Episode Four: Rosie Oh! Rosie Oh!

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.”

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I’m never going to read another play unless it promises me that it gets great applause every time it’s performed.

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.

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This scene has to be one of the most awkward in TV history, because they play that awkward 90s “sexy” saxophone music while the camera pans up Rosie’s bod like a schlocky romance movie. Is Rosie fit? Heck yeah, girl clearly does her cardio. Is sexualizing a dog appropriate for any situation? I’m going to go with no.

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?

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When questioned about the whereabouts of Wishbone’s collar, Joe says that he takes it off Wishbone at night, and forgot to put it back on, which is a giant pack of lies. Looks like Joe didn’t think he’d have someone like me carefully watching and reviewing each episode, because I can assure you that Wishbone’s collar has been present for every episode, even at night. Pictured here: Wishbone, at night, with his collar on. Let the record show that Joe Talbot has perjured himself on the witness stand and should be punished accordingly.

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.

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Here’s a quick picture of the money I gave to animal rescues while writing this recap.

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.

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That’s right Joe, just roughly shove that collar on Wishbone’s head, that will definitely prevent him from escaping again. Looks like Joe could have used a lesson in the concept of a buckle instead of a trip to the animal shelter.

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.

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Why doesn’t Rosie get a voice? Is Rosie a metaphor for the true tragedy of Romeo and Juliet — that of a woman imprisoned in a patriarchy, whose demise was dictated not by the stars, but by the trappings of a society in which she had no say in her destiny? Wow, Wishbone is such a profound show.

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.

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Rosie has the same expression I get when I see kale. Do I eat it? Is it decorative?

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.

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The real reason Wanda is so upset at Wishbone and Rosie is that they totally interrupted her afternoon of smurf cosplay.

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.

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It’s almost as if Wishbone’s collar was too loose because someone shoved it over his head instead of buckling it. I wonder what idiot would have made that mistake twice.

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.

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There is no real gratitude in the animal control world — you either get a distracted dismissal like Ellen’s, or you get my mother’s rather more dramatic response of hopping a fence in order to outrun animal control attempting to fine her for letting our dog off leash at the park.

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.

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Sad music plays as Walter exchanges a look with Ellen that reads as “kids, am I right? Always getting SO upset over the smallest things, like animal death.”

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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.

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“Are you sure?” Sam asks, after Mr. Dunlap tells her Rosie was adopted. Wait. IS MR. DUNLAP LYING? Is this subtly implying that Rosie WAS put down? What kind of show is this????

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.

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Why have the affection of another being when you can have things!

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.

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“No seriously, this dog is my romantic lead. Yep. That is healthy and normal. We are very much in real love. Yes we are.”

What works:

— 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.

What doesn’t:

— 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!

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Episode Three: Twisted Tail

Greetings from Still-unemployed-landia! Fun fact: When you’re unemployed, you tend to look forward to Mondays because that’s when more invitation to interview calls come in, and dread Fridays because that’s when job rejections come in.  I myself have gotten rejections every Friday for over two months. So I find myself on the deck, eagerly awaiting my next rejection.  Sometimes I like to play a little rejection roulette — which job will I be rejected from today?  How many jobs will I be rejected from before I resort to day drinking?

In the meantime, I’ve turned to Wishbone to get me through the day, and I’ve got to say, this episode was not Wishbone’s finest work.  I mean, it’s still Wishbone and therefore it is amazing, but as with most TV shows, the first few episodes after the pilot tend to be a bit weak in retrospect as the cast, crew, and writers find their footing. I will also admit that Dickens is not my favorite, so the fact that this week focused on Oliver Twist didn’t help matters.

What’s going on in Oakdale:

Ah, suburbia.  So idyllic. So safe.  OR IS IT? That noisy dirt bike serves as both a literal and symbolic of the chaos that is about to come to Oakdale.
Ah, suburbia. So idyllic. So safe. OR IS IT? That noisy dirt bike serves as both a literal and metaphorical symbol of the chaotic shit storm that is about to reek havoc in Oakdale.

We open on a crisis in the Talbot household — Wishbone’s bowl is EMPTY!  Wishbone tries to distract himself from his hunger with a good book — Oliver Twist.  This episode is veering into the unbelievable within the first 30 seconds.  I’m sorry, but based on my dog’s behavior, I’m pretty sure Wishbone should be attempting to eat that book instead of reading it if he’s even mildly hungry. But I’ll let it go because Wishbone is such a bibliophile.

Wishbone hears the door open and greets Joe, David, and Sam, but is rightfully suspicious of the new kid Joe has with him (Max) because this guy has the start of a truly terrible mullet.  Max and Wishbone shake hands, and Max acts as though he has invented this astonishing new trick, so we know right away that Max is going to be a real winner. Joe quickly steals the scene through a horrifically boring recap of his epic basketball showdown with Damont Jones.  This is slightly confusing because I’m assuming these kids have just returned from school, where they too witnessed this exceptional basketball game, so it seems he truly is recapping the game purely for Wishbone’s sake. Joe jumps on the couch and reenacts the game winning shot, only for Ellen to walk in and witness her son’s complete disrespect of her property and propensity for self-aggrandizement.  “Ah, Joe,” she says, “looks like you’re happily exercising your sense of entitlement today! Excuse me while I change my will to leave everything to Wishbone!”

If memory serves me correctly, this is the one and only time we will see Max during this entire series, so don't get too attached -- ha ha ha, that's impossible, this kid idolizes Joe so he's clearly worthless.
If memory serves me correctly, this is the one and only time we will see Max during this entire series, so don’t get too attached — ha ha ha, that’s impossible, this kid idolizes Joe so he’s clearly worthless.
Sweet Jesus early CGI is horrifying -- I think they were trying to make Wishbone smile but somehow they've made it look like Wishbone plans on reenacting American Psycho instead of Oliver Twist.
Wishbone “mugs” at the camera, telling the audience that everyone loves a dog that can shake hands. Sweet Jesus, early CGI is horrifying. I think they were trying to make Wishbone smile but somehow they’ve made it look like Wishbone plans on reenacting American Psycho instead of Oliver Twist.

No, no, I’m merely joking, Ellen doesn’t say that — she amended her will ages ago.  She does call Joe out on his showboating, though, and introduces herself to Max. Ellen then asks for help unloading the groceries, and while Sam and David immediately go and help, Joe sees this as a perfect opportunity to show Max his Dad’s valuable basketball cards. Ah, yes, that’s the way all lifelong friends are made — by bragging about your possessions. I always open up the safe and show off my pearls and diamonds to any of my new friends. Also, why assist your single working mom with the groceries when you can continue to belabor the point that you enjoy basketball?

She calls herself
Ellen calls herself “just a quiet librarian,” which hurts a bit. Just?! Just?! Don’t you mean, “I’m a librarian, Max. Though most people think I shelve books and shush people all day, in truth I acquire, organize, promote, and disseminate all kinds of information. I’m basically a wizard. BOOM.”

After the groceries are brought in, we move on to a riveting lunch scene, in which quirky music plays as Max eats his lunch while Joe, Ellen, Sam, and David all watch him, bewildered. I think we’re supposed to be shocked at how fast and how much he is eating, but all the scene does is make me super self conscious about how I eat. Wishbone calls Max “a machine,” but the kid is eating one chip at a time, whereas I tend to jam, at a minimum, seven in my mouth in one go. Unfortunately, Max loses my sympathy a minute later, when he asks the unforgivable question of, “Are you going to finish that?” Dammit, Max, that is UNACCEPTABLE.  If I say “yes,” then it’s awkward because now I know you wanted it and it feels like I’m gloating with every bite I take, but if I say “no,” then you’ll take it even though the truth is I probably will finish it at some point, as I heartily enjoy snacking on leftovers. Ultimately, we can conclude that any potential conflict surrounding food makes me very uncomfortable. But back to the scene!

I think all three of the kids were supposed to be staring at Max, but clearly the kid playing David felt that his character would be more focused on eating lunch.
I think all three of the kids were supposed to be staring at Max, but clearly the kid playing David felt that his character would be more focused on eating his own lunch.

Max quickly becomes Joe level intolerable when he decides to give a massive hunk of the sandwich that he basically stole from Joe to Wishbone.  Ellen restrains herself from saying “Thanks, Max, you’ve just encouraged my dog to beg at the table, reinforcing a horrible habit that makes me feel guilty any time I try to have a meal. No wonder you and my worthless jackass son have become such fast friends.”

This episode is just never-ending with horrible behavior, as moments later, Wanda rings the doorbell so many times that one thinks she has to be running away from a masked assassin. But no, she comes traipsing in, telling Ellen that one of her lawn flamingos has been stolen.  She clutches her remaining flamingo, and tells Ellen that she’s called the police, who actually responded to the call. The police told Wanda that a few other places in the neighborhood have also been robbed — probably by kids.  She essentially accuses Max, who luckily has an alibi, then accepts David’s help when he offers to create a security system. David says his idea involves using Wishbone, to which Wanda questioningly responds “Wishbone? This yappy little dog?” and then PUSHES Wishbone away from her. Frankly, at this point, I would have tried to find the culprit to offer my help in robbing Wanda’s home, but whatever.

Ellen is wondering to herself how Wanda has gotten to the point where she feels comfortable wandering about clutching flamingos and wearing a housecoat in the Talbot household.
Ellen is wondering to herself how Wanda has gotten to the point where she feels comfortable wandering about clutching flamingos and wearing a housecoat in the Talbot home.
So in Wanda's mind stealing lawn flamingos essentially warrants life in prison, but pushing a dog is totally fine? I would have left a plastic flamingo head in Wanda's bed the next morning, but that's just me.
So in Wanda’s mind stealing lawn flamingos essentially warrants life in prison, but pushing a dog is totally fine? I would have left a plastic flamingo head in Wanda’s bed the next morning, but that’s just me.

We cut to bedtime, where Ellen comes in to tell Joe how proud she is of him for befriending Max, since being the new kid is always hard.  They laugh more about how much he eats, only for Joe to say that Max probably doesn’t get to eat much at the group home.  So Joe knew this fact the whole time, laughed about how much the kid ate, AND stared at him as he did so?  You’re a real class act, Joe, you insensitive prick.

The next day, Joe and Max are playing a game of god damn basketball, because there really hasn’t been enough focus on this sport this episode. However, they are interrupted by an older kid on roller blades, and I sigh to myself as I remember that roller blades used to be the hippest and clunkiest form of transportation.  The cool kids just put on their blades and took off, maybe wearing a backpack with their regular shoes that they could wear once they arrived at their cool destinations. Sadly, my mom always made me gear up in a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. She was all concerned about my brain and not breaking bones, you know, really boring shit that only moms care about.

The best part of this exchange is when the older kid asks,
The best part of this exchange is when the older kid asks, “Who’s the chump?” and without missing a beat, Max goes, “This is Joe!” How right you are Max, how right you are.

Oof. Tangent/flashback there. Anyhow, the older kid makes Wishbone and Joe very suspicious, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because he has a soul patch? Joe notes that the roller blades look very expensive, prompting the older kid to present Max with another pair of expensive “blades,” which he has attained through his “sources.” Note my overuse of quotations –clearly, I too am suspicious of a soul patch. Max tries on his new “wheelies,” and subsequently ditches Joe, who gazes down at his roller blade-less feet, defeated.

Cut to David’s house, who has apparently stolen his mom’s credit card, as he has a ton of tech gear strewn about his room. Joe doesn’t point out to David that all the tech gear must have been expensive, probably because David can’t grow facial hair yet. David is creating his homemade security system using the bark of Wishbone. Using the classic TV/movie technique of showing tech skills by randomly typing on keys, David manages to enhance the bark to create a terrifying security system for the undeserving Wanda.

In a random addition to the plot, Sam shows up to lend David a microphone wearing a white dress, seemingly unusual attire for Sam.  She tells the boys that she had to take a dancing class.  Apparently her divorced parents plan her spare time, and while her mom enrolled her in karate class last month, this month it is dance class as her dad thinks she needs to work on her
In a random addition to the plot, Sam shows up to lend David a microphone wearing a white dress, seemingly unusual attire for Sam. She tells the boys that she had to take a dancing class. Apparently her divorced parents plan her spare time, and while her mom enrolled her in karate class last month, this month it is dance class as her dad thinks she needs to work on her “social graces.” Poor Sam. Not only is she lacking consistency — why do her activities change month to month?? — her father is evidently a misogynist stuck in the 1920s. Knowing David and Joe won’t understand how modern women still struggle for equality in a seemingly inflexible patriarchal society, she quickly changes the subject back to the microphone.

Upon going to Wanda’s house to install the security system, she yells at Joe for having Wishbone off leash and slams the door on him, allowing only David inside.  Joe says, “So much for being neighborly,” though I would have gone with, “If you don’t like Wishbone, I imagine you won’t care for the flaming bag of his shit I plan on leaving on your doorstep later this evening, you ungrateful piece of garbage.”

Is Wanda wearing the same outfit she wore yesterday?
Is Wanda wearing the same outfit she wore yesterday?

Joe and Wishbone return to their house, only to discover it has been ransacked, and Joe’s beloved basketball card is gone.  The police arrive, and ask Joe if there are any kids he knows that could have done it.  Wishbone thinks “Max!” while Joe says he’d been with his friends all day, because Joe knows snitches get stitches. Or evidently not, because he confesses to his mom moments later that Max was not with him all afternoon. Wishbone and Ellen tell Joe he needs to “do the right thing” and “tell the police,” because Ellen and Wishbone have no street smarts. Joe mentions the other kid, describing him as “a big kid” that “acted like some sort of gangster,” illuminating that Joe wasn’t jealous of the kid’s soul patch, but of his height. Additionally, it appears that Joe’s knowledge of gangsters is probably limited to Westside Story, which I’m sure was performed on roller blades at some community theater somewhere in the country during the nineties.

I know the set design people really wanted to emphasize that the place had been robbed, but I'm pretty sure Oakdale actually just had an earthquake.
I know the set design people really wanted to emphasize that the place had been robbed, but I’m pretty sure Oakdale actually just had a massive earthquake.

The next day, Joe comes home, telling Ellen that Max wasn’t at school, and the people who run the group home also don’t know where he is. Suddenly, the alarm at Wanda’s house goes off, prompting Joe to get up and run outside, apparently because Joe thinks he can stop burglars unassisted. Or maybe he’s following my earlier advice and going to check if the burglars need any help loading their loot into a truck. Alas, no. Joe arrives to find the older kid (evidently named Zack) running out of Wanda’s house with a backpack full of Wanda’s stuff (fingers crossed he’s got the housecoat!), and Max trying to stop him. Max gets clotheslined by Zack, and Joe asks Max what he’s doing.  Max, with really terrible black eye makeup, confesses he got in a fight with Zack after he told him he had to give everything back. Joe asks why Max didn’t tell them, and Max actually says that he thought he could take on Zack since Joe took on Damont Jones. If the most heroic thing Max has ever seen is Joe beating Damont Jones in basketball, I have a whole new level of sympathy for this kid.

Ellen doesn't even bother to get up when the alarm goes off and Joe goes running outside, probably because she's thinking,
Ellen doesn’t even bother to get up when the alarm goes off and Joe goes running outside, probably because she’s thinking, “Maybe the burglar will kidnap Wanda AND Joe and solve all of my problems.”

While they’re contemplating how they can catch Zack, Wishbone has been off attempting to trail Zack.  He comes back, having failed to track Zack, but he did manage to wrench of Zack’s dirt bike license plate with his teeth, which is more than a little unnerving. Wait, dirt bikes need licenses?

But ho! A dirt bike! That shot panning over suburbia at the beginning of the episode finally makes sense!
But ho! A dirt bike! That shot panning over suburbia at the beginning of the episode finally makes sense!

Max tells Joe, Sam, and David that he thinks he knows where Zack stashes his stolen goods, and we cut to David using yet more tech gear to save the day.  This time, he’s put a weird helmet video camera on Wishbone to collect enough evidence to prove Zack is the one breaking into all the houses. Ah yes, the days before the GoPro did make canine recon difficult. Wishbone sneaks about the lair, and I begin to wonder if Zack is a hoarder or a kleptomaniac.  He has like 47 TVs, but they’re all set up so it doesn’t look like he plans on selling them. Also, why would anyone want to just have a lawn flamingo? Anyhow, Wishbone manages to catch Zack on tape in his storage area hangout, which prompts Joe to tell his friends to call 911. Wishbone is spotted by Zack, who begins to chase Wishbone. Joe only now realizes that he’s sent his dog into mortal peril all for the sake of a fucking basketball card, and says “We gotta help Wishbone!” Luckily, this is a kid’s television show, where horrible decisions have no real consequences, so just in the nick of time, the police apprehend Zack, and Wishbone emerges with Wanda’s flamingo.

Oh yes, this is in no way conspicuous. I never let my dog leave the house without her helmet on.  It's a dangerous world out there, after all.
Oh yes, this is in no way conspicuous. I never let my dog leave the house without her helmet on. It’s a dangerous world out there, after all.
Joe wears this helmet to watch what Wishbone is filming, but he essentially acts like it is Oculus Rift.
Joe wears this doohickey to watch what Wishbone is filming, but he essentially acts like it is Oculus Rift.

Joe and Ellen restore their beloved basketball card to its proper place as Max watches creepily on, until Ellen says, “Now, we eat.” Max then yells “Yeah!” which I’m sure was supposed to illicit lots of laughs from the audience. Hahaha! Malnourished children trapped in the grim purgatory that is a group home! Wards of the state are hilarious!

Note that Max is now dressing like Joe, so next's week's episode might be a reenactment of Fatal Attraction.
Note that Max is now dressing like Joe, so next’s week’s episode might be a reenactment of Fatal Attraction.

The episode ends with Wishbone being awoken from a snooze to be called to supper time.

Can you teach a dog to sleep on command?
Can you train a dog to sleep on command? “Wishbone, zzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

What’s going on in (not so) Merry Old England:

Again, as I’ve said before, I’m not a big Dickens fan.  I don’t like to criticize people’s taste in books because reading is always a good idea (unless you think the Twilight series is good writing or illustrates a healthy relationship in which case I recommend you look up “plot” and “stalking” on the internet and see which one Twilight illustrates better). So if you like Dickens, I would love to hear why.  Just know that my opinions about books often tend to be because I’m a terrible person who gets way too fixated on characters that I don’t like (see all my opinions on Joe). Like many highschoolers, I read Great Expectations and didn’t love it because I felt it dragged, but also because I thought Pip was a bit of an idiot and struggled to root for him. I read Oliver Twist as well and mostly remember not liking it, and after a quick refresher from the Wikipedia page, I remember why. Oliver Twist is also a bit of an idiot.  I think Dickens would argue that these characters are portrayed as full of goodness and innocence, but I argue that they are suspiciously naive.  Anywho, let’s recap:

Please sir, I want more of this cutie and less of his dumb owner Joe.
Please sir, I want more of this cutie and less of his dumb owner Joe.

Oliver Twist is an adorable dog in a cute little hat orphan stuck in a workhouse, where he and his fellow workers are poorly treated and fed.  One day, Oliver decides to ask for more gruel, and makes the infamous request of, “Please sir, I want some more.” After making such a bold request, he is subsequently thrown out and goes to London, where he falls in with some young criminals, including “the Artful Dodger.” Happy to be treated and fed well, he accompanies them, only to be falsely accused when the Artful Dodger pickpockets a man.  Put on trial, he is cleared of his charges when a witness steps forward to tell the truth of what happens, and Oliver is taken in and cared for by the man who was pick pocketed (Mr Brownlow).

What works:

— That vest. That hat. Is there anything that dog cannot wear? He’s the most stylish orphan I’ve ever seen.

— Wishbone nails the “Please sir, I want some more” scene. I mean, he has the bowl in his mouth and everything. If I were that cook, I would have given him all the gruel he wanted.

—  Having a dog play Oliver Twist is really the only way his trust and innocence works.  In the book, Oliver thinks that the Artful Dodger and his gang work for a guy named Fagin are letting Oliver stay with them for free, and that they get all their money from making wallets and handkerchiefs, and is completely unaware of the fact that they are a bunch of criminal pickpockets. I just don’t buy it.  He’s already been mistreated by multiple people by this point, not to mention seen the worst of mankind in a workhouse and as an undertaker’s apprentice, but he’s still going to think “oh well, I should probably blindly follow these strangers without questioning anything they’re doing?” Come on Oliver, do you really think this guy is called the Artful Dodger because he’s really good at SEWING?  Jesus, just think for a minute.  If anything, Oliver should be shocked at the kindness of Mr. Brownlow — why the hell is that guy being so nice?

What doesn’t:

— Wishbone’s accent seems to come and go at will. Why is he only British for only a few sentences?

— Oliver Twist is actually really tricky to abridge.  It was initially serialized over three years, so it’s quite lengthy, and it’s kind of hard to summarize briefly, as Oliver goes through a great number of trials and there are a fair amount of characters. Though this episode did “hit the highlights,” so to speak, I thought they did a better job implying that other stuff occurs in the previous episodes highlighting Tom Sawyer. This was particularly noticeable at the end, where it’s implied Oliver lives happily ever after with Mr. Brownlow after being wrongfully accused. Is that the ultimate ending? Yes.  But Oliver is first kidnapped, beaten, forced to commit a crime, and shot before that happens (in addition to a bunch of other stuff).

Well, that’s it for this episode. I’m off to strap on my roller blades and steal me some lawn flamingos.

Episode Two: A Tail in Twain (Part Two)

Oof.  So my plan for weekly updates went straight out the window. I would love to tell you it’s because I’ve been ever so busy at my cool new job, but that would be a lie. Funemployment continues, and at this point my cover letter is basically an acrostic poem reading “Hire me.” Not to worry, I already have made a fake resume in which I have an MBA, PhD, MD, and JD, two years experience in all of those fields, and recently returned from a stint in space.  But at this point I am sick of applications, rejections, and feeling sorry for myself, and so I return happily to this blog, with a newfound dedication to writing things that don’t make me want to scream.

What’s going on in Oakdale:

Evidently the writers realized that in the match up of mouthy dumb kid vs. man with shovel, there really was no winner. So instead of waiting to see what the man with shovel does, we instead cut to a shot of Wishbone running away. Joe – arms flailing, perhaps hoping his t-shirt will inflate and fly him to safety, is not far behind, followed by Sam, who is really wishing she could have taken just Wishbone for a walk, and David, who could have been on at least level eleven of his video game by now.

I finally figured out what's creepy about this guy. He has NO LIPS.
I finally figured out what’s creepy about this guy. He has NO LIPS.

Shockingly, the guy with a shovel sort of runs after them, stopping to shout, “You kids stay away from here!” It makes sense he didn’t keep running after them. This is the same guy who took a break after shoveling for approximately 17 seconds.

Back to the running kids—Wishbone shows his athletic prowess, taking the lead. I guess Wishbone doesn’t really consider himself a guard dog, though admittedly Joe is not really worth guarding. If anything, Wishbone should have tripped Joe to give himself more time to get away.  They stop at a tree to catch their breath. Wishbone seems genuinely worried about the ghost element of this situation, probably because the writers couldn’t clear a dog saying “Holy shit, that guy was going to murder us with a shovel!” past the PBS executives.

Sam, David, and Joe differ on what they should do next. David wants to forget about it, noting that he doesn’t want someone like that mad at him. I’m not one hundred percent sure what he means by this. Was he hoping to become friends with the grave robber? Maybe David really is selling organs on the black market. Sam thinks they should report this guy, and I can’t say I disagree with her, if only because this town appears to be populated by about 17 people, so the Oakdale police must be eager for something to do. Though given the news these days, the cops may just arrest David and call it a day.  Joe thinks they should sleep on it and wait until morning, because Joe clearly doesn’t watch nearly as many true crime shows as my boyfriend, otherwise he would know that the first 48 hours are critical in catching any criminal. Unfortunately, as Joe is the entitled white male of the group, they go with his idea, because it’s important for children to learn about the subtle inequality of our modern society.

Joe attempts to bat away the flashlight beam with his hand because that's how light works.
Joe attempts to bat away the flashlight beam with his hand because that’s how light works.

Apparently the lighting guys forgot that it should be nighttime at this point, because I swear it went from 3:00pm lighting to 8:00pm lighting in less than 20 seconds, which cues Ellen calling out for Joe, telling the kids that their parents are all looking for them because they were supposed to be home at the precise hour of before dark o’ clock.  Ellen doesn’t seem all that angry at Joe, so she must be somewhat disappointed that she found him so quickly.

Everybody poops, Joe.  Everybody poops.
Everybody poops, Joe. Everybody poops.

We cut to Joe gazing outside his window, desperately attempting to act what I am guessing the script described as “pensive” but comes off more as “mildly gassy.”  Ellen comes in and asks Joe if he found the adventure he wanted, and Joe tells her everything, managing to throw Wishbone under the bus in the process, saying it was Wishbone’s fault that the guy saw them.  Ellen is skeptical, but tells Joe they’ll go back in the light of day and check it out.  She says that they’ll even get Wanda to go.  Because apparently Wanda is formerly black ops?  Or she can annoy criminals to death?

Sam and Joe called each other before meeting up to coordinate their outfits. They decided to celebrate Enormous Stripey Shirt Saturday.
Sam and Joe called each other before meeting up to coordinate their outfits. They decided to celebrate Enormous Stripey Shirt Saturday.
Clearly the historical society doesn't require their employees to have a  Masters of Library Science.
Clearly the historical society doesn’t require their employees to have a Masters of Library Science.

Anyhow, cut to the next day, where Wanda, who works or volunteers at the Oakdale Historical Society tells the gang about how there are no records for the No-Name Grave, only rumors.  She has a bunch of documents and newspaper clippings out which she probably stole from the historical society, and they don’t even seem to be in acid free folders. And they just LEAVE the files on the table, not giving a shit about the temperature and humidity conditions of a kitchen table, showing that Wanda should be fired from the Historical Society IMMEDIATELY.  Either that or this Historical Society is just some bullshit cover up for her black ops work. (Can you tell I’m a trained librarian/ archivist?) After this devastating demonstration of how NOT to store historical documents, the gang leaves to collect David and go back to the No-Name Grave.

My my ladies, you may just have to lie down for the rest of the day after all of this EXCITEMENT. You'll be talking about this adventure for the rest of the month in the safety of your kitchens over ice tea and carrot sticks.
My my ladies, you may just have to lie down for the rest of the day after all of this EXCITEMENT. You’ll be talking about this adventure for the rest of the month in the safety of your kitchens over ice tea and carrot sticks.

What follows is a mildly age-ist scene of Wanda and Ellen having to swing across the river on a rope swing and proceeding to act as though it is the equivalent of base jumping off a skyscraper.  Two women in their FORTIES swinging on a rope??? Think of their brittle, brittle, bones!

So he DOES know how to use a shovel.
So he DOES know how to use a shovel.

After successfully not dying on the rope swing, the group finds the No-Name Grave, which has ACTUALLY been dug up this time.  There is a real hole and everything.

David decided not to partake in Stripey Shirt Saturday, instead opting for a vest with lots of pockets to carry back any leftover organs.
David decided not to partake in Stripey Shirt Saturday, instead opting for a vest with lots of pockets to carry back any leftover organs.

All of a sudden they hear…a violin?  The alleged grave robber emerges, violin in hand, and tells them, yet again, to go away.  At the very least this guy is guilty of horrible manners.  Ellen demands an explanation, prompting the man to say he’s “come back for what’s mine.”  “I believe you mean OURS,” says David, further implying his shady black market dealings.  No no, David doesn’t say that.  What does follow, however, is a conversation that is INCREDIBLY misleading:

“What are you talking about?” Asks Wanda.

“The things in the grave, I’ve come back for them, that’s all.” Says the violin man.  Wait, so you ARE digging up a dead body? Why are you being all defensive, then? Also, can one really OWN a body? This is getting ethically questionable.

“There’s a person buried here!” Says Joe, perfectly defining the noun “grave.”  Two points to Joe for knowing what a grave is.  Negative 10 points for stating the obvious.

“No it’s not like that. The coffin wasn’t for a person.” Says the violin man.  Isn’t a coffin by definition for a person? Do you mean box?  I think you mean box. I think you also need a dictionary.

I'm really supposed to believe that all of these things are that well preserved after being buried for years in a wooden slat box? Come on, props department, show me some accurate aging.
I’m really supposed to believe that all of these things are that well preserved after being buried for years in a wooden slat box? Come on, props department, show me some accurate aging.

Violin man continues to be creepily vague until he shows them what he’s dug up, which turn out to be a box of keepsakes belonging to his ancestors, who buried their valuables (and made it look like a grave so no one would disturb it) before leaving Oakdale as an “act of faith,” so that they would one day be bound to return to Oakdale.  Which they obviously did not do.  So God is dead.

I loves my fiddle.  Loves my fiddle.
“I loves my fiddle. Loves my fiddle.”

Just kidding.  Since he’s their descendent, faith is restored. Or something. Either way, dude is super jazzed to get his hands on that violin — maybe he was all Codgy McGrumpster because the group interrupted a private moment between him and his beloved fiddle? (Is there a difference between a fiddle and a violin? Am I making musicians cringe just by asking this?) Speaking of grumpy, the group seems to have completely set aside the fact that this guy has been a grade A dick to them, and instead just invite him to a picnic. I would have invited him to “suck it” and called parks services on this jackass for disturbing the area.  Because I may not always trust the police, but I DO trust the nature police.

Looks like there's a love triangle forming between Wanda, Mr. Laszlo, and the fiddle.
Looks like there’s a love triangle forming between Wanda, Mr. Laszlo, and the fiddle.

The neighborhood picnic is hopping, and makes me think of how I’m not even sure of what my neighbors look like. Wishbone enjoys begging for food, and everyone happily indulges him, probably sending him down the dangerous path to doggy diabetes (it HAPPENS, people). Wanda fans herself while gazing at violin man (Mr. Laszlo) playing his fiddle, looking like she plans to play HIS fiddle later, if you know what I’m saying.

Ellen scrapped her earlier speech about Joe, after realizing that if SHE doesn't want to hear about Joe, the whole neighborhood probably doesn't, either.
Ellen scrapped her earlier speech about Joe, after realizing that talking about your biggest regret in life isn’t appropriate for a picnic setting.

Eventually, Ellen stands to give her speech, and talks about the importance of stories — how they bring us all to the same place.  Evidently Ellen wasn’t an English major in college, because I learned that most stories bring people to pretentiously speculate on meaning and devolve into petty arguments with at least one person mentioning Foucault or Derrida.  But she ends with a quote from Mark Twain, so we’ve come full circle.  Wishbone ends with a little flippy flip, and we’ve come to the end of the pilot episode of Wishbone!

What a cutie.
What a cutie.

What’s going on in St. Petersburg, Missouri:

Seriously, Wishbone's acting skills are on point. He even stares intently through a peep hole on command.
Seriously, Wishbone’s acting skills are on point. He even stares intently through a peep hole on command.

A quick summary: Tom Sawyer is still concerned that “Crazy Joe” would come back for revenge, and decides to distract himself. He finds Huck and they plot to find buried treasure in a haunted house.  They travel to said haunted house, but as they are exploring, they hear noises — “Crazy Joe” is back! He’s looking to bury treasure, but instead finds another box, also full of treasure! He and his crony decide to bury the treasure elsewhere, seeing Huck and Tom’s tools and speculating that others may have been to the house, and “Crazy Joe” mentions how he wants revenge — probably on Tom and Huck. Tom seems to have forgotten about the whole revenge thing, as he plans to follow “Crazy Joe” and find the treasure — after Becky Thatcher’s picnic.  During the picnic, Becky and Tom get lost in a cave, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s also “Crazy Joe’s” hideout.  After running from “Crazy Joe” and successfully finding their way out, Judge Thatcher tells Tom that “Crazy Joe” was found dead in the cave, and Huck and Tom recover the treasure, and are now rich. At a party, Huck gets a caretaker, only to run away.  Tom finds him, and the two walk off together, as Wishbone narrates that their adventures continue in  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

What works:

— Wishbone’s costumes.  This may always be under the category of “what works.” Because that dog can pull off any outfit.

— Again, this is  a fairly good abridged version of Tom Sawyer.

— Starting the series out with Mark Twain is a wise choice, as it shows that they aren’t scared of going into some pretty classic literature. It shows that such books are worth diving into, and even complex books can be explained to younger audiences. (Though tackling Huck Finn, with its slavery and domestic abuse, may be a tad TOO complex to go into in 12 minutes.)

What doesn’t:

— In the book, “Crazy Joe” (AKA “Injun Joe” in the books) disguises himself as a deaf-mute Spaniard, which is casually implied in the episode by offensively dressing “Crazy Joe” in a poncho and sombrero. Oof.  As they don’t make any real mention of his disguise, it seems like they could have just given him literally any other type of disguise. Though accuracy is important, we are buying into the premise that a dog is portraying Tom Sawyer, so I’m pretty sure the audience will forgive you for using a simple wig instead of a poncho.

— Only quickly addressing “Crazy Joe’s” death was also weird.  It seems odd not to just add in another sentence that the cave was sealed over, trapping Joe inside. It’s sort of weird that they essentially stuck in, “Oh, PS, Joe is dead, let’s party!”

— They skip over how long Becky and Tom were in the cave (days, not hours), so it makes Becky seem like a real whiner.  Then again, I don’t really know if a trainer could really make a dog convey that he’s slowly dying of dehydration without taking the show in a deeply disturbing direction, so it’s probably for the best.

I feel like I’m officially over a hurdle having tackled the two-parter pilot, so I will try to make these entries more regular for all my devoted followers (aka my mom). Next time, Wishbone brings Oliver Twist to life!

Episode One: A Tail in Twain (Part One)

I forgot the pilot was a two-parter. Way to start me out with a challenge, Wishbone.

Just a note – I tried writing this as a straight summary, but it got kind of confusing switching back and forth between the real life and book recreation, so I decided to just split the summaries in two. It turns out summarizing the actual literature portion is a bit dry — shocker. Do elementary school teachers just want to light book reports on fire? I thought I would try and keep book summarizing to a minimum, and focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the reenactment instead.

Here we go:

What’s going on in Oakdale:

Fun fact: Wishbone was played by a dog named
Fun fact: Wishbone was played by a dog named “Soccer” which never sat well with me. Did he have an identity crisis when all the actors on set kept calling him Wishbone?

Okay, so we begin the episode with Wishbone introducing us to his life. He lives in Oakdale, in a house with his “people,” Ellen Talbot, and her son Joe Talbot. Wishbone also has a big red chair that he hangs out on, and clues us in that while we, the audience, can hear him talk, his “people” cannot. That would be a really different kind of show, I’m guessing. There would probably be a lot more crime solving, or something.   Actually, knowing what a shithole Joe is, the pilot would probably be Joe figuring out how to monetize his talking dog instead of discussing literature or becoming a crime fighting duo.

“Hey Mom, I have no concept of privacy.” I imagine Ellen wrote all her emails complaining about her disappointment of a son on her work computer.

Ellen is typing away on her giant brick of a nineties’ era computer, when Joe comes in, asking what Ellen is up to and invading her personal space. She’s writing a speech for the neighborhood picnic. Are neighborhood picnics a common thing? My childhood neighborhood never felt that organized. Or friendly. We just had a neighborhood witch that turned out to just be a hyper conservative old lady who hated gay people and handed out bible tracts at Halloween.

Anyhow, Joe is moping about his middle class ennui, and Ellen, instead of telling him to fuck off and check his privilege, figures out that he is craving adventure. As he’s whining, he’s spinning a book in his hands (probably because he is illiterate and doesn’t know that books are for reading), which he casually leaves behind on the couch because he’s a spoiled slob who thinks putting things away is a job for his mom. Wishbone takes a gander at it, and what do you know? It’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Wishbone notes how the book is about a boy who doesn’t have to look very far to find adventure. Wishbone should have said this in a more caustic tone, but he’s too cheerful and conditioned to like Joe to see his obvious flaws. I imagine even Checkers liked Nixon, after all.

Joe’s cool friend Sam shows up at this point asking if Joe can hang out. Though I may change my mind now that I’m re-watching these episodes with a more critical eye, Sam was always my favorite character– she’s smart, sporty, and way more thoughtful than the rest of the cast. She was also way more attentive to Wishbone, so I thought she should have been Wishbone’s owner. Her main problem is that she thinks Joe is worth hanging around. Sam, Joe, and Wishbone head off to fetch their friend David, but not before encountering Joe’s kooky neighbor Wanda.

Oh Sam, please tell me what you see in Joe. My secret suspicion is that she's friends with him just so she has access to Wishbone. That's the only thing that makes sense.
Oh Sam, please tell me what you see in Joe. My secret suspicion is that she’s friends with him just so she has access to Wishbone. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

I always thought Wanda was a real buzz kill. Maybe it was the fact that she had her own theme music that brainwashed you into thinking she’s annoying. Mostly she just comes on way too strong. She’s one of those people that you can’t really describe as anything other than “just too much.” Additionally, she does tend to blow things out of proportion — typically about things related to Wishbone behaving like a dog. For example, Wanda acts like finding a squeaky toy Wishbone buried in her backyard is tantamount to having her house robbed and ransacked by a desperate drug addict looking for anything worth selling.

I think Wanda ends up improving in later episodes, but in earlier episodes I mostly wondered why the Talbots aren't constantly pretending they aren't home. I also wondered how they got her hair to stick like that.
I think Wanda ends up improving in later episodes, but in earlier episodes I mostly wondered why the Talbots aren’t constantly pretending they aren’t home.

Next we’re introduced to David, who is pegged as the geeky, techy, science nerdy friend. I pegged him as the friend who needed to get off his high horse and stop being so condescending because he’s like eleven years old, not a god damn rocket scientist.

Do people still use joysticks?
Do people still use joysticks?
Okay, pause.  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Does David live in an arcade? Wouldn't that kind of game cost like $14,000 back then?
Okay, pause. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Does David live in an arcade? Wouldn’t that kind of game cost like $14,000 back then? Maybe he used his tech skillz to sell his kidney on the black market via the ole’ dial up internet.

Joe decides he wants to go to the “No Name Grave,” which is a part of the park that the gang has never been to and is rumored to have a ghost that is horrifying to look at and can suck people into the grave. Frankly, my guess is that the “No Name Grave” is where the older kids go to drink cheap beer and experiment with what my high school sex-ed course dubbed “heavy petting.” Which is way more horrifying than a disfigured ghost, I say.

The gang heads out to find the grave, and there’s a very exciting sequence in which they swing across a ravine/stream/river. I’ve got to say, I hate Joe even more for complaining about being bored because this park is INCREDIBLE. It’s vast, lush, and beautiful. Basically, it serves as a cruel reminder that it is February, a month in which I forget what warm feels like and what green looks like.

It's a gorgeous day and NO ONE ELSE is at this awesome rope swing? I call bullshit.
It’s a gorgeous day and NO ONE ELSE is at this awesome rope swing? I call bullshit.

They find the grave, only to discover that someone has been digging there. Rather lazily, I might add. They’ve maybe moved three inches of dirt before taking off. Were they using a mop?

Dirt
I don’t think that this someone is digging for something, I think this someone just buried something. Or someone. Dammit, I need to stop watching crime procedurals.

Joe wants to wait for whoever it is, David and Sam want to leave, and Wishbone wants to eat the lunch the no name-digger has left behind. Personally, I’m with Wishbone. Free lunch trumps adventure any day.

I feel it's imperative that I point out Joe and David's t-shirts, which they apparently borrowed from Paul Bunyan.  That is a short sleeved t-shirt that covers the entire length of Joe's arms.
It’s imperative that I point out Joe and David’s t-shirts, which they apparently borrowed from Paul Bunyan. That is a short sleeved t-shirt that covers the entire length of Joe’s arms.

It takes Joe all of three seconds to convince Sam and David to hide in wait. What kind of dark magic does this jackass have over his friends? Is he blackmailing them? Does the key to his power lie underneath all of that t-shirt fabric? Anyway, hiding shouldn’t be too difficult, given how thick the forest is and how easy those trees look to climb.

Ah. Yes. Let's hide behind this wall and just really hope that a potential murderer comes from the exact direction we're looking towards, and not from behind.
Ah. Yes. Let’s hide behind this wall and just really hope that a potential murderer comes from the exact direction we’re looking towards, and not from behind.

The digger returns. Wishbone, being adorably curious, crawls towards the digger, alleging that he wants a closer look, but more likely he just wanted the sandwich. The digger hits whatever is buried after literally one shovel full of dirt. Man, I bet that guy is glad he took a break to prep himself for that strenuous task. He definitely needed to put on gloves to make sure he didn’t get any blisters. He sees Wishbone, and tells him to get away, gesturing at him threateningly with his shovel.

I never go grave digging without my trusty fedora.
I never go grave digging without my trusty fedora.

Joe, in a move that both slightly redeems him and yet still highlights his suckitude, leaps out and says “Hey, don’t hurt my dog!” I applaud him for defending his dog, I do. But really, what kind of moron thinks “Hey, I’m just going to assume that my dog KNOWS we’re hiding, and not bother to tell him to sit, stay, or any of that nonsense. Training be damned. He’ll just intuit the game plan.” Show just an ounce of forethought, Joe.

“To be continued…” flashes across the screen.

What’s going on in St. Petersburg, Missouri:

One thousand bonus points for making sure this costume has a hole for his tail. Also, a couple hundred more points to the actors for having a dog who is their acting partner. That cannot be easy -- both for acting and self esteem purposes.
One thousand bonus points for making sure this costume has a hole for his tail. Also, a couple hundred more points to the actors for having a dog who is their acting partner. That cannot be easy — both for acting and self esteem purposes.

A quick summary: For those of you who have not read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it is a pretty prime piece of Americana. Wishbone primarily tackles two of Tom’s Adventures. First, Tom and his vagabond friend Huckleberry Finn decide to pretend to be pirates, and run away to a small river island, only to eventually figure out that everyone thinks they’re dead.  They end up attending their own funerals, and everyone is psyched that they’re alive.

Next, Huck and Tom go to the graveyard to get rid of Huck’s warts. There, they witness the  murder of Dr. Robinson by Crazy Joe – though Crazy Joe convinces Muff Potter that he, in fact, is the murderer. Tom and Huck swear never to tell a soul what they’ve seen, only to feel rather guilty at Muff Potter’s trial. Tom tells the truth on the witness stand, and Crazy Joe leaps out the window.

What works:

— Wishbone’s adorable costume, obviously.

— Holy shit. That dog is well trained.

— While Tom Sawyer clearly can’t be fully summarized in ten minutes (or twenty, given that this is a two-parter), it is actually a fairly good book to tell in such an abridged fashion, as the adventures do stand-alone pretty nicely. For example, in the book the murder actually occurs before Huck and Finn run away to the island. Not sure why the writers swapped the order, but it doesn’t seem to break the pace. Additionally, another friend named Joe Harper joined them on the island, but to be fair, he’s not particularly interesting and is easily edited out. You’ve got to abridge somewhere!

— The beauty of these reenactments is that they give you a taste of the story, but still leave enough out to encourage you to actually read the book. Yay literacy!

What doesn’t:

— The Wishbone writers decide not to tackle the issue of race by renaming “Injun Joe” “Crazy Joe.” Dammit Wishbone writers, children are going to have to learn about the fact that America comes with an intensely racist backstory that has shaped our nation into the slightly less racist present. Let’s discuss it, not ignore it!

To be fair, even PBS probably would have yanked a show that tried to have a dog discussing race relations, but wouldn’t it have been amazing to see them try it? “While Tom Sawyer had his own adventures, the real adventure was Mark Twain’s examination of the morals of the society in which he lived. Um, woof!”

Well, that’s it for my first real entry. Will Joe manage to defend Wishbone from a full grown man with a shovel?  Will Tom Sawyer be hunted down by Crazy Joe?  Tune in next week for A Tail in Twain (Part Two)!