Downward Dog Premiere Recap ABC

Downward Dog: Is Allison Tolman's New ABC Comedy Fetching?

Either you think that a dog spouting therapy-speak while he addresses a confessional-style camera is funny, or you don’t.

If you do — and I count myself in this camp — then the premiere of ABC’s Downward Dog is a sweetly funny little belly rub of a show that premiered Wednesday (9:30/8:30c). If you don’t, then the comedy is an odd project for Allison Tolman to choose as her first post-Fargo series-regular role.

Either way, we want to know what you thought of the debut. But first, a quick recap:

Tolman plays Nan, a Pittsburgh-based copywriter who works for a clothing company and who recently broke up with her boyfriend, Jason (Lucas Neff, Raising Hope). Though she misses him desperately, their split was amicable. And when he visits to pick up his motorcycle, they wind up having sex.

This irks Martin, Nan’s dog, who’s already feeling dejected thanks to her long work house. How do we know this? Because Martin spills all of his feelings to the camera, like he’s in The Office or Parks and Recreation. The pooch bemoans how he feels he’s “just getting zero help” in household tasks like monitoring the scary vacuum cleaner or the mentally unstable neighborhood cat, and he considers obedience class “couples’ therapy.”

So after Jason and Nan’s post-breakup hookup, Martin acts out, destroying a presentation she’d planned to pitch to her company’s big marketing guy. On the fly, she pulls together a bunch of photos of her and Martin and pitches the idea of unconditional love, instead.

“Every day, [Martin] still looks at me exactly the same way, like I am the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. And I just thought, what if I could see myself the way my dog sees me?” she says. Though Nan’s douchey boss hates it, the big boss loves it, and the company decides to move forward with her “Look at how beautiful you are” campaign.

Nan gets the good news while she’s out for a walk with Martin, who’s just happy that she’s committing to their daily constitutionals rather than shooing him out the door to do his business in the sideyard.

“It’s so vulnerable to love somebody this much,” he later tells the camera. But he’s going to stick around, because “I literally can’t quit her.”

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the premiere? Grade the episode via the poll below, then hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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43 Comments
  1. Tom says:

    Martin’s monologue towards the end really moved me, and then the tag had me laughing. 11 out of 10, would totally recommend.

  2. Nicole says:

    I loved it!!! Just what I need a sweet funny comedy that makes you smile and happy. :-)

  3. Lisa Echerd says:

    Well, it was, ah, like, listening to ah, a like, teenage girl, like, talk, or something.

  4. Van says:

    What the hell was that? It was boring, I didn’t laugh once.

  5. Catherine Lucchetti says:

    It was okay but made me think of my male dog that just past away and I broke down bc how I know how he cared and loved me more than anything (except food). I can not watch this show again bc how it brought out my feelings of loss and endearment to my sweet Sam.

    • TV Gord says:

      It might help you to heal. It might make you process the sense of loss and make you smile when you think of your pup instead of cry. (Just a thought. My heart goes out to you.)

    • Heidi says:

      I’m in the same boat, Catherine. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, but can’t stand to watch. My pupper has been missing for two weeks now and seeing such a happy dog, with his family, at home, is a bit unbearable to watch. Muxh luck to the show, though.

  6. I like the concept of the show, but the dialogue was annoying. They need to cut way back on the use of the word “like”. Like maybe, like just remove the word like from their like dictionary?

    • TV Gord says:

      It’s a talking dog! I think we can forgive a few “likes” here and there. I mean, it’s a TALKING DOG!!! :-D

      • Maureen E Lynn says:

        I like to think that dogs are more intelligent than your typical teenager.

        • You can’t remove the “likes!” They are the “shtick” of the dog’s character! I’m hooked on the show and his voice, his lilt, his “likes” have all become very endearing to me–enhancing the humor of the dog’s personality.

          • TV Gord says:

            I have to admit that I have been swayed by the like-haters over the past few episodes, but tonight’s show won me over. I was about to delete it from my PVR after watching it twice, but I’m hanging onto it to watch this weekend, when I’m not so tired. I think they are really trying to say something, here, and I want to key into it. I know this will be a one-and-done series, but I’m curious enough to stick around until the, like, end. ;-)

    • Patrick says:

      I like it. I just worry that it will get old very quickly. They need to flesh out some supporting characters PDQ.

  7. Chuck says:

    I watched the pilot months ago and I felt so bad for the dog that I just couldn’t watch any more.

  8. Kailani says:

    LOVED it/Martin!!!

  9. Tom Wozniak says:

    Inventive show so far. The lead character is an advertising copywriter- anyone catch her full name towards the end of the premier? Nan Draper. I’m sure Grandpa Don is proud.

    • DryHeat says:

      Her last name on the show isn’t really “Draper;” he called her that because she Don Draper-ed that presentation. ;)

  10. Billy meacham says:

    Knowing abcs track record with cancelling shows, I’m not gonna even bother with this one.

  11. laurelnev says:

    I thought Imaginary Mary was better, and I’d watch neither were it not for the time slot. (In fact, I’ve started watching Empire live and FF through the 930 abc show when I time shift.) BLAH!! And I love Lucas Neff too!

  12. ScottJ says:

    Needs to be picked up with plastic gloves and dropped in the nearest bin.

  13. amy324 says:

    This show has heart and soul. Nothing compares to the unconditional love you get from your dog, and the writers make that point brilliantly. I already love and care about the characters. I hope this one sticks! 10/10

  14. TV Gord says:

    I like the melan-collie tone. It makes the show a bit more whimsical. somehow. I like it. I’m glad to have Lucas Neff back on TV. And, of course, Allison. I don’t imagine we’ll see a ninth episode, so I’m ready to enjoy it for what it is, as long as it is. Of course, a year from now, I’ll be reading all kinds of comments from people who miss it, and rolling my eyes at them.

    (I know it’s not collie. I was just amusing myself.)

  15. lizzie says:

    I mostly enjoyed this show. My only complaint was that Nan is not a very good dog owner. Martin was very lonely and neglected. I’m hoping that in the next episode, we’ll see her quit her job and start some kind of business on her own where she can work from home and give her dog the love he deserves.

  16. Ro says:

    The show is more appropriate for Hallmark or Lifetime. Love the concept, but it just highlights that busy, single people shouldn’t have a dog just to neglect it. At least get a dog sitter during the day if you’re working long hours. Had a couple of laughs, but don’t think the show will last very long.

  17. I wish the dog didn’t move his lips. If they just had the thoughts of the dog dubbed over the scenes like they do with Adult Adam on The Goldbergs it would be more believable. Loved Allison Tolman in Fargo so I’ll probably watch.

  18. Jean Reese says:

    I wanted to like it. I love the dog and Allison Tolman is great, but like, I can’t listen to a dog (as adorable as he is) using “like” as every other word in a sentence.

  19. Pat says:

    I love shows or movies that highlight dogs, especially talking dogs. Now I started to watch this, but half way through it, I just lost interest and turned the channel. I was so very disappointed, because I do give these new comedies a chance but for me this one was not that good.

  20. whmeade says:

    Smart, profoundly moving, inventive TV. Watched the premiere episode twice and laughed and cried each time. Very good.

  21. Catherine says:

    I can’t believe some of these comments. So people who work 9-5 jobs shouldn’t have a dog unless they get a dog sitter or take the dog to doggy daycare every day? That would make for a whole lot more dogs being put to sleep or sitting in shelters.

    Hoping the show gets a little better. I liked the beginning of the pilot but the end was more meh.

    • DryHeat says:

      Except she’s not working a 9-5 job! She’s gone for far longer than that, and now her boss tells her that she’ll be working extra nights and weekends. Perhaps someone like that is not the ideal dogowner.

      • amy324 says:

        1) Her ex-BF is going to be taking care of the dog during the day. 2) The dog sleeps in her bed and looks healthy. He’s not in a crate during the day. He’s better off being euthanized? 3) The reason Martin’s fun is gone (temporarily) is because Nan is in a slump. That’s the premise–the dog loves her anyway. 4) The writers are obviously dog lovers. 5) Speaking of writers, this is a tv show.

  22. Neil says:

    Someone please tell the writers to stop using the word ‘like’ every other freak’in word… there are many of us trying get people to stop sounding like valley girls — it is so 90’s, like you like know what I like mean?… how annoying does that get… it is one thing to use it one scene to make fun of it… but over and over and over just like the annoying people who do it in real life, it killed the show for me because it does not matter how funny, i won’t sit through the annoying repetition … grow up and help others grow up….

  23. Yoko says:

    Love love love this show so I’m sure it won’t get renewed

  24. Diane says:

    Clever,different & well done. With many dogs & animals being misunderstood and too often mistreated or worse, this is important message to send out to society.

  25. Amelia says:

    I’m in love with this show. My roommate and I laughed through the whole thing and I of course, cried at the end showing his path from the shelter. I’m not sure how long the concept can remain as funny, but as a dog lover/owner, I can’t wait to watch more.

  26. Barb says:

    The dog’s dialogue is entertaining, but do they really have to have him say the f word? For me that kinda ruins the “persona” they are trying to portray for him.