The Petersons and their four-legged charges once again set out to teach us to love dogs — and ourselves in the process. The puppies are cute and plentiful, the lessons come hard and fast, and no problem is so difficult that it might stress out a child.
The show remains a pretty good afternoon time-waster for kids under 10.
Puppy Place review: Season Two
As season two of Puppy Place opens, the Peterson family — Charles (played by Riley Looc), Lizzie (Brooklynn MacKinzie), Mom (Dominique Toney) and Dad (Eric C. Lynch) — are still spending all their spare time fostering dogs and volunteering at the local animal shelter. Their parents are still on hand to temper their enthusiasm and help them parse the lessons they learn as they look after dogs.
For instance, Lizzie must learn how to be a better listener so her fellow shelter volunteers (Layla Alizada, Milos Jovanovic, Malcolm Fuller) don’t resent her for being a know-it-all. Charles needs to get over his fear of some canine breeds because of their cultural baggage, and he’s not helped at all by his friend Remy (Dylan Rodrigo) stoking his fears. Plus, Lizzie and Charles have to deal with little disappointments from friends (Anna Eppe, Declan Whaley, Benjamin Issa) before they turn into big emotional troubles on a rainy day.
They have to foster two young dogs who need constant care and attention, which tests their resolve and patience. Then they have to deal with the reality that, though these two dogs love each other, they might have to be adopted separately.
In order to do this, they must repair some friendships with their neighbors. The two kids can only have the puppies if they agree to let the dogs see each other on a regular basis, and they can only do that if they patch up their differences. Life is almost never this easy when kids are involved, but it’s a nice message to try and send all the same.
What has four legs and ticks?
The second season of Andrew Green‘s children’s show, based on the Puppy Place books by Ellen Miles, is just as easy to watch as the first. Child stars Looc and MacKinzie have gotten a little more comfortable in front of the camera. Well … Looc has, anyway. MacKinzie is still petrified from time to time by the presence of the camera out of naturalness.
It’s still a little distracting to have cute puppies playing in the corner of the screen when we’re meant to care about the domestic squabbles of the Petersons.
There’s also a little more money on the screen this time. The first episode, for instance, employs a running bit about how scared Charle is of a Rottweiler because there’s a popular comic book series with a villain of the same breed. So he starts seeing animated flashes of the dog looking like a comic book villain. Pretty good.
We also see little stabs at impressionistic, dog’s-eye view sequences, and the odd impressive composition. Supporting player Chris Schermerhorn, a trans actress, continues to do quietly impressive work as Mrs. Peterson’s friend Valerie.
Puppy Place is that kind of a show. It’s in no great rush to go anywhere, but everything it does comes from a place of decency and promotes a radical view of citizenship. It’s nice. Your kids will probably like it — and they’ll learn the right lessons.
Watch Puppy Place on Apple TV+
The second season of Puppy Palace premieres Friday on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.