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Downward Dog Preview 

Photo Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

So, full confession: The main hook of Downward Dog for me is that the lead character, Martin, a brown and white Lab/Pit mix pooch, looks like one of the great loves of my life. Martin (played by rescue dog Ned and voiced by Samm Hodges, who executive produces and co-created the original web series with executive producer Michael Killen), is the narrator of the new series arriving on ABC Wednesday night for a sneak peek before it moves to 8 pm/7c Tuesdays.

Photo Credit: Donald Rager/ABC

Martin is a stay-at-home dog mulling life’s big questions. His true love is Nan (Fargo‘s Allison Tolman), a Pittsburgh retail marketing exec trying to make her way up the career food chain without strangling her boss and extricate herself from her romance with Jason (Raising Hope‘s Lucas Neff)–whose daily routine is weed, video games, and walking Martin–with minimal damage. Her BFF and ally at work is Jenn (Kirby Howell-Baptiste).

Photo Credit: Donald Rager/ABC

The eight-episode first season is a hybrid situational relationship/workplace comedy as Martin weighs in on how he feels about Nan’s life choices (usually with a fair degree of bewilderment and implied head-shaking and disdain) and of course, his own place in the world as her soul mate, whether or not she’s on board with that world view.

He also fixates on Pepper, the neighbor’s tabby, who he considers the highest form of evil. Nan’s Pepper is Kevin (Barry Rothbart), her manager at work riding the coattails of nepotism and slowly sucking the soul out of his staff.

Photo Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

I’ve screened the first three episodes, and they’re a mix of Martin’s sometimes wistful incredulousness that Nan can’t fathom his importance and Nan’s attempt to be a responsible grownup at work and at home, with Martin her one dedicated constant.

Photo Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

It’s not a cuddly, sticky sweet kind of show, leaning more toward the practicality of Nan and Martin as longtime companions who get tired, angry, hurt, and exasperated with each other but still come home every day with a love that endures despite everything else. Also, Nan doesn’t hear what Martin’s saying–that’s just for us.

If you spend an inordinate amount of time with, or talking to, or concerned about your pets, just set the DVR now for a weekly 30-minute dose of canine harsh truths about how dumb the humans are sometimes. The combination of Martin’s soulful brown eyes and conversational, if sometimes biting, tone means that you may actually side with him, which I think is a perfectly acceptable response. If you’re not a pet person (what?), it’s still a comedy worth checking out.

Photo Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Downward Dog premieres Wednesday at 9:30/8:30c this Wednesday and then moves into The Middle‘s hiatus slot next week Tuesdays at 8 pm/7c. Here are a few sneak peeks. You can also watch the pilot now on ABC’s website.

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