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90's Vs: Wishbone vs Reading Rainbow



Welcome once again to 90's Vs. This time we are looking at two more educational shows. But instead of science we are looking at reading. A basic skill taught to us as kids we were probably bored with and didn't care to read at all as kids. But what we are looking at are two shows that got kids to get interested in reading or to at least pick up a few books. Today we are looking at Wishbone and Reading Rainbow. Like last time I'll be looking at each show separately then compare them. So let's start with one with more star power Reading Rainbow.



Started on June 6th 1983 and ending on November 10th 2006 with reruns up until May 29th 2009 Reading Rainbow was the third longest running kids show in the history of PBS followed by Mister Rodger's Neighborhood and Sesame Street. It was also one of the first shows on PBS that was broadcasted in stereo. On June 20th 2012 over three years after the show was taken off PBS an app made by the same team that worked on Reading Rainbow was released. It allowed kids to read as many books as they wanted, go on video field trips hosted by LeVar Burton and be rewarded for reading. The show itself was hosted by LeVar Burton and covered many subjects. As a kid I thought it was an ok series. Not bad though at the same time not the best. However the only reason why I watched it as a kid is because of it running at the same time as Doug on Nickelodeon. The format was more of an informative setting. It focused on one subject and branched from it with a story being read with live segments in between the live segments being educational and usually ends with a list of books similar to the subject. Is it bad? Honestly no though at the same time you can see why some see it as boring. There's no real acting to it outside of being a presenter doing a presentation format. The one thing that always grabbed me though was the opening to this show. I still have it in my top favorite openings of the nineties. Between the lyrics and the music and visuals I really can't say anything bad about it other then it sounds pretty eighties when you hear it though it's a product of it's time so no harm done. Now let's move on from Rainbows to a dog that loves to read.



First Airing on September 10th 1995 and ending it's original run in 1998 and shown in reruns until August 31st 2001 on PBS Wishbone is about a dog that daydreams about stories he has read that relate to an event that is happening at the time. The setting for the show is in a town named Oakdale. The formula of the show was played out as there was a problem, Wishbone is reminded of a story related to that problem and as the story progressed as the situation in the real world progresses to the same time as the story then the end the story is finished and the problem is resolved. What hooked me as a kid was that it was the dog that was the main character. As an adult this show somehow manages to grab my attention. But not as much as it used to as a kid. Mostly it was the writing of how a situation plays out in the normal world and compares it to the story makes me think on what other books they could cover now. However I feel the reason for it's popularity was them dipping into Disney's bag of tricks by using a talking animal in this case being a dog. However though the dog is real and the voice is actually to himself which was voiced by Larry Brantley. It's not spoken out loud to humans. Which being set in the real world makes sense that no one can hear him talk and he ends up talking to himself. There are issues with the show that seeing as an adult made me cringe. First is then sticking to the same formula over and over again. Even though that's what the show ran on. It got boring after a while and repetitive to the point where it got boring. The second is the acting. Yes it's a kid's show I know. Though that's no excuse for skimping out on getting believable acting since other kids shows managed to get better actors. Also I felt the comedy sometimes was a bit out of place. They usually went with the gag of "Dog doing cute things is funny" While that can be for kids who are under the demographic I feel it was aimed for even when I was a kid I felt that better things could have been used. Over all not bad in small doses. But I wouldn't recommend a marathon though. The theme song is memorable it's more pop sounding though which made it more catchy at it's time which works to it's advantage. Now to compare these shows and see which is better.

Lining up these shows side by side the first thing I noticed is that they are very different with the ways these shows try getting kids to read and of their style. Reading Rainbow is more informative while Wishbone was more on the entertaining side of the spectrum. However entertaining doesn't always mean it will be good. Too many things stack up when you try to entertain and teach at the same time. You not only have to find a balance you also have to get the right people to make it work. For example the reason why Beakman's World and Bill Nye worked as a good balance is because they focus on being informative while also entertaining while one focused more entertainment than the other the entertainment was focused on the subject and not off on it's own which usually makes it feel out of place at times. As long as you have a focus on one subject the rest will fall into place. In this case of Reading Rainbow and Wishbone informative was better then entertainment and a cute dog with books. I felt Reading Rainbow while basic and not too entertaining it still managed to keep my attention and interest as both a kid and adult. Wishbone might have entertained me as a kid though as an adult it got repetitive and got boring fast. So next time on 90's vs I got one question for you guys..... You Hungry? Till next time this is ThatDudeintheHoodie and remember to Live Life and Live Nostalgic.




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Vaporman87 Posted on May 30, 2014 at 05:27 PM

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign (for a web series of the show - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/readingrainbow/bring-reading-rainbow-back-for-every-child-everywh) is going nuts. Well over $2 million dollars now, with 30 days to go.

That's over $1 million OVER the goal, with oodles of time remaining. Cool.

pikachulover Posted on May 05, 2014 at 09:32 AM

I never really liked Wishbone either. It was ok. I didn't like that there were 2 plotlines going on at the same time; the story Wishbone was telling and what was happening to the children.

I liked Reading Rainbow because the shows were about different topics; the ocean, bees, pigs, cakes, nightlife, and fashion, etc. The just wasn't about the stories there would be different segments. But you don't have to take my word for it.

ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on May 02, 2014 at 04:15 AM

I'll see what I can do. Or I can do a past and present VS. Though everyone would know what would be first in that one.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 01, 2014 at 11:47 PM

Also, when ideas seem slim for 90's Vs, I wouldn't mind reading an 80's vs. ;)

ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on May 01, 2014 at 11:07 PM

echidna I have a 90's vs planned for October who knows what it may be.

blueluigi Posted on May 01, 2014 at 08:29 PM

One of the subchannels in my local PBS affiliate actually continued to play Wishbone up to like 2009 or 2010. I never got into it when I was a kid. I always found it to be pretty boring. So, yeah, I'm leaning more towards Reading Rainbow for this. That was a show I enjoyed watching when I was a kid, and had some fond memories of it.

Mr Magic Posted on May 01, 2014 at 05:08 PM

I remember watching Reading Rainbow in school. Good show. But I've never seen Wishbone.

echidna64 Posted on May 01, 2014 at 04:47 PM

Wishbone was awesome! I loved the reenactments of classic works of literature. It actually inspired me to read the Count of Monte Cristo.

I'd also throw Ghostwriter into the ring as well!

Can't wait for what's next- Goosebumps vs Animorphs?

Vaporman87 Posted on May 01, 2014 at 04:29 PM

I have never even heard of Wishbone, so naturally I'm going to go with Reading Rainbow here. I probably was watching the show from it's earliest stages until the end of the 80's, and then it was usually just "off and on" watching when nothing else was on.

I did find it somewhat enjoyable even though I was not what you would call a "reader" unless it was a comic or magazine.

Even so, I liked Levar Burton and thought he did an amazing job on the show. Just a great program that can reach even those kids with little interest in reading books.

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