Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character (3)

Today's favourite fictional character is not even human. He's "the little dog with a big imagination": Wishbone.

I fell in love with this series when it first aired on PBS, even though I was much older than the target audience. But when you combine classic literature with a cute Jack Russell Terrier who dresses up in costumes to play some of the most beloved characters in history... well, what's not to love?

"Wishbone" aired between 1995 and 2001. The eponymous dog lives with his owner, a young boy named Joe Talbot. Wishbone can talk (well, in his head... only the audience can hear him, of course), and his narration ties some of history's greatest works of literature together with the stories of Joe's everyday life in the town of Oakdale, Texas. I'm not sure exactly how this dog is supposed to know all of these famous stories, but he does. And the result is both entertaining and educational.

Wishbone imagines himself in all sorts of famous works -- everything from The Odyssey to Pride and Prejudice (in which he plays Mr. Darcy, of course). Half the fun was seeing the dog dressed up in some pretty elaborate costumes. But I think the series was intended as a way to encourage kids to read, and pick up books they might not even look at otherwise. While I question how many kids actually managed to read The Count of Monte Cristo after seeing the corresponding episode, at least they got an idea of the story... and perhaps they would go on to read the book when they were ready. (I read Shakespeare's The Tempest after seeing the episode "Shakespaw". Of course, then I couldn't shake the image in my head of Ariel with four legs and a tail.)

Only a few episodes are available on VHS and DVD, which is a shame. The classic works highlighted by the show are timeless, and kids today would probably still get a lot out of watching the series.

The Favorite Fictional Character meme was started by Ryan G. at Wordsmithonia.


  1. Oh how I loved wishbone. I tune in with my boys when they show the odd episode on tv.

  2. Never saw whisbone, but he looks so cute. :)

  3. I've never seen it.
    These pictures are precious.

  4. He was Mr. Darcy? No way! Now I've got to hunt this down on youtube...

    Wishbone was so adorable! I even had some of the books but I gave them to the library. Now I miss them :/

  5. Thank you so much for this post. When I started this feature I was hoping that readers would discover new characters they weren't familiar with and decided to get to know them.

    I know have met a really cool character that I was not familiar with and am absolutely in love with now. I'm going to have to find what is available on DVD and share them with my son.

  6. ooh i love wishbone. "what's the story wishbooone!?" i used to watch this when it first aired and i was a teen. :)

  7. I am surprised that someone was able to stump Ryan. That is Great!!

    I as well remember Wishbone. He was adorable. I do have to agree with you that he tried to help shed a little light on some reading to help get kids interested in history and reading too.

    I was always amazed at the outfits he wore. How did the dog let some of those hats stay on him. He was just adorable in all the outfits.

    Thanks for the great reminder!

    Great pick!

  8. I've obviously missed out on something here, Wishbone sounds wonderful. I wonder if you can get copies of the DVD here in England - Amazon here I come.