The new sitcom “Downward Dog,” which premiered on ABC last night, stars Allison Tolman (“Fargo”) as Nan, a woman dealing with a breakup and a bad boss, as told from the point of view of her philosophical dog, Martin.
Martin has some interesting perspectives on their relationship. Take his daily duties, protecting the house from intruders: “There are a lot of massive threats that Nan seems completely unaware of,” says Martin, including the neighbor’s cat whom he calls “an emotional terrorist.”
Martin doesn’t understand where Nan goes all day — since she leaves and arrives in the same car, he naturally assumes she’s just been driving around all day. That’s something he’d very much like to do as well, but Nan hasn’t gotten the hint. Nan can be a little dense sometimes!
To find just the right dog actor took a nationwide search. People reports that they finally found rescue dog Ned at a Chicago shelter, where he had been waiting for a home for over a year.
“It was Ned’s eyes, we kept coming back to that dog,” said Michael Killen, one of the show’s executive producers. Killen, by the way, is a former ad man who worked with the Taco Bell Chihuahua.
To prep Ned for the show, he was adopted by trainer Nicole Handley and underwent 6 weeks of training, including learning to get used to being the center of attention.
Martin will just be doing regular dog stuff without any fancy tricks, executive producer Samm Hodges told People. “The dog is doing real stuff — not riding a skateboard.”
“It’s a thoughtful show about what it is like to be a dog and therefore a human,” actor Lucas Neff says. He plays Nan’s ex, who still enjoys bonding with Martin.
“It helps you to remember how important it is to be decent,” Tolman says. In the pilot, after Martin destroys a work presentation for a concept she actually hated, Nan instead pitches showing customers that they’re as loved and valued as they are in the eyes of their dog. Her boss hates it, but the client is sold!
After premiering in “Modern Family’s” Wednesday slot, “Downward Dog” moves to its regular time of Tuesdays at 8 p.m.