Saturday, January 24, 2015

This way lies madness: 'The Doggedly Dogs'

A dog, Muffin, is about to enjoy some secular music in "The Doggedly Dogs."

Bible Truths For Children.
What is it about religious shows for kids? Why are they always a direct gateway into a world of complete, bat-shit insanity? You tell me. These programs are generally low budget and semi-amateurish in terms of production values, so you'd expect some degree of wonkiness in the sets, costumes, props, animation, music, acting, and chroma key-style video effects. And you'll definitely find all of that stuff in these shows.

Generally, religious kids shows are labors of love, made by well-meaning people with a shortage of money, experience, and technical know-how. It's understandable that they'd be cheap, cheesy, and tonally awkward. But that's true of a lot of low-budget productions, including secular ones. None of this explains the total delirium that emanates from these particular shows. There's something else going on here.

A big factor is the religious element. All religions seem kind of nutty to me, and the further you commit to any particular faith, the further you stray from reality and science and sanity in general. And by the time you're doing a religious kids show with puppets and talking animals, you're obviously way, way off the deep end. I mean, you don't just start out dressing like a cowboy clown and singing songs about Jesus to four-year-olds. You have to progress to that mindset over time, probably many years. By the time you arrive on the other side, your brain is pretty much the equivalent of butterscotch pudding.

There is a definite element of brainwashing or indoctrination going on here. Kids don't naturally come to religion on their own, after all. It has to be sold to them and reinforced all the time until they believe.

But there's also something dark under the shiny, happy surface, since Western religions tend to center around a capricious creator God who can banish you to Hell for all eternity if you get on his nerves. I guess what makes religious kids shows so entertaining is that contrast between the relentlessly cheerful songs and skits and the more sinister undertones of their true, ultimate purpose.

All of this is my long-winded way of introducing a highlight reel from a video called called Bible Truths for Children. I have very little background on this, other than the fact that it might be a VHS compilation tape of highlights from a mid-1980s Texas-made program called The Filling Station or God's Filling Station.

I honestly don't want to over-explain or oversell what you're about to see. It's better if you go in cold. Just know that I love this video and have watched it at least a dozen times. It encapsulates everything I like about religious kids shows.

Clearly, the main event is "The Doggedly Dogs," which is definitely worth following until the very end, when... well, I don't want to spoil it, but pay attention to the voice of Muffin. The rest of the video is delightful, too: the nerdy ginger kid reading Bad magazine and proclaiming that "Reading is Seeding," the parade of "instruments for righteousness," and the Bob Duke family of Greenwood, Indiana, whose deeply creepy Sears family portrait is emblazoned on the robe of an animated Christ. Enjoy.

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