Exploiting our Archives, Paternal Leave Edition: Paw Patrol Live: What the Fuck? No, Seriously, What the Fuck?

As I have documented extensively, July is Corey Feldman Month, AKA Feld-Month, AKA a terrible mistake, AKA “Why did I think this was a good idea?" It’s also Juggalo July, of course, what with the Oklahoma City Gathering of the Juggalos looming tantalizing in the very near future. Yet I just realized that July has another distinction here at Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place as well. 

The horror! The horror! 

The horror! The horror! 

It looks like July is accidentally going to be Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place’s Ju-Live as well, since for the first time, I will be writing about a series of live events and shows. There’s Corey Feldman and his Angels’ upcoming July show in Atlanta in July, of course, the climax to Feld-Month, as well as the Gathering. But the month’s live festivities kicked off on Saturday on a slightly less auspicious note with an event I’m sure all of you are very familiar with, and excited about, assuming that you are anywhere from two years to three and a half years old: Paw Patrol Live! 

Paw Patrol is a hypnotically inane Canadian children’s show about a dysfunctional dystopia called Adventure Bay ruled by an incompetent and corrupt narcissist of a mayor named Mayor Goodway who never appears to be do any actual work, preferring instead to engage in various ego-fueled competition with Mayor Humdinger, who isn’t really that much worse than Mayor Goodway, but has a mustache he spends most of his time stroking villainously, and also a predilection for cackling maniacally, so he is of course the bad guy. 

Goodway’s incompetence leads to constant crises in Adventure Bay, and when the town is in trouble, they call upon the services of Rider, a freakishly accomplished, seemingly parentless savant about ten years old who rules as the town’s unofficial Mayor, not to mention Fire Chief, Police Captain and every other job responsible adults should perform instead.

But Rider is not alone. He has the Paw Patrol, a collection of gratingly enthusiastic talking puppies outfitted with millions upon millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment and vehicles they can use to solve crises like someone losing their backpack. Paw Patrol understands all too well that kids love puppies, vehicles and gizmos so much that it if you combine them in one slick package, it doesn’t matter if the results are any good or not. 

That held doubly true for Paw Patrol Live, which brought the “magic” of Paw Patrol to life with big, mobile puppets of the various Paw Patrol puppies that were being controlled by puppeteers whose heads were clearly visible above the giant, complicated puppety contraptions they were riding around the stage. 

The effect was incredibly jarring. How could these children not experience intense, even traumatic cognitive dissonance looking at big puppets of their dog-heroes with the heads of grinning puppeteers jutting out of the puppets like some manner of hideous man-beast with the body and head of a dog but also the head of a puppeteer willing to prostitute their strange gifts for an easy paycheck? 

Gaze  not into the eyes of the puppeteers!

Gaze  not into the eyes of the puppeteers!

To me, these didn’t look like the Paw Patrol’s plucky Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Sky, Rubble and Everest so much as they resembled something that belonged on the Island of Dr. Moreau or in the worst, fucked-up nightmares of David Cronenberg, H.R Giger or H.P Lovecraft. 

I wanted to shout at the children, “Why aren’t you cringing in horror at these hideous beasts? Is this not a mutation of man and beast, puppy and puppeteer, out of your worst nightmares? Why are you accepting that these mutations are your heroes and not a hideous lie being forced upon you by cynical adults?” 

How could children gaze at these abominations and not see modern-day distortions of the Egyptian dog God Anubis, rather than their cuddly, problem-solving canine heroes? 

To make matters worse, the puppeteers cursed with playing the puppies didn’t even try to get the voices right, although, to be fair, every puppy’s voice is essentially the high-pitched squeal of a personality-less but very friendly and helpful Good Samaritan interchangeable from all the others. Except for Sky. She’s a girl. And Everest. She’s a girl too. 

When the members of the Paw Patrol come out on stage, they bust an introductory “rap” whose lyrics I would love to share with you except as soon as my brain saw that the Paw Patrol were rapping, it went into a dark cave and stayed there until they had stopped. 

These are the forced smiles of two men who do not enjoy their job. Who can blame them? 

These are the forced smiles of two men who do not enjoy their job. Who can blame them? 

Paw Patrol Live somehow managed to be way worse than the show that inspired it. The live touring company took something that was already clamorous and numbingly repetitive, and made it even more tacky and mercenary. 

The kids ate it up, however, even an audience interaction bit where the “actress” playing Mayor Goodway asked a pair of audience members for their response to all the action and being two years olds, they just sort of stared at her blankly until she asked someone else. It was a rare moment of spontaneity in what was otherwise one solid hour of garbage nearly identical to the garbage my son adores in its television form, but also somehow worse. 

I was kind of hoping that seeing Paw Patrol Live would cure Declan of his affection for Paw Patrol, that seeing such a shoddy, sub-par performance would make him realize just how awful and threadbare the show is. Instead, the opposite held true. Every terrible aspect of the live show had Declan spell-bound. He was transported despite the amateur nature of the whole garish spectacle. 

And that’s the important thing, right?  The only thing that really matters when it comes to Paw Patrol Live is that Declan had a blast. He was out of his seat, literally jumping up and down with excitement. 

But seriously, though, fuck Paw Patrol Live. 

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