Blue-ribbon Bluey – Our 11 Favourite Episodes to Celebrate the Return of Season 3

Andrew Buckle,

To celebrate the anticipated release of new episodes of Bluey on ABC Kids today we took some time during lockdown to reflect on (and re-watch) all 105 previously released episodes of the television phenomenon.

On your Fetch box you have complete access to Bluey. On ABC Kids a large selection of episodes are available on rotation, with brand new episodes premiering there first. CBeebies (CH256), available in the Kids Pack, has delayed rights for episodes. If you’re on the move without Wi-Fi you can purchase episodes for download-to-go from the Fetch TV Store – there are currently 10 volumes available.

Thankfully, very few episodes of Bluey have worn out their welcome over time because these new season 3 episodes are going to get a ton of repeats in households across Australia. But, what episodes are at the tippy top of the Bluey catalogue? The episodes you show your childless adult friends when they visit to help them understand why you are not-so-secretly obsessed with your child’s favourite show.

Honourable mentions include the hilarious Bunnings-parody in ‘Hammerbarn‘, the sprawling loveliness of Bluey’s class-at-play in ‘Calypso’, the Bingo-centric ‘Bingo‘, the too-real parenting dilemmas of ‘Sticky Gecko‘, ‘Grandad‘ and the tear-weller of a finale, and the Specials to mark Easter and Father’s Day (‘Easter‘ and ‘Perfect‘ respectively).

10. Shadowlands (#5)

An early classic that showcases the levels of imagination that Bluey and her friends possess. The art of creating a game of strategy and (mild) peril utilising just the natural environment is part of every child’s repertoire. At a picnic in the park Bluey and her friends Coco and Snickers invent Shadowlands, a ‘floor-is-lava’ variation where they must stay within the unpredictable shadows that are cast across the park. Bluey convinces Coco – who is insistent on changing the rules so that the group can ‘win’ – that rules are there to make games more fun.

9. Trampoline (#33)

Trampoline features a brilliant teaching moment for Bandit, who is roped into a game of trampoline with the girls even though he needs to leave for work. Pulling yourself away from your kids when you have grown up stuff to do is a relatable challenge. In an inspiring series of trampoline games – we have taken note of ‘scrambled eggs’ – Bandit lets them have some extra fun before consoling Bluey and reminding her of her job, creating games for herself, Bingo and her friends, and how good she is at it.

8. Takeaway (#14)

We’ve all been here. The Bluey version of Seinfeld’s classic ‘The Chinese Restaurant’ as Bandit and the kids wait out a bungled takeout order in the middle of an especially restless witching hour. The episode unfolds in real time – an action-packed five minutes – as a series of mishaps leave an exasperated Bandit’s patience tested, and the street outside the restaurant completely trashed. There’s always a point as parents where you simply have to throw your hands in the air and make the most of any chaotic situation, accepting that kids will be kids.

7. Stumpfest (#58)

Bandit, Stripe and Lachy’s Dad are all ready for a good ol’ fashioned sweat up as they have tasked themselves with removing a pair of troublesome stumps from the Heelers’ backyard. Kid-free and ready to work off some of their dad bods, the last thing they expected was Bluey to set up a salon on one of the stumps and stubbornly refuse to budge. Chilli – who is letting loose with Trixie – initially supports the girls’ colourful enterprise (“leave them alone, they are just trying to run a small business!”), to the point of reveling in Bandit’s reluctant agreement for a makeover-in-trade, before coming to his rescue. She reveals to Bluey that she was actually interrupting her dad’s grown-up game, not the other way around, and that play can come in many different forms.

6. Duck Cake & Handstand (#96 & #97) TIE

Duck Cake chronicles Bandit’s attempt to construct a duck cake for Bingo’s birthday, personally selected by Bingo from the iconic Women’s Weekly’s Children’s Birthday Cake Book. “Make sure it looks exactly like the picture” says Bingo. As Bandit attempts the impossible, Bluey learns a valuable lesson about the ways she can make her family happy; comforting her dad and cleaning up his failed baking leads to a sense of pride and willingness to use initiative.

Handstand features an inventive use of time and structure, with this unusually contained story playing out across several different long and stationary shots at Bingo’s birthday party (with the aforementioned duck cake). As Bingo attempts a handstand in the middle of the kitchen her busy family and party guests – an all-star line-up of characters – come and go in a whirlwind of activity, making party preparations or heavily absorbed in games. All Bingo wants is for someone to bear witness to her feat but everyone is oblivious to the smallest Heeler, save for one.

5. Flat Pack (#76)

The parable of the challenges that couples face putting together a piece of flat pack furniture and raising kids are at the core of this charming episode. As satisfying as finally getting through that final step is – if you don’t follow the instructions you’re in for a world of inevitable quarrels and re-dos – it is nothing compared to watching your kids grow and evolve. Parents have a ‘can you believe we made them?’ moment every day and this is episode beautifully captures that emotion.

4. Escape (#73)

Once the girls learn that their parents are planning to enjoy some kid-free time while they are at their Nana’s house, they are outraged and hijack their parent’s relaxing fantasy world by hatching an elaborate plan to foil their fun. The far realms of a child’s imagination, and the quick-thinking required of parents to simply ‘keep up’ (or ahead in this case) are celebrated in a richly detailed sketch-animation style. With nods to classic chase films Bluey and Bingo pursue their parents through an array of obstacles in their epic dream house car, controlled by a legion of butlers. As any parent knows, you’ll do anything to preserve some kid-free time when the opportunity presents itself.

3. Sleepytime (#78)

Perhaps the most ambitious and beautifully animated Bluey episode – there is a heap to unpack in this one – most of Sleepytime takes place within Bingo’s vivid dreamscape as she and her favourite sleep buddy Floppy take an intergalactic adventure. In the Heeler house, the rest of the family are navigating Bingo’s bed-hopping and the separation anxiety common in young children. Bingo wants to be more independent, and transition into a ‘big girl’ who wakes up in her own bed. By asking Chili to read a book about space immediately before bed she is already showing signs of pursuing new interests, and it is this space theme – in addition to her profound realisation of what it takes to let go of a past self – that shines through this transcendent and high-cry-probability episode.

2. Bumpy and the Wise Old Wolfhound (#32)

This was the first episode to really make me sit up and realise that I adored this show just as much a my daughter. Bingo is sick in hospital so to lift her spirits Bluey, Bandit and the extended family make a home movie chronicling the quest of Barnacus (Bluey) to heal her sick puppy Bumpy, learning a valuable lesson that getting sick is part of life and can’t be magically fixed. Movie buffs will get an extra kick out of identifying the rough edges of the amateur home movie. From the hilariously earnest acting, the hastily patched-up props, and the running gags that stem from the charming little DIY production this one is worth multiple watches just to take in all the details.

1. Camping (#43)

On a camping holiday, Bluey meets and befriends a French-speaking boy named Jean-Luc. While they don’t understand each other they find a common language through their play, roping in Bandit as part of their game to catch a wild Daddy Pig. This episode represents some of the memorable time capsules of life. Say, a family holiday where you have a singular unrepeatable experience. Even if you were to return to that same campground again. Making a new friend for such a fleeting period of time can be a huge emotional hurdle for kids when they realise they will be going their separate ways and likely to never see each other again. And then there’s the moment. “Hello Bluey”. *Cries*

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