I don’t love Clifford the Big Red Dog

Class, for today’s lesson in media criticism, we are going to look at a 90’s classic: “Clifford the Big Red Dog” an endearing yet fantastical tale of a girl and her oversize hound. They got into adventures, he solved problems, he could talk to his two dog friends – who am I kidding? I don’t care, I basically have some big issues with the intro and you’re gonna hear them.

Watch the following video, remember to make notes in your copybooks.

“Hi, my names Emily Elizabeth and this is Clifford, my big red dog.” Perhaps slightly unnecessary but hey, solid character development here. Our protagonists are introduced. Not a significant complaint.

Singing begins.

“Clifford needed Emily, so she chose him for her own…” Laying aside the fact that Emily, despite being a little girl, is perceptive enough to know that a particular dog needs her (as the word “so” implies), Jason Michael does a charming rendition of this theme tune. It’s no “Pinky and the Brain”, but few things are.

“and her love made Clifford grow so big.” Now you might assume that this is my issue. But it ain’t. Can I believe that there is a world where love makes dogs grow bigger? Yes. Absolutely. It’s a fundamental principle of the show that there is a big dog. No more unreasonable than if there were is a dog that could talk or if pterodactyls and humans coexisted. Perhaps I’m labouring the point. It’s like there’s a ring that makes people invisible, but actually it’s a girl whose love makes dogs bigger.

So that’s fine. Though you do have to wonder why all the other normal-sized dog’s owners hate them so much.

“that the Howards had to leave their home” PROBLEM 1: This just reeks of chronic mismanagement. In the video we see that Clifford sticks his head out of the window of their apartment block. Why did they not pre-empt this? Surely once you have issues taking the dog through the door you don’t leave him inside the house to grow even larger? He clearly fills the entire block at this stage which means he’s not only destroyed their flat but the flat beneath them. Do they not understand the lack of housing that plagues most large cities? And how did they get the dog out. They had to knock down the house, that’s how. (I’m going to assume we were watching a timelapse of dog growth otherwise Emily Elizabeth REALLY grew to love that dog in a REALLY short time frame, let’s hope she never loves a person).

“Clifford’s the best friend anyone could know” Debatable surely? Also why is Emily riding without a saddle. Lax parenting. Not that we should be surprised.

“He’s the greatest dog ever, I really think so!” Do you, well that’s great. Are you qualified? Have you seen all the other dogs. I mean yeah, he’s big, but he occasionally does destroy your house. And where are we getting these massive dog biscuits from? This isn’t the Great British Bake Off.

“Clifford’s so loyal, he’s there when you call.” PROBLEM 2: WELL CLEARLY. Watch the video; she shouts and then the shot changes but you can still see her arm moving down, so no time has passed and he’s right in front of her. She shouts for him, not seeing the 25ft dog right in front of her. Of course he’s there when you call.

Wait, were we outside the same house as before? Yes, it looks like it.

“So they packed up the family car and the Howards left the city.” Yeah whatever, this is probably the only reasonable decision this family makes. Why did it take them so long? Guess they had to rebuild their house first . Their insurance doesn’t cover for acts of dog.

“They moved to Birdwell Island that now many the friends” (that’s not a typo. I listened to the song a lot of times and have no idea what those words actually are.) PROBLEM 3: REALLY! REALLY? You have a massive dog and you choose to take him to Island where he can’t run around and then you take him there on this tiny boat? Seems dreadfully unstable. I’m starting to feel this isn’t a real story.

Oversized animals coming in from the sea almost never cause problems to island populations. Also biodiversity.

“There to greet Clifford and Emily.” That’s right. All the tiny dogs. And their owners. Who despise them.

“Clifford’s so much fun, he’s a friend to us all.” He’s not a friend to me.

Why is he red? How did he become red? I’m starting to think it might be a genetic thing. How big are his parents? Perhaps he was even smaller to start with, maybe Clifford’s actually a kind of mushroom.

“I love Clifford the big red dog.” Sure. Believable. Fair enough.

Clifford woofs. Nearby houses collapse. Episode begins.

Clifford definitely changes in size throughout the video. Perhaps sometimes she doesn’t love him. It’s like the Prestige,

This has been overly analytical children’s show intros with Nathan. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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