Im not a parent, but like many of the grown-ups wholl be watching this new animated series with their little ones, I grew up with Clifford the Big Red Dog. My mom read the Norman Bridwell picture books to me when I was little, and since I have a sister whos seven years younger than me, I even watched a great deal of Cliffords 2000-2003 PBS cartoon.
Its easy to see why Clifford the Big Red Dog is an appealing IP to reboot for the streaming era. Theres a timeless appeal to what if a little girl lived on an island with a brightly colored dog the size of a house. Kids love dogs, kids love giant things, and there are few limits to what you could do with such a simple premise.
Figuring out how to evaluate this new series has been an interesting challenge, because unlike many other kids TV shows, including the early-aughts cartoon (also available to stream on Prime Video) which was aimed more toward elementary-age children, this new show seems utterly uninterested in cross-generation appeal. Theres nothing wrong with that, but for adults (like single, 28-year-old media critics), its difficult to connect with.
I havent consulted with any preschoolers for this review, but Id imagine theyd enjoy Clifford. For one, unlike previous iterations of the franchise, Clifford now has the ability to talk and have complete conversations with young Emily Elizabeth. Its a fun new wrinkle. He still cant talk to other humans, but that just adds to the childhood wish-fulfillment aspect of the series. Which kids havent fantasized about having a secret language with their pets?
Like many other shows for the preschool crowd, theres a great deal of emphasis on music here, often surprisingly so. Each episode features several original songs sung by the characters, but mercifully, theyre not grating. At best theyre catchy, and at worst theyre inoffensive. More Sesame Street than Barney the Dinosaur, if you will.
The animation style is charming, too. Though never to the point of harshness, theres an adorable sketchiness to the characters and environments, almost like theyre drawn in crayons and colored pencils by a child. Emily Elizabeth (Hannah Levinson, whose young voice also provides various animal noises throughout the show) and Clifford (Adam Sanders) meet a whale, for example, and theres not much more to Mr. Whale than a simple outline, a solidly bright-blue body, and a