Dug Days is the perfect epilogue for those of you who are fans of Up. It is, after all, a sequel to it, of sorts. It’s just a shame that, one way or another, this will be the last time we will ever see Carl as he was in that Pixar film.
Dug Days is a currently 5-episode series of computer-animated comedy shorts set in the world of Up (2009). Bob Peterson is the creator and director of this series and also voices the main character Dug. Peterson was also the co-creator of Up alongside Pete Docter, the latter of who is now an executive producer for this series alongside Mark Nielsen.
The late Ed Asner (the voice of Carl) co-starred in Dug Days alongside Peterson. Asner passed away on August 29, 2021; just 3 days before the series premiere, making this a posthumous performance from him. Jordan Nagai still voices Russell using unused archival recordings. Other actors and actresses for this series include Neketia Henry, Simon Helberg (you may recognize him as Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory), Jeff Pidgeon, Sarayu Blue, Heather Eisner, and Moon Choe. And of course, Pixar Animation Studios is the production company, as they were for Up.
Dug Days premiered on Disney+ on September 1, 2021. It is, in fact, a Disney+ exclusive. There are currently no plans to bring it to home video, so if you want to watch it, you’re going to have to pay up for a Disney+ subscription. You can do so here.
Warning: spoilers for Dug Days below. If you plan on watching Dug’s backyard adventures for yourself, stop here, and come back once the squirrel is dead. Because dead squirrels are funny.
Dug Days: Plot Summary
The intro sequence for Dug Days reveals a bit of what happened after Up. Apparently, Carl realized that the expenses and effort of maintaining the Spirit of Adventure (not to mention repairs after the events of Up) are too much for an old guy like him. So instead, he sells Charles Muntz’s zeppelin, and buys a normal house to live in with Dug.
Dug Days itself doesn’t really have what you’d call an overarching plot. Each episode is its own self-contained plotline, independent of the others. In order to discuss the plot, we’ll have to go through them episode by episode. The list is as follows:
Episode 1: “Squirrel!”
Carl builds a bird feeder in his backyard, and then he gets Dug to guard it while he naps. Dug finally encounters his archenemy: the squirrel, who understandably wants the seeds and nuts in the feeder. The squirrel initially gets those seeds and nuts, but after an extended fight with Dug, loses them all down the nearby storm drain. After a darkly hilarious “Kill me now” moment from the squirrel, Dug feels sympathy for him and gives him a jar of Carl’s favorite peanut butter as an apology. Carl wakes up to chaos and destruction, but it’s okay.
Episode 2: “Puppies”
One of Carl’s neighbors brings over a box of puppies (pitbull puppies, from the looks of them) to watch for the day. The puppies play with Dug, chew on him, chew up his toys, and basically do puppy things. Dug doesn’t like the toy-chewing, and initially opposes the pups to the point of building a makeshift wall down the middle of the backyard. Dug and the pups eventually unite against the squirrel though, and they part ways amicably. He even gives the pups his favorite toy and asks Carl if they can adopt some puppies later. Carl thinks about it.
Episode 3: “Smell”
Dug gets a whiff of a new scent. His desire to investigate it is so strong that he digs his way out of the backyard (and Carl’s azaleas) to find the source. Dug eventually finds said source: an uncontrolled fire apparently lit as an arson attempt. Dug runs back and gets Carl to follow him, which results in the fire’s extinguishing. He gets a nice, shiny medal for his heroism; and presumably lots of pets and “Good dogs” as well.
Episode 4: “Flowers”
Carl introduces Dug to fireworks. Dug does not like fireworks. In fact, he does not like fireworks so much that he goes berserk trying to flee from them. He eventually knocks himself out and gets himself his own Disney Acid Sequence involving hostile animate azaleas and Carl in an azalea costume. It makes sense in context, and perhaps is an indicator that Carl should get rid of his azaleas for Dug’s sake. Carl wakes Dug up, but the fireworks are still going, so Dug continued panicking until he knocks over a pair of headphones that just happens to fall over his ears. The scene then cuts to Dug finally enjoying the fireworks with said headphones on, while a somewhat battered-looking Carl is trying to relax after all that excitement.
Episode 5: “Science”
Russell finally makes his first and last appearance in Dug Days. This time, Russell has somehow managed to modify some of Charles Muntz’s dog collars to see if they work on other wildlife. As it turns out, they do. From a housefly to a blue jay, to an oddly musical snail, to Dug’s squirrel archenemy; the collars seem to work regardless. Dug is confused by his archenemy verbally responding to his usual taunts, but recovers quickly and continues the fight. Russell gives Dug his PB&J sandwich as a treat, but unfortunately, the squirrel and the blue jay want it as well. After a brief fight, the wild animals convince Dug to let them have the sandwich by pointing out that they don’t have people to regularly feed them as Dug does. Dug gets a bit philosophical about his existence as a house pet but is reassured by Carl that he’ll always love him.
Dug Days: The Good
The cuteness. My god, Dug Days is adorable. It’s saccharine enough to give you diabetes from watching it, and I’m perfectly fine with this. It’s just so relaxing to watch Dug have adventures in his backyard, doing the kind of funny things that wouldn’t be out of place in an iyashikei anime. Also, pitbull puppies. Cute pitbull puppies. Cute pitbull puppies that make you want to boop them in the snoot, and give them hugs and kisses. You don’t typically see good pit bulls in media, so it’s nice to see them here.
There’s also the fact that Dug Days basically acts as an extended epilogue to Up: one of the better Pixar films. If you’re a fan of that film, then you’ll love this. Hearing Carl, Dug, and Russell again after all these years is great. Although to be fair, I would be surprised if someone who didn’t watch Up watched this.
Dug Days: The Bad
There’s no plot in Dug Days. I mean, yes, each episode has its own independent plotline, but it’s all disconnected. There’s no overarching plot tying it all together. While the series is adorable, I wish there was a bit more to the story.
The lack of Russell may also be a turn-off for fans of Up. Seeing Russell appear only in a single episode, even as the main character, may not be enough for quite a few fans. But to be fair, it’s been 12 years since Up. I’m reasonably certain Jordan Nagai is no longer physically capable of voicing Russell. All of Russell’s voice lines in “Science” were the result of archived voice lines that weren’t used in Up.
Another bad thing also really has nothing with Dug Days itself. It’s more about Ed Asner’s death back on August 29, 2021. Without him, Carl will never be the same again. Sure, they could use archived voice lines, or even get a new voice actor altogether if they feel like it. It still will never be the same Carl ever again though.
Dug Days is an adorably relaxing epilogue to Up. If you loved Up, you’re going to get a kick out of this Disney+ series. You’re probably going to lament the loss of Ed Asner though. Savor this series if you check it out on Disney+. It’s one of Ed Asner’s last performance, and this is going to be the last we see of Carl, one way or another.