With a toddler in the house, we have watched a lot of cartoons, sometimes with him and sometimes to see if we're okay with him watching the show. One program that has become a regular at our home is Paw Patrol, which is about a boy who is apparently a wealthy orphan using talking dogs as an all purpose rescue service. Seriously, it's like Bruce Wayne had more pets and much better therapy.
The show has grown on me as we have watched more and more of it. And the klutzy but determined Dalmatian Marshall has grown to be my favorite character. And, of course he's the one who drives the miniature fire truck since he's a Dalmatian. He has become my Han Solo to Chase the police dog's Luke.
The show's writers certainly have done a good job making Marshall endearing. His clumsiness gives him the most visible flaw of all the pups and makes his perseverance all the more heroic. However, it was the episode 'Pups Save an Adventure' that cemented him as my favorite.
It's actually one of the least exciting stories in the entire series. Marshall teaches fire safety to little boy Alex when he goes camping with his grandfather. It could easily work as a public safety announcement and it doesn't seem to get as much airtime as many more thrilling episodes.
But the reason why the episode has stuck with me and won Marshall to my heart is that, in his area of expertise, Marshall is 100% competent. It's abundantly clear he didn't get his job just because he has spots. You need someone who is an expert on fire safety and fire prevention who is also a talking dog? First of all, you're really specific in your demands and, second, you're looking for Marshall.
He doesn't get the job done by being lucky. He gets it done by knowing what to do, even if he is comic relief. Marshall may be a hero because he's determined but he's a good rescue dog because he's got legit skills.
It really feels like cartoons that bridge the gap between education and entertainment are doing a better job at creating interesting role models. Thirty years ago, Marshall would have been a goofball and a load. Now he's a clumsy professional.