If Pretzel and the Puppies doesn’t charm you, you’re probably dead [Apple TV+ review]


Puppy Puck (voiced by Max Mitchell) in a scene from season two of ★★★☆☆
Cute pooches and wholesome lessons. What's not to like about Pretzel and the Puppies?
Image: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewPretzel and the Puppies, the adorable Apple TV+ kids’ show about a family of dachshunds and their gentle misadventures in their hometown of Muttgomery, returns for a second season today.

Created by relative newcomer Kim Howitt and veteran Steven Altiere (Scooby-Doo!, Dinotrux), this show serves up low-stakes lessons of acceptance and perseverance —  everything that needs to be reinforced during a child’s formative years. Plus, it’s got cute dogs animated with care. Nobody with a heart can say no to this charming animated series.

Pretzel and the Puppies season two recap

Season 2: As the second season kicks in, Pretzel Dachsy (voiced by Mark Duplass), the longest dachshund in the world, and his wife Greta (voice of Nasim Pedrad) have quite the handful to manage day to day. They have five puppies: Poppy (voice of Alex Jayne Go), Pippa (voice of Amari McCoy), Pedro (voice of Gracen Newton), Paxton (voice of Milo Stein) and Puck (voice of Max Mitchell).

They live in a town of dogs. And their kids have a lot of friends — and a lot of plans that sometimes require the application of important lessons about togetherness, teamwork and self-esteem.

In one of their storylines, they get a ball caught in a gutter (why a town full of dogs has gutters … better not think about it) and must team up with the other neighborhood puppies to think up a solution. In another, a friend of theirs faces a crisis: An allergy claims the fur on the top of her head, and now she can’t wear her favorite bow. Time for some creative wardrobe ideas.

And in another, the town square is littered with plastic bags, which are getting in the way of playtime. Better organize a clean-up operation! One of their friends is afraid of the garbage truck, so they need to figure out how to help him face his fears.

And so on. There’s nothing these cute puppies can’t figure out if they use their collective brains.

Pretzel logic

I’m reviewing this show because screeners were not provided for the first season. And though there’s really only so much to say about a kids’ show, it’s good to give it at least one season’s worth of consideration. But, in missing out on the first season, I missed some crucial (or anyway as crucial as can be in a show with no plot) backstory here. For instance, there’s no real reason I can see for Pretzel to be the longest dachshund in the world. But maybe they covered this already.

I also missed how one of the kids is in a kind of wheelchair — but not knowing is better in this case. Unemphatic representation means more. It’s not a big deal; it’s just part of their everyday lives.

Pretzel and the Puppies is about as fun and absorbing as Apple TV+’s Henson Studios creations, but falls short of the mark of things like Pinecone & Pony, El Deafo and the stellar Shape Islandwhich take real risks thematically, formally and aesthetically.

The animation in this one has that broad Dreamworks feel, and the performances are mostly great. Mark Duplass can’t fully give in to the demands of a performance on a kids’ show. I can hear him trying too hard and not hitting the mark. Nasim Pedrad has a wonderfully warm presence as their mother, though: A+ work from her. The kids are all stupendous — a perfect collection of lisps and the like, exactly as adorable as you’re thinking.

There’s not a whole lot that makes Pretzel and the Puppies a standout, but it makes for very easy viewing. Plus, your child is probably already in love with it. After all, we’re on season two.


Watch Pretzel and the Puppies on Apple TV+

You can now watch the first two seasons of Pretzel and the Puppies on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-Y

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.


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