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The opening credits start to roll and the sweet-natured theme song delicately questions: "What's the story Wishbone?" It was always fun to find out the answer to just that!
In case you didn't know, Wishbone is a cute little terrier dog who talks. Yes - this is one of those talking animal shows. Each episode of this series tells a story through the dog's viewpoint and explores both a classic piece of literature (as it is seen through Wishbone's imagination) as well as a side story that features his real-world human friends and family. These stories often interconnect through some basic theme and are meant to help explore those elements for young audiences. It is primarily an educational program that caters to a family crowd, and it has gained quite a reputation as an important and much loved piece of television work which was originally produced and aired in 1995.
I grew up watching Wishbone. I mean it - seriously. Please refrain from making jokes now, please (pretty please?). I was just a kid when Wishbone was on air and I would come home from school to watch the series on a daily basis. It was one of my favorite programs and I was always excited to see what story would be featured next. I was already a fairly devoted reader at that point and I enjoyed learning even in some small part about whichever famous story was featured with each episode, so that I could sometimes read the book for the first time after watching an episode of the series. Wishbone is the type of show that encourages reading and it does so in a fun and compelling way that separates it from some other less enjoyable family fare. I certainly would recommend the show to anyone with a child who is just starting to take an interest in reading books especially if in regards to the classics. Luckily, this is a series that can appeal to adults as well though and I think many viewers of all ages will appreciate that aspect.
One of the great things that sets this series apart from other similarly themed creations is that the production qualities are actually surprisingly strong. It is really no surprise then that this was a series that won Daytime Emmys for technical merits, including Art Direction and Costuming. The costumes and sets are all remarkably detailed and inventive. I never recognized this before but I would wager a guess that I knew on some level how impressive things were subconsciously. I am grateful that such hard work was invested into creating convincing details as this element adds another layer of charm to the show.
This release features four episodes of the series in total: The Impawssible Dream, The Hunchdog of Notre Dame, Hot Diggety Dawg, and Paw Prints of Thieves. And yes, those episode title puns are as silly as they sound. These episodes center around the following books: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Jules Verne), The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Howard Pyle), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo), and Don Quixote (Cervantes).
The video is presented in its original full frame (4:3) aspect ratio. The video quality is better than what I remembered the series as looking like when I watched it on television for the first time. However, it is not a slick looking transfer by any means. This is about as good as anyone can expect from the show but it should be viewed with moderate expectations. Colors are a little subdued and the image is sometimes a bit soft even if it is not really a distraction.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 for both the original English language track and the Spanish dub. This is a standard sounding mix with no surprisingly robust qualities. The dialogue is clean and clear. The audio effects are well defined. While the audio will get the job done nicely it is nothing too impressive either. No subtitle options have been provided.
I was a bit surprised to find any extras included on this DVD release at all. Unfortunately, fans are only treated to short videos with behind the scenes footage for three episodes: Paw Prints of Thieves, The Hunchdog of Notre Dame, and Hot Diggety Dawg. These hardly qualify as engaging extras as the run time is only around two minutes or less per piece. It would have been nice to see some interviews with the creator, cast, and those who wrote and directed episodes of the series.
This is a memorable family show that still holds up as entertaining despite the fact it has been over a decade since its original television run. Wishbone is educational in that it encourages youth to read and for that reason alone it is worth a visit for any parent with young children. Those who grew up with the series (as I did) may also find the show just as delightful now. The DVD contains four episodes previously released individually and does represent a good money-saving value. I only hope that someday the rest of the series can be released -- perhaps even in season sets.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.