After my recent review of Disney’s Doc McStuffins, the girl with the God complex and absentee parents, I received several requests for another installment. While those requests came mainly from myself, I can’t very well disappoint the fans, now can I? So today I bring you another review of a children’s program; this time the TV adaptation of a well-known children’s book series “The Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa“.
Gaspard and Lisa follows the daily shenanigans of two young puppies in Paris. Yes, Paris…as in Paris, France. When I first came across this show, I found the setting odd, but it stays true to the original book series so I suppose I can deal with all the talk of baguettes and cheese. Before I go any further, I must also mention that up to the moment when I began this post, I didn’t even realize that the characters were dogs! There is absolutely no mention of them being dogs, they do not do doggie-type things, and quite frankly, the animation doesn’t do them any favors. In fact, prior to this post, I thought the two little Parisian pups were actually rabbits!
Anyway, their status within the animal kingdom, while still up for debate in my opinion, is not the only issue I have this show – though it is the most concerning. You see, Gaspard and Lisa (along with their respective families) are the only non-human characters on the show. This is not your typical pre-school aged cartoon about animals that talk. This is a show with two rabbit families…I mean dog families (damn you ambiguous animation) and a world full of people interacting with each other…and NO ONE THINKS THIS IS WEIRD!?
The puppies go to school with human children, have lunch with human friends, and treat other animals as animals (rather than their peers). As far as I can tell, the story is not set in the distant future where talking animals are the norm, so why is everyone alright with this? This elephant in the room that no one talks about really bothers me, probably more than it should, so I’ll move on to some other glaring issues with this show.
The general story-line of each episode follows this basic path; Gaspard and Lisa have some sort of “adventure” which involved a problem that eventually leads to a solution. Typical children’s programming which I have no problems with. What does concern me, however, is their vocabulary choices. At the age of six (which is the documented age of these kids/puppies), a child should be able to understand the difference between accidentally letting go of a balloon and…say…accidentally burning down a house. Like, if you asked a kid on a scale of 1-10 how those two “problems” rate, you’d probably get something like a “3″ and a “7″. Obviously skewed…but reasonable in the eyes of a six-year-old. However, no matter how small the problem, Gaspard and Lisa always react the same way…with the word “catastrophe”.
I just feel like their parents need to give these kids a little perspective, you know. Take them to a homeless shelter, have them volunteer with the Red Cross; show them what a real catastrophe looks like. Then maybe the next time their rubber ball bounces away from them, they’ll react more appropriately with a simple shrug of the shoulders and a “At least we still have our health.”
Now I try my best to get past the whole “talking animals in a world of humans” thing, but the show’s creators/animators don’t make it easy. Each and every episode, Gaspard and Lisa don their signature blue and red scarves…and nothing else. Gaspard’s father? A tie…and nothing else. Yet all the human adults and children with whom these pint-sized puppies interact with on a daily basis are in full garb, as society dictates. Why is it that the dogs are immune to these cultural and societal rules? If we are to believe that their presence in a world of people is perfectly natural, shouldn’t they also be dressed appropriately? I’m not trying to pull the species card here, but come on guys, give me a break!
So in conclusion, what we are presented with here is a story of two animals with very little perspective on the real world and no respect for society’s standards, having daily adventures with human beings as if it were perfectly normal. Again…NO ONE THINKS THIS IS WEIRD! The world of children’s programming…isn’t it great?