Do you remember the kids’ TV show Wishbone?
It was awesome and starred an adorable Jack Russell terrier named Wishbone who would act out tales of classic literature. Each episode would start in the real world, with Wishbone’s young owner and friends (Wishbone would talk, but the kids couldn’t hear him), and then you’d cut between Wishbone’s re-telling of a story like Tom Sawyer or Oliver Twist, which had a parallel with the real-life storyline.
What made Wishbone particularly awesome was that its writers didn’t shy away from using really hard literature or dark books to base their episodes on. Here, some that you’d be surprised to find used on a kids’ TV show:
1. Romeo & Juliet in the episode “Rosie, Oh! Rosie, Oh!”
Wishbone mistakenly ends up in the pound where he falls in love with another dog. Their love is doomed! Meanwhile, Wishbone plays an actor playing Romeo, so it’s not like they really die.
2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the episode “The Hunchdog of Notre Dame”
In the real world, an awkward boy gets passed over when picking teams for Rollerblade hockey. Meanwhile, Wishbone plays Quasimodo, and nobly rescues Esmerelda from the gallows (dude). But they kind of gloss over the whole “they end up dead anyhow” part. But, dude: GALLOWS! On TV. For kids! How is this not terrifying?
3. Joan of Arc in the episode “Bone of Arc”
Samantha volunteers to join the boys’ soccer team, which reminds Wishbone of…the heroic Joan of Arc. And there’s totally this awkward burning at the stake scene. DARK SHIT.
4. The Red Badge of Courage in the episode “A Terrified Terrier”
In this one, we’re in the middle of the Civil War, and Wishbone even has a mini rifle to shoot at the enemy. The battle sequences are pretty gruesome and drawn out and poor Wishy-B gets an injury (although not really related to battle, as the original story tells). Still — death is all around!
5. Phantom of the Opera in the episode “Pantin’ at the Opera”
Aren’t we a little young for pervy female abduction stories? Nahhhhh. Not when Wishbone is doing such a terrific job playing Viscount Raoul de Chagny.
6. The Odyssey in the episode “Homer Sweet Homer”
Wishbone’s version was at least easier to understand than the original Ancient Greek, but many of the scenes dealt with Penelope’s suitors being RIDICULOUSLY drunk (like, chugging from urns and yelling, “More! More!”) and beating each other up.
Also, this naturally happens anytime you have a dog playing opposite a human, but it’s particularly funny/weird when Wishbone/Odysseus comes home and Telemachus exclaims, “DAD!” to a Jack Russell terrier.