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Bob the Builder (1998)

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Bob the Builder (1998)
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🎵Bob the Builder!
Can we fix it?
Bob the Builder!
Yes, we can!
🎵
Genre: Children's animation
Stop-motion animation
Construction
Comedy
Running Time: 10 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
United States (CGI and audio production, 2010-2011)
Taiwan (production services, 2010-2011)
Release Date: 12 April 1999 – 28 September 2004 (Original Series)
2 May 2005 - 26 August 2008 (Project Build It)
12 April 2010 - 5 October 2011 (Ready Steady Build)
Network(s): CBBC (UK, 1998-2002)
CBeebies (UK, 2002-2014)
ABC (Australia)
Discovery Kids (Latin America)
PBS Kids (US, 2005-2018)
Nick Jr. (UK, 1999-2013, US, 2001-2004)
Qubo (US (UK dub), 2020-2021)
Playhouse Disney (France; Original and Project Build It)
Piwi/Piwi+ (France; Ready Steady Build)
Created by: Keith Chapman
Distributed by: HIT Entertainment
Starring: Neil Morrissey (UK)
Kate Harbour (UK)
Richard Briers (UK)
June Whitfield (UK)
Rob Rackstraw (UK & US)
Rupert Degas (UK & US)
Colin McFarlane (UK & US)
Emma Tate (UK & US)
William Dufris (US)
Alan Marriott (US)
Lorelei King (US)
Sonya Leite (US)
Lachele Carl (US)
Maria Darling (US)
Greg Proops (US)
Vincent Marzello (US)
Marc Silk (US)
David Menkin (US)
Sophie Aldred (US)
Lizzie Waterworth (US)
Jo Wyatt (US)
Seasons: 18
Episodes: 250 (10 specials)


Bob the Builder is a British children's stop-motion animated series created by Keith Chapman (who also created other cartoons like the British stop-motion children's television series for Channel 5 called Fifi and the Flowertots, as well as the Canadian cartoon for Nickelodeon called PAW Patrol) and HiT Entertainment (who are well-known for owning tons of other franchises like Barney & Friends, Kipper, Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends, Pingu, and etc).

The original series aired on 12 April 1999 (for the US dub, 13 January 2001) with the episode "Scoop Saves the Day", the show ran for nine seasons before being cancelled in 2004. Soon after that, a sequel show named Project Build It aired on 2 May 2005 with "Bob's Big Plan", and the series would run for seven seasons before being cancelled in 2008/2009 for unknown reasons. After that, a spin-off called Ready Steady Build aired, which first aired in 2010 and got cancelled in 2011.

As the original designs of this show took on hiatus, the reboot started in 2015 and ended in 2018. A new Bob the Builder revival series with the return of the original designs is yet to be announced, but seemed unlikely due to the cancellation of the 2015 reboot series for the negative reception.

Why It Can Fix It

  1. Much like Fireman Sam and Postman Pat, it takes a simple concept of a man having a profession and seeing them do their regular job while interacting with the people around him and it manages to take that concept very well and tries to be more unique and different when compared to those shows.
    • Unlike the shows mentioned above, it also takes the concept of having a builder have his own talking machines, which works very well and manages to not be simplistic and generic.
  2. The stop-motion animation from HOT Animation is beautifully done and is wonderful for 1998 standards, it also improved significantly in the later seasons of the original series and in Project Build It.
  3. Awesome theme song that's also very catchy.
  4. Despite being cartoony, the show does try to keep the construction and building safety realistic and it normalises it for children, by having each episode involve Bob doing a construction job and it shows how they are usually done.
  5. Even though the show's target demographic is mainly for preschoolers, the show tries to be not only enjoyable to just young children, but also older kids and even adults alike, by adding some elements that adults watching the show can identify with.
  6. The voice acting is great and is very pleasant to listen to, especially in the UK version.
    • Rob Rackstraw and Neil Morrissey, the most prolific actors in shows, both do very good jobs at voicing the characters, it is also pretty impressive how they play most of the male characters in the UK version of the show.
    • Some of the characters' voices are rather cute to listen to as well, such as Lofty's voice and Dizzy's voice.
  7. There are a handful of likeable and enjoyable characters such as Bob himself, Wendy, Scoop, Roley, Muck, Dizzy, Lofty, Pilchard and Travis and some really funny ones like Spud the Scarecrow.
    • Bob himself is a likable protagonist who is always passionate about getting jobs done and is also a good role model for the children.
    • Wendy is very likeable too, as she has a great relationship with the machines and most especially Bob, who both have a cute romantic relationship with each other.
    • All of the machines have different and unique personalities to each other:
      • Scoop is portrayed as a sensible, reliable and trustworthy digger who is sometimes left in charge by Bob and Wendy.
      • Muck is portrayed as a silly, but reliable dump truck who loves getting mucky.
      • Dizzy is portrayed as a crazy, energetic, know-it-all cement mixer who loves playing with her football and listening to music with her headphones.
      • Roley is portrayed as a smooth and calm steamroller who loves to "rock and roll" and to create his own songs.
      • Lofty is portrayed as a friendly and shy crane who has a fear of heights and mice.
    • Spud is a very funny comic relief character who despite getting into trouble a lot, is pretty enjoyable and is also a fan favourite amongst fans of the show.
    • Pilchard is a very cute and adorable pet character, she's also quite likeable too.
    • Even some one-time characters are enjoyable too, like Tom in A Christmas To Remember and Rio and Jackaroo in Built to be Wild.
  8. It teaches children about construction safety and how building projects work.
  9. This show has a cartoony style, which works really well.
    • The character designs for the machines are pretty cute and appealing to look at and it manages to avoid coming across as generic like most kids shows with the practise of sentient vehicles in them.
  10. Project Build It is a very good continuation of the original show, and is arguably just as good as the original, it also has a story about Bob and the Can-Do Crew working together to build an entire city for Sunflower Valley by constructing different buildings for each episode, which is an awesome concept.
  11. The CGI animation in Ready, Steady, Build! was also pretty good for Taiwanese and American outsourcing standards and it takes an interesting approach by making the CGI animation imitate the look of the models rather than do what shows like Thomas & Friends did with redesigning the characters and buildings into CGI, and whilst it's not exactly perfect, it at least does a decent job and transitioning from stop-motion animation to CGI animation (unlike Fireman Sam since Season 6).
  12. Lots of episodes of the show provide great morals for kids, such as working together.
  13. The songs for the show are really good and catchy to listen to, most notably the album version of Can We Fix It?, which is catchy as the original theme song, and it reached Christmas #1 in 2000 during its major success in the United Kingdom, becoming the biggest selling single of the year, even beating out Westlife's "What Makes a Man".[1]
    • Their cover of Mambo No.5 is really good too, and it was just as successful as Can We Fix It?, with it selling really well at release and debuting at number one in UK Singles Charts in 2001, remaining on the Top 50 for 22 weeks.[2]
  14. The show has also had very enjoyable and heartfelt specials like:
    • "A Christmas To Remember"
    • "The Live Show"
    • "The Knights of Can-a-Lot"
    • "Snowed Under: The Bobblesberg Winter Games" (despite Scoop's behaviour)
    • "When Bob Became a Builder"
    • "Built to Be Wild"
    • "Scrambler to the Rescue"
    • "Race to the Finish"
    • "The Legend of the Golden Hammer"
    • "The Big Dino Dig"
      • As a matter of fact, "A Christmas to Remember" had a very clever guest appearance by none other than Sir Elton John himself!
  15. Each episode of the series are well thought out and it tries to not be generic, preachy and done in a way where it is only enjoyable to small children. In a similar way to Thomas the Tank Engine (especially the Allcroft era), they're usually written in a way where the show doesn't try to hard pander to just young children and tries to appeal to children of all ages.
  16. With that being said, there are a handful of very memorable and enjoyable episodes, such as:
    • "Scoop Saves The Day" (which started the series on a high note in TV airing order)
    • "Pilchard in a Pickle" (which started the series on a high note in production order)
    • "Bob's Big Plan" (which started Project Build It on a high note)
    • "Wendy's Busy Day"
    • "Spud the Spanner"
    • "Dizzy's Birdwatch"
    • "Mucky Muck"
    • "Pilchard's Breakfast"
    • "Special Delivery Spud"
    • "Muck's Monster"
    • "Dizzy Goes Camping"
    • "Dizzy's Statues"
    • "Sneezing Scoop"
    • "Lofty the Artist"
    • "Muck's Convoy"
    • "Dizzy in Charge" (depending on your view)
    • "Scrambler Gets Clean"
    • "Roley's Round Up"
    • "Lofty To The Rescue" (despite Spud being somewhat unlikable)
    • "Bob And The Bandstand"
    • "Scoop Knows It All"
    • "Travis and the Tropical Fruits" (depending on your view)
    • "The House That Lofty Built"
    • "An Inspector Calls" (which ended both Project Build It and the stop-motion era on a high note)
    • "Lofty's Shelter"
    • "Benny's Back!"
    • "Lofty's Comet"
    • "Spud Lends a Hand"
    • "Magnetic Lofty"
    • "Wendy's Party Plan"
    • "Clocktower Bob" (depending on your view)
    • "Runaway Roley"
    • "Travis Paints The Town"
    • "Bob's Birthday"
    • "Bob's Day Off"
    • "Bob's Boots"
    • "Dizzy and the Talkie Talkie"
    • "Here Comes Muck"
    • "Roley's Moley's"
    • "Massive Muck"
    • "Bashing Crashing Benny"
    • "Wendy's Tennis Court"
    • "Tea Set Travis"
    • "Scary Spud"
    • "Naughty Spud"
    • "Scoop's Stegosaurus"
    • "Clumsy Roley"
    • "Roley's Flat Garden"
    • "Travis and Scoop's Race Day" (despite the bad and mean-spirited ending)
    • "Scoop Has Some Fun"
    • "Dizzy's Crazy Paving"
    • "Scoop The Artist"
    • "High Tide For Lofty"
    • "Scratch Goes Solo"
    • "Roley and the Seagull" (which ended Ready Steady Build and the entire show as a whole on a high note)
  17. Not only did the show become one of the most popular shows in Britain, but it also became one HiT Entertainment's most popular shows and also one of the most popular preschool shows of all time, with the franchise grossing a total revenue of $5 billion in US dollars.[3]

Bad Qualities

  1. Although many episodes of the show are well-structured and thought-out, a few of them, while not flat-out bad, can either be too simplistic or a bit juvenile:
    • While Ready Steady Build is pretty decent, the stories are often pretty formulaic and repetitive at times, this also applies to some episodes in the Project Build It series. Though the repetitiveness in those series were nowhere near as bad as it is in the reboot.
    • Some episodes use the infamous "three strikes, you're out" formula, which is a trope that got very repetitive and overused in many other shows by HiT Entertainment (the trope is most infamous in Seasons 9-16 of Thomas & Friends), the episode "Breezy Bristle" is no exception as it involves Bristle making three mistakes in the entire episode; First, Bristle cleans out the foundations, but doesn't realise that he basically trapped himself in there. Secondly, Bristle tries to clean the cement that Tumbler accidentally spilled on the ground, but ends up causing Tumbler to spill more cement on Dizzy. Lastly, he tries to clean the roof that Wendy was painting, but ends up ruining the pattern that Wendy was trying to paint.
    • Though rarely, a bit of toilet humour is sometimes used in the series, which is notable in "Travis and the Tropical Fruits" (despite being a decent episode) and "Built to be Wild" (despite being a good special), with former mainly having a few jokes about horse manure in it, and the latter having Spud being the victim of farting in the opening scene where Muck imagines himself (herself in the US version) as a cowboy.
    • There are a few episodes which use a tiresome cliché of two characters falling out over an argument but they end up making up with each other and become friends again in the end. The worst example amongst these is "Roley Brings The House Down", as it involves Muck being blamed by Roley for "making him" do a skidzee, despite the fact that Muck didn't "make him" do it. Sure, he told him to do a skidzee, but he didn't force him to do one.
  2. The US dub is (arguably, but mostly) inferior to the UK version, because unlike Thomas's US dub (most of the time), it takes away half of the charm of it being a British kids' show and even though the US voices sound okay for the most part, most of them don't seem to capture the same charm as the voices in the UK version do, despite the fact that a lot of Americans loved the US dub of the show. Although, the US dub for Project Build It is a bit of an improvement when it comes to some of the voices, there are still some problems present.
    • Another problem with the US dub is that most, if not, all the male machines (with the exception of Scoop, who was always voiced by a North American male) were voiced by painters, because of that, most of the male machines either sound way too feminine or too much like actual children in the US dub.
      • For example, Sonya Leite (Lofty's voice on the US Nick Jr. prints) makes Lofty too woman-like, to the point where it lead to some fans of the US dub giving the misconception that Lofty was a female character. Though fortunately, his voice improved a bit in Project Build It and Emma Tate and Lizzie Waterworth in Ready Steady Build did better jobs at trying to make Lofty sound more male, although Emma made him sound like a girl sometimes.
      • Roley's voice in the US dub given by Maria Darling may sound decent, but it makes him sound way younger than he was in the UK version, and his voice in the CPTV-era makes him sound a bit too much like Cubert Farnsworth from Futurama.
        • However, Lorelei King voicing Roley for the WNET-era does not sound good. Roley's voice too teenage and scratchy (although this could be because he was turning 12 and later 13 in this era), too much like Mona Marshall's take on Doraemon.
    • Since most of the US cast consists (with the exception of Scoop, who is always voiced by a North American artist, although his Painter-era voice was provided by David Menkin, who was born in Norway) of British humans imitating North American accents, many of the characters (such as Lofty and Dizzy in the Artist era) slip into British accents. For example: "Whenever" sounds like "Whenevuh."
    • While the US dub's voices of Project Build It are an improvement to the dub from the original series, Greg Proops' voice for Bob in the US dub for the earlier seasons of Project Build It doesn't sound as good as the voice given by William Dufris in the CBS show or even Marc Silk in the WNET era to an extent. He also makes Bob sound too much like Frank Welker.
      • At the same time, since WNET took the rights to this show from CPTV in 2008, it could be possibly that Mr. Silk's voice was a reference to Vancouver-based Colin Murdock.
    • Even a few jokes were either watered down or removed. This is usually because American audiences would be unlikely to understand these jokes, which can be seen as them trying to "Americanize" the show. A notable example is in "Mr. Sabatini's Smashing Day" with the replaced joke in the US dub, which can make the scene seem awkward or out of place.
    • Despite being male in the UK dub, Muck was changed to female in the US dub for seemingly no reason at all, it is not only confusing for fans who grew up with either dubs, but it is also very unnecessary to change him to a female as no one was complaining about the lack of diversity for females in this show in the UK (though the reboot changed him back a male character).
    • Some of the titles were changed in the US dub, meaning that one of the dubs would have it inaccurate. For example, "Bob Saves the Hedgehogs" was retitled to "Bob Saves the Porcupines" in North America, Italy, Latin America, and Brazil, and many Americans inadvertently got it wrong. The British got it right because their quills were shorter, their noses were pointed, and their tails were hard to see, and it just might be a reference on how Americans mistake hedgehogs for porcupines, and possibly to shove it in their faces that they're apparently stupid.
  3. While the animation in Ready Steady Build is a very good attempt at trying to replicate the character's designs from the stop-motion era, some of the problems with the animation is that it does look a little stiff and robotic at times and it kind of does take away half of the charm from the original stop-motion animation, and one jarring addition to the animation is that all of the machines now talk with their grill mouths, which for the most part, looks weird for some characters, such as Roley and Travis for example.
  4. Due to the fact that Project Build It was abruptly cancelled for an unknown reason in 2008/2009, the series wasn't really wrapped up and it wasn't clear if the crew finished working and building in Sunflower Valley, not helping by the fact that "An Inspector Calls" (despite being a good episode; a GOOD clip-show episode may we add) didn't really count as a proper conclusion to Project Build It and also that Ready Steady Build seems to ignore the events from Project Build It and is most likely non-canon to that series and the original show, as it appears to be it's own thing.
  5. As likable as most of the characters are in this show, some of them can admittedly be unlikable:
    • Spud (from your point of view) can be somewhat unlikable at times, as he sometimes can be extremely rude to the other machines for no reason than just being a mischievous prick. He is most notably rude to Lofty in the earlier seasons, as he would occasionally mock him for having fears of heights. But to be fair, he was meant to be unlikable from time to time so he can learn a lesson or end up meeting karma in the end, in a similar manner to how Norman Price in Fireman Sam can often earn karma for his mischievous and irresponsible actions.
    • Scoop can be unlikable at times, which is very notable in the special Snowed Under: The Bobblesberg Winter Games (despite being a good special), where he would get extremely angry and fussy at the other machines all because he thought they were "acting like they were on holiday", even though he was likeable and sympathetic at the beginning of the special due to him being worried about being in charge and the fact he didn't want to mess anything up to cause Bob to be disappointed with him, which was completely understandable, he becomes more out-of-character as the special progresses and soon ends up becoming an extremely rude, toxic drill sergeant who forcefully tries to stop the crew from having any sort of fun, which could make the viewer lose sympathy towards him. Halfway through the special, his jerkish behaviour gets cranked up to 100 as he even goes as far as to insult Roley for accidentally crushing a small hill, calling him a "Clumsy Lump", (in the US dub, he sounds even angrier) and he also called Muck a "show-off" when Muck and Dizzy claimed that everyone in the Can-Do crew are all good at their own attributes and that he is not better than them. Though luckily, he redeems himself near the end of the special as he realises how much of a jerk he has been and even apologises to the crew for being rude to them.
    • Roley, while still likeable for the most part, can be somewhat unlikeable in some episodes of the series, most notably in "Roley Brings the House Down", in which he completely blames Muck for "making him" do a skidzee and to cause the building shed to get completely destroyed, when in reality, it was Roley's fault because he was the one who did the skidzee and to completely destroy the building shed by accident, fortunately, he and Muck do apologise in the end.
  6. The franchise massively went downhill ever since the 2015 reboot, in a similar way to how Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends and Postman Pat went downhill after Season 6, the Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! reboot (since history repeated itself again in 2021) and the Special Delivery Service reboot respectively. Which were all reboots, revivals, spin-offs and/or seasons that tried to modernise their original shows for current audiences, but they all failed miserably.
  7. Depending on your view, there are still some bad, weak, or mediocre episodes even before the 2015 reboot, such as:
    • "Bob's Bugle" (depending on your view)
    • "Roley Brings The House Down" (perhaps the worst episode one of Project Build It and the original series)
    • "Breezy Bristle"
    • "Scrambler's Best Idea" (depending on your view)

Reception

Bob the Builder was met with very positive reception from critics and audiences alike. It was praised for its fun and charming attitude and as well as the good morals and building safety tips it sent to children. The show was even nominated in the BAFTA "Pre-school animation" category from 1999 to 2009. Sarah Ball (who was a producer, director and writer for the show) said in an interview: "I think diggers and dumpers fascinate kids in the same way that they are drawn to dinosaurs. They both have a timeless appeal. The technique of stop motion is very tangible - the characters look like you can just pick them up and play with them. It's a safe, lovely, bright, colourful world, which is very appealing. Curtis Jobling did a fantastic job designing the show - it's very simple and stylized but has such charm".

Trivia

  • In 2001, the creators of Bob the Builder made a CD album called "Bob the Builder: The Album", which includes some original songs, as well as the 2000 Christmas number 1 single "Can We Fix It" and the 2001 number 1 single "Mambo No.5".
  • In 2008, the creators of Bob the Builder made a second CD album called "Never Mind the Breeze Blocks", which includes some original songs and parodies to other songs.
  • Bob's original US actor William Dufris died after a cancer battle on 24th March 2020 at the age of 62,[4] along with Vincent Marzello (who voiced characters like Robert in the US dub of the show) on 31st March 2020, who died from COVID-19,[5] as well as Richard Briers (the voice actor for Robert in the UK dub) in 2013[6] and June Whitfield (the voice actor for Dorothy in the UK dub) in 2018.[7]
  • The UK dub managed to keep the original actors throughout the entire series before Ready Steady Build got cancelled, the US dub on the other hand had their actors change throughout Project Build It and Ready Steady Build.
  • Seasons 6-9 of the UK dub was added to BBC iPlayer in November 2018 to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, Seasons 1-5 was later added in September 2020 in celebration of CBBC's 35th anniversary.[8]
  • In October 7, 2020, the UK dub aired for the first time in the US on Qubo. This was likely because Universal Kids still owns the US dub and the episodes were distributed from WildBrain which currently owns the UK dub.
  • Much like Postman Pat, the characters in Bob the Builder were redesigned to have five fingers as opposed to four fingers in Japan, which was done due to many Japanese viewers believing that it would be tied to the Yakuza mafia, an infamous criminal organisation in Japan that cuts off one of their members' fingers off as a form of punishment.[9]
    • Although the show itself wasn't redone to make the characters have five fingers, many of the merchandise and advertising for Bob the Builder in Japan was redone to include five fingers for the characters.
  • Bob, Wendy, Scoop, Muck, Dizzy, Roley, Lofty, Pilchard, Bird, Travis and Spud all made brief cameos in "We Are Family: A Musical Message for All", a video made for the We Are Family Foundation, which involves a cover version of the Sister Sledge song "We Are Family", featuring more than 100 well-known children's characters.[10]
  • Bob, Wendy, Scoop, Spud and Pilchard all made appearances on the "The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" music video by Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band for Children in Need in 2009, Bob was also the first character to sing in the single too.
  • Whilst the UK dub got a full release of all the seasons of the show on Paramount+ in 2019 and the first nine seasons on BBC iPlayer, the US dub of the show has still yet to have a full release of all the seasons, and some episodes of the US dub have either been lost or partially found.[11]
  • Prior to being released on Paramount+ in 2019 and BBC iPlayer in 2020, Season 5 was originally the only season for the UK dub of the show to not get a full release.
  • In 2020, a pilot for the show was found and uploaded to Internet Archive, it was made to pitch the concept of the show. It involves Bob and Scoop (who was originally called Digger here) having a morning exercise and trying to grab an old bird's nest that is blocking the gutter.[12]
  • The episode "Wallpaper Wendy" gained controversy in 2001, after some parents gave the accusations that they could hear Bob swearing when he was mumbling, which is notably in one scene where it sounds like he is saying "f*****g hell". In response of the controversy, a spokeswoman at Hit Entertainment claimed that the line was just misheard and that it was supposed to be him saying "Oh, I don't know".[13] However, despite their response, the scene was later edited to remove the mumbling.
  • According to the documentary "Can we fix it? Archiving and analysing 'Bob the Builder': a resources paradigm and research method.",[14] Season 3 had a total of 12 episodes that were eventually cancelled during development.[15]
    • One notable example would be "Spud's Phone Mischief", which was cancelled due to the idea of Spud making prank calls and that the story concept would send children bad morals despite the fact that the target audience would never do a naughty thing like that. While making prank calls can be a practical joke in real life, the idea of Spud prank calling people was too "out of character" and "unnecessary" according to HiT Entertainment.
    • Another example was "Scaffold Bob", which was scrapped due to Bob acting out of character as well as the fact it lacked research and safety aspects.
  • The US dub has yet to see a full release since it aired on PBS Kids, because of this, some episodes of the dub are missing. The complete series can be watched on Paramount+ in the US, but it uses the UK dub rather than the US one.
  • In 2021, Ted Cruz, called Bob the Builder "Pro-Infrastructure Propaganda".[16]

References

Comments

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