You know an animal has had a big effect on your life when you see its breed and you refer to it by a character name rather than the actual breed. People may see a Collie and call it a “Lassie Dog.” Others may see a Saint Bernard and call it a “Beethoven.” I’m sure many unfortunate Holocaust victims see German Shepherds and call them assholes. The dog I’m talking about here though is a Jack Russell Terrier. But I never call them that. I simply call them Wishbones.
(If you’ve never heard of this show I hope a picture of a dog in a bow tie will get you to continue reading)
Wishbone was a television program on PBS during the late 1990s. PBS was real big on tricking children into reading and Wishbone was a prime example. Each episode would be about Wishbone’s owner Joe Talbot having a problem in his life that somehow related to a classic piece of literature. A few episodes I remember were Rip Van Winkle, The Count of Monte Cristo, and whatever A Kid in King Arthur’s Court was based on. You know, that movie with the kid from Rookie of the Year who gets transported back into Medieval Days. I hate that guy.
The cute thing about the show was a big part of each episode was Wishbone portraying these classic characters. He’d get dressed up in costume and wear fake beards. He never had to wear a dress because classic literature rarely stars women and half the proceeds from PBS telethons go toward stopping cross-dressers anyway.
Like every kid on a 90s TV show, Joe had no father. Why did every kid grow up with a dead parent in the 1990s? If anything the 1990s had parents living longer than ever before. It’s not like 12 was middle-aged anymore. Joe’s mom was always real supportive of him. She had a nerdy librarian friend who I always hated because she would wear sundresses. It takes a real special woman to look good in a sundress. This woman was nothing wonderful.
Joe also had a few people his own age in his life to support him. He had a dweeby male friend and an attractive blonde female friend named Sam. Sam really is the perfect female best friend name. It’s both a male and a female name so it reminds you that she might be a lesbian. I think there was one episode where Joe discovers Sam has giant breasts. Or maybe this is wishful thinking and I’m crossing over Malcolm in the Middle plotlines again like I always seem to do.
(I forgot how racially diverse and long in the face this cast was)
Wishbone grew to a level of popularity where they had a book series come out. I did a book report on a Wishbone book. I wonder if my teacher was really confused about me doing a book report on a classic novel with a dog as the main character instead. No wonder I never got to go to a real college and I wake up every morning hating myself.
This show has gone forgotten over the years and doesn’t have the same random popularity it used to. Like with most PBS programming it had many flaws, but this was still one of the better shows. I think their downfall was pinning themselves in a corner. How many classic books can you really have a dog dress up as the main character from? If Wishbone’s purpose was to get me to read older books all on my own he failed. If his goal was to get me to yelp “Ohhhh a Wishbone dog!” each time I see a Jack Russell Terrier peeing on a tree he was a success.