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Western Animation / Bob the Builder

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Can we fix it?note 

Bob the Builder is a BBC children's series produced by Hit Entertainment, first broadcast in 1998 which involves the eponymous manual labourer and a group of living construction vehicles accompanied by rock music. The original series (up until the conclusion of Ready, Steady, Build) was regularly broadcast on CBeebies (the BBC's channel for young children).

In 2015, the series was rebooted with new designs and animation by Mainframe Entertainment for Seasons 1 and 2.

In 2018, the 2015 series was animated by DHX Media (now WildBrain) for Season 3.


This programme contains examples of:

  • Art Evolution: Initially inverted, but then played straight. The show started off as a rather high quality Stop Motion series, then, when it was relaunched as Ready, Steady, Build, it became a rather low quality computer-animation like several other kids shows seemed to be turning into at the time. Now (despite the controversial redesigns), it's handled with much better CGI from Mainframe Entertainment.
  • The Cameo: "Scrambler to the Rescue" features toys of other Hit Entertainment properties in the toy factory; Terence the Crocodile from Rubbadubbers, and the titular character of Thomas the Tank Engine (complete with his whistle sound effect and two coaches that are similar in color to Gordon's express coaches).
  • Catchphrase:
    • Once an Episode (or once with Bob and once with another character), someone would ask, 'Can we [verb, usually 'fix'] it?', to which other characters would respond, 'Yes, we can!' - long before someone from America became associated with the catchphrase.
    • Advertisement:
    • Spud's "Sorry, (character).", "It won't happen again, (character)." and "Spud's on the job, (Bob\Wendy\whoever)!"
    • The main machines:
      • Scoop: "No prob, Bob!"
      • Muck: "Muck to the rescue!" and "Let's get mucky!"
      • Dizzy: "Brilliant!"
      • Roley: "Rock and roll!"
      • Lofty: Er/Uh, yeah, I think so!" (usually said in response to the "Can we fix it?" routine)
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several characters are absent in the 2015 reboot, most notably Travis, Spud, and Farmer Pickles (though Farmer Pickles returned in 2017). Spud was not in the 2015 series because the reboot has a more realistic and gritty aesthetic, and a sentient scarecrow that goes around causing trouble would break that illusion.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The construction vehicles.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Lofty. Downplayed in the rebooted series with Lofty having more subtle instances of nervousness, and no longer says "Uh, yeah, I think so!" after the "Yes, we can!".
  • Cultural Translation: Despite the series being pretty blatantly set in Britain, the American version is dubbed with US accents. Reputedly the dub is at least partly to avoid confusion over words like "football".
  • Darker and Edgier: The 2017 feature film special "Mega Machines" is noticeably darker compared to even earlier episodes, with its first ever villain (Conrad) who outright threatens to scrap his machines if they don't do as he says, and a full-on flooding that's taken surprisingly seriously.
  • Dub Species Change: The American dub changes every mention of hedgehogs into porcupines.
  • The Eeyore: Lofty.
  • Egopolis: The main location for the original series is called Bobsville, named after Bob himself.
  • Filthy Fun: Muck likes getting dirty, and claims he would roll in the mud nonstop if he was Dizzy's size.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All humans in the original series have this. However, it was one of the most notable shows to be re-shot in Japan so that the characters have five fingers on each hand due to cultural reasons.
  • Genki Girl: Dizzy the concrete mixer.
  • Injured Limb Episode: In one episode, a background character Mavis sprains her ankle on a jogging machine.
  • Licensed Game: The Catchphrase in the show was so popular, that it was used as the title for a videogame released in 2000 for both PC and PS1. There was a GBC game based on the show, too, but it isn't named after the Catchphrase, and therefore, isn't the same game as the PC and PS1.
  • Market-Based Title: The Scottish Gaelic dub is called Calum Clachairnote  to keep the Alliterative Title, making Bob fall victim to Dub Name Change in the process.
  • Missing Mom: JJ lives with his daughter, Molly, whose mother is never seen nor mentioned.
  • The Movie: While the show had a few 50-minute specials early on ("A Christmas to Remember", "The Knights of Can-a-Lot" (or "The Knights of Fix-a-Lot" in the US), "Snowed Under: The Bobblesberg Winter Games", and "Built to be Wild"), there wasn't an actual movie as such until the show's first feature length movie "Race to the Finish". The short lived "Ready Steady Build" series also had two "movie specials" ("The Legend of the Golden Hammer" (or "The Golden Hammer: The Movie" in the US) and "The Big Dino Dig"). The 2015 reboot recently released its first special entitled "Mega Machines: The Movie".
  • Mr Fix It: There's a reason he's called "Bob The Builder."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The reboot aired on PBS Kids, which was also the channel that aired the last few seasons of the original incarnation of the show. As a result, some PBS affiliates used an up next bumper used for the older series, which has a different animation style than the reboot does.
  • Obliviously Evil: In Mega Machines, Thud and Crunch are extreme jerkasses to Muck, then Lofty gets an idea when he sees Conrad belittling them, which causes them to cower. After confronting them about their behaviour, their confused reactions heavily imply that they've been bullied so much by Conrad that they think that acting like him is the equivalent of being polite. They get over it in the end.
  • Perpetual Smiler: The humans always have a smile on their faces, even if they aren't happy. Averted with the machines, who can change expressions.
  • Reality Ensues: Despite being a show largely aimed at children about anthropomorphic construction vehicles, this happens surprisingly often. Mostly it crops up in the form of one of the machines doing something that they really have no business trying to do (EX: driving on ice) with...predictable results.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: In-Universe: Ace was the star of a very popular TV show, but got fired after accidentally squashing his boss's empty car with a huge boulder.
  • Setting Update: The rebooted series has a much more modern-day look to it, with Bob now based in a bustling city and smartphones and tablets often being present. The redesigned machines also more closely resemble the types of construction vehicles seen in modern-day use.
  • She's a Man in Japan:
    • Muck is male in the UK, and female in the American English and Swiss German dubs. In the rebooted series, however, he is male in both dubs.
    • In the original series, Scoop is female in the Swedish and Polish dubs.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Every human character in this show (as well as Spud) is prone to these.
    • In the rebooted series, the machines are now also prone to these.
  • The Smurfette Principle:
    • Dizzy is the only female machine in Bob's crew. However, subverted in the US dub of the original series when Muck is referred to female.
    • Same thing with Sumsy in Project Build It, she's the only female machine owned by Farmer Pickles.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: The music video for the show's cover of Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5" features the human cast imitating the famous musical during the second chorus.
  • Story Arc: Ready Steady Build had two for their "feature-length specials/movies", (unlike its sister show, the specials were produced as six standalone episodes that aired as three half-hour episodes in the US and six standalone episodes in the UK); "The Legend of the Golden Hammer" (Spud and Scrambler searching for pirate treasure) and The Big Dino Dig (building the dinosaur theme park).
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Bob and his twin brother, Tom, look like younger versions of their father, Robert.
  • Three Shorts: This is how the show was presented when it premiered in North America: An 8-minute story, a 1-2 minute short, another 8-minute story, and another 1-2 minute short.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • The dark for Muck.
    • Heights for Lofty.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Lofty is often skeptical and has to be reminded of all the great things he can do.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The 2015 reboot, where the humans are more realistic looking. The machines were vastly different as well.


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