Long ago, in the waning days of the 20th century, the nation’s airwaves were seized by a force so unstoppable that it threatened to derail all other forms of entertainment, making pop culture in the United States wholly subservient to the newly born juggernaut. We refer, of course, to 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd. If you know of what we speak, then you already understand why we celebrate the anniversary, 20 years later to the day, of this program. And if you haven’t heard of this televisual odyssey into the depths of humankind’s soul, please watch the opening credits below, so we can start talking about how they may be unequaled in the history of the medium for the level of near-outsider-art lunacy.
Where to begin. First of all, let’s marvel at the fact that Seth Green agreed to voice a talking dog sitcom during the time he was part of the cast on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, at the very moment it was becoming part of the zeitgeist. That’s a commitment to talking-dog fandom, right there. He’s no Air-Bud-come-lately.
Secondly, these remain a masterpiece of “describe the entire premise in wildly over-involved detail” opening credits. No mere song summarizing the general idea behind the series, a la The Beverly Hillbillies or The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. No, 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd dares to ask: What if we just started the credits by having the talking dog explain to the viewer that no, they should not adjust their screens—he is a dog, and yes, he talks, so just go with it. “Otherwise, if we just launch into Eddie’s lengthy, meandering description of how he was turned from a school bully into a talking dog by a rhyming drifter and tasked with performing one hundred good deeds, people might get confused!” the Nickelodeon executive who greenlit these credits undoubtedly elaborated when asked by his friends and family if he was having a stroke.
Third: “Actually, upon further reflection, let’s add a second half to the opening credits, where we do include a song summarizing the entire same thing. But way pithier.” This was the next thought they had.
Fourth, there’s that goddamn generic ska-punk music. If you were angling to make sure that future generations watching your TV show would immediately be able to say, “This must have been made during the three-year period when Hollywood thought Less Than Jake and Save Ferris were the sound of America’s youth,” then this would be the way to go. See also: Meet The Deedles, An Extremely Goofy Movie.
Fifth, did you know that future Veronica Mars star Jason Dohring plays Eddie in human form before he gets turned into a dog? Apparently he was good enough to play a bully but not good enough to voice a dog, which couldn’t have been terribly life-affirming for a young actor just starting out.
Lastly, let’s investigate that final line before it segues to the theme song: “Now I’m livin’ with this kid and his family. They love me! But they treat me a like a dog!” Does someone need to explain to Eddie that he is, in fact, a dog? At no point is it suggested that Eddie waxes philosophical about the fact that he presumably shits outside on a regular basis, or licks his own asshole to prevent infection. And yet, these things must be happening on a regular basis. There should have been an episode where Eddie gets worms. Maybe that would have gotten the fact of his canine existence through to him.
There will be many more TV shows made before earth becomes an inhabitable wasteland destroyed by environmental devastation, the only sentient life the oxygen-breathing, land traveling, 500-foot-tall octopus that was once the internet, but there will never again be a show made whose opening credits so encapsulate nearly every bad idea of TV creation into one single monument. These credits are, dare we say, perfect. They could not be improved upon. In fact, the only way to make the experience better is to watch them while drinking from your official “Busy watching 100 Deeds Of Eddie McDowd” coffee mug, which you can purchase now on Amazon.