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Series / Woof!

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Woof! was a British TV series, running from 1989 to 1997, about a boy who periodically changes into a dog, similar in premise to The Shaggy Dog, and based on the book with the same name by Allan Ahlberg.

The series begins with a Pilot Movie, about a kid named Eric Banks who suddenly finds himself occasionally turning into a small dog (naturally, often at the worst possible times), totally at random, and getting into all sorts of odd situations because of it. Throughout the movie he and his friend Roy try to find out what's causing it, and keep it a secret from Eric's parents, teachers, and everyone in between.

The show takes the concept and runs with it: featuring all sorts of wacky hijinks that a kid who randomly turns into a dog could get into. Hilarity Ensues. Later on, Roy moves away, and a girl named Rachel moves in instead who quickly discovers Eric's secret and takes Roy's place.

Further through the show's run, as the actors playing Eric and Rachel grew older, the focus changed to a new kid Rex Thomas, who inherits Eric's curse, and his best friend Michael, who takes up the Secret-Keeper role.

Then, for the final series, the focus was changed again to another new kid named Jim, who inherits the curse from Rex, and his cousin Brian, who fills the Secret Keeper spot.

This series features examples of:

  • Animorphism: Eric, Rex and Jim can all transform into dogs.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: While it makes for a cute scene, a badger on your bed isn't good for the badger or for you (admittedly, Eric didn't put the badger on his bed, it crawled onto it).
  • Catchphrase: Roy - "Bril-ee-ant!"
  • Canine Companion: Obviously. Especially prominent in episodes that barely require Eric/Rex/Jim to be boys at all.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Roy, at times.
    Jim's friend Brian, even more so.
  • Empathic Shapeshifter: Of a sort. In the movie Eric and Roy come to the conclusion that his transformation happens because his sister wants a dog so much more than she wants a brother that it ends up making him actually change into one. In the end, it appears that they fix it, only for it to appear that it was Roy all along making Eric change, and not his sister. Later on in the show he is given a different explanation, however.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Doubles in that the dog is actually a kid all along.
  • Heroic Dog: Naturally. Also a plot point - at one point Eric tries looking for others who change like him by looking for news stories about dogs who are exceptionally smart and heroic.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight / Right Under Their Noses: When changed, Rex poses as his own dog, Bob, which fools everyone, including his father.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Eric, in stark contrast to his friend Roy who couldn't be happier about the whole thing.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Pretty much the entire theme of the series.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Well, naturally, the boys probably lose their clothes quite a lot, as during the transformation, their clothes come off, but particularly noticeable in a Series 5 episode, where Rachel has forgotten to bring clothes for Eric, but luckily, there are some clothes in the bag she is holding. It does not however, include shoes and socks, which Eric's dad comments on when he sees him. He stays like that for the rest of the episode, even when walking in a car park. Also, in a series 2 episode, when Eric transforms while in a swimming bath changing rooms, as Roy forgets one of his socks, he later goes sockless, though not shoeless.
  • Missing Mom: Rex's mother died at some stage before his time on the show began. Occasional episodes showed his father dating new women but never properly getting together with them. He eventually marries Mrs Jessop, to their and Rex's delight, in Rex's final episode.
  • My Instincts Are Showing / The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Eric, Rex, and Jim are still themselves as dogs, but they are still dogs - they're fine with doing dog things that as boys they wouldn't want to do (like eating dog food) and instinctively do things a dog would do in situations (IE: Rex getting his father's slipper and the paper when he wants his attention, or rooting through trash when frustrated). As always, Hilarity Ensues.
  • No Sympathy: Rachel can be like that to Eric sometimes. She's aware of his condition, but gets annoyed with him sometimes
  • Parental Substitute: Mrs Jessop is often this to Rex in the absence of his mother. She finally becomes his actual step-mother.
  • Pilot Movie: Packed in a VHS, no less.
  • Prophetic Name / Punny Name: Rex, who has a name you're far more likely to see on a dog than a person. Ironically, when he changes he's called Bob, which isn't a name you usually find on a dog.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mrs Jessop is a firm-handed but outstandingly kind and approachable teacher. No wonder the protagonists are happy to see so much of her outside of school.
  • Secret-Keeper: Roy and Rachel to Eric, Michael to Rex, Brian to Jim.
  • Smelly Feet: Played with in the Badgers episode. Eric's mum thinks he needs to wash his feet, but the bad smell she's smelling is actually the badger.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Rex and Michael to Eric and Roy, at least premise-wise. Jim and Brian follow for the final series.
  • You Meddling Kids: Occasionally.