Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Puppy Bowl XII

Puppy Bowl XII

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: All Ages
Producer: Animal Planet
Rating: TV G

Animal Planet's first Puppy Bowl aired in 2005 but has since emerged as an annual tradition almost as talked about as the sporting event that spawned this clever Super Bowl counter-programming project.

For those of you who have somehow missed the Puppy Bowl phenomenon, indescribably adorable puppies (all of them from animal shelters) chase toys around a little model football stadium. Sometimes they stop for a water break and viewers get a view of the action via a camera positioned under the glass-bottomed bowl. An announcer calls the "play-by-play" and a band of equally goofy kittens perform a half-time show. At the end of the game, the MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) is announced.

To be truthful, that summary sells the program short. It's one of those things you need to see to believe and the minute you do, well. . . I dare you not to smile.

Puppy Bowl XII opens with a short skit featuring a coach in the locker room calling out the roster. Turns out little pup Posey is missing but the ref (winningly played by actor Dan Schachner) finds her just in time and offers a confidence-boosting speech that sums up the spirit of the Puppy Bowl: "Offense wins games but cuteness wins championships."

After an introduction of the players on teams Ruff and Fluff, and a tribute to the troops during the National Anthem, the pups are off and running . . . and tripping and jumping and scampering all over the stadium, "scoring" when one of them happens to lope into the end zone.

Oh, and there's a brood of silkie chickens (the kind with the funny fluffy plumage on its head) serving as cheerleaders, a canary handling social media and a hamster running on the wheel that powers the scoreboard. Kittens take over for the half-time show, which consists of them playing with string toys and jumping over cardboard obstacles. The kittens come from animal shelters too and throughout Puppy Bowl XII, you'll hear frequent appeals to adopt shelter animals, which all leads up to a heartwarming ending as we see some of the animal athletes heading to their "forever homes" with new families.

Think of Puppy Bowl XII as an emotional chew toy. It's not educational television. It doesn't offer too many teachable moments. It's just a cute show that will make everyone in your family happy for a while. And, really, what better reason is there than that to tune in?

Gina Catanzarite   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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Animal Planet

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