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Series / Wilbur

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Wilbur: Moo moo moo. Is the answer in the book?
Kids: We'll find it, Wilbur! Let's take another look!
—Wilbur and kids

Wilbur is a children's television series combining puppetry, animation and live-action segments. The show focuses on the adventures of a group of Wilbur, a calf, and his young barnyard 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.

Not to be confused with Charlotte's Web, which also features a non-bovine character named Wilbur.

Wilbur provides examples of the following:

  • Adobe Flash: Used to animate the book-reading sequences.
  • All That Glitters: This moral is teached in its namesake episode.
  • An Aesop: This is what each of Wilbur's books aims to teach.
  • 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".
  • Fake Interactivity: Wilbur gets responded by offscreen children whenever he talks to the viewers in his Fourth-Wall Observer moments (see trope below).
  • 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.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Ray. A main Running Gag has him boasting off about knowing how to solve the problem of the episode only to end up stuck for words when supposedly suggesting it.
  • Magic Feather: In the episode "Ray Loses His Crow", Ray loses his weather vane and doesn't want to crow without it. His book Expy of the episode, Captain Hooray, also has a similar problem: he can't sail his boat without his lucky hat. As expected, both discover that they can still do their thing without those objects.
  • Once an Episode: The "Come On Get Up and Move It" Stock Footage sequence, done before reading the episode's book.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: The goal of the program in a nutshell.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The books are written like this.
  • Running Gag: Aside from the main one referred to previously, it is in the episode "Growing Pains" that Ray constantly quotes something his grandpa Rocky supposedly said. It's very obvious he's making those quotes up as stuff happens.
    Ray: (as Dasha is struggling to put her foot inside a boot) Like my grandpa Rocky always said, (making a Southern accent) "If one boot doesn't fit, try the other".
  • Sleep Aesop: The episode "Sheep Need Sleep" has Libby learning one.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 (like the song appearing before the re-reading or even before the first reading), but the basic formula is always the same.
  • Sweet Sheep: Libby.
  • To the Tune of...: Most of the songs on the show are based on classic public domain children's songs. For starters, the intro is sung to the tune of "Old Macdonald had a Farm", while the songs featuring real children reinforcing the episode's topic are sung to the tune of songs like "Mary Had a Little Lamb", "Turkey in the Straw" and "A Hunting We Will Go", for example.
  • You No Take Candle: Libby speaks like this because she's the youngest of the barnyard buddies - only 2 years old.

"That's why I always say, books are moovelous!"