Western Animation: Martha Speaks
"And now she's got a lot to say!"Martha Speaks
is an animated educational series on PBS Kids
adapted from a series of books of the same name by author Susan Meddaugh. Martha is an ordinary dog but, well, let's just let the show opening theme explain the premise
Martha was an average dog. She went
"Bark" And- "Woof" And- "Grrrrrr"
But when she ate some alphabet soup,
then what happened was bizarre.
Narrator: On the way to Martha's stomach, the letters lost their way. They traveled to her brain and now-
She's got a lot to say. Now she speaks.
Martha: How now brown cow?
Martha speaks. Yeah, she speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks...
An educational show disguised as a kids cartoon (not that the network affiliation is fooling anyone), it's probably one of the better kids shows currently on TV, as it doesn't treat the viewers like idiots
and actually has quite complex plots for a kids show.
This show provides examples of
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In "Verb Dog, When Action Calls!", Martha and Dr. R. try to hide in one of these, but it doesn't work for long.
- Accidental Misnaming: In "Martha's Life of Crime," Kazuo calls a mean woman who comes into the animal shelter looking to adopt Martha "Mrs. Crumblebum." Her name is actually Mrs. Bumblecrumb. Later, a man that she's trying to fence a stolen baseball to calls her "Stumblebum." Finally, the police officer that arrests her calls her "Fumblethumb" and she laments that she wishes someone would get it right.
- Adaptation Expansion / Adaptation Displacement: A couple of the early stories from the show are almost note-for-note like the original books on which they are based. Additionally, even though this show is still relatively new, it has probably already displaced the original books by Meddaugh in terms of attention received.
- Aesop: Many episodes have one, but they're normally played quite realistically and aren't extremely Anvilicious.
- Alice Allusion: Alice plays... Alice in the school play in "Martha Acts Up".
- All Just a Dream: In one episode, Martha is tricked into helping steal the recipe for the alphabet soup allowing her to talk. She seems to go on a heroic adventure and defeat the villains in a spy parody...but wakes up and finds its all a dream. Though it actually does help her solve the real crime.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parent: It's bad enough for TD to have his mother as the principal, but she does her imitation of the TV dog Courageous Collie Carlos in front of his class.
- Animal Gender Bender: All the adult mallards in the show have drake colors, complete with a green head, whether they are male or female.
- Animal Jingoism: Downplayed for the most part as dogs and cats dislike each other but for one instance it was subverted.
- Bad Bad Acting: Frequently, for most instances of Show Within a Show.
- Berserk Button: T.D. hates To Be Continued and stories that end with the word "forever" (because they're not real stories to him).
- Mariela really hates Mushy Duck, because it's all Ralph ever watches when she was staying at their house and she had the theme song stuck in her head.
- Between My Legs: TD's mom's legs were between Mr. Sterns when he found dog fur on the floor.
- Big Eater: Martha, who eats anything except stuff containing chocolatenote . She's particularly fond of garbage found goods.
- Black and Nerdy: Truman
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Alice, Carolina, and Helen.
- Blondes Are Evil: Averted in one point, in "Martha's Steamed!", while looking for the owner of the dog that was left in the car on a hot day, a bulky blond guy heads to the store where Helen and Martha are waiting. Martha says he looks like the type of guy who would make his dog suffer. Martha glares at him as he walks up to her, then he calls her "poor poochie" for being outside on a hot day.
- Brawn Hilda: Brunhilde
- Breathe on the Fan: Done once during a Heat Wave episode.
- Broken Aesop: At the end of "Martha's Steamed!", Helen asks Martha if she learned something from all. Martha believes it's you couldn't jump to conclusions and a very hot dog can get very thirsty. Helen says the lesson was you shouldn't go eat food everywhere you see because it will lead to trouble. Martha, of course, misses the point and tries to reach for something in a trash can, only to fall in.
Martha: Trouble? Eating is no trouble at all. (falls into the trash can) Uh, help!
- Another episode introduces the character of Bob (an Angry Guard Dog with the habit of chasing after and/or barking at everything in sight). Bob attacks Martha and Helen throughout the episode while Bob's owner calls him a "bad dog". Then, at the end of the episode, Bob's owner starts calling him a "good dog" and Bob suddenly starts acting nice. Now, this could've been a good lesson about how calling someone names can make them angry and take out their anger on others. Just one tiny little problem. Bob was never shown being nice throughout the entire episode. Not once.
- Bungling Inventor: TD's dad.
- Butt Monkey: Milo's dad.
- Cats Are Mean: Nelson is something of an Evil Genius who plots ways to get Martha in trouble, leaving her to defend her innocence. Martha is invariably vindicated by the end of the episode.
- Hilariously lampshaded in one episode where T.D. comes up with a ludicrously complicated and unlikely scheme to explain how Nelson got into a house and dumped a birthday cake off the table to frame Martha. At the end of the episode, Nelson is seen with an item identical to one from T.D.'s story.
- Also subverted for an Aesop in one episode were Martha expects a kitten to be mean, but ultimately finds out it's nice and befriends it, even being heartbroken when it leaves (then overjoyed to find out she can visit it whenever she wants).
- Cereal Induced Superpowers: Soup, actually. Though for some reason, it only works on Martha and no other dog.
- Chekhov's Gun: In "Dogs in Space," T.D. attempts to explore space using a jetpack for his report, but the jetpack takes off without him due to T.D. forgetting to strap on. At the end of the episode, a jetpack crashes nearby the school, allowing T.D. to get a higher grade on his assignment.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Both Martha and T.D. sometimes go into this territory.
- Cone of Shame: The main character has to wear one of these to prevent her from scratching her ear mites. She hates it, as it makes things 'sound funny', and scares Baby Jake.
- Continuity Nod:
- In "Martha Gets Spooked", Mrs. Parker mentioned the "pickle incident" (from the episode "Martha's Pickle").
- In "Ice Scream", the picture book "Blue Mangoes" is missing its last page. In "Milo's Reading Buddy" T.D. comes across a copy of the book and proceeds to recap the plot of "Ice Scream" to Milo. In "Martha the Weather Dog", Truman finds the missing page under his bed.
- In "Martha's No Dummy", Helen mentions the time when Otis and Pablum made a fake talent show to steal Martha in "Martha's Got Talent".
- In "Martha Bakes", Mrs. Parker mentions the events from "Martha Gets Spooked".
- In "The Cheating Chum Caper", Helen mentions the singing telegram who's really a crook. Carolina also mentioned the "steak tree" T.D. tried to grow.
- In "Too Many Marthas", one of the members of the fundraising committee mentions Martha's radio show in "Martha Gives Advice".
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Not exactly, but: Granny Flo, the owner of the soup company that makes Martha's alphabet soup decides to cut costs by removing half the letters from her soup, which leaves Martha only able to speak words using those letters. They convince Granny Flo to put the letters back in and Martha gets better.
- Courtroom Episode: The one where Martha testifies in court about a traffic accident.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: TD, occasionally.
- Death Glare: Martha gives one to Billy Collins, thinking he's an impostor.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: In the episode "Wagstaff Races", the neighborhood kids enter a green go-kart race. T.D. and Alice's wind-powered go-kart places just behind Ronald and Reginald, whose go-kart appears to be powered by a swimming goldfish, and who have been sabotaging the other racers' go-karts. This isn't what disqualifies them, though. What does disqualify them is that their car is revealed to be a disguised gas-powered lawnmower when they crash into a lamp post after arguing over who gets to drive the victory lap. T.D. and Alice win the trophy as a result.
- Ditzy Genius: TD's dad.
- Dramatic Thunder: In "Paws and Effect".
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: Parodied in one of the The More You Know segments
- Dumb Blonde: T.D. He does things like being tricked into buying a steak tree.
- The damsel in a black-and-white horror film in the episode "Martha's Pickle" who keeps asking the macho hero the definition of some words he says.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Truman was right.
- Everyone Has Standards: Ronald acquires a robot dog named Dynamo and although she initially dismisses Dynamo as nothing, Martha soon becomes envious and wants to get rid of Dynamo. But when she overhears Ronald's intent to get rid of Dynamo when he's bored with it, Martha is horrified, arguing that he shouldn't abandon his pet.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Nelson, who had formed an Enemy Mine union with Martha to get rid of Dynamo, is also disturbed by Ronald's willingness to get rid of Dynamo.
- Everything's Better with Llamas: In "Here's Martha!", Martha asks her talk show audience if they loved llamas to assure a llama who heard camels were better than llamas. The audience responds enthusiastically.
- Everything's Better with Plushies: The abovementioned My Fluffy Puppy Imagine Spot. In real life, there are Martha plushes, too. They don't talk though.
- Expy: Mrs. Bumblecrumb is similar to Madame Medusa from The Rescuers. Another flapper with too much make-up, partners with a bumbling oaf, and uses someone to steal something for her.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: "Martha Calling:" Martha wins a country club vacation in a phone contest. The thing is, dogs aren't allowed. Rather than leave Martha at home, they disguise her as their wheelchair-ridden grandmother and sneak her in. Not only is this dishonest, it's also illegal. But nobody cares when the truth is revealed. In fact, the owner actually starts allowing pets after Martha is exposed. Why isn't this episode banned yet?
- Fantasy Helmet Enforcement
- Fiery Redhead: Mr. Sterns, the school janitor.
- Five-Man Band:
- The Flapper: Mrs. Bumblecrumb from "Martha's Life in Crime" dress like one.
- Flashback Within a Flashback: "The Case of the Shattered Vase"
- Fractured Fairy Tale: The episode "Martha Spin A Tale" spoofs everything from Jack and the Beanstalk to Alice in Wonderland, complete with characters from the show.
- Fridge Logic: In-universe, In "Alice Covers Up", Martha is enjoying having fun splashing in a kiddy cool.
Helen: How is this different from a bathtub?
Martha: It's a different sort of experience all together.
Helen: How? It's water from a faucet in a rafting.
Martha: Don't ruin this for me. Okay?
- Another In-universe in "Skits on Ice", Skits is afraid of hockey pucks ever since when he was a puppy he nearly drowned on thin ice after chasing a puck.
Carolina: That makes no sense. He should be afraid of ice.
Martha: Dog logic.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: In "Martha Out West", they serve strawberry milkshakes at a saloon.
- Gainax Ending: Played for Laughs in the ending of the adore segment, with a dash of horror thrown in for good measure.
- Genre Savvy: TD. In "Martha Gets Spooked", he tells Martha to look for a flashlight inside the haunted house, since they always do.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Yes, even an Edutainment Show can get away with this.
- In "What's Bothering Bob", Truman has a handheld talking dictionary that gives definitions to words that people say aloud. One of the characters says "Bob has gone nuts!" and the device proceeds to give various definitions of the word nut. The first is "a seed borne within a fruit", the second was "a metal piece with a threaded hole", the third was "an expression used to display sadness (Aw Nuts!). It attempts to give a fourth definition, but the kids tell Truman to turn it off. He can't turn it off, because it's stuck, but he does place his hand over the speaker preventing the audience from hearing what was stated.
- In the story in which Martha is saying the opposite of what she means, Martha and Helen find Truman and T.D. at a pie shop, smelling pies. One of them states that "it costs money to eat, but inhaling is nearly as good, and it's free."
- In that same episode, she said Nelson "Drop down from heaven". Care to guess what she really was trying to say?
- The Toil The More You Know segment. The song Martha sings is pretty much reminiscent of Monty Python's Lumberjack song.
- "Hades" was mentioned in one episode. The episode was about Greek mythology, so there is context, but it's still a little shocking.
- In one episode, Helen is going to see a movie that has "curse" on the title. Martha is worried Helen would get in trouble seeing a movie with "bad words" in it.
- In "Martha Blah Blah", Martha, who was losing her ability to speak due to less letters in the alphabet soup, tries to say "Hello Grandma Lucille. How's it going?". It came out as "o G u o go g", and everyone gasped.
- The Ghost: TD's sister is mentioned in "Truman's Brother". He forgot because she's in college.
T.D.: I can't remember every little detail.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Carolina uses some Spanish words and phrases here. Helen's mom does this as well, but much less frequently.
- Hidden Depths: Carolina revels so much in being a Girly Girl and Fashionista that she takes pains to hide her athletic leanings:
- In "Carolina Tackles Football," she showed herself to be a closet football fanatic with a genuine talent for coaching.
- In "Truman on the Ball," when she teaches Truman how to make a perfect fly ball catch, she effortlessly demonstrates the catch without even looking at the ball.
- In "Skits on Ice", she cheers for the Canadian hockey team.
- Homemade Inventions: Professor Monkey's gadgets, such as a couch-helicopter made from a couch, broomsticks, a blender, bicycle handlebars, and a rope.
- Hypocritical Humor: In "Martha's Pickle", a black and white film's Bruce Campbell-esque protagonist keeps defining words for his Dumb Blonde girlfriend. Truman criticizes this as "not being how real people talk".
- Throughout "Martha Runs the Store", Martha criticizes Skits for constantly getting distracted, only to get distracted herself before she can explain what that word means.
- Martha has another Running Gag in the series where she'll say she can't get to sleep due to being hungry/scared/whatever, only to immediately fall asleep on the spot.
- If Jesus Then Aliens: In "Martha's Worst Best Day", Helen's grandpa basically said anything is possible.
Helen's grandpa: Helen, you have a talking dog. After that, I believe anything.
Helen's dad: Good point.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: TD guesses this is what happened to Truman, after he refuses to show his face (Due to a bad haircut) despite they can see him standing right in front of them (Albeit in the shadows).
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "Martha, can I have your PAW-tograph?"
- Ingesting Knowledge: The show's premise. Aside from ordinary Alphabet Soup, Martha has also eaten Spanish Alphabet Soup to speak Spanish. She also once ate a paper of Spy Speak definitions, which caused her to talk in code.
- Martha also (inadvertently) speaks Polish in one episode, thanks to Otis Weaselgraft sneaking Polish Alphabet Soup into her bowl.
- Ironic Echo: In "Martha's Thanksgiving, Part 1", Carolina tells Helen about how she doesn't want to be partners with a girl named Tiffany again. Later, in a flashback, Carolina says the exact same line. In "Part 2", she complains about this again to her cousin Chuck (or "Uck").
- Ironic Echo Cut: In "The Cheating Chum Caper".
- Inspector Javert: The security guard in "Martha Runs the Store" who is an unfortunate mix of this and Lawful Stupid, especially in how he continually accuses two boys for stuff they didn't do. Somewhat justified in that it's shown he's still learning how to be a security guard from DVD courses, but is still pretty inept.
- It Tastes Like Feet: In "Martha's Steamed", Helen's dad found TD's shoes in the freezer. Helen tells him it's to make his feet cooler. But the reason TD put them on their freezer is because his dad won't let him use theirs, due to making the ice cream taste like feet. Helen's dad is eating ice cream during the conversation...
- Jerk Ass: Mr. Sterns (to a lesser extent) and Eulah Demson (extremely).
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ronald Boxwood.
- The Klutz: Alice
- Lampshade Hanging: In "Martha's Pickles", Truman points out how often the hero of the movie defines words.
- In "Que Pasa, Martha?", T.D. thought of an idea to help Alice by giving Martha Mexican soup to speak Spanish, then Alice would record Martha when she repeats what Alice said. Alice asked why didn't T.D. use it himself, he never realized that.
- Large Ham: TD as "Mr. Astonishing"
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: and Ripped from the Headlines: One whole episode revolves around every dog in Martha's town wanting to be Obama's family dog. While the president portrayed is black and uses Obama's speech patterns, Obama's name is never used.
- The episode when they compete in a talent show to meet Ryan Oceancrest and appear on International Icon.
- Let's Meet the Meat: Parodied in the deserted and adore The More You Know segments.
- Lost In Transmission: See the "Headscratchers" page.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Tiffany
- Magic Realism: It's a Slice of Life series wherein a dog gains the ability to speak like a human thanks to eating alphabet soup.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: In a The More You Know segment, it is explained how actors are different from the characters they play by showing that Mrs. Demson's actress is nice while her character is mean.
- Meganekko: Alice Boxwood, Mrs. Boxwood, and Mrs. Clusky.
- Helen as her favorite book character Curious Crystal, complete with Girlish Pigtails.
- Merchandise-Driven: Averted. Aside from the books, there's only two Martha plush designs (a beanie, and a regular plush), and none of them talk.
- Parodied in one episode's "My Fluffy Puppy" Imagine Spot where Carolina argues all successful kid's show are like this.
- Mind Control: When The Perfect Pup obedience school comes to town and starts training dogs to behave perfectly, Martha gets suspicious that it's working too well. She discovers that the school using collars with mind-control devices installed to make the dogs obey every order their owner gives them.
- The More You Know: Appropriately for an educational show, before and after each episode members of the cast (including the Narrator) talk about the vocabulary words that will be or had been used in the episode.
- In season two, the show started displaying key words on-screen as those words were being defined. It was a bit distracting, but probably not a bad idea, as it helps visual learners and allows viewers to not only learn the definition of the word, but see how it looks in print. As of season four, however, the on-screen word display was discontinued without explanation.
- The Musical: "Ain't Nuthin' But a Pound Dog"
- Musical Episode: The set of "Martha Sings" and "T.D. Makes the Band"
- My Little Phony: The show has an Imagine Spot which stars "My Fluffy Puppy". It's used to give an aesop against Merchandise-Driven products.
- Never Say "Die": Averted hilariously in "Alice Covers Up".
It's not sunburn. It's dye. Martha:
She's gonna die?! Nooooo!! [bursts into tears]
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Martha tends to get into this a good bit, though normally due to someone taking advantage of her good nature. Still, she always tries hard to fix it in the end.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In the first episode, the cat burglar gave Martha food to shut her up. What he gave her is alphabet soup.
- Nightmare Fuel: In an in-universe example, Baby Jake got scared when Martha was wearing a doggy cone to prevent her from scratching her ear... Until his older sister's friend told him a story about Martha as a space dog that went to a fake moon and battled Dr. 2 arms and his cleaning robot The actual show averts this for the most part. Well, minus the giant clown head attempt in the aforementioned episode.
- No Fourth Wall: Obviously in the The More You Know segments, but occasionally the Narrator is addressed directly.
- Nosy Neighbor: Mrs. Parkington
- Not So Different: As shown in "Grandpa Bernie Cleans", he and TD are a lot alike. Bernie even said that Helen is like her grandma.
- Odd Couple: Martha and TD always hang together or partner up in some adventure. As shown in "The Missing Metal Mystery", "Gopher Broke", "Martha's No Dummy", and "TD is Talking Dog".
- Offscreen Teleportation: Truman somehow did this in "Martha's Life in Crime", at least once in each part. Martha wondered how he did that.
- One Steve Limit: There's another dog named Martha in "Too Much Marthas".
- Origins Episode: "Martha's Life in Crime" where Martha tells Truman about her puppyhood prior to being adopted by Helen.
- "Martha's Thanksgiving" where we learn where she came from and how she ended up in the pound in the first place.
- Our Presidents Are Different: In "Martha in the White House", a new president is sworn in. And he's black.
- Out-of-Character Moment: TD in "Dinosaurs in Trouble!". He became unhappy after finding out Truman and Milo wanting to exclude him from their project. It made Jake cry seeing an unhappy TD.
- Parental Bonus: There are more than a few subtle jokes that only the grown-ups will get.
- Pet Heir: Sweetums
- Planet of Steves: In "Dogs From Space," Martha dreams of a planet occupied nothing but Marthas.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Skits, who is first shown as a puppy but then suddenly becomes a full grown dog upon Martha's command.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Averted in "Ain't Nuthin' But a Pound Dog" in that it actually provides a fairly realistic portrayal of an animal shelter— it's not an easy life, but it's not "a smelly, damp concrete prison with no food or water" either.
- Proper Tights with a Skirt: Helen
- "Rashomon"-Style: "Never Forget to Remember"
- Recurring Extra: A married couple that wears fishing hats, cargo shorts, and sandals.
- Ripped from the Headlines: A story in which Helen and Martha discover a dog locked in a car on a hot day. Unfortunately very much Truth in Television, although there are many dogs like this who sadly perish before anyone can find them. The episode featured a non-malicious variant, however. The dog in question was trying to sneak a treat and got locked in the car only because the owner of the car didn't know he was there.
- The Rival: Carolina's best friend Tiffany Blatsky.
- Rule of Cool: T.D.'s last-ditch reason for allowing aliens to be included in a western-themed movie. It works.
- Running Gag: Martha has many dream jobs. She first dream about them ever since he first heard of them.
- You can't forget Martha's "Hey Joe, whaddya know?" to which the person responds, "My name's not Joe." Nobody in the Martha Speaks universe has the name of Joe.
- In one episode, a talking dog says this to William Shakespeare (played by TD), and he responds "My name's not Joe. It's Will." In an episode about Greek myth, Echo the nymph (Martha) says "Hey Juno, whaddya know?", and Hera (Helen) angrily responds "My name's not Juno!"
- People being surprised to see Martha talk. Also, those who know her personally are confused by other people who think they're joking around.
- Sadly Mythtaken: The episode "Myth Me?" removes the endings of the myths, even in the case of Prometheus, which had a happy ending.
- Samus is a Girl: In "Martha's Steamed", the dog Ruby's owner is named Ray (short for Rachael).
- Say My Name: "MARTHAAAAA!!!"
- Secret Shame: In "The Cheating Chum Caper", T.D. likes a comic book made for little kids.
- Sesame Street Cred: Billy Collins and Kit Luntanne in different episodes
- School Play: The gang gets to act in a rendition of Alice in Wonderland which involves Alice as Alice and Martha as the Cheshire Cat in "Martha Acts Up".
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Truman.
- Secret Identity: When Martha gets to be host of a call-in radio advice show, she starts giving some strange advice to the callers. She becomes extraordinarily popular and everyone finds themselves extremely happy by following her advice, until at her first live appearance, everyone finds out she's a dog and everyone promptly loses interest in her and her advice. [There is probably a better trope for this]
- Ship Tease: T.D. and Alice
- T.D. and Helen is another possibility.
- Skyward Scream: In "Skits on Ice",
Weather lady: And this just in, Wagstaff City schools are—
(a shot of Wagstaff City)
- Smelly Skunk: In the Pleasant/Unpleasant segment of the show, Martha is explaining things that are Pleasant and Unpleasant, getting sprayed by a skunk is one of the unpleasant things. Being Martha, she goes onto describe getting a bath after being sprayed by a skunk as even more unpleasant. Helen agrees.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Martha is also able to talk to other animals (except for monkeys). Some of the other animals are able to speak certain animal languages.
- Spoof Aesop: As already described, in "Martha's Steamed," there was a dog who got locked in a car by accident because it was trying to sneak a snack, but the owner of the car was accused of doing it on purpose. At the end of the story, Helen asks Martha if she learned anything and Martha says that it's to not jump to conclusions. Helen, however, suggests that the Aesop of the story is to not go digging everywhere for food, which Martha promptly ignores and starts eating out of a garbage bin.
- Superhero Episode: In a Continuity Nod to "Martha's Show", the episode of "Return of the Bookbots" revolves around one of the show ideas discussed before. "Verb Dog, When Action Calls" is another superhero episode.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: TD telling Helen different reasons why he bought hot dogs in "The Cheating Chum Caper". And also when Martha asked Helen why anyone is hiding something in town.
- Talking Animal: Martha, obviously.
- In one episode, Martha claimed that all animals could talk since the Dawn of Man but lost their ability over time.
- Tearjerker: "Martha Runs Away"
- In the first episode, Martha doesn't talk after Helen said she wished she didn't talk.
- Terrible Trio: The dogs in "Martha and the Canine Caper".
- The Tetris Effect: In "Helen's All Thumbs", Helen becomes addicted to a video game and begins seeing sprites from the game in real life.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Ralph and her baby ducklings.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Otis and Dr. Pablum.
- Time Skip: Played with in "Martha and Skits", annoyed Martha tells him puppy Skits to grow up, and then in the next transition he's full grown.
- Title Drop: "The Cheating Chum Caper"
- Title Theme Tune: See theme song above.
- Expository Theme Tune: Again, see theme song above.
- Bragging Theme Tune: Yes, we might as well throw this in as well, as part of the theme tune has Martha showing off her knowledge of words.
Martha: Communicates, enumerates, elucidates, exaggerates, indicates, and explicates, bloviates, and overstates and (pant, pant, pant) hyperventilates!
- Token Trio: Carolina (Mexican-American), Tiffany (blonde Caucasian) and an African-American girl.
- Tomboy: Alice Boxwood
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Martha and Helen.
- Also, Alice and Carolina.
- Tongue Twister: Martha shows she's good at saying these in "Martha's Got Talent".
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Despite the fact that Martha is the only known talking dog in her world, in general, nobody seems freaked by it. The most common reaction to her talking is no reaction, though sometimes people may be mildly surprised, then simply decide to just go with it. In "Ain't Nuthin' But a Pound Dog," Kazuo of the animal shelter thinks that he's having a joke played on him when Martha's dad calls up asking if a talking dog has been taken into the animal shelter, but when he actually does finally hear Martha talk, he just takes it in stride. Oh, and you would think that if there were a talking dog in town, everyone would know about it, but apparently not.
- Lampshaded in an episode where Martha goes to see a famous television dog visiting the town.
Random Child: "WOW! A TALKING DOG!"
Martha (not wanting to take the attention off the famous dog): "Yeah. But, this one's ON TV!!"
Another Random Child: "Yeah, she's got a point"
Everyone looks back at the famous dog.
- However, the two recurring villains in the show, Otis Weaselgraft and Pablum, constantly make plans to kidnap her to make money off of her, so at least its an interesting sight to someone.
- The episode where she became a host of a radio advice show, she makes her first public appearance. This would explain why not a lot of people were freaked out in later episodes, since the people already known about it from this episode.
- Also in the first episode, a few people in Helen's neighborhood noticed Martha talked for the first time.
- Played straight in some episode where some characters who never met Martha think they're joking about a "talking dog". Helen and others are confused by it, because they're so used to Martha talking they forget a talking dog is an unusual thing.
- What Measure Is a Non-Canine?: Averted with Dynamo, the robot dog adopted by Ronald in one episode. Despite feeling envious and wanting to get rid of him, Martha argues that since Ronald adopted him as a pet, he should give him the same treatment and follow the same responsibilities as one should with a flesh and blood animal.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Subverted. There's a character on the show who is basically a grouchy old lady and treats everyone around her meanly. In one story, her doctor tells her she needs to adopt a positive outlook for her health, so she starts being ultra-nice to everyone, playing with the kids and Martha and everything. Nobody goes so far as to suggest that they'd prefer she'd go back to the old way, though Martha does come very close.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Several, including covering the birth of Helen's baby brother (in a kid friendly manner), Martha being kidnapped and used for crime by a one-shot villain, why Skits is afraid of hockey pucks, and a time when Martha was jealous of puppy Skits getting all the attention.
- A time when she almost loses her ability to speak (which happened soon after the first episode).
- When Skits was T.D.'s pet before being Helen's.
- When Martha tells Helen of the vase mysteriously broke.
- "The Big Knockover", where Martha talks through a camera about the incident.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Carolina has a bad case of stage fright. She just freeze up on stage and doesn't even remember it.
Carolina: When do we go on?
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Martha, who's been a radio advice host, a telephone marketer, a farm dog, a firehouse dog, and quite a few others! Several episodes imply she still has a radio show.
Martha: What can I say? I'm a dog of many dreams.
- A Wizard Did It: In "The Dog Did It", Martha claims dogs used to talk (even before humans developed language). The reason they don't anymore was because William Shakespeare told a powerful magician to cast a spell on all dogs.
- Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Ralph
- Youthful Freckles: TD, Alice, and Ronald.