The ancient philosophy behind Bluey’s The Sign

At its heart, like all the very best children’s shows, the creator Joe Brumm has made a series that entertains and engages the adults as much as the children. Much of the plot of each seven-minute episode centres around the games the two puppies play with each other and their friends (inspired by Brumm watching his own daughters play and interact with each other), often overseen by Bandit, the world’s most hyper-present and effusive dad.

But alongside more genuinely laugh-out-loud moments than in most primetime comedies or sitcoms, it contains more serious elements too – snapshots of parenting situations that will be painfully familiar to any guardians or caregivers, as well as inferences to momentous life events like death, marriage, miscarriage and infertility. However, lest that sound bleak, these are all presented through the colourful gaze of two little dogs dressed up as blanket-clad old grannies, or singing a made-up song about a “poor little bug on a wall, ding ching“. It’s this enmeshing of navigating an adult world with the joyous, surreal excitement of childhood which has led to the show being called “the best television series in the world” by The Guardian, and landed Bluey an International Emmy award in 2019.

Many families, like my own, discovered the show during lockdown, and the new episodes couldn’t come quick enough. But the third series, which premiered in Australia in 2021 and in the US and UK in 2022, was split into batches, and has been stretched out across more than two years in some parts of the world. The two new episodes, Ghost Basket, which premiered last weekend, and The Sign, are expected to be its finale, unless the Bluey team have any more surprise episodes up their sleeves for this season.

The Sign’s big surprises

Rumours of a 28-minute special episode first began on Reddit last spring. Ludo, the production company that make Bluey stayed schtum until the November announcement, when it was confirmed with a title, The Sign, and a teaser trailer on the official Bluey website. With the confirmation from its makers, then the speculation began in earnest about what would happen in it to justify its extended length. “I actually think we’re getting a character death, and I think it’s Grandpa Bob,” suggested a fan in one Bluey Reddit subgroup, while another person said of the episode’s name: “I think The Sign is a ‘plus sign’ on a pregnancy test for Rad and Frisky [Bluey and Bingo’s respective uncle and godmother]”. Another commented: “The Sign is more likely going to be the wedding episode, and if not that then it might be about the Heelers either moving or going on vacation or something.”

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