8 March 2006 | mt9045
A bit more context
Up to the point of this movie, the Disney Studio had had plenty of experience in live-action film production, but it was chiefly in the UK, where they used the considerable debt-credit that England had run up during the war years to produce things as Treasue Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Their initial foray into U.S. live-action production was Davy Crockett on Disneyland, the Mickey Mouse Club's TV serials, and then Zorro, followed by several mini-series on Walt Disney Presents (Texas John Slaughter, Elfego Baca, Swamp Fox). The Shaggy Dog was initially planned as a TV series to follow Zorro as something independent from the weekly Disney hour. You can see vestiges of TV production in almost every aspect of this film, from the post-production foley work on entire scenes to the subdued performance of Kirk (largely reprising his Joe Hardy role from the Hardy Boys serials) and MacMurray's scenery chewing. Not that either of these things were unusual in family movies of the time, but we tend to be more forgiving of them on old TV. (The book the concept originated in was written by Felix Salten, who created Bambi and Perri, a couple of Disney animal characters who did pretty well for themselves.)
The Shaggy Dog was one of the first movies I saw as a child and I've always held a great affection for it, even while recognizing all of its flaws. The concept here is what I liked, and I believe, had the same cast (remember, this is the year before Fred MacMurray and Tim Considine were cast in My Three Sons) starred in a TV series based on the concept, we'd now be looking back fondly on another TV classic of the golden years rather than a rather middling Disney comedy. I still feel that it might work better as a Disney Channel series than a movie starring Tim Allen; part of the reason I liked the original is because the star was a kid only a couple of years older than me. What I don't need in a new Shaggy Dog film is even PG humor, and without it these days, there isn't much of a market for it in theaters (or even as a series on any of the major networks). It's a kids' super-hero concept that requires a kids' venue, and, sadly, that isn't the big screen. Perhaps, however, if the film does well, someone in the studio will realize that it would work better on a weekly basis...about fifty years late.