Kids: We'll find it, Wilbur! Let's take another look!
Wilbur is a children's television series combining puppetry, animation and live-action segments. The show focuses on the adventures of a group of young barnyard friends: Wilbur, a calf, and his companions Dasha the duck, Libby the lamb and Ray the rooster. In each story, the group deals with basic issues familiar to young children such as learning to take turns, dealing with scary noises at night and learning about the world around them. When Wilbur wiggles, he finds a book which helps him or his friends to solve their problems.
Wilbur was originally created as a pilot in 2001, and based on an earlier property created for direct-to-video by a group of moms, but was commissioned as a full series for Discovery Kids/TLC's Ready Set Learn! block and Kids CBC in 2007. The series continued to air as a once-weekly holdover in the wee morning hours of Monday on The Hub, the network that replaced Discovery Kids, until late June 2012. Two episodes were also released on DVD, as part of the Ready Set Learn! compilation releases. The series also had an official website, though it has not been updated since sometime before Discovery Kids was converted to The Hub. Sometime after the show's removal from The Hub, the license on the domain expired and was not renewed. The Internet Archive version can be found here.
The series was done by Mercury Filmworks, in conjunction with Chilco Productions.
Wilbur provides examples of the following:
- Adobe Flash: Used to animate the book-reading sequences.
- An Aesop: This is what each of Wilbur's books aims to teach.
- "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: The goal of the program in a nutshell.
- Alliterative Name: Used with the character and species surnames for everyone except the title character: Dasha the duck, Ray the rooster and Libby the lamb.
- Balloonacy: This is how Wilbur ultimately achieves flight in "The Wright Stuff".
- Character Title
- Circling Birdies: Wilbur Wright sees them in his bovine namesake's book in "The Wright Stuff" when taking a conk on the head after a failed attempt at flying.
- Comically Missing the Point: Often used to force another reading of the book. Wilbur reads a book that is supposed to teach a lesson, but the character(s) that are supposed to learn it miss the point, often in a comical manner that approaches the point of a Spoof Aesop.
- Edutainment Show
- Every Episode Ending: Wilbur stating, "That's why I always say, books are moovelous!"
- Expository Theme Tune, Title Theme Tune and Theme Tune Roll Call: It's more or less to the tune of "Old McDonald Had a Farm." "Wilbur starts a-giggling, then he starts to laugh! Then he starts a-wiggling, he's such a funny calf..."
- Expy: The characters seen in the books are generally thinly disguised expies of the main characters and generally have similar names, such as "Lizzy" or "Wilburto".
- Fourth-Wall Observer: Wilbur, who freely talks to the viewer at the beginning of each episode and when the characters are about to read a book.
- Strictly Formula: A character has a problem and Wilbur wiggles, helping him to find a book that has a lesson that will help them solve their problem. Wilbur reads the book, but the character misses the point of the story, forcing another reading of the story, this time by real children. If the character doesn't miss the point, then they either forget it or another character shows up that needs to learn the same lesson, which leads to the re-reading instead. After the re-reading, real kids sing a song about the subject in question and the story ends with everyone happy thanks to the lesson learned. There are occasionally slight variations, but the basic formula is always the same.
- Third-Person Person: Libby, because she's younger than the other characters - only 2 years old.
- "That's why I always say, books are moovelous!"