All 80s and 90s kids will recognize the precocious pup Wishbone that somehow always found himself* in some form of literary-themed adventure, tricking us into learning a little culture on Saturday mornings. Taking a little trip down memory lane, I've pulled out every single book/play/story that was featured on the show over its (too brief) two seasons that spanned from 1995-1998. I hope it brings back some great memories for you too!
*A little inside information: Mo Rocca, of The Daily Show fame and oft panelist on the unparalleled Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, came to speak at my university years ago and shared a little insight. He actually started his career as a writer for Wishbone and let us all in on a little secret: there were two Wishbones. Presumably for animal labor reasons (?), they used two different dogs to play the part. What I recall most from Rocca's speech was that one of the dogs was actually a female named Soccer. It just seems like an awesome name for a dog, if you ask me. After reading through all of the episode descriptions, I am quite certain that Mo Rocca was the one responsible for the incredible pun-laden titles, by the way.
Without further ado, the books (and in case you get really nostalgic, there are videos at the end):
S1, Ep1 & 2: A Tail in Twain: Part One & Two
The book: "Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
Synopsis of Part 1: Joe, Samantha, and David investigate the mysterious behavior of a man who is digging up a historical site in the local park; Wishbone experiences life as Tom Sawyer in Twain's classic novel.
Synopsis of part 2: Episode 2 is the second half of the same story, hence the tale in "twain". Joe, Samantha, and David seek help from Ellen (Joe's mother), and neighbor Wanda, who is leader of the local historical society, in the mystery of the man digging up the unknown grave in the park; Wishbone continues as Tom Sawyer.
S1, Ep3: Twisted Tail
The book: "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens
The synopsis: Joe befriends a new boy, Max, from school. When Max gets involved with another boy who may be a thief, Wishbone is reminded of the story of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
S1, Ep4: Rosie, Oh, Rosie, Oh!
The book: "Romeo & Juliet" by William Shakespeare
The synopsis: Wishbone falls in love with a dog from the pound and is reminded of the story of Romeo and Juliet.
S1, Ep5: Homer Sweet Homer
The book: "The Odyssey" by Homer
The synopsis: The kids work to save their favorite park from developers; Wishbone plays Odysseus from Homer's The Odyssey.
S1, Ep6: Bark That Bark
The book: This episode doesn't cover a single title, rather it covers various African folk tales.
The synopsis: The kids help put on a traditional story-telling show to raise money. David's Uncle Homer is the star and throughout the episode, tells verbal African folk tales. Wishbone plays the part of Anansi and others in the folk tales.
S1, Ep7: Cyranose
The book (in this case it's a play): "Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand
The synopsis: Wishbone takes on the 'prominent' role of Cyrano de Bergerac as the kids have to study poetry in school. David struggles the most with having to write his own poem and uses his own anonymous Cyrano to cheat.
S1, Ep8: The Slobbery Hound
The synopsis: A stray dog is causing trouble in the neighborhood and Wishbone is getting the blame. As Joe, Sam, and David try to track the dog down, Wishbone is reminded of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of Baskervilles.
S1, Ep9: Digging Up the Past
The book: "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving
The synopsis: Joe, Ellen and Wishbone meet a woman who lived in their home over 40 years ago, who comes to see the house and find the treasures she left behind as a kid. Wishbone imagines himself as Rip Van Winkle who falls asleep for 20 years and doesn't recognize anything or anybody, and can't get anyone to believe who he is.
S1, Ep10: Bone of Arc
The book: Not based on a specific written account, this episode is based on the general story of Joan of Arc.
The synopsis: With their star player injured, Sam offers to help the boys win their soccer championship against an unbeatable team. Sam's bravery reminds Wishbone of the story of Joan of Arc.
S1, Ep11: The Impawssible Dream
The book: "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes
The synopsis: Joe tries to set a world record for shooting baskets which inspires Wishbone to recall the story of Don Quixote. Wishbone plays the part of Sancho Panza.
S1, Ep12: Fleabitten Bargain
The book: "Faust" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The synopsis: Joe runs into a shady businessman at the town fair who's marketing a new virtual reality helmet that sucks Joe into a different world. This reminds Wishbone of Faust, a scholar who traded his soul to the devil for fun, but everything he wants comes at a price.
S1, Ep13: Sniffing the Gauntlet
The book: "Ivanhoe" by Sir Walter Scott
The synopsis: The kids have to do a spelling bee, Samantha has an allergic reaction to coconut which takes her out of the competition, and Wishbone plays Ivanhoe.
S1, Ep14: The Hunchdog of Notre Dame
The book: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo
The synopsis: Wishbone takes on the role of Quasimodo as the trio face off against bully Damont in hockey. A new boy, Nathaniel, is so clumsy that no one wants him to play - until he reveals his hidden worth.
S1, Ep15: Golden Retrieved
The book: "Silas Marner" by George Eliot
The synopsis: Wishbone is Silas Marner; Joe has a new mountain bike that is absorbing his attention, causing him to neglect and fail to appreciate Wishbone.
S1, Ep16: A Tale of Two Sitters
The synopsis: Wishbone brings Charles Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities' to life by playing Charles Darnay, while the boys feel like theirs is ruined. They have to babysit David's sister and her friend.
S1, Ep17: Frankenbone
The book: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley
The synopsis: David is making a secret project for the school science fair. This leads Wishbone to recite the classic story, Frankenstein.
S1, Ep18: Hot Diggety Dawg
The book: "Journey to the Center of the Earth" by Jules Verne
The synopsis: In this episode, the kids digging a hole for an Arbor Day tree causes Wishbone to imagine himself as Professor Lidenbrock in Jules Verne's classic adventure story, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
S1, Ep19: One Thousand & One Tails
The book: "One Thousand and One Nights" by many, many authors
The synopsis: Wishbone becomes the magical Ali Baba in Scheherazade's Arabian Nights. The trio gets into trouble with a new computer and Wanda loses her purse. David's sister, Emily, finds it but doesn't want to return it.
S1, Ep20: Mixed Breeds
The synopsis: Wanda finds a fresh experience with a new man, leaving Bob Pruitt to wonder what's going on and causing him to act out of the ordinary. The shift in personality is mirrored in Wishbone's telling of Jekyll and Hyde as the title character's friend, Gabriel John Utterson.
S1, Ep21: The Canine Cure
The book (play again): "The Imaginary Invalid" by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin aka Molière
The synopsis: Joe's highly allergic friend Nathaniel stays at the Talbots' for the weekend but his overprotective mother announces he's allergic to dogs so Wishbone has to stay in the yard. Wishbone likens Nathaniel's affliction to that of Argon in Moliere's play The Imaginary Invalid, whose family convince him he's sick so they can collect his inheritance.
S1, Ep22: The Pawloined Paper
The book (short story): "The Purloined Letter" by Edgar Allan Poe
The synopsis: Wishbone plays C. Auguste Dupin in Poe's 'The Purloined Letter'. Joe has a crush on a teacher and a classmate, Curtis, sees Joe writing a love note, which ends up in the teacher's hands. Will Joe be able to get it back before she reads it or Curtis uses it against him?
S1, Ep23: Bark to the Future
The book: "The Time Machine" by HG Wells
The synopsis: Joe thinks using a calculator instead of his own mind will help him do better in math. Meanwhile, Wishbone as The Time Traveler in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, travels to the year 802701 A.D. and finds the human race has diminished all forms of intelligence.
S1, Ep24: Paw Prints of Thieves
The synopsis: Wishbone is Robin Hood as Joe helps a cafeteria worker friend break the rules to help others. They get caught by the stern director who cares more about time and money than charity and Wishbone distracts him as they get away. But that isn't the end of their problems.
S1, Ep25: Furst Impressions
The book: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
The synopsis: Based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Wishbone plays as Mr. Darcy while Joe has to deal with David and Sam falling out over rumors about who's asking whom to the school dance.
S1, Ep26: The Prince and the Pooch
The synopsis: Wishbone and Joe live parallel stories of experiencing how the other half lives in this adaptation of 'The Prince and the Pauper'. Joe believes he'd be better at coaching than the coach, so he gets his shot to prove it.
S1, Ep27: The Count's Account
The synopsis: 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and Edmond Dantes are brought to life by Wishbone as David builds a snow machine that Damont uses to make trouble. But the revenge David and the others take is not the best path.
S1, Ep28: Salty Dog
The synopsis: Samantha enlists Joe and David's help to find a legendary horseshoe in a condemned barn before it's torn down. Wishbone plays Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, where he also encounters dangerous obstacles to search for a great treasure.
S1, Ep29: Little Big Dog
The book: "The Bible" by God et al. (?)
The synopsis: Wishbone delivers the Biblical story of David and Goliath. Meanwhile, Joe and Ellen go on a trip and leave Wishbone with David's family. Emily and David both cause some trouble, but David's is dangerous and destructive. He must tell the truth before it gets worse.
S1, Ep30: A Dogged Expose
The synopsis: Somebody has secretly taken embarrassing pictures of Sam and posted them all over the school and signing an alias to his fliers. Sam, Joe and David try to figure out who the mysterious photographer is while Wishbone plays Sherlock Holmes, going in disguise to retrieve a stolen photograph in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia".
S1, Ep31: A Terrified Terrier
The synopsis: Joe starts hanging with a new bunch of guys, ignoring Sam and David, and even Wishbone. He starts to imitate the behavior of his new friends and soon realizes it could cost him his best friends. Wishbone imagines himself as Henry Fleming, a boy who also takes on more than he can handle when he goes off to fight in the Civil War in The Red Badge of Courage.
S1, Ep32: Shakespaw
The book (play): "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare
The synopsis: The school is putting on a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with David directing, Joe working as stage manager, and Sam as Miranda. Meanwhile, in the fantasy sequences, Wishbone portrays Ariel in the same play.
S1, Ep33: Muttketeer!
The book: "Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas
The synopsis: Wishbone is d'Artagnan in one story, while also trying to join the kids in school in the other. Once inside, he hunts down Mort the rat, who has been chewing up the school.
S1, Ep34: Hercules Unleashed
The book (but not a book): The myth of Hercules
The synopsis: Sam searches for the perfect present for her father's 40th birthday, which reminds Wishbone of Hercules' quest for the golden apples of the Hesperides.
S1, Ep35: Viva Wishbone!
The book (again not a book): The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe [I'm not actually familiar with this story so I can't say whether or not there was a literary work associated with it]
The synopsis: Ellen befriends a young man who has recently lost his own mother, which causes Joe to wrestle with his jealousy. To help him, Senora Julia, an old friend who is like a second mother to him, tells him the story of Juan Diego (played by Wishbone, of course) and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
S1, Ep36: The Entrepawneur
The book (still not a book): The story of King Midas
The synopsis: Joe starts a grocery delivery business, but learns that his single-minded pursuit of money could cost him his friendship with Sam and David. In the fantasy sequence, Wishbone tells the story of Midas and his golden touch.
S1, Ep37: Pantin' at the Opera
The synopsis: After a magazine article is published praising Ellen's computerized library cataloging system, mysterious things begin to happen at the library reminding Wishbone of The Phantom of the Opera
S1, Ep38: Dances with Dogs
The book: Native American folklore
The synopsis: Wishbone becomes a Native American warrior in the Dakota tale told by visiting storyteller Lee Natonabah. Joe and David volunteer to tell their own family stories as well at a story-telling performance, which leads to Joe feeling inadequate in his father's shadow.
S1, Ep39: Rushin' to the Bone
The book (play): "The Inspector General" by Nikolai Gogol
The synopsis: Wishbone stars in a Mr. MacPooch dog commercial. The play, "The Inspector General" by Nikolai Gogol.
S1, Ep40: Picks of the Litter [Season Finale]
The book: All the books!
The synopsis: In a recap of many of the episodes, Wishbone is one again everyone from Tom Sawyer to Oliver Twist. Wanda leaves a friend's dog with the Talbots, for them to dog-sit, and Wishbone tries to entertain her by re-telling his favorite stories.
S2, Ep1 & 2: Halloween Hound: The Legend of Creepy Collars: Part 1 & 2
The book: "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon" by Washington Irving, specifically the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
Synopsis of Part 1: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' dominates as Halloween comes to Oakdale. Wishbone is Ichabod Crane while Joe and friends do a scavenger hunt.
Synopsis of Part 2: Wishbone and the gang participate in Oakdale's first annual Halloween scavenger hunt, complete with a haunted house.
S2, Ep3: The Prince of Wags
The book/play: "Henry IV, Part I" by William Shakespeare
The synopsis: Joe is elected captain of the basketball team. Wishbone, as Prince Hal, in Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part I" must learn to be a leader as well.
S2, Ep4: Groomed for Greatness
The book: "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens [Wishbone apparently really loved Dickens]
The synopsis: Wishbone is chosen to be the model for a dog statue built in Jackson Park, but the 'famous' artist, Wanda's cousin, is a snob. 'Great Expectations' is the book of the day, with Wishbone as Pip.
S2, Ep5: A Bone of Contention
The book (poem): "The Courtship of Miles Standish" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow*
The synopsis: Joe can't find the nerve to ask Sarah to the dance, so he gets David to ask her for him. But David and Sarah really hit it off, and Joe feels betrayed. Wishbone, as John Alden in "The Courtship of Miles Standish" is asked by Captain Standish to court the orphaned Priscilla for him, with a similar result.
*On a mildly related note: I almost convinced my wife to name our dachshund Wadsworth because he's such a long fellow.
S2, Ep6: War of the Noses
The book: "'Black Arrow" by Robert Louis Stevenson [In addition to Dickens, seems to be a big Stevenson fan too]
The synopsis: Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Black Arrow: A Tale of Two Roses' is the backdrop for Wishbone's portrayal of Richard Shelton. In reality, Wishbone is being taken to the vet and feels betrayed by Ellen. What's worse, Wanda accidentally sends his chair to be reupholstered and Joe has to deal with a pathological liar.
S2, Ep8: Barking at Buddha
The book: Asian folktales
The synopsis: Wishbone is impressed by, yet jealous of, a hero dog named Rex and wants to be a hero, too. Some younger boys in town wish they could hang out with the older kids. And Wishbone imagines himself as the ambitious Monkey in traditional Asian tales.
S2, Ep9: Pup Fiction
The book: "Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen
The synopsis: Based on Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Wishbone tries to discover who's been sending Wanda letters with mysterious meanings.
S2, Ep10: A Roamin' Nose
The book: "The Aeneid" by Virgil
The synopsis: Wishbone plays Aeneas, a hero of Troy, in Virgil's 'Aeneid'. There is a gas leak in the neighborhood and the area is forced to evacuate. They spend the time reminiscing about high school and getting to know each other better.
And For Your Patience, Here's a Playlist of Old "Wishbone" Episodes:
All synopses courtesy of IMDB.