The Wishbone episode “The Hunchdog of Notre Dame” presents a very simple telling of the Hugo’s novel.
The whole point of Wishbone is to communicate classic novels and stories to children and make them accessible so children will in turn want to read them. The wishbone version cares about the source and does make the novel accessible for children.
We do get the lesson about inner beauty but it doesn’t feel as forced or as hammered in as some other versions (Disney). And despite its lack of budget and the lackluster complimentary story about an underdog learning to play hockey it’s an enjoyable short version.
Plus this version has the cutest Quasimodo ever!
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Just a little info on the Actor who appeared in the Wishbone version Hunchback.
Soccer the Dog was a veteran Jack Russell actor. He was most known for playing Wishbone on the PBS show. He beat out 100 dog who audition for the role. He was also in many commercials for such companies like Nike and Mighty Dog Food.
Larry Brantley is a former stand-up comedian and radio spokesman. He specializes in character voices. He currently works on Boz the bear.
Lanell Pena played a lot parts on Wishbone in the literary segments of the show. Mostly notably she played Scheherazade in the Wishbone version of Thousand and one nights (One Thousand and One Tails). Pena has also appears in a few television series and movie. Currently she teaches acting at A &M University and KD Studios/College.
Sean Hennigan, like Pena also played a lot parts on Wishbone in the literary segments of the show. Hennigan appeared in 24 episode of Wishbone and notably played he played a lot of the villains. Hennigan has appeared in a lot Television shows and he has been voice acting in anime dubs. Notably in immensely popular One Piece, Baccano! and Romeo x Juliet. he has appeared in a movies like 3:10 to Yuma.Follow thehunchblog
The acting is the Wishbone version is decent. I don’t think any of the roles were that much of challenge since the materials is very much at its core basics, so you don’t get the rich complexity of Quasimodo, Frollo or even Esmeralda in this version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
That said, there are moments where the actors showcase the characters very well. Sean Hennigan, who played Frollo, does a great job communicating Frollo’s obsession in both a menacing way and in a more coxing way. He goes back and forth between facets with great ease.
Lanell Pena, who played Esmeralda, also does a good job of showing how she starts as put-off by Quasimodo and gradually comes to see him for the soul he is (I hesitate to say person because Quasimodo is a puppy). I also like how she tells off Frollo.
Then we have Wishbone as Quasimodo. Wishbone is played by a few entities. First, the dogs. Wishbone was mainly played by a veteran dog actor “Soccer” though I believe they used a few other dogs for a shots. Wishbone’s voice was played Larry Brantley. Brantley has great comic timing and his quips make the literary tales fun. Animal acting it hard to say if it “good” or not because the looks and movements are all tricks. All in all though I think the depiction of Quasimodo in this version is a fine one. Plus it’s the cutest depiction of Quasimodo ever. (I’m a dog person, although Quasimodo as a cute would be adorable as well)
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The production values is where the Wishbone version of Hunchback fails. I have seen more conniving ren-faires. Though it being a PBS show I’m not going to completely bash it because it doesn’t have the same budget as a movie or regular Tv show.
One the biggest problems is the composite shots with Notre Dame in the background. The shot they used of Notre Dame has a very strong green and blue tone whereas the production uses a lot of warm tons. The contrast is jarring and it takes the viewer out of the story because it looks overly fake.
The sets look very much like sets. The don’t have much age or personality but you seldom notice the sets to begin with. Really the nicest you can say about the sets is they’re dull. I mean you can just tell that the stone is painted.
However the dog gargoyle while it does not look like stone at all is is at least cute and clever.
The only costume I think were made for this production was Wishbone’s Quasimodo costumes. A hunchback dog costume in 1995 seem to have been made custom but all the other costume just look like theater costumes. They are not interesting but they are serve their purpose.
I will say I’m happy Esmeralda is not in bright red but what is up with her hair? Is that Lanell Pena’s natural hair or is it a wig? I found it very distracting especially since Lanell Pena is very pretty.
One of the major strength in this version is the camera work. The use of the camera make this interesting and diminishes impact the fake looking sets. I really like the shot of the crowd parting to reveal Esmeralda. There are just a lot of good interesting angles.
For the part the production values on this version are really weak however the acting is not bad.
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Is the Wishbone version of The Hunchback good? Well it’s not bad, I would rather watch it than some of the other versions but that could be because it’s ten minutes and for that reason its flaws has to be forgiven. There is only so much you can do with ten minutes in a story.
For a version that is ten minutes and only has three characters, it’s good. You can tell that that the production cared about the work and the story. Like when Frollo is talking about Esmeralda all his dialogue is taken from the book. Also given that there in only like five scenes Quasimodo does have an arch. He realizes he isn’t powerless and saves Esmeralda. I also don’t mind Quasimodo silly quips, they make it fun for kids. Also Esmeralda gets a bit of character arch as she learns that about inner beauty but that is a bit of a stretch.
However there are some issues with it. For a ten minute version we’re not going to get rich detailed characters of the novel instead we sort of get them. At least by focusing the narrative to three characters at least they’re not completely devoid of personality but they are shades of their book counterparts.
The introduction of Frollo is clumsy. Frollo ends Quasimodo’s being the “Prince of Fools” however Quasimodo doesn’t recognize him so Frollo has to explains who he is to both the audience and Quasimodo. It doesn’t feel natural and how would Quasimodo forget Frollo? Also the way the pronounce Frollo’s name is awful. They pronounce it like Dom “Fro-yo” which sound like a specialty Frozen Yogurt (I bet it would be chocolaty).
I do miss the devotion that Quasimodo has for Esmeralda. In this version he seem like yeah he likes her but he is not love with her.
It is a bit disappointing that it ends with Quasimodo saving Esmeralda but at least it feels like an ending to the version of the story they were telling so it’s not that bad. After-all that is pretty much where the Disney version ended and this came out first.
For a ten minutes version with three characters and 5 scenes it’s is good. Wishbone’s erm…. Quasimodo’s silly lines keeps it lighthearted . I like part where Quasimodo in fear of Frollo compliments him. Plus Quasimodo is played by a dog, how is that not awesome?
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Last time we looked at the Hunchback episode of Wishbone, we looked at the parallel story in which Wishbone’s human friend, Sam, helps an underdog to play hockey. But how is the Hunchback retelling portion of the episode?
First off, due to the format of Wishbone the retelling of any of any the classic stories the show tells is severely abridged. The Notre Dame section is only about 10 minutes in length. There are only three principle characters; Quasimodo, Frollo, and Esmeralda. However Phoebus is mention but only as Esmeralda’s boyfriend.
The first and longest part of the Hunchback segment is Quasimodo (played by Wishbone) is saying that he should get out more and bam a second later he is at the Feast of Fools and crowned the “Prince of Fools.” (That’s a new one)
The crowd laughs at him and makes quips at his ugliness but then we meet Esmeralda. She dances as both Quasimodo and Frollo watch. She stops when she see Quasimodo’s face and runs off. Frollo then yells at Quasimodo by telling expository dialogue about how they know each other.
Frollo and Quasimodo then go into a tavern where the see Esmeralda dancing. Frollo watches her intently. He then tells Quasimodo to get her for him. As she leaves, Qausimodo approaches her and tells her to come with him or Frollo will hurt him. Just then Frollo comes up behind Esmeralda and tries to grab her. But she faints and Frollo runs off leaving Qausmodo to take the blame.
The next time we go back to the Hunchback story, Quasimodo is on the pillory asking for water. Esmeralda walks up to Quasimodo and gives him water and Quasimodo is thankful.
The last segment of the story is the big rescue. Wishbone explains that Frollo attacked Esmeralda’s boyfriend but she is accused of the crime and is sentenced to death. As she brought up the gallows, Frollo stops her and tells her that he can save her if she accepts him but she rejects him.
Quasimodo watches on but relieve that he can do something. He leaps down and bits the pant leg of the hang man. As he does Esmeralda removes the rope from her neck (I guess her hands were not tied).
The two run towards Notre Dame but Frollo tries to stop them but fails. The two make it inside the cathedral and Esmeralda telling Quasimodo that “he is truly beautiful”. The End
And that is it. It’s very short and really only have like only 4 scenes and yet it still better than most made for video hunchback versions.
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Wishbone’s main premise is that there are two stories being told at the same time. One story is the classic tale and the other story is what Wishbone’s owner and his friends are experiencing. The classic story told by Wishbone parallels the owner’s and friends’ story.
In this episode “The Hunchdog of Notre Dame” the story that Hunchback parallels is that Wishbone’s owner, Joe (Jordan Wall) and his friends, David (Adam Springfield) and Sam (Christie Abbott) are playing hockey with a bunch of other kids. After a good play made by these three pals the kids decide to play a real game and break-up into teams. Joe is a team leader as well as the token bully, Damont (Joe Dufffield). Tensions arise when they’re down to the last pick, Nathaniel (Justin Reese). Damont, who is short a player refuses to take him because he can’t skate very well. Damont tries to push Joe to take him but Joe doesn’t want to. Sam offers to sit out so Nathaniel can play but Joe doesn’t want her to as she part of the core team. In the end, Nathaniel says he will sit out but loses his balance and falls. Naturally, Damont’s team laughs at him.
The public humiliation of this underdog reminds Wishbone of Quasimodo. And this where the parallel comes in but wait there is more.
Sam, being the nice pretty girl she is, decides to teach Nathaniel how to skate so he can be better friends with the other guys. Sam spending all her time with Nathaniel makes Joe and David upset. This promotes Wishbone to check in on Sam. Sam and Nathaniel are at her house after another skating lesson. Nathaniel feels he is not getting any better but Sam tells him not to get discourage. The two then bond over how both of their parents are divorced. Sam shows Nathaniel a keepsake that her parents gave her that reminds herself that her family did have good times together.
Just then, Wishbone comes into the room on Sam’s skateboard (there was a sub-plot about Wishbone trying to figure out human’s fascination with wheels). Nathaniel gets up from his seat in a rush hitting Sam’s hand causing her treasured keepsake to go flying to its doom upon the floor. But before the keepsake hits the floor Nathaniel launches himself forward and saves it. This also reminds Wishbone of how Quasimodo saved Esmeralda from the gallows.
Sam thanks Wishbone for helping her figure out how Nathaniel is going to get on the guys’ good side. Wishbone is confused but takes the thanks.
Sam and Nathaniel return to the gym for another hockey game and she tells everyone that Nathaniel is now a great hockey player. The other kids are dubious especially Joe and David. Joe and David are still upset with her for abandoning them for Nathaniel. However they work it out but Joe still protests Nathaniel playing as he think he is clumsy but Sam retorts that appearances can be deceiving.
So Nathaniel plays goalie for Joe’s team against Damont’s team. Nathaniel turns out to be a great goalie and wins the respect of everyone including Damont.
This story works well when paired next “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The show definitely go for one angle of the story which is the underdog but for a children’s show that works and it does teach kids a lesson about understanding and acceptances. The dark destiny, social inequality and religion angles would have been much harder to work into a Wishbone narrative.
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Wishbone was show on PBS that ran from 1995 to 1998. It starred a Jack Russell terrier named Wishbone who drew parallels between the events of his owner, Joe and his friend to classic literature. The show would have to stories happening on would the events of Joe and his friends and the other would the classic story where Wishbone would play the lead role. Since the show was 30 minutes and there was two stories occurring the classic story would be very abridged. However it didn’t shy away from the sadder material. The show won a lot of awards including four Emmys.
Only a handful of the episode were released for home use and one episode was Hunchdog of Notre Dame. So how is this episode? What situation did Wishbone relate to The Hunchback?
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The 1956 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame is a disappointment. It had a great set-up with its concept making a Hunchback movie that was almost accurate to the book. We had Ananke as a theme, Frollo is a Priest, Esmeralda dying and the Quasimodo lying down beside Esmeralda to die at the end.
But the movie is plagued by bad execution on almost everything. The actors seem to be not into it, the script boring, the music is nonexistent, the camera work in a sea of flat angles, it lacks directional style, the set are fake looking , etc.
This is a seems to be a problem with Hunchback movie. Either you get a movie that is really good but way off from the book OR you get something that is really close to the book but the execution sucks. I think this film has a fair regard with some Hunchback fans because of its accuracies but give them a well executed movie that is also accurate to the book and this version fade from memory.
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