ave you ever thought about what goes on in the mind of a dog? In Downward Dog, a new show on ABC, we’ll get an inside look as to what a cute dog named Martin is thinking and maybe even some insight as to why dogs do what they do. All the while, laughing. While in LA, I sat down with 2 of its stars, Allison Tolman who plays Nan and Samm Hodges who does the voice of Martin, the dog.
Here’s what they shared:
- Ned is the dog’s actual name and he’s from a shelter in Chicago called Paws Chicago.
“In the pilot he had just been rescued. “One of the most awesome side effects, I think, of having this dog who was not a well-trained dog when we started shooting is he is very much his own man, it’s like being with like a natural talent. Like there’s a lot of Ned in Martin…He improvises in a way. So, even when I don’t have a human partner to work with, I have something to work with ’cause he doesn’t do the same thing every time. He doesn’t do exactly what you want him to do every time. He jumps down off the chair that you put him in and you keep rolling and you see what happens. But we had some really fun stuff happen, because he’s his own dog…” – Allison Tolman
- They started working on the web series that inspired the show 4 years ago. It was those “shorts” that sold Allison on doing the show.
- Allison has had her cat for about 17 years now so she gets the importance of a relationship between a pet and its owner.
- Getting the dog to talk on the show is done with visual effects.
“So, it’s all done in visual effects, but what’s different is that usually they’ll kind of replace the entire muzzle, a lot of the face, with CGI. In this case…it is done in post-production, but it’s a lot more naturalistic.” – Samm Hodges
- There will be 8 episodes this season.
“Yeah, we wanted a short season, because we didn’t want to have the show become too episodic and too like this week Martin catches a squirrel. Like we really wanted it to have a nice arc and like explore some like, broader things. And so we were hoping for a short season order.” – Allison Tolman
- Samm is also the Co-Creator / Executive Producer of the show, he had no intention of doing the voice of the dog.
“I’m not a voiceover artist. I actually, um, have a stutter and then as a kid I couldn’t speak very well. So, I’m just very far outside of my comfort zone doing the voiceover, but I think that kind of vulnerability for me doing voiceover as you add it to the character’s very everyday quality in kind of not being too polished and not being too goofy.” – Samm Hodges
“Really, and it was actually a big point for me before I took the job. And I think before I even knew it was like in our first meeting — I was like I don’t know who voices the dog, but you need to get the same person to voice the dog. And he was like it’s me. And I was like, oh, good. Okay, great. [CHUCKLES]” – – Allison Tolman
The all-new comedy “Downward Dog” will premiere in a special sneak peek today WEDNESDAY, MAY 17 (9:31–10:00 p.m. EDT), following the season finale of “Modern Family.” The series will then move to its regular time period, Tuesday nights at 8:00–8:30 p.m. EDT, with its second episode, beginning May 23, on The ABC Television Network.
Based on a web series, “Downward Dog” follows the day-to-day life of Nan (Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Allison Tolman, “Fargo”), as told by her increasingly lonely and philosophical dog, Martin (voiced by Samm Hodges). Nan attempts to juggle her tumultuous personal life with a stressful career, unjustly supervised by her self-obsessed boss. Having her story told from the canine perspective provides a uniquely unfiltered point of view that helps us laugh and cry about what it means to be a human being in the twenty-first century. It’s a show about a dog and the girl he adores, and even at their worst, Nan and Martin just might be best for one another.
In the series premiere airing May 17, “Pilot,” Martin battles loneliness and the need for Nan’s unconditional attention, while she struggles with a breakup and Martin’s recent bad behavior as he reacts to her newly busy work schedule.