Rookie of the Year

I Fought the PAW and the PAW Won

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #99. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath, who adds any typos or factual errors that might appear within.

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There’s a television show that hits it out of the bark. A show that rolls over but never plays dead. A show that’s such a treat I watch it nearly every doggone day.

No, faithful reader(s), it’s not Twin Peaks. But since you brought it up, I will say that this TV show can be aptly described as my toddler’s Twin Peaks – a show he loves so much he dances around the room in joy when it’s on, just like his dad does as Angelo Badalamenti’s iconic theme song drifts over Snoqualmie Falls.

The show is PAW Patrol.

Now I don’t claim to be the resident PAW Patrol expert – that title belongs to my mother-in-law, who has always been a trivia savant and now has a treasure trove of fun facts about the Canadian cartoon series that airs incessantly on Nick Jr. She’s watched so often she knows the personality and history of each character, that it’s always Marshall who trips or flips into the Lookout, that Everest wasn’t in the Sea Patrol until the episode we’ve now watched a half-dozen times in which she’s at last conscripted. My mother-in-law even knew that each dog’s vehicle is numbered in the order in which the pup joined the PAW Patrol – something I thought impossible to know until I found the fact on a Google search and tried to stump her.

But I have learned a few things myself, too, as I’ve watched it (and read my son books based on it, and drew and painted with him using his 50-piece PAW Patrol art set). Here, for the sake of my sanity, are just some of them:

    • “PAW” is uppercase for a reason. According to the creators of the show, it stands for either “Pups At Work” or “Protect And Wag.” This is the most useless piece of knowledge I have ever acquired.

 

    • Because dogs don’t have arms, each member of the PAW Patrol has a “pup pack” which produces the right tool for any given operation – while often defying the laws of physics in the process. The fire hose in Marshall’s pup pack, for instance, has an impossible amount of water in it and could presumably be tasked with putting out a five-alarm fire, then filling an Olympic-sized swimming pool so the pups can have a celebratory swim afterward. In an episode we recently watched, Rocky’s pup pack is rendered useless because he loses his voice and cannot activate it. The PAW Patrol solves the problem by getting a parrot to fly into a tree – with a perfect boomerang throw of a cracker – and mimic the words “screwdriver” and “hammer,” both of which pop right out, hit their marks, and, yes, immediately save the day.

 

    • Skye, who drives an airplane, is “competent.” At least that is how The Wife of the Year described her to The Son of the Year after first calling her “pretty” and realizing she was unwittingly perpetuating the patriarchy.

 

    • When PAW Patrol is on, I am in charge of fast-forwarding past the commercials while my son shouts, “More PAW Patrol! More PAW Patrol!” Otherwise, I am considered redundant and ignored entirely.

 

    • The land in which the pups live – Adventure Bay – is just a short drive from each of the following: a sun-drenched beach, a tropical forest, lush country farmland, desert mountains, snow-covered mountains, the arctic.

 

    • All daring rescues in the show have the following in common: no matter how dire the emergency, there is always enough time for the PAW Patrol to convene at the Lookout, laugh as Marshall fumbles his way onto the elevator, crack jokes and deliver catchphrases, watch a less sophisticated cartoon rendering of the pending disaster, assign specific tasks to the dogs and then return to the scene – since they are often either already there before they leave for the Lookout, or nearby.

 

    • Some style and design elements appear to be cribbed from Super Mario 64 and Mario Cart. Maybe it’s all in my head, but since seeing inside the headquarters of another new favorite show in our house – Top Wing – I am now convinced the games have built a lasting legacy on children’s cable TV programming. (Take a look at that TW staircase and let me know what you think.)

 

    • When the PAW Patrol becomes the Sea Patrol for underwater adventures – in some cases in cahoots with magical canine mermaids called MerPups – my toddler thinks it’s a totally new show. “Sea Patrol, Dada. Sea Patrol,” he insists.

 

    • The mayor of Adventure Bay, who carries a pet chicken named Chickaletta in her purse, is benevolent. The mayor of the neighboring town of Foggybottom is a buffoon perpetually attempting in vain to cause chaos and unrest in picturesque Adventure Bay, while at the same time choosing to spend a suspicious amount of his leisure time there. His Cat-astrophe Crew, made up of Foggybottom felines, each has an outfit that’s but a poor imitation of members of the PAW Patrol.

 

    • I do not know if the leader of the PAW Patrol – Ryder – is an adult or a child. My mother-in-law says child. “An eccentric midget millionaire,” she tells me. “I have a whole backstory for him.” She describes him as a Batman-type with expensive toys who “would rather be with dogs than people.”

 

    • Ok, this one is also from my mother-in-law: There’s a giant milkshake cup on the top of the local ice cream shop that is constantly falling off. “The mayor has broken it, the monkeys have broken it . . . and they just keep putting it back up.”

 

  • And one more from her: Adventure Bay supposedly has a bustling downtown, but whenever there is a gathering – say, for a performance at City Hall or even for an A-list pop singer in town on a world tour – there are but the same dozen or so people in attendance each time. “It’s sort of a Twilight Zone Just storefronts,” she says. “There’s this one couple you see together. And then there’s a couple random single people. I don’t know if everyone else is just a recluse or what.”

Perhaps this column should have been written by my mother-in-paw, er, law. But that’s a moot point – both of us have just heard the Pavlovian call.

PAW Patrol please!”

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Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at ESPN.com. He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.

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