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TV Series Review

It takes exactly 15 seconds of T.U.F.F. Puppy's title sequence to learn everything you need to know about Nickelodeon's latest animated show about a crime-fighting pup:

"Dudley Puppy was a plain old mutt," we hear as the show's star merrily slurps water out of a toilet. "He'd scratch, he'd dig and then he'd chew his butt," the song continues, just in time for the canine to sink his canines into his derriere.

The balance of the intro tells us what else the show is about: "But when bad guys got too rough, he went to work for T.U.F.F./And now he's doing secret agent stuff." Or, as series creator Butch Hartman said in an interview with toonzone.net, "Get Smart with a dog." And Hartman's show does indeed feel like an unlikely mash-up of Underdog and Maxwell Smart … along with a nod to the inane antics and winking double entendres that made The Ren & Stimpy Show a cult hit in the '90s.

T.U.F.F. stands for Turbo Undercover Fighting Force. And it's there that Dudley meets his match in the trusty—and generally much smarter—Kitty Katswell. Both of them report to a retired field agent known as Chief, an out-of-proportion flea who sits in front of a camera much of the time in order to be seen. A stuttering, bespectacled dog named Keswick equips our fuzzy fuzz with all manner of secret-agent gadgetry.

Loitering in the shadows of Petropolis, always ready to hatch a dastardly scheme, are the agents of D.O.O.M. (Diabolical Order Of Mayhem), led by the maniacal (and lisping) rat Verminious. As dastardly, diabolical, maniacal, lisping villains are generally wont to do, Verminious lives for the day T.U.F.F. and its agents are permanently out of the way. Among other things, that might mean chasing Dudley and Kitty through Petropolis in a Godzilla-like robot. And on the days Verminious and his lackeys feel like taking a break, supervillains such as the shape-shifting Chameleon and the evil Bird Brain stand at the ready to take up the bad-guy slack.

Throughout Dudley's crime-fighting shenanigans, (very) young viewers soak up a steady stream of pratfalls and mock cartoon violence. And, of course, the mild toilet humor I mentioned above. Characters belch, joke about passing gas and vomit. What they don't do is pass along any grand moral lessons, or even very many of the small, practical day-to-day lessons that usually get flung at tots from their favorite tube-time series.

Of note: The show is fond of dressing Dudley up in women's clothing and make-up as it flirts with all sorts of references to characters' effeminate traits. That's something Bugs Bunny used to do, too, but animated heroes in drag these days evoke different interpretations.

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Episode Reviews

TUFFPuppy: 11272010



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Voices of Jerry Trainor as Dudley Puppy; Grey DeLisle as Kitty Katswell; Daran Norris as Chief; Jeff Bennett as Keswick; Matthew W. Taylor as Verminious Snaptrap; Butch Hartman as Agent Rodentski






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Adam R. Holz

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