Has Your Child Been Bluer Lately? Rest Assured That’s Gonna Change.

I made two small children cry yesterday, and it wasn’t because I was decked out head to toe in Mets gear.

I’ve never been a parent, but I spent some of my favorite years doing qualitative research with them, and I’m as proud an uncle as there has ever been.  So the first rule of thumb I’ve subscribed to when you’re in a position to interact with them is find something you have in common and appeal to their level.  And as I struck up a conversation with their parents, media executives on vacation from the East Coast and about to show their six year old son and four year old daughter Dodger Stadium for the first time, the kids eagerly joined in.  And since I still pay a disproportionate amount of attention to what’s popular with kids these days because one never knows where the next opportunity to make a buck might come from, I seized upon the opportunity to answer a burning question I had that was fostered by an awful lot of buzz and chatter I observed online and in my alerts.

“What happened on Bluey?” I asked.

And then, with equal enthusiasm from both kids and parents, I got the whole rundown, complete with the gamut of emotions it produced.  Even Dad, the epitome of a grizzled New Yorker and Mets lover, admitted he was bawling when he watched what went down last week in the world of the Heeler family.  And at almost that exact moment, PEOPLE’s Bailey Richards dropped a story that showed up in my alerts while I was checking my fantasy baseball team’s results that helped put it all in perspective, both for the episode that has had its global fan base agog and the one that dropped early this morning that was teased:

Bluey’s latest episode has fans wondering — once again — if the titular pup’s story has come to an end.

The new episode, aptly titled “Surprise,” followed the episode originally billed as the season 3 finale of the Australian animated series, “The Sign,” an extra-long episode that took social media by storm — and left fans of all ages reaching for tissues.

While “The Sign” took fans on an emotional rollercoaster that ended with Bluey, Bandit and the rest of the Heeler family nearly selling and moving away from their home, but ultimately sticking around, “Surprise” showed an unexpected glimpse into the Heelers’ future.

And, after the tear-inducing final moments of “The Sign,” which saw Bandit knocking down the “For Sale” sign that had stood in front of their home throughout the episode, the ending of Bluey’s latest episode was an especially sweet treat.

“Surprise” ends with a visit from an all-grown-up Bluey, who comes home to visit dad Bandit and mom Chilli (still in their beloved house on the hill!) with a surprise guest: Bluey’s future child, who has very clearly taken after their mom and her antics.

And even for the completely uninitiated such as moi, it was pretty damn clear that for all else that might be going on in the world that we poor adults have to fret about, little else on this planet mattered more if you happen to be among the millions invested in the Heelers.  As it turns out, the series is as much a family endeavor as those of the units that watch together and then rewatch on devices, often being deployed in vehicles on the way to school and soccer matches.

Wikipedia sets up the premise succinctly:

Bluey is an Australian animated preschool television series which premiered on ABC Kids on 1 October 2018. The program was created by Joe Brumm and is produced by Queensland-based company Ludo Studio. It was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation, with BBC Studios holding global distribution and merchandising rights. The series made its premiere on Disney Junior in the United States and is released internationally on Disney+.

The show follows Bluey, an anthropomorphic six-year-old (later seven-year-old) Blue Heeler puppy who is characterised by her abundance of energy, imagination and curiosity about the world. The young dog lives with her father, Bandit; mother, Chilli; and younger sister, Bingo, who regularly joins Bluey on adventures as the pair embark on imaginative play together. Other characters featured each represent a different dog breed. Overarching themes include the focus on family, growing up, and Australian culture. The program was created and is produced in Queensland; its capital city Brisbane inspires the show’s setting.

Bluey has received consistently high viewership in Australia on both broadcast television and video-on-demand services. It has influenced the development of merchandise and a stage show featuring its characters. The program has won two Logie Awards for Most Outstanding Children’s Program as well as an International Emmy Kids Award in 2019. It has been praised by television critics for depicting a modern everyday family life, constructive parenting messages, and the role of Bandit as a positive father figure.

And for as much as Disney would like to make us believe that it’s their IP that has secured the loyalty of Generations X, Z and A, this is yet another example of how it has reached out around the world to acquire shows that serve as tentpoles for their linear and digital platforms.  Previously, they secured rights to THE WIGGLES, another Australian import that was for years a daytime dominating series.  And betting on an entertaining blue dog is a formula that they saw worked wonders for their arch-rivals at Nickelodeon with BLUE’S CLUES. 

So it’s no surprise to learn via THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Rick Porter that Bluey has been a breakout hit for Disney+ in the United States. It’s the most streamed show in the country this year in terms of total viewing time, according to Nielsen’s streaming ratings, after ranking second in 2023 and sixth in 2022.

And it’s a relief to see that amidst all of the attention this has garnered, the fears of those speculating on social media that this may all be coming to an end have been allayed.  Per Richards:

(S)how producer Sam Moor has previously opened up about what’s to come. Earlier this month, ahead of the release of “The Sign,” Moor told BBC Radio 4 that there is a lot more in store for the Heeler family, as well as the rest of the Bluey-verse.

“It is the question on everybody’s lips,” Moor said of the series’ future, before revealing, “No, [‘The Sign’] is not the end for Bluey.”  “I’m sure we have many more surprises in store for you,” she added. “We have more in store and we are thinking what would be next.”

Thank goodness.  There will be a hiatus, to be sure, but that’s the beauty of children’s programming.  They love to rewatch.  The existing 48 episodes, most of the old-fashioned seven-minute variety, are ideal for streaming between stops on busy afternoon and weekend outings.  Perhaps they’ll even explore BLUE’S CLUES or, heaven forbid, TELETUBBIES.  The latter might have them realizing how fortunate they are their hit is a lot more watchable.

But don’t think the family I encountered is through with crying just yet.  They’re Mets fans, and our team was embarrassingly shut out 10-0 yesterday.  And I can assure those kids, there will be a lot more to cry about if they continue to be so.  The Mets have made me cry since I was their ages.

Until next time…

 

 

Leave a Comment