101 Dalmatians: The Series has been my favorite television program for years, though it shames me to admit that I once nearly forgot about the show that brought me so many hours of entertainment. Shortly after rediscovering the series on Toon Disney, back in 2004, I began to watch the series as often as I could and I fell in love with the characters and the plots all over again. I've seen nearly every single episode in recent years and the ones I haven't seen recently are ones I've seen back in the days of my youth, though I feel that the series has truly withstood the test of time. Sixty-five episodes were produced and they all covered a wide array of excellent plots, some of which are rather unique and unexpected in comparison to other animated programs that were airing at the time the series debuted.
I admit that the series isn't perfect, though I still consider the series to be perfect because it's as perfect as I believe was possible. I've watched several episodes that I've found rather stale in comparison to some of the series' more entertaining episodes, though I feel that such isn't a flaw of the series, rather, a flaw of heightened expectations. These episodes that I consider stale aren't necessarily bad; on the contrary, I've found them quite entertaining and I would gladly watch them many more times, though I realize that average fans of animation may not like them as much as I did. These individuals are not incorrect for their beliefs, but I feel that the flaws of the series are rather insignificant in comparison to its merits, and I feel I am justified in loving the series as much as I have.
The characters in the series are very enjoyable to watch and I feel that they drive the episodes to make them as entertaining as I've found them. The series focuses on four main characters: Lucky, Rolly, Cadpig and Spot, though there are also many side-characters that I consider beneficial to the series as a whole. However, I must confess that some of the characters aren't capable of holding a plot together on their own; for example, episodes that tend to focus mostly on Rolly are generally less enjoyable than episodes that tend to focus more on Lucky or Cadpig. I suppose this may be due to the fact that I've enjoyed Lucky and Cadpig as characters more than I have Rolly, though as a fan of the series, I've felt that Rolly was best as a supporting character and the episodes that strongly revolved around him were generally the weaker episodes in the entire series.
Cadpig is my favorite character and I wished to devote this section of the review to her because she represents the series in my eyes. Cadpig's personality is something that I've loved since the first day I saw the series as a child; I've always considered her behavior to be brilliant and I credit that to the excellent way in which the writers wrote out her actions. The script in regards to Cadpig's lines was typically top-notch and many of the best jokes and humorous lines throughout the series took form through Cadpig's character. However, it was due to Kath Soucie's brilliant voice work that Cadpig truly excelled in my eyes, as to this day I still consider Cadpig's voice to be the best voice for an animated character that I've ever seen. Take into consideration the fact that Cadpig related episodes were typically some of the more interesting episodes in the series and you have a formula that guarantees the character's success, so I stand by my belief that Cadpig was pivotal for the series to be what it was.
One of the other aspects I loved about the series was the nature in which the episode's plots were handled. Many of the episodes contained plots that I found to work tremendously well with the characters, as well as the setting of the series. However, there were some episodes I found less interesting, such as the two clip show episodes that mostly consisted of footage from previous episodes of the series. Fortunately, those episodes contained some new segments as well, which is why I still enjoyed my experience watching them, though I realize that some of the stale episodes in the series have less positive things than I would like. Despite this, a vast majority of the episodes were handled with finesse, in my opinion, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the series contained a true series premiere and a series finale, in which I feel the three part series finale for 101 Dalmatians: The Series were some of the best episodes for any animated program I've ever seen. The episodes also attempted to appeal to other audiences, through including many cultural references to other media, as well as to the original works the series was based off of, which brings me to a more problematic issue.
Despite the fact that 101 Dalmatians: The Series was based on the 101 Dalmatians franchise, many fans of the franchise felt themselves alienated due to the differences between the original movies and this series. Roger and Anita now have the last name of Dearly, characters were added that didn't appear in the movie, and Cruella De Vil is no longer trying to make fur coats with the Dalmatians. However, this is because the series is based more on the original novel that the movies were based on, rather than the movies themselves, which is why Cadpig is a character in the series. I can perfectly understand why some people are upset about Cruella's change in behavior, though for the sake of the series, I can realize why this necessity was a necessity and I would encourage fans of the original 101 Dalmatians franchise to check the series out, as the Cruella is still handled in an enjoyable fashion, despite her change in objective.
With all things considered, I feel that 101 Dalmatians: The Series is truly my favorite animated program of all time and I give it my highest recommendation. I realize the series had its fair share of ups and downs and I realize that not everyone will enjoy watching it, though I believe this was an animated program of tremendous quality and I wish modern animated programs were more like this one. It may be nearly a decade old at the time of this writing, but I can say in good faith that the series has withstood the test of time and I look forward to watching the episodes many more times in the future; though I hope other individuals will be watching it as well.