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Western Animation / Gabby’s Dollhouse

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Gabby's Dollhouse is a DreamWorks Animation live action/animated preschool show that came out on January 5, 2021 on Netflix. It's created by Traci Paige Johnson (Blue's Clues) and Jennifer Twomey (Team Umizoomi).

Gabby is an 11-year-old lover of anything related to cats. From her pet cat Floyd, to her fully-cat decked out room, almost everything she owns is related to cats, including an important toy: her dollhouse. Filled with various rooms, along with miniature toys of various cats, not only is it her favorite toy, she has a special connection to it.

Using her magical cat-ears headband, she's able to shrink herself, and her cat doll Pandy Paws, down to the size of the dollhouse. There, with an item she received earlier from the "Meow Meow Mailbox", she's able to interact with her now-living cat friends, with each episode focusing on the various citizens of the dollhouse.

A second season premiered on August 10, 2021, with the third season premiering October 19, 2021, the fourth season on February 1, 2022, and the fifth season on July 25, 2022. The sixth season premiered on November 1, 2022.

Tropes associated with Gabby's Dollhouse:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: While filming an adaptation of Goldilocks, Baby Box, acting as the group's prop designer, misheard CatRat's request for three beds as "three breads" and brings them three loaves of bread. When the group decide to use the bread as beds anyway, Pandy immediately latches onto "bread bed" as a fun thing to say and cannot simply say it once whenever it comes up.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: One for Pandy.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: Two in the same episode.
    • The episode begins with Gabby playing with Floyd and Pandy while she films it against a homemade background. The finished version is shown at the end of the episode.
    • The bulk of the episode is about the residents of the dollhouse making an adaptation of Goldilocks. The movie gets derailed quickly due to Cakey not having any porridge, instead providing the cast with pancakes. Then, for the bedroom scene, Baby Box mishears CatRat's request for beds as "bread". Lastly, they had changed the ending as Goldilocks bringing syrup for the bears' pancakes rather than just her stumbling onto their cottage.
  • Animal-Eared Headband: Gabby wears a magical one that lets her shrink down into the dollhouse. It somewhat resembles Pandy Paws's ears in design.
  • Animated Music Video: "Dance Like a Gabby Cat" has a music video that is fully animated in the web shorts' 2D animation style, with no live action like the show has.
  • Art Evolution: in Season 1, DJ Catnip's eye shape stayed "cat-like", in season 2 onwards however, his eyes became more rounded in a few scenes
  • Art Shift: The exclusive shorts are done in 2D animation.
  • Baby See, Baby Do: After getting his diaper changed, Benny Box does Baby Box's popping trick and says "Peekaboo", after so much time of seeing her using said trick to make Benny laugh.
  • Bamboo Technology: Baby Box's shtick is arts and crafts, so her more complex builds tend to be little more than cardboard and paper covered in marker and blinking lights. However, these same builds achieve their purpose without proper structure or a power source, such as a burping machine for Itty Bitty Blossom or a hiccup machine for Gabby (which, when it fails, is revealed to simply be a decorated cardboard box with precisely one internal item which looks like a bar of metal; how the whole thing was vibrating is not apparent).
  • Bathtub Mermaid: MerCat, having the bathroom as her domain in the dollhouse, often is in the bathtub as her main source of water. She's able to survive without water, but this is normally her introduction spot whenever she is needed.
  • Beach Episode: One episode takes place on MerCat's beach, where the cats introduce a polar bear to beach fun.
  • Big Eater: Pandy, with a sprinkle of Obsessed with Food and The Snack Is More Interesting depending on the availability of food. He occasionally gets caught snacking, although the others never really chide him for it. It should be noted that, despite his preoccupation, he does not normally let it get in his way.
  • The Bus Came Back: DJ Comet, who debutted on Season 5, comes back on season 6, and Lulli-loo, who debutted on Season 4, returns on Season 7. It was hinted that Fluffy Flufferton, who debutted in Season 4 too, was gonna return in Season 7, but it didn't happen. Pete the Polar Bear, who debuted in Season 2, also returns in Season 8.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Gabby uses a special incantation when using her cat ears to shrink:
    A pinch on my left, pinch-pinch on my right, grab Pandy's hand and hold on tight!
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: DJ Catnip excuses himself by saying he “needs a quick potty break” in “DJ’s Glow Ride”.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Cats Are Magic: Kitty Fairy is a half-fairy kitty with nature magic that allows her to help the garden grow.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: CatRat is dry and snide towards the others, and is a bit of a know-it-all, but he has a nice heart deep down.
  • Cats Hate Water: Getting wet is one of the biggest things that CatRat detests.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Happens in most of the episodes, but most prominently in the episode "DJ Catnip Gets His Groove Back" when the microphone that appears in that episode proves to be the key to restore DJ Catnip's groove.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The season 6 episode "Dollhouse Dress-Up Chest" are basically sequels to "Mission to CATurn" and "CatRat the Bandit", with minor references to "Spaceship" and "Let's Make a Movie". This is, however, averted in one scene where Pandy doesn't seem familiar with a hand-cart (introduced in season 3), despite knowing about the events of later episodes.
  • Crazy-Prepared: MerCat's spa science and Kitty Fairy's garden magic tend to cover any number of needs which people would not foresee or have a practical solution for. Since the latter is magic-based and the former behaves like alchemy, it makes sense, although they've also been seen to fail on occasion.
  • Determinator: Gabby likes to see things through and often tells her cats that they aren't done yet when they start to get discouraged.
  • Fake Interactivity: Gabby is always talking to the audience in the live-action scenes. While in the dollhouse, the characters regularly ask the audience to help them choose the correct option or spot something in the room for them.
  • Flintstone Theming: Most of the setting is covered in items which use a cat head or cat paw motif. In addition, the characters often substitute words with "cat" or "kitten" in common phrases, such as Pandy's Catchphrase "You've gotta be kitten me!".
    • Those items which are not cat-themed tend to be based on whichever cat owns it. This can be seen in the individual cats' paw prints. MerCat has seashell/star prints, DJ Catnip's looks like a CD player's controls, Baby Box's family all have distinctly rectangular prints, and so on.
  • Furry Reminder: Of the "toy reminder" type. Pandy often says things which comment more on his status as a stuffed animal rather than a cat.
  • The Glomp: Pandy Paws, when revealing himself from his hiding spot in the doll house, always reveals himself with a "hug attack" that he leaps at towards Gabby with. Gabby reverses this on his birthday, ambushing him instead.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: It's sung in the birthday shorts on social media and in the episode "Pandy Paws' Birthday" however didn't get copyrighted.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: Episode 2 is appropriately "Gabby Gets The Hiccups", where she ends up getting the hiccups. She's cured when being surprised by CatRat, but then he gets hiccups.
  • Hidden Depths: Episode "Cat Rat's Puzzle Hunt" reveals that DJ Catnip enjoys puzzles.
  • Instant Flight: Just Add Spinning!: DJ Catnip is seen being able to fly in "Kitty Fairy Gets Sick" via rotating his legs like helicopter rotors, his cousin, DJ Comet is seen doing this in "Mission to Caturn" in the Cat of the Day segment. (Thus, is safe to say only elastic kitties know and master this technique).
  • In-Series Nickname: DJ Catnip's full name is "Daniel James Catnip" (this is first mentioned in Gabby Cat Cam), but he almost always goes by DJ Catnip.
  • In the Hood: DJ Catnip is always seen with the hood of his hoodie up, so up to date, what he looks like with his hood down remains unknown
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: CatRat is snarky and kind of lazy, but he also looks out for his friends.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Gabby fits the bill because of how much she cares for her cat friends. Her entire room is also filled with cat decor.
  • Limited Wardrobe: DJ Catnip wears his signature hoodie in pretty much every single episode (with an occassional accessory depending on the episode). But in the season 5 halloween episode, he has a different colored hoodie, and in the animation shorts, he wears different outfit, albeit hooded outfit (thus, we might never know how DJ Catnip looks like with his hood down)
  • Living Toys: All of the cats that reside in the dollhouse, along with Pandy Paws, are inanimate toys when Gabby is at her regular size. Whenever she shrinks down to go to the dollhouse, they come to life.
  • Logo Joke:
    • The Netflix logo is formed by Cakey leaping up in the air and letting sprinkles fall onto a cake, while an instrumental snippet of "Sprinkle Party" plays.
    • The DreamWorks Animation logo has Gabby, in live action, pull out a cardboard cutout on a string of Pandy Paws sitting on the moon with the fishing pole. It fades into an animated version of him doing the same, as he pulls his line out of the water, now holding a starfish, as MerCat leaps out of the water.
      • The model for the DreamWorks logo also makes a cameo in the episode where Gabby, dressed as one of the three little pigs, uses it to source her moon rocks.
  • Loves Only Gold: "Shiny is mine-y." CatRat is almost immediately attracted to anything that shines and can cause or aggravate an episode's conflict by stealing something he isn't supposed to be messing with. Doesn't have to strictly be gold; he once grabbed a glitter globe of the dollhouse and was constantly shaking it in attempt to correct the figure inside, not realizing that he was mixing up pieces of the actual dollhouse every time he did so.
  • MacGyvering: Baby Box's builds which are not blatant Bamboo Technology tend to be this. For instance, in rescuing CatRat from a spaceship floating out of reach, she makes a chain using pipe cleaners and wads of foil.
    • Gabby and Pandy also tend to improvise with whatever happens to be on-hand or in Pandy's bag. The above chain had no means of attaching to the spaceship, so Pandy stuck one of Cakey's sticky paw snacks to the end so that the frosting would adhere to the ship.
  • Meaningful Name: CatRat's design features a scrawny body and long, skinny tail. He appears to live within the dollhouse's walls, getting around through various hidden holes in each room. He also has stereotypical features such as his Jerkass personality, greed, and cowardice, although these are largely downplayed in that he can also be quite decent and even nice in certain situations.
    • The other cats have similar names, being Mix-and-Match Critters as listed below. The only regular who doesn't go by this principle, DJ Catnip, is instead named for his preoccupation with music.
    • The Doodads, cats composed of paper and pipe cleaners.
  • Medium Blending: Each episode starts and ends with a live-action scene in Gabby's room. When she goes into the dollhouse, the show switches to CGI.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: A lot of the cats are a blend of cats and an inanimate object:
    • Pandy Paws is a mix of a cat plushie and a panda plushie.
    • Cakey Cat is half cat, half cupcake.
    • MerCat is half cat, half mermaid.
    • Kitty Fairy is half cat, half fairy.
    • Pillow Cat is half cat, half pillow.
    • Carlita is half cat, half racecar.
    • Baby Box and her family are half cardboard creation, half cat.
    • The Hamster Kitties, as their name suggests, are half kitty, half hamster.
  • Multiple Reference Pun: DJ Catnip invokes this trope in "DJ's Glow Ride"
    DJ Catnip: Hey, Gabby, do you wanna play us some...Tracks note 
  • Nice Girl: Gabby is very selfless and always there for others.
  • No Antagonist: Quite a few episodes rely on the characters just playing around or otherwise have something happen to the dollhouse that they have to correct. When there is personal conflict, it's because CatRat is letting some of his personality get the better of him.
    • However, The Magical Mermaidlantis is the first episode where there's an antagonist that is not Cat Rat. Instead, the antagonist being Kitty Squiddy.
  • Nobody Poops:
    • You would expect this from a show in which one character points out that he's a stuffed animal and not a real cat, naturally concluding that most of the other characters, being plastic toys and homemade crafts, would not need one, Gabby being the sole exception. However, “DJ’s Glow Ride” features DJ Catnip suddenly needing to use the toilet. (alternatively, he could've wanted to pee) Also subverted by the regular use of the bathroom as a backdrop, which includes a visible toilet right next to the tub.
    • Averted in Benny Box’s debut episode, which features him pooping in his diaper and getting changed by Mer Cat.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Most of the characters are animated with very smooth movement. However, at some point in the show, Baby Box and her family have been altered so that their animation occurs in jumps or at a slower frame rate. Given that Baby Box is an incarnation of homemade arts and crafts, this may be to imitate Stop Motion animation to fit her role.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: CatRat behaves as one during the Beach Episode, halting the group's fun by shouting "beach situation" just so he can enforce a list of rules. It mostly comes across as nit-picky (must wear a bathing suit and apply sunscreen), but he shows he's also trying to help the group have fun by enforcing a "rule" about being required to take a picture as a keepsake.
  • The Olympics: The Meow-Mazing Games, in which Gabby, Pandy, Carlita, and you go against the Doodads for a three-game competition, the hosts/announcers are Cat Rat and DJ Catnip.
  • Out of Order: The episodes of Season 8 appear to have been uploaded in reverse; the first episode sees Gabby and Pandy familiar with the mermaid tails they chose in episode 4, and in that episode Gabby wears the bracelet she unboxes in episode 5 (although it inexplicably appears in episode 6 as well)
  • Palette Swap: So far, this trope applies to 5 Gabby Cats: Kitty Fairy, Cakey, DJ Catnip, Fluffy Flufferton and Mer Cat. For example
    • The fairies in The Fairy Festival all are just palette swaps of Kitty Fairy
    • In "Cakey's Cupcake Cousins" Cakey's cousins are just smaller palette swaps of Cakey
    • In "Mission to Caturn", DJ Catnip's cousin, DJ Comet, is just a version of DJ Catnip with a white hoodie (with a purple pocket as opposed to DJ Catnip's fuchsia pocket) and pale green skin
    • In "A CAT-abulous Christmas" Figgy and the kitty elves are palette swaps of both of Fluffy's designs, with Figgy being a palette swap of Fluffy's initial "pefectionist" look, and the other kitty elves being palette swaps of Fluffy's fluffier, new "Mistake-embracing" look.
    • And in Season 8 (Specifically episodes "The Magical Mermaidlantis" and "The Mermaid Cruise) Sunny Cat and all the other mermaids are palette swaps of Mer Cat. Except that Sunny Cat wears a sun in her head instead of a sea star, while the other mermaids don't wear any head accessory.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Pillow Cat's use of the word "coodle" in place of "cuddle", which the other characters occasionally use.
  • Potty Dance: DJ Catnip is shown with his paws grabbing the front of his hoodie and hopping up and down with his legs together while declaring he needs a bathroom break in “DJ’s Glow Ride”.
  • Potty Emergency: DJ Catnip has a brief one in “DJ’s Glow Ride”. Thankfully, Gabby, Pandy and him are already in the bathroom when he announces this, so he just darts offscreen to do his business.
  • Prone to Tears: Cakey tends to start crying whenever something happens to him or the kitchen.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: A few episodes have scenes taking place outside the dollhouse while characters are still active, meaning they're animated in a live action setting, often with real-life cat Floyd around.
  • Rubber Man: The Dollhouse's resident music expert, Daniel James 'DJ' Catnip, has elastic legs and tail that can stretch to grab instruments or to activate his DJ console from outside his DJ booth.
  • Rule of Three: Or rather, Rule of Four. Unlike most children's cartoons, some episodes have a four-part structure (for example, four ingredients for a potion).
  • Running Gag: Cakey's above-mentioned Prone to Tears personality + Tasty Tears = Pandy snitching sprinkles before helping to solve Cakey's problem.
  • Sleepyhead: Pillow Cat, fitting her nature as part pillow and having the bedroom as her living area, is often seen asleep.
  • Short Screentime for Reality: While the series is set in the animated world of Gabby's titular dollhouse, Gabby's bedroom is all we'll ever see of the real world.
  • Squee: Gabby does this in several episodes of Season 8. (and in the Season 4 episode "Fluffy Flufferton")
  • Tasty Tears: Cakey's tears are made up of sprinkles, something Pandy enjoys eating. He admits though that Cakey's "sprinkle party" sprinkles, the ones he releases when he's happy, are tastier, however.
  • Token Human: Gabby is the only human character in the show.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The season 3 episode "DJ Catnip Gets His Groove Back" ends with DJ Catnip singing a victory reprise of his song "The Music In You" upon getting his groove back, thanking his friends for helping him getting it back.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: Pillow Cat's Catchphrase is "Let's roll with it". Gabby and Pandy are also just as inclined to stick with an improvised item or situation rather than force one of their friends to redo their craft, often simply because the results are much more fun.
    Pandy Paws: Bread bed, bread bed, bread bed, bread bed...