Saturday, September 04, 2021

All the episodes of Bluey ranked (2 of 4)

(See part 1 here, part 3 here, part 4 here).

In this installment, a Dancing Work, a Muffin Cone, an unexpected use for a Viking hat, and more, more, GIVE ME MORE!


Another Bluey episode completely without Bluey! This time new kid at school Jack – a distractable, fidgety Jack Russell – teams up with Rusty, who basically puts him to military school, and the two play army. One interesting subtext in this episode of a show that’s all about play and free expression is that, you know what, sometimes kids need that discipline and order after all – in fact, in this episode, it doesn’t come from the adults at all; it’s the kids imposing the discipline and order on themselves. Rusty is always likeable, though Jack doesn’t feature heavily in other episodes. 


70. Mum School 

It’s playing with balloons again, but, unlike in Keepy Uppy, the balloons get a personality, and Bluey is their mum. Actual Mum Chilli gets a clipboard and has to go around marking Bluey on her successful mumming. There’s a lot of fun here and the plot rounds out nicely. 


69. Calypso 

This episode is basically an introduction for the character of Calypso, Bluey’s teacher – who is doing the rounds of the classroom while the children are playing games. That’s pretty much it! Calypso spots problems the students are having, and solves them, one by one, as she continues going round the classroom. It’s a simple concept, given sweetness by the various children’s games, and heart by singer Megan Washington, who voices the titular character. (The name Calypso comes from Greek mythology – she was the nymph who held Odysseus ‘captive’ on her island for seven years, not letting him go home. Make of that what you will.)


68. Piggyback

This one is simplicity itself, they’re all working from the holiday house to the waterside, but Bingo doesn’t want to walk – she keeps complaining that her legs don’t work – and Bandit and Chilli keep on coming up with distractions to keep her walking. It’s another example of that genius the show writers have of structuring programs around recognisable parts of childhood that you never would have thought would have had the potential for drama or comedy. It’s also another episode in which you keep noticing the little details – the dogs having a picnic to the side while the Heeler family walk past, for instance. I can’t comment anymore on this one – you just have to see. 


67. Grandad 

We get to meet the ‘Grandad’ here – Chilli’s dad – who is always saying ‘hurry up and wait’ (see the reference to this in Sticky Gecko). He’s just had surgery, and Chilli is adamant that he has to stay at home and rest – but turns out he’s all hurry and no wait. As soon as Bluey and Bingo arrive with their mum, he whisks them away into the bush with Chilli in hot pursuit – ‘I will find you!’ So this episode serves as an introduction to another family member, and a tribute to not acting your age – as with so many other episodes of this kids show, it turns out it’s one for the adults, too. 

66. Bus 

Just imagine it, you spend years working with the band, driving around to gigs all over the country, playing late nights in seedy bars – and where are you now? You are the voice of a cartoon dog, sitting on a play cartoon bus, singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. This is the fate of David McCormack, voice of Bandit Heeler, on this episode. It sets the tone nicely for the family chaos that follows. It’s a cute little episode that works in a lot of little jokes, at one point it even seems to segue into a Speed style segment. 


65. Seesaw

Do we meet Pompom in other episodes? I don’t think we do; she’s certainly memorable – a small, white fluffball – ‘Pomeranians are a small breed!’ she insists when she encounters obstacles to her size. Seeing her miserable at not being able to take part in some of the games, Bandit takes matters (and the seesaw) into his own hands and sits heavily down on one end, before the appalled gaze of Bluey and Bingo. So what we get in this episode, then, is a lesson in physics, similar to the one in Pamela Allen’s ‘Who Sunk the Boat’. And, like in Allen’s book, the physics is actually kind of crazy. ‘Hey, Coco, is your hair heavy?’ (She’s a poodle, with that ridiculous poodle hair thing happening.) ‘Yes!’ No prizes in guessing who finally gets to tip the seesaw the other way, joining forces with the others. A pretty simple episode with some great lines. ‘Pomeranians are a small but hardy breed!’


64. Fairies 

The concept for this one feels a little fey but what are you going to do when the subject is the fey folk? Thankfully, in this episode we don’t get fairies of the prettified, Disney variety; they’re much closer to the capricious, fearsome supernatural beings of folk tales. After Bandit (who’s on the phone to someone at work) raises his voice at Bingo, the whole family has to atone to the fairies, who have apparently been deeply offended on Bingo’s behalf. You might think that there’s a reason for that, but then, things seem to escalate far too quickly for them to be orchestrated by Bingo alone. Fairy rings appear (Bluey ends up in one and can’t stop dancing) all over the place. How will Bandit ever atone for his crime? Somehow the writers even manage to work in a Riverdance and Gladiator reference, at the same time. So the concept works, though the writers do have to go to some weird stretches to make it happen. 


63. Mr Monkeyjocks

What do you do when you have so much stuff it seems to take over your whole life? That’s what happens with Bluey and Bingo, who have so many toys, and they don’t want to chuck out any. ‘Okay,’ announces Bandit after they clean up, ‘So in the keep bin is…. Everything. And in the chuck out bin is…. A monkey wearing jocks.’ ‘Not Mr Monkeyjocks!’ Turns out Mr Monkeyjocks is ‘special’, so special that he ends up running the house. We can all be grateful that the makers of Bluey speak in fluent hyperbole. This is a great episode. 


62. Backpackers

When Bandit and Chilli put on Bluey, Bingo, Muffin and Socks like backpacks, we kinda enter into a dreamtime world, at once a game and a backpacking adventure. So much of the camera – okay, there’s no camera, it’s an animation, shuddup – focus is on the faces of Bandit and Chilli, and the world from their perspective, that we seem to be experiencing a younger couple here, before they had the kids, backpacking around the world. I’ve seen this episode a few times and it only consciously registered on me that the long pans of the travels here are just shots of their backyard. Such are the strange enchantments this show casts – you get so distracted by the jokes, which are plentiful and hilarious, that you hardly notice the atmosphere being woven by the animation and the music.  


61. The Dump

It’s awkward as a parent when you get busted by your own kids. Even more awkward when you set yourself up for getting busted, like Bandit does here when he takes the kids on a trip to the dump. ‘Dad, do you know everything?’ ‘I do!’ Whoa, time to scale back there Bandit, but no: ‘Are you the best dad in the whole world?’ ‘I am.’ Inevitably his ego gets punctured in front of the ever-inquisitive Bluey and Bingo, but this dog is man enough to admit it. Good one, Bandit! I’m always going to be fond of a cartoon that takes its characters on a trip to that most unromantic of settings, the local dump, and this episode carries off it all with panache. 


60. Work

You might have thought ‘work’ was the opposite of ‘game’, but not in Bluey world, where Bluey and Bingo show up for a job interview with Bandit. ‘So, this is the dancing room’, says Bandit, showing them around. ‘No, you make drainpipes’ says Bluey. ‘Yes boss’. ‘I’m not the boss, you’re the boss.’ Master power move there from Bluey, but Bandit – who secretly loves dancing, there are jokes about it all through the show – says wistfully ‘I once dreamt of running a dancing work.’ This is a funny little episode with a good balance of Bluey-induced chaos and plot to round things off nicely. 


59. Hide and Seek

There’s nothing more eminently distractable than a five year old child, in this case Bluey, except when that eminently distractable child is teamed up with an eminent distraction, in this case the loudly shouty jumpy and altogether Really Annoying Toy ‘Chattermax’. I don’t know what Chattermax is really and I don’t want to know, though she appears in a number of episodes. ‘Why was Chattermax hiding under the kitchen sink?’ wonders Bluey about said Really Annoying Toy, simultaneously forgetting the game of Hide and Seek she was supposed to be involved in. As she carries the shouty little thing around the house wondering what she was doing, not noticing any of her family hiding right in front of her face, there’s that stretching of reality and credulity that happens in good farce and slapstick. Distraction is always an interesting subject and this episode has some very good distractions in it. (Watch out for ‘Carrot Horn!’) Ah, this show always delivers the goods. 


58. Trains 

Bandit really gets put through the paces here, as the train driver (he’s pushing a bunch of chairs around). Seems simple, but around him the whole house becomes an elaborate set up for this game of trains. Bingo is a vet, who catches the train each day to work; Chilli is her secretary, and Bluey is an irritable train passenger, and it just gets more complicated from there. Bandit finds he has to face some unusual problems (what happens if someone’s train ticket is actually a poo?) You know how it happens. 


57. Markets

We’re off to the market, and it’s one of those cool outdoor ones with poffertjes (those delicious Dutch pancakes), and pony rides and all that stuff. This is kind of the signature episode for Bluey’s friend Indy, whose mum has a stall at the market – she goes around with Bluey as Bluey tries to find a way to spend her $5 so she can share something with Indy. ‘Does this [poffertje] have milk, wheat, or sugar?’ she asks. ‘Because I can’t eat those.’ ‘That’s all that it contains!’ says the guy selling them to the crestfallen Indy. There’s an interesting explanation of market economics going on in this show, in the characteristic upbeat way Bluey has. 


56. Featherwand

Bingo’s magic feather turns everything heavy, so this episode is basically Bingo running around saying ‘heavy’ at everything. Not only do the whole family get involved in this immersive game, but that ever-reliable dramatic foil Lucky’s Dad (who seems very willing to play along with this weird stuff) turns up too. There are some convenient breaks of continuity here (Bandit gets stuck under a broom so heavy no-one can help him, but the next scene he’s running after Bingo to stop her turning Bluey and Chilli heavy?) But then again, apparently the magic is so real that Lucky’s Dad needs ‘a little help here’ after Bingo forgets to unheavy his hat. As a nice touch in the later scenes, you see the cockatoo that the magic feather came from perched on the roof. 


Choice quote: BLUEY: What are you doing? BANDIT: Nothing. Eat your floor breakfast. BLUEY: (Eats breakfast out of bowl on floor) This day is great!


55. Kids

This one has got kinda New Testament vibes. Remember ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’? No? Well, neither does Bandit, who, put on the spot by Bluey asking ‘Which one of us is your favourite’, answers with a statement at once diplomatic and self-contradictory, ‘You’re both my favourite!’ So Bluey and Bingo play ‘Kids’; Bluey is the parent (adults start referring to her as ‘Mrs Heeler’), and dad Bandit becomes the son. In this weird reverso world we get plenty of good jokes (Bandit even has to do a time out – ‘sit on that toilet roll chair!’) The dynamic between Bandit and his ‘mum’ and ‘little sister’ is interesting – Bluey and Bingo are (partly) learning about growing up when playing ‘Kids’; what does Bandit get out of it? Is it the opposite of growing up? But then, you can see him subtly challenging Bluey’s expectations of the world as he has fun with the game too. 


54. Charades

This is a great one for the supporting characters – Bluey and Bingo are sitting around at Nanna’s house with Muffin and Socks, and they all play a game of charades (using cues from a pack of cards designed for the purpose). Of course, Muffin totally and wilfully misunderstands the game – ‘She’s going to blow her top!’ whispers Nanna to Bluey at one point. Look, I’m not saying that a toddler having tantrums and behaving badly is good or entertaining, but what I am saying is that when that toddler is a cartoon dog it…. kinda is. 

53. Ice Cream 

I know that one of the Bluey things is to build each episode around a simple moral, but then again, ‘I don’t want a valuable life lesson! I just want an ice cream!’ This great little ep builds the drama around another one of those iconic childhood scenes, the Getting of the Icecream. Notable for its clever script – riffing on the immemorial chant of ‘It’s not fair’ to produce ‘It’s highly fair!’ ‘It’s fairly fair!’ ‘It’s about as fair as it gets!’ and more – and for its music, once again spot on, bringing a fun Latin dance beat to the opening stages and segueing into a waltz. 

52. Taxi 

It’s a rainy day at home, so the family are playing inside again. This time they’re not on a bus, they’re on a taxi, and Bluey is the driver. There’s a lot of great visual and musical jokes here – Chilli becomes the SatNav (her nose is the little talking box in the front window of the taxi) and a flute (or synthesiser flute sound, whatever) imitates the digital sound of a SatNav voice. Bandit plays the impatient and flustered passenger – ‘Good day to you sir!’ And so on. It’s riffing on similar lines to ‘Bus’, though maybe just a little bit more focused and successful than that one. 


51. The Beach

I can never get over how far Bluey walks on her own in this episode. Bluey’s walk – from one end of the beach to the other, to go from her dad to her mum – goes past a lot of sights and sounds, and we are of course seeing everything from her eyes, so it all looks huge and potentially terrifying, though her mum and dad are probably much closer than it seems to us (and her). There’s a lot of magical details here, like the sand crab army, and the sandcastle palace. Like a couple of other episodes – PiggybackRoad Trip – at least one cultural reference point seems to be video games, the sort that go on the horizontal from left to right and have the protagonist encounter various obstacles. ‘Why do you like going for walks on your own?’ ‘I don’t know. I just do.’ Bluey asks her mum the question at the start of the show, and her mum asks her the same question at the end; their answers are the same, but, of course, they so aren’t the same at all. As thoroughgoing a working out of a simple concept as any of the episodes in this show, it’s also a spot-on depiction of what independence means for a small child, and just what those first, terrifying steps out on your own might be.


50. Barky Boats

When Bluey and Mackenzie get paired up at school with their buddies from year six, Mia and Captain, they’re excited. Turns out, though, Mia and Captain want to spend more time with one another. Mackenzie is appalled, and Bluey is bored, so they exchange the traditional courtesy of their kind, blowing a raspberry in the other’s general direction. Many of the episodes of Bluey, while being about kids, are covertly about the adult dramas, but this one is also about teen – or maybe tween - angst. What is big school going to be like? How do you feel about leaving a friend who has been with you all through little school? And – for Bluey and Mackenzie – are we supposed to be, like, friends like those two? If there’s one thing that this show excels in it is finding the right metaphors for childhood experiences, and there are two in this episode – the stream in which Mackenzie and Bluey and their buddies play Barky Boats while contemplating the mysteries of time and growing up, and the pulsing, lyrically optimistic theme music that plays while this happens. All in all it’s a very touching episode. 


49. Bad Mood 

When Bingo finds herself in a Bad Mood, in capital letters, she gives Bandit a Viking hat, climbs on to his feet, and they stomp around the house causing various kinds of chaos. Chilli and Bluey have to try and get Bingo out of her Bad Mood, though there are surprising philosophical problems – ‘Oh, I know what’s happening. She wants to be in a bad mood.’ ‘Why would anyone want to be in a bad mood?’ ‘Dunno.’ It’s quite a striking visual representation of the experience of fuming through one of those day-long grumps, and I’ll probably have it in mind from now on when getting into an ill-advised internet argument. 


48. Yoga Ball

There’s a lot of good Bandit jokes here, starting off with the elevator game (don’t ask me to explain, you just had to be there) and his delivering two parcels (that is, Bluey and Bingo) to Mogadishu, but it’s not about his games with the kids. It’s not about the yoga ball, either. Or…. not just about those things. You only find out gradually – and it’s clever the way the show does this – that it’s really about what Bingo does when her dad plays too rough with her (but she still wants to keep playing). So maybe this show is about that one thing in the end. Or maybe it’s about all three of them. The tale is well told and it’s a good show for the character development of both Bingo and Bandit.  


47. Muffin Cone

Muffin, with her toddler’s propensity to ‘do her block’, to test limits, and to take joy in the simplest of games, makes a great character. So, when her mum Trixie tells her she has to stop sucking her thumb (otherwise she’ll have to wear a cone while visiting her cousins), her argument is an irrefutable ‘I want to do what I want’! Alternating between Muffin learning to play with Bluey and Bingo in her ‘cone of shame’, and Chilli and Aunt Trixie as they gossip over a bowl of chips in the dining room, this episode manages to riff successfully on a funny visual gag and deliver insights about the psychology of toddlers and adults, at once. 

No comments:

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive