Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Secret Double Life of Bob the Builder

I'm still quite fond of Bob the Builder (as discussed in a previous post), although we're past the honeymoon stage. Some of the junior anthropomorphized machines show poor decision making skills, but for the most part, still good fun.

There were always a few things that didn't line up. For instance, in one episode, Muck, the red bulldozer, uncovers some artifacts while digging the new town swimming pool. Further investigation reveals that it's an old road. Not only is it an old road, but an ancient racetrack! It's clearly a Roman road, but why on earth is some Midwestern-sounding construction crew unearthing a Roman road?

Then there's the intonation issue. Bob will often ask a question with a downward inflection, instead of the usual upward inflection. It sounds a little pretentious, so what gives?

I did a web search the other day (thank you Internet, font of much wisdom), looking for a picture of JJ, Bob's parts supplier. Q learned how to identify JJ and has been happily chirping away, "J-Jay, J-Jay, J-JAY!" so I thought it would be fun to pull up a picture for his amusement. In the search, I found out the truth.

Bob the Builder is British.

Ok, it's not that big a deal, and you probably already knew that. However, I'm a newbie to children's media, and now it all makes sense. The character voices are dubbed with American accents. Yes, it was a Roman road. The question intonation would sound right if it was a British speaker. The "summerhouse" that Mr. Bentley asks Bob to build in one afternoon would be called a gazebo here.

It also explains something else. When things go badly, no one threatens to sue. No American construction site would be complete without a lawsuit.

8 comments:

Mom101 said...

Ha, this is so funny! I think you need to pitch a new animated series - Bob the Builder's Lawsuit Happy Friend, Tom the Trial Attorney.

Occidental Girl said...

My daughter came running over as soon as she saw the picture of Bob the Builder. I told her it was a woman who was a mom who wanted to write about watching the show.

Too true, about the lawsuit thing. Eesh.

lara said...

is it a bad sign that as i was walking back from class today, i was *this* close to taking a picture of the construction site as i thought to myself, "ooh, a live-action bob the builder! bubbers would LOVE this!" :-P

(p.s. i have two more books for bubs the next time i see you guys: peek-a-zoo and -moo :))

Karianna said...

Wow! Thanks for the illumination.

Of course I knew about Thomas the Tank Engine being a brit. But BOB?! Color me surprised!

Does explain a lot.

fourthbreakfast said...

I noticed a similar thing in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Andie MacDowell's (American) character said some really awkward things. I realized later that they would have sounded natural for a Brit, but not for an American

Mrs. Davis said...

Funny observation that no one sues on Bob the Builder. There should be more legal action in the cartoons.

My kids have never caught on much to Bob, and that is okay with me. But my older son keeps suggesting that our 16-month old should watch it - I think he sees it as very appropriate for a toddler, even though he never liked it.

Izzy said...

BtB is British? How is that possible that the same people who brought us Thomas the Train (of which I am not fond) also brought us BtB. My whole world has been turned on it's proverbial ear!

Lady M said...

mom101 - Indeed, the spin off series would probably be even more successful than the original.

occidental girl and mrs davis - welcome and thanks for stopping by!

kari - ooh more books, thank you! Q loves those animals.

karianna and izzy - I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know his international status.

fourthbreakfast - Good point. I'm going to be on the look out for secret internationals now.