with Zoe learning that there’s really nothing wrong with being a mutt. But that didn’t happen.

You know, I’m really bothered by this. What’s wrong with being a mutt? The President of the United States is a mutt! I’m a mutt! My father’s half of the family tree apparently comes from all over the place!

But the big point is that Zoe didn’t have to change her personality in response to this knowledge. I just don’t think it’s right to send the message that who your parents are actually matters.

I mean, another show did a great job of subverting that idea: My Little Pony.

Say what you want about the Princess Twilight saga, I certainly did, but if it did one thing right, it was sending the message that you didn’t have to be born into royalty, to be worthy of royalty. It really turned the whole idea of royalty on its head. And now, ‘royalty’ means something completely different. I really like that.

And relevantly, the very next episode after its introduction established the fact that Twilight shouldn’t act differently, or be treated differently, because of it. She’s still the same pony she always was. And she’ll prove that, when she has her next mental breakdown.

But when the opportunity to put out the same message appeared on Littlest Pet Shop, they completely brushed it off. It would’ve been great for the episode to end with Blythe knocking some sense into them. Telling Zoe she’s still the same, genteel and elegant girl she always was. But that doesn’t happen.

Of course, we can forgive Blythe for that, since she had other things on her mind.

Because while all this is happening, Roger was still laid off, and at his daughter’s urging, decides to find another job. And he does.

That’s right, he’s now the personal driver and assistant to the Biskits. This is gonna end well.

Or it’ll end in a musical number.

The song itself isn’t bad. Well it is at first. And then there’s a point in the middle. Actually it is pretty bad. But it does have plot significance, and I’m not sure how.

All we get is Roger singing that the Biskits should be nice, and that they should work hard, and the Biskets singing, ‘fuck that.’ Then, halfway through, Whittany and Brittany’s personalities take a complete 180.

How, and why?

See, the thing is, making it into a musical number, doesn’t mean you don’t have to explain it. It’s like they just gloss over this complete upheaval of characterization.

And really, it was unnecessary. The entire song could be skipped over, without impacting the plot in any way. Since it doesn’t come into play from that moment forward. The very next scene explains that the two of them are actually having fun with Roger, which is apparently a new experience for the Biskits. And really, that was all that was needed. They didn’t need the musical number

So suddenly, in the middle of a board game, Roger has to go home, disappointing the Biskits. So, they try to get him to stay, but it gets harder once Blythe arrives, suggesting both her and her father walk home together. She also shows off a new dress she picked up from a nearby thrift store, which disgusts the Biskits. Apparently they have an aversion to pre-owned clothing.

But once she mentions that she’s gonna wear it to the ballet that night, Whittany suddenly suggests that they should go see the Russian ballet, in Russia, and have Roger fly them there on their private jet. Which causes his eyes to light up. Apparently, he misses flying. I don’t blame him, and neither does Blythe, so she lets him go.

So, with her father in Russia, with the Biskits, you can understand Blythe’s lack of interest in the DNA issue.

On the way to the airport, the Biskits start making digs at Blythe’s used dress and used clothing in general. They even brag about the fact that they only wear each dress once before discarding it. Okay, I know that’s a lie. I’ve watched this show for over a year now and they wear the same outfits every week! They never change their wardrobe! Ever! So they’re full of shit!

But with all their quips, Roger quickly snaps and drives them back home. Fuck flying, and fuck the ballet! Also, fuck employment since he’s immediately fired.

He goes back to Blythe, begs forgiveness, and immediately gets a phone call telling him he got his job at the airline back.

So the episode ends with nothing changing, and no one learning anything.

You know, the biggest problem with that entire plot thread was the reasoning behind Roger getting fired. It made no sense! I can certainly write a better one. Here we go!

On a day his regular copilot is sick, a new rookie pilot is assigned to the PetJet. And during his first landing, he messes up, and as a result, the plane flip five times. How does the plane flip five times? No idea. In fact, that shouldn’t be possible, which is where the humour comes in. We’ll say it just flips end over end in a ridiculous comedy sequence.

Thankfully, no one is hurt, because it wouldn’t be funny otherwise. But as a consequence, Roger is grounded until the investigation completes. Which is likely to find him not at fault.

See, that’s much better than: Unions, amirite!?

So obviously this episode was shit, right? Well, no! It was actually really good. Well written, and quite entertaining. Obviously there are a few nitpicks. That song in the middle was just irritating and pointless. And there’s a tinge of racism in the B-plot, which I find unsettling. But overall, I really liked it.

And I’m glad. Sure the episode could’ve been better, but that’s true of everything. I just hope this is the last time we see such blatant racism on this show. I doubt I’ll be as kind the next time.


3 responses to “A Dog and a Half: “Grounded” review

  1. Besides all my unfortunate rambling, you’re right – I have no right to say how something is going to be when opinions always differ. Apologies are in order from me, myself, and I if I’ve pissed you off with my recent comments…

  2. Hell, it’s only because of what you pointed out about Blythe in the situation that this episode doesn’t completely suck, as much as it angered me, unfortunately, unlike Shanghai Hi – Jinks (then again, I’m not disagreeing with you on how stereotypes are a terrible, terrible thing (just one reason to hate that episode, for example. Not one bit…).

  3. Just one more episode I expected to be hated on arrival – this surprises me that you didn’t, same with another reviewer, surprisingly.

    I only really liked this episode because of Blythe thankfully NOT butting in (which almost happened) and Roger… just ROGER. He’s an alright character, he is!

    Other than that, I still hate those twins. So inconsistently written and so unlikable / unpalatable overall (they have everything, why make fools of themselves and insult the viewers by competing with someone who doesn’t even want to give them the time of day, due to how unbearable they are!)…

    Episodes like these always seem to prove what a detriment they can be to this show, sadly.

    And thanks to what you pointed out, and how dull the subplot was for the pets’, it’s no surprise this episode is mid – tier at best, but low – tier at worst, due to all of these issues.

Speak your mind!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s