As if a dark comedy series that is literally centered around a dog didn’t already sounds like the most heart-wrenchingly sweet thing ever, get ready to melt even more. It turns out that the sweet old pup named Ned, who plays Martin on ABC’s new series Downward Dog, is actually a rescue dog!
“He’s from PAWS Chicago,” series star Allison Tolman revealed to the room of reporters at the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour. PAWS Chicago is the city’s largest “No Kill” humane organization, focused on implementing solutions to end the killing of homeless dogs and cats, and it’s the reason why Ned was discovered.
“[Co-creator/executive producer/voice of Martin] Samm [Hodges] and I definitely wanted a mutt,” co-creator/executive producer Michael Killen said about the process of finding Ned. “We definitely wanted a dog that didn’t have a specific breed. We were presented with a bunch of dogs with this really great trainer that we work with. And there is just something so human about him. It’s his eyes.”
While Ned couldn’t join the Downward Dog panel due to the fact that he’d get too stressed out in front of the room full of journalists, the cast and showrunners couldn’t stop singing the dog’s praises. Martin is an old, somber soul that some have even compared to Louis C.K.
“There is something about his anxiety and neuroses that I would say is similar,” Hodges said before ultimately denying that they modeled Martin’s personality off the comedian. “And obviously we love Louis and think this is great.”
Cast member Kirby Howell-Baptiste added, “But Louis C.K. is also not the only downtrodden man.”
While the room laughed, Tolman explained that Martin, “is more flippant. He’s more self-centered.”
On a more serious note, cast member Lucas Neff elaborated, “He has an enormous ego which I think is a big separation [from Louis C.K.]. He has a grandiose self-identity.”
Downward Dog marks leading lady Tolman’s first series regular gig since her critically-acclaimed run on Fargo. So what was it about this series that made her sign on?
“The first wave of things was me deciding that I wanted to be a leading lady,” Tolman said. “I didn’t want to take the secondary role. I wanted to wait to find my own show. I wanted to do my own show. I went through a lot of offers like that, that were like ensemble or the best friend. Really good projects and good offers. But ultimately I felt like I wanted to hold out and I wanted to do my show and I wanted to be a part of something that was my baby.”
When Downward Dog came along, it was the meat of the script that really drew Tolman in.
“I felt like Fargo was a really dramatic show that was funny and I feel like our show is a funny show that is dramatic,” Tolman said. “I feel like they meet each other in a weird way. Our show is like this little indie movie. It’s not a joke a page, it’s not a joke a minute. It’s sweet and somber and sad and funny and bittersweet. Tonally it just felt like I wanted to do something that shook things up in the same way that Fargo was able to do. It was a natural progression for me.”
Are you as in love with Ned/Martin as we are? Tweet me your thoughts and opinions at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Downward Dog has been slated for a summer premiere on ABC.