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OnTV Today's Date:

101 Dalmatians II:
Patch's London Adventure

Rating: G
Release Date: January 21, 2002
Running Time: approximately 70 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: A puppy with a hero worship complex teams with his larger than life TV idol to save his siblings from the evil Cruella DeVille and worst of all, a fey artist.

  • Behind the Scenes "Dog-umentary"
  • Lost In London Game
  • Thunderbolt: An Inside Look
  • "Try Again" and "You're The One" music videos

    Tech Specs: Widescreen anamorphic, aspect ratio 1.66:1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, English DTS, French mono, English subtitles
    Type of disc: Dual Layer Format

    For a variety of reasons, mostly commercial, sequels to beloved Disney classics are inevitable. And if you have children, those sequels appearing in your home is a given. If we're lucky, some artistic merit will seep in to these productions.

    Yes, every direct-to-video sequel has carried a disclaimer, "thanks to the artists and animators involved in the original film, without whose inspiration this would not have been possible." (I may be paraphrasing.) It's a nice sentiment, but annoying when the sequel has missed everything that made the original great.

    So it's with relief that I can say the ultimate baby boomer Disney classic, 101 Dalmatians, has been treated with respect. In order to create 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Disney's television animation arm has made a My Favorite Year for kiddies, and it works.

    However, it does have one glaring trivia mistake, which should be brought out upfront, and then never spoken of again. The 101 Dalmatians of the title includes Pongo and Perdita, the adult dogs. But early on in the sequel, Pongo counts his puppies (more than once) and comes up with 101, not 99. So the writers actually have 103 dalmatians. Pardon me while I re-apply masking tape to the bridge of my glasses.

    In all other ways, this home video release riffs nicely off of ideas from the original.

    Taking place shortly after the events of the first film, the dogs' human masters are preparing to leave their London brownstone for a place in the country, their "Dalmatian plantation." The scheduled date for their move coincides with a London promotional appearance by Thunderbolt, the wonder dog whose TV adventures mesmerized the puppies in the first film.

    Sponsored by Kanine Krunchies, the appearance coincides with the chance for a dog to guest-star with Thunderbolt, and one starry-eyed Dalmatian puppy, Patch, would do anything for that chance. Faster than Patch can slap his face and call himself Macauley Culkin, he finds himself home alone, and able to make that audition.

    Of course, Thunderbolt (Barry Bostwick) is not the hero Patch thinks he is. In fact, he's pretty much every shallow actor who ever found success as a TV hero. A bit selfish and vain, he has made his TV sidekick Lightning (Jason Alexander) into an offstage Iago, ready to have Thunderbolt killed off in the show, and if it has to happen in real life, too, so be it.

    Cruella DeVille and the Badun brothers appear, too, crossing paths with a beatnik artist named Lars (Martin Short), obsessed with spots. With such an obsession, it only stands to reason that we have another puppy-napping, and that only the disillusioned Patch and a reality-crushed Thunderbolt can save the day.

    While not exactly a story we were all dying to see, Patch's London Adventure plays pretty well. Where it earns respect, however, is in its design.

    Clearly, the team putting this together studied the original, and even new characters look like they could have been in the first film. This may not seem like a great feat, but too many of these sequels have been populated with a generic TV character look, painful when so many Disney films have distinctive character design.

    They've also eschewed the '90's updating that the characters got for a short-lived ABC series, staying with the 1961 design. This seemingly small detail shows a respect that goes a long way to mollifying purists. And heck, it just might show kids a thing or two about the art of animation.

    It's still about the money, of course, but it's nice when Disney tries to actually give us something in return.

    101 Dalmatians II - Patch's London Adventure

    Derek McCaw


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