Sunday, November 14

Disney's Fluppy Dogs

This animated special featured 5 pastel-colored talking dogs that came through a inter-dimensional doorway and into the lives boy Jamie, with his teen neighbor, Claire. The basic premise for the series, much like the live-action sci-fi show called Sliders, was the story of a band of adventurous, cuddly, dog-like creatures who utilized a crystal key to open inter-dimensional doorways. They became lost between worlds while trying to find their way home and end up on Earth. However, a wealthy collector of rare animals is after them and the key that creates the portals necessary to travel has almost lost its power.

The Fluppy Dogs debuted earlier as plush dolls made by "Kenner". Several other merchandise, including books and annuals were also released. There were six dogs instead of five (the merchandise had 2 boys and 4 girls, while the special had 2 girls and 3 boys), and all of them had different names and personalities to the film. Disney changed its demographics so it appealed more to boys by redesigning the Fluppies and adding the futuristic "dimension hopping" idea which didn't exist in the previous incarnation. Based on these designs it would appear that the Fluppy Dogs were originally targeted to girls, and by the time it reached post-production, the focus was changed dramatically, but it wasn't enough to form a concrete target audience, which might explain its failure to become a regular series.

The Fluppy Dogs special aired on the U.S. television network ABC on December 1, 1986, pre-empting news program Our World. It scored a Nielsen rating of 5.3/10; placing 70th among network programming, it was the week's lowest-ranked program. I remember watching the special when I was four and loving it. I had the coloring book and wondered why there was never a series. I always chalked it up as a movie. But now as an adult, I figured it was a pilot. It is sad it never got a chance, because the animators really did try with the special. It is said that this series was to compete with Pound Puppies but the special reminds me much of Care Bears in spirit as it was cue and cuddly but had serious tone moments and suspenseful music.