Ever wondered what your dog is thinking? That is pretty much the premise of a new ABC comedy.
“Downward Dog” features a talking dog, voiced by series co-creator Samm Hodges, who deals with the same feelings and insecurities we all do. The humans in Martin’s life can not hear him speaking — only the audience can understand him when he speaks to the camera during what can best be described as canine confessionals. It’s sort of like the John Travolta movie “Look Who’s Talking” meets the MTV’s “Real World.”
“In a lot of the ways, he’s the millennial male, very emotionally sensitive,” Hodges told The Hollywood Reporter. “So we tried to lean into a little of that with our stories. He’s trying to figure out what it means to be alive, like we all are.”
The show centers on Martin’s relationship with his owner, Nan, played by Allison Tolman, who struggles with her career and love life. Co-creator Michael Killen says they are going for the “big emotional moments” instead of the moments with the biggest laugh, but they definitely incorporated humor into the show. It is, after all, billed as a comedy.
For example, Martin doesn’t understand that Nan goes to work when she leaves in the morning. He thinks she’s just out driving around town with the wind blowing in her hair without him.
“I get that it’s fun to just drive around all day,” he says in the show’s preview trailer. “I would love that, too. I’ve actually made that pretty obvious.”
— Downward Dog (@downwarddog_abc) January 10, 2017
The best part is the creators got a rescue dog to play the role of Martin. His real name is Ned, and he had been living at a Chicago animal shelter for 1 ½ years when they found him. He got the job because of the “human-like intensity” in his eyes.
“He was unadoptable… but our trainer worked with him a lot and by the time we started shooting, he was a real pro,” Killen told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Downward Dog” airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC. The pilot episode premiers tonight, May 17.