Okay, hopefully this whole blogging business is a bit like riding a bicycle. Which is probably an apt comparison because I am a terrible bicyclist unless said bicycle is stationary.
This week, I watched Wishbone tackle Shakespeare. I do quite like Shakespeare, especially when I got to the point where I actually understood it, which I would argue takes a lot longer than anyone admits. I imagine a lot of people have entire conversations about Shakespeare: the Wikipedia Edition, with every single person thinking they’re the only one who “cheated.”
This episode tackles Romeo and Juliet, which is often people’s introduction to Shakespeare. That or Hamlet. But I don’t think even Wishbone could make Hamlet, the whiny ass prince of Denmark, appealing. Also, there is no way they could have avoided showing Hamlet/Wishbone ramming someone through with a broadsword. Which, though I would love to watch that purely to see how they would train a dog to pull that off, such a trick is probably not kid appropriate. Romeo and Juliet offing themselves is difficult enough. Let’s see how Wishbone is reminded of the tragic play.
What’s going on in Oakdale:
We enter on an animal shelter, where Wishbone is unwillingly escorted into a cage, all while he tells the audience about how he doesn’t belong in prison. Way to pull the old heartstrings within the first 10 seconds of the episode, Wishbone. Adopt, people. NO DOGGIE WANTS TO BE IN PRISON. If Sarah McLachlan music starts playing, I’m going to have to turn this episode off because I can’t handle animal related sadness in TV, movies, or literature. Just ask my parents, who found me curled in the fetal position sobbing uncontrollably after I finished Where the Red Fern Grows, which had been assigned by my teacher because apparently crushing childhood innocence is a typical part of the forth grade curriculum. They also witnessed me, at the age of 29, crying my way through the remake of Pete’s Dragon over this winter break, muttering, “I hate this movie SO much” between sobs.
Moving on from my crippling weakness for cuddly creatures, Wishbone’s in the shelter because he was caught playing in the duck pond without a collar. Looks like Wishbone desperately needed a couple of hours away from Joe, which I completely understand. Wishbone quickly forgets his predicament when he sees that a beautiful beagle is his next door neighbor.
Wishbone starts spouting love poetry, then contemplates why he’s spouting it. He decides he needs “special words” to describe this babe of a dog, which of course makes him think of Shakespeare. Sadly, Wishbone seems to have a dismal streak in him, as he chooses Romeo and Juliet, which, *spoiler alert,* does not end well for anyone involved. Why couldn’t Wishbone have thought of Rosalind and Orlando? Beatrice and Benedick? Any other Shakespearean couple where people get to live? Anywho, we’ll get to the part where Wishbone has to explain the concept of death and suicide to children later.
In a coincidence that doesn’t merely teeter on the line of believable, but leaves believable firmly in its rear view mirror, Joe and his classmates are on a field trip to the animal shelter, where they are about to learn some heavy fucking lessons. A staff member, Mr. Dunlap, casually tells the kids that if they can’t place a dog after a few months, they “put them to sleep” because there “is not enough room.” I assume he will shortly tell these kids that their parents are liars, and there isn’t a farm with lots of room for their dogs to play. Then he’ll wrap up the day by showing them Old Yeller. Great field trip, Oakdale Elementary. Great field trip.
Joe finds Wishbone in his cage, and tells Mr. Dunlap that Wishbone is his dog, and that they can even “call his mom to ask.” With this firm verification of Joe’s ownership and identity, Mr. Dunlap quickly gets Joe a leash and collar so he can take Wishbone home. Were microchips not a thing in the nineties?
Meanwhile, Sam has also been bewitched by Rosie’s charm. Mr. Dunlap cheerfully informs Sam that Rosie’s been in the shelter for a month, so the countdown clock on her life has begun. Wishbone and Sam reluctantly leave Rosie behind. I have to say that Rosie seems pretty apathetic to everything that’s going on, but perhaps she hasn’t been informed that she’s actually on death row.
Sam gets dropped off by Ellen at her dad, Walter’s house. Walter thanks Ellen, then asks her if Sam can stay at the Talbots’ place tomorrow afternoon, because imposing on people as they’re backing out of your driveway is the best way to manage child care.
Sam eagerly presents Walter with a picture of Rosie, begging him to adopt her. Walter quickly shuts her down. At first, his arguments are reasonable — they are both busy and dogs require attention. It’d be cruel to leave Rosie alone at home so often, etc. Sam counters with assurances that she would take care of all the dog’s needs, and that any home is better than no home. (I would have thrown in the word “death” or “murder,” but Sam clearly wasn’t as dramatic a child as I was.) Walter then asks who would take care of the dog when Sam is at her mother‘s house, and reminds her that her mom doesn’t allow dogs in her house. Way to go Walter. Way to punish your kid for a divorce that isn’t her fault, and throw your ex-wife under the bus at the same time. Walter then mutters, “maybe your new stepdad Donald can take care of the dog. Because Donald listens, and Donald takes care of her needs.” Sam pretends not to hear this last part, and continues her desperate pleas.
Wishbone figures out a way out of his collar the next day, and triumphantly returns to his beloved Rosie. Conveniently, the cage next to her is once again empty. Wishbone drags the animal control lady towards it, making me wonder how they hell this woman handles a German Shepherd if a 30 pound dog can almost knock her off of her feet. Meanwhile, Sam has also returned to the shelter with one last plan to spring Rosie from the clink. She asks Mr. Dunlap, who is apparently the only person who works at the shelter, to take Rosie home for the day, hoping to cripple her father with guilt by making him look the poor dog in the eyes. “Go ahead Dad, tell Rosie about how BUSY we are.” Of course, Mr. Dunlap heartily agrees to Sam putting her father in an uncomfortable position, and tells Sam to make sure to turn on the water works when she explains what fate awaits Rosie. He lets her sign Rosie out until 6pm. Sam sees Wishbone, and Mr. Dunlap, probably realizing that Joe is a shit owner, lets Sam take him home as well.
As I’ve said before, Sam was always my favorite human character, but this next scene makes me reluctantly need to reevaluate that position. In a move that truly defies logic, Sam takes the leashes off of Wishbone and Rosie, and merely explains to them that she’s going to get her Dad from inside the house, and that they should wait there for her. In the unfenced front yard. She doesn’t say “sit” or “stay.” She just heads inside the house, closing the door behind her, fully confident that these dogs understood her request. Oh Sam, don’t make me agree with your father. Sam goes inside, only to find her father isn’t home. She then proceeds to sit down to wait for him, which baffles me even further. Does she think her dad won’t notice the two dogs allegedly sitting outside when he comes strolling up the front walk? “Hmm, I don’t remember commissioning any dog statues. Probably my ex-wife’s doing. Well, joke’s on her, I emptied out the joint checking account MONTHS ago.”
Regardless, this point is irrelevant, as Wishbone and Rosie are long gone. I guess technically Wishbone DOES understand what Sam wanted, but he does not give a shit. He’s determined to take Rosie “someplace romantic.” Hopefully Wishbone knows he’s neutered, otherwise he’s in for a world of disappointment.
Luckily, this show does not have its mind in the gutter like I do, and Wishbone merely wants to take Rosie to Wanda’s yard, where they proceed to have a delightful montage of chasing, wrestling, digging, and playing in the fountain, all while Wanda watches on in horror. Wanda must derive some kind of sick pleasure in yelling at the Talbots’ about Wishbone’s antics, because she never seems to do much about it. It’s not like Wishbone is some 150 pound Mastiff that she can’t wrangle. Maybe she uses it as an excuse to extort the Talbots into giving her money for her weird flamingo collection. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell Wanda does for a living.
Meanwhile, Sam remembers that her Dad had pushed her off onto the Talbots’ that day, and that he’s probably at Joe’s house to pick her up. Over at Casa de Talbot, Joe and David whine to Ellen that, surprise surprise, Wishbone is nowhere to be found. Walter comes in looking for Sam, and Ellen asks Joe why Sam didn’t come home with him. “She said she couldn’t handle me talking about my sweet basketball moves anymore and then she stormed off,” Joe replies. Not really. He actually says, “She said her dad was going to pick her up.” This wouldn’t be so odd if it weren’t for the fact that he says this TO Walter. Does Joe not know that Walter is Sam’s dad? Walter decides to check back at home.
Sadly, like most things created before the early 2000s, much of this plot would have been made completely irrelevant with the use of cell phones. Sam would have texted Joe, “hey idiot, I have your dog. I told the shelter you’ll happily pick up all the dog shit for the next six months in order to repay them for the massive inconvenience.” She’d then send her Dad 900 pictures of Rosie until he relented and let Sam adopt her. Then everyone would know where Sam is, where Wishbone is, and Wanda could continue to write erotica, or whatever it is she does all day.
Instead, Wanda rats Wishbone and Rosie out to animal control because apparently Wanda learned NOTHING about being neighborly at the neighborhood picnic a few episodes back. On a side note, how the hell is Wishbone escaping, anyway? He snakes out of his collar, but how does he make it out of the house? Does he have his own set of keys that he taught himself to use? And why doesn’t anyone seem to have fenced in backyards? Everyone knows that fences make the best kind of neighbors. Anyhow, the two dog lovers are separated, as Rosie is taken back to prison, and Wishbone is returned home.
The phone rings at the Talbot house, and Ellen answers. It’s Walter, informing Ellen that Sam isn’t at his house. The doorbell rings, and lo and behold, it’s Sam! Ellen tells Walter the good news, and does that weird thing that all TV shows do where she hangs up without saying goodbye, because apparently etiquette doesn’t exist in TV-Land. Sam sees that Wishbone has returned, and asks Joe if he’s seen Rosie. “Rosie?” Joe asks, because apparently he suffered a head injury after the field trip and doesn’t remember anything that happened in the last 24 hours.
We then cut to an incredibly awkward scene where Walter decides he simply can’t wait to lecture Sam when they’re back in their own home. He has to do it right there on the Talbot’s couch, because everyone knows that shaming your kid in front of her friends always yields positive results. Sam interrupts Walter mid-lecture to inform him that she was desperately trying to stay Rosie’s imminent execution. Wishbone walks in at this point to try and rally the troops.
Evidently Wishbone’s speech was very inspirational because the next scene is of Wishbone running back into the animal shelter. But Rosie’s cage is empty. I feel like I can flash back to my six year old self watching, prepping myself to sob uncontrollably for a good five hours. Luckily we aren’t kept in suspense long, and Mr. Dunlap informs her that Rosie was adopted moments before they arrived. Phew. Sam redeems her earlier misstep of thinking Rosie and Wishbone would understand general guidelines by showing an incredible amount of maturity in expressing relief that Rosie was adopted, instead of feeling sorry for herself that she didn’t get to adopt Rosie herself.
Walter quickly squashes any talk of adopting another dog by suggesting Sam volunteer at the shelter. Hopefully it’ll backfire when Sam brings home 18 dogs at risk of being put down.
Meanwhile, Wishbone lies in Rosie’s old kennel, heartbroken. Joe watches on, looking perplexed at Wishbone’s depression over Rosie, as Joe lacks the ability to make profound interpersonal relationships. Dammit Joe, you are nowhere NEAR Maslow’s psychological concept of self-actualization. Ugh.
The episode ends with a touching commentary on the complexity of emotions, reassuring the viewers that it’s okay to be sad, and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just kidding. Wishbone recovers with whiplash inducing speed, and runs off with Rosie’s squeaky rose, cackling and challenging Joe to a race. What an accurate depiction of grief.
What’s going on in Verona:
An adorable four-legged Romeo encounters and hits it off with Juliet at a party, after which Romeo discovers Juliet is a Capulet, and Juliet discovers Romeo is a Montague. Unfortunately, these two families are essentially at war with one another. Eschewing their families feud, the couple decides to proceed with their romance, and get married in secret. Shortly thereafter, Romeo is exiled. Eventually, the hatred between their two families is too much, and Romeo and Juliet die together.
— Holy shit, Wishbone is wearing a MASK and it. is. magnificent. I want to meet the costume designers and ask them if this was the cutest job they ever had. This dog is the embodiment of patience and tolerance. Give him all of the treats. (Actually, I read an article that said they had to let out his costumes because evidently they DID give him all the treats. Oops.)
— Keeping Romeo and Juliet in the format of a stage play is a nice way to introduce it to kids. It shows the play as intended, and keeps the tragic tone somewhat more manageable. Given my hysterics at a CGI dragon being bullied, I can’t blame the makers of the show for wanting to avoid apoplectic children at the sight of a dead Wishbone.
–Wishbone’s asides to the audience explaining some of the more complex lines was a nice way to balance the desire to keep the original language of the play, while still making it understandable to younger audiences.
— If you think that synopsis that I wrote seemed almost TOO simplistic, you won’t find much disagreement with me. I mean, I understand why they had to leave out the fabulous character of Mercutio, and the not so fabulous character of Paris, but they cut out the fight with Tybalt, and even the whole part where Juliet fakes her death and wakes up to find a dead Romeo. I suppose they were tight on time, and didn’t want to show Wishbone murdering Tybalt, even in play form. But I still think they could have explained the end a bit more. I mean, Romeo just walks in on Juliet in the crypt, like she just dropped dead of the very rare disease of FeudingFamily-itis. Are we really that scared of the word ‘suicide?’ Frankly, it’s more disturbing to not have an explanation for it.
— Juliet’s wig. It looks like they took a normal wig and then gave it 15 perms. Maybe they were originally planning on setting the play in the 1980s, with Romeo and Juliet being members of two feuding hair metal bands.
–The curtain call. What the hell, Wishbone? It’s called Romeo AND Juliet, not ROMEO. Why does Wishbone get his own bow, and the lady playing Juliet has to stay in the background? Check your ego at the door and acknowledge your scene partner. The lady pretended to marry a dog, give her some damn credit for pulling that shit off with a straight face.
Well, I’m off to go crunch some numbers and see how many dogs I can adopt without going bankrupt. Maybe I can train one as well as Wishbone and I’ll get rich off all that sweet, sweet PBS money. See you next time!