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GenreChildren's fantasy comedy drama
Created byRick Duffield
Voices ofLarry Brantley as Wishbone
Theme music composer
  • Tim Cissell (music and lyrics)
  • Lynn Adler (lyrics)[1]
Opening theme"What's the Story, Wishbone?"[1]
Ending theme"What's the Story, Wishbone?" (Instrumental version)
ComposerTom Merriman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes50 (list of episodes)
Executive producerRick Duffield
Production locations
Running time30 minutes
Production companyBig Feats! Entertainment[1]
Original networkPBS
Picture formatNTSC
Audio formatDolby Surround
Original releaseOctober 9, 1995 (1995-10-09) –
December 4, 1997 (1997-12-04)
Related showsWishbone's Dog Days of the West

Wishbone is an American half-hour live-action children's television show produced from 1995 to 1997. It was originally broadcast on PBS and later rebroadcast on PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go!. The show won four Daytime Emmys, a Peabody Award, and honors from the Television Critics Association. Wishbone's exterior shots were filmed on the backlot of Lyrick Studios's teen division Big Feats! Entertainment[1] in Allen, Texas, and its interior shots were filmed on a sound stage in a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) warehouse in Plano, Texas. Additional scenes were filmed in Grapevine, Texas.[citation needed]

This show garnered particular praise for refusing to bowdlerize many of the sadder or more unpleasant aspects of the source works, which usually enjoyed a fairly faithful retelling in the fantasy sequences.[citation needed]

The show also inspired several book series. Altogether, more than fifty books have featured Wishbone, which continued to be published even after the TV series ended production. In 1998, the TV movie Wishbone's Dog Days of the West was aired.

A film adaptation of the series from Universal Pictures and Mattel Films is in the works with Peter Farrelly serving as producer.[2]


The show's title character is a Jack Russell Terrier. Wishbone lives with his owner Joe Talbot in the fictional town of Oakdale, Texas. He daydreams about being the lead character of stories from classic literature. He was known as "the little dog with a big imagination." Only the viewers and the characters in his daydreams can hear Wishbone speak. The characters from his daydreams see Wishbone as whichever famous character he is currently portraying and not as a dog.


Main article: List of Wishbone episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
140October 9, 1995 (1995-10-09)December 1, 1995 (1995-12-01)
210October 15, 1997 (1997-10-15)December 4, 1997 (1997-12-04)
TV movieMarch 13, 1998 (1998-03-13)

A standard episode of Wishbone consists of an opening scene, introducing Wishbone's and his family's current situation (for example, Arbor Day planting a tree, or Joe catching a lunch lady attempting to donate food to a homeless shelter). When one of the main characters decides to get involved in the noble act, Wishbone flashes to a famous work of literature that it reminds him of, usually with him playing the lead role in costume. Wishbone may not play the lead role if the character is difficult to relate to (he plays Sancho Panza in Don Quixote) or is female (in the show's "Joan of Arc" episode, he plays Louis de Conte). By the end of both stories, the real-life situation usually follows the work of literature closely, such as the King saving Robin Hood at the last minute and the Principal saving Joe at the last minute. The last two minutes of nearly every episode feature Wishbone narrating some background description of how the episode was produced, including how stunts were performed, how costumes were designed, or how the visual effects were created.

The series also featured a clip show episode called "Picks of the Litter."






Wishbone was conceived by Rick Duffield after brainstorming with his staff about "making a show for kids that was told from a dog's point of view".[3] In an interview with The New Yorker, Duffield recalled that he had a habit of putting a voice to his dog's expressions. His eureka moment came when he was staring at a row of books on his shelf:

"The one that caught my eye that day was Frank Magill's Masterpieces of World Literature. Well, what if a little dog with a big imagination could take us into some of the greatest stories ever told? And, why not make him the hero?"[3]

Inspired, Duffield produced a seven-minute pilot for the show. In the summer of 1993, he spent three days casting for the dog star at a motel courtyard in Valencia, California, looking at between 100 and 150 dogs.[4] He elaborated in the interview with The New Yorker:

"[A]n extraordinary little Jack Russell named Soccer walked up and dazzled us all. I filmed the teaser, which captured Wishbone's character, suggested the show's format, and brought it to Alice Cahn at PBS. I suppose convincing someone that it was a good idea came down to executing a pretty fetching dog trick!"[3]

Duffield told Entertainment Tonight:

"Keeping up with the variety in the series is the biggest challenge. Because Wishbone is the central figure of each show and plays an integral role in the contemporary story and the literary story, he's in almost every scene. So he has a lot to do and designing scenes that can work with a dog, with period actors and period sets, as well as kids in a contemporary world is a big challenge."[4]

Larry Brantley, the voice of Wishbone, said he got the job through:

"...the weirdest audition I think that's ever been or will ever be. I didn't know what the dog looked like, and they give (me) the barest of information, 'there's going to be this great new kids show with this dog that talks and we want you to come in, and we want you to be funny' so I went to the first audition having no idea what to do. In the callback, I got to meet Soccer for the first time...It was a five-minute impromptu audition...I never really read from the script, I was supposed to, but I didn't. Rick Duffield, the executive producer, said, 'well, watch the dog and just follow along and see what he's doing right now.' Soccer was obsessing like over this tennis ball...and he wasn't interested in Rick Duffield or me or anybody else in the room; it was like a tennis ball. And he would stare at the tennis ball. I want the tennis ball...So it was like five minutes about a tennis ball, and I walked out of the audition saying, 'I can't believe I just did five minutes about a tennis ball.' And then I got the job. We may never understand."[5]

Ultimately, Duffield wanted Wishbone to be an:

"...entertaining way for kids to get their first taste of great books. We believe this show can cultivate a new appetite for reading by making kids think it's fun to get to know these books. And it's intended to be fun, action-packed, clever, and a way to get their first taste of great stories that can become a valuable educational stepping stone in their lives. The dog makes it all the more endearing and entertaining."[4]

Despite acclaim from critics and educators, only 50 episodes were produced. The first 40 episodes were shown as a single-season run in 1995, while the remaining ten episodes became the second season in 1997–1998. Duffield told author Michael Brody that PBS halted production because the show did not have "merchandising potential".[6]


The series aired on PBS and premiered in the United States on October 9, 1995. The final episode aired on December 4, 1997. After the series ended, reruns continued to air until August 31, 2001. The series returned in reruns on PBS Kids Go! on June 2, 2007. Wishbone clips came to the PBS Kids Go! website. The return to PBS lasted a short time, although some PBS stations continued to air Wishbone until the discontinuation of PBS Kids Go! on October 7, 2013.[7]

The show also aired on Nickelodeon in the UK and Ireland and on Nine Network in Australia.

Home media

Only a handful of the Wishbone episodes have been released to VHS and DVD. There were also a few computer games in 1996 and 1997, such as Wishbone Activity Center, Wishbone Print Tricks, and Wishbone and the Amazing Odyssey. Wishbone has also inspired several book series: Wishbone Classics, Wishbone Mysteries, and The Adventures of Wishbone, which is similar to the TV series.

In 2004, HIT Entertainment released 4 DVDs of the show: "Hot Diggety Dawg," "The Impawsible Dream," "The Hunchdog of Notre-Dame," and "Paw Prints of Thieves."

On February 15, 2011, HIT Entertainment (distributed by Lionsgate) released the Wishbone DVD, The Little Dog With a Big Imagination, which only includes the four previously released episodes.


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Film adaptation

On July 15, 2020, it was announced that Universal Pictures and Mattel's film division are developing a film adaptation of the series. Peter Farrelly will produce the film while Roy Parker will write the screenplay and Robbie Brenner will executive produce. In a statement by Brenner, "Our deep library of iconic franchises continues to offer cinematic storytelling opportunities. We’re thrilled to be working with Peter Farrelly, Roy Parker, and Universal to take the beloved dog classic into a new direction with a modern reimagination of the franchise."

It will be the first theatrical collaboration between Universal and Mattel and the ninth Mattel Films project in development, as well as the second "Wishbone" film in the franchise.[10][11] The first movie in the "Wishbone" franchise was the popular 1998 TV movie Wishbone's Dog Days of the West.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Frankenbone". Wishbone. Season 1. Episode 17. Event occurs at 26:40. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  2. ^ ‘Wishbone’ Film Adaptation in the Works From Mattel and Universal With Peter Farrelly Producing
  3. ^ a b c Eskin, Blake (October 21, 2009). "The Exchange: Rick Duffield". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "On Set with Wishbone – Interview with "Wishbone" Executive Producer Rick Duffield". Entertainment Tonight (archived on The Texas Archive of the Moving Image). 1995. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "On set with Wishbone – Interview with Larry Brantley, the Voice of Wishbone". Entertainment Tonight (archived on The Texas Archive of the Moving Image). 1995. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Brody, Michael (January 16, 2013). Seductive Screens: Children's Media—Past, Present, and Future. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 73. ISBN 9781443845823. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "What's on: IdahoPTV Kids and Family (Idaho Public Television)". Archived from the original on April 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "'Ellen' Wins Peabody Award". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 3, 1998. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Variety Staff (May 11, 1998). "PBS early Daytime Emmy leader". Variety. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 15, 2020). "Universal & Mattel Developing 'Wishbone' Feature Based On PBS Jack Russell Terrier TV Series; Peter Farrelly Producing". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  11. ^ Bumbray, Chris (July 15, 2020). "What's the story Wishbone? A feature film is in the works". JoBlo.com. Retrieved July 15, 2020.