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‘Bluey: The Sign’: Animated Hit Goes Big With Half-Hour Special

, | April 16, 2024 | By

The team behind Bluey — notably creator Joe Brumm and Ludo Studio in Brisbane, Australia — has once again made the world laugh and cry with “The Sign,” the show’s first half-hour special on Disney+, that’s a harbinger of things to come.

What Happens in "The Sign"?

It feels like a sweeps-week episode of a sitcom, focusing on intertwined stories of Bluey’s uncle Rad and his longtime girlfriend, Frisky, getting married, while the Heelers prepare to sell their house and move hours away.


At four times the length of a normal seven-minute Bluey episode, “The Sign” continues in the show’s usual playful vein. The demands of a family wedding cut short some of the kids’ silly games that Bluey usually revels in, but it still finds comedy in a kids’ eye view of family life.

“This is the greatest moment of all my life,” says 7-year-old Bluey, upon getting to sit in the car’s front seat. 

On a mission to find the bride who stormed off after ‘canceling’ the family wedding, mom Chilli coolly replies: “I’m glad someone’s having fun.”


The half-hour blends funny and emotionally resonant moments through understated writing that leaves kids giggling — and parents and grandparents blubbering. One entertainment writer noted the special is “now streaming” and added: “Also streaming — the tears down my face.”

It’s a climatic moment for Bluey, the series that has taken the world by storm. A feature film is being floated by show creator Joe Brumm as a possibility, though the show itself will apparently go on hiatus soon. Read on to learn what’s ahead for Bluey.

Tears, Laughter, and Other Signs of Emotion

Since late 2019, when Disney Plus launched, the exploits of blue-heeler siblings Bluey and Bingo, and their parents, Bandit and Chilli, have become a mainstay for families worldwide.

But this special breaks from the 153 standalone episodes of Bluey that came before it and requires some knowledge of past events. The preceding story “Ghostbasket,” a laugh-loud-loud homage to classic Scooby Doo, helps set the stage, showing the Heelers preparing to sell their home.

Producers of Bluey released a two-minute “previously on Bluey” clip to catch viewers up.


Fans might recall that Rad and Frisky met in “Double Babysitter” — when the Heeler parents double-booked for their date night (full episode free online) — and the two have subsequently been seen together in other episodes.

There’s not much to spoil in this simple plot, but what Brumm and his crew are doing goes far beyond typical preschool TV. A closer look reveals subtlety in characters’ animated expressions, careful pacing of every scene, and not a line of dialogue wasted.

“The stakes are a little higher,” said Brumm, previewing the special last week in an interview. “Characters have to wrestle with things . . . The overall theme is that you never know where something will lead.”

The theme plays out with a famous fable of a Zen master and a boy who owns a horse, in the context of learning to accept life as it comes.

Any family that has undergone a move or chaotic family wedding — so, basically everyone — will find Bluey’s take on those transition moments beautiful, clever, and emotionally resonant.

How Bluey Intersects With Cultural Tensions

So, are there any concerns for faithful parents? Not really. Affection for Bluey has crossed all lines, loved by conservatives and liberals, men and women, millennials and Boomers alike.

Show creator Brumm isn’t religious by any account — a joke about Bluey’s unfamiliarity with Jesus was cut from season one — and viewers might observe his social views lean progressive.

In “The Sign,” a single line of dialogue referencing a same-sex couple has drawn some scrutiny.

In a preschool circle time, Bluey and her classmates are discussing sad versus happy endings. One child says, “When my guinea pig ran away, my moms told me he might come back, but he didn’t.”

Friends’ reaction of “awww” is broken when Rusty pipes up: “Probably a snake ate him!”

It’s a far cry from the gender ideology of current kids’ shows like Dino Ranch or The Owl House. In fact, Bluey has run afoul of Disney censors, who have banned one episode for its affirmation of traditional gender roles.

In “Dad Baby,” originally aired in Australia in May 2020, the kids find their old newborn harness, and a new game is born. Bandit seems to think childbirth is no big deal — proven otherwise when he has to wear Bingo for most of the day.


The premise underlying the hilarity of “Dad Baby” is that only women give birth, which some in today’s culture consider as outdated thinking. Disney has deemed that concept too controversial, and has never streamed or broadcast this episode (fans can get the Bluey season two DVD to watch it.).

In a recent comment to Businessweek, Ayo Davis, head of Disney Branded Television, defended their censorship. “It’s a business imperative that we really consider and are respectful to different cultural sensitivities (in) creating stories for preschoolers,” she said.

What’s Ahead for Bluey?

Season three of Bluey will close out with one more episode titled “Surprise!”, which has been rumored to release next Sunday, April 21.

It will almost certainly center on Bluey’s Aunt Brandy (voiced by Bridesmaids’ Rose Byrne) who returned in “The Sign” — seen with a baby bump, and drinking water at a wedding reception where others are imbibing.

Her pregnancy is quite a surprise, as a previous story, “Onesies,” dealt with her infertility journey in a sensitive way.

Beyond that, Bluey season four has not gone into production to fans’ knowledge; show creator Brumm was even called an “expert at misdirection” when Deadline asked him about the topic.

But Brumm has also hinted at a Bluey feature film over the past weeks in multiple interviews.

Regarding “The Sign,” he said he and Bluey producers are watching how audiences respond.

“Obviously it’s four times as long as a normal episode. Will the audience accept a stint with a longer story?” he asked. “I’d love to try to go longer — I definitely would not rule that out.”

“The Sign” is sure to be a hit on streaming, with Bluey ranked the #2 most-watched streaming series in the U.S. overall last year, behind only Suits on Netflix.

Brumm also told The Guardian: “I love the idea of doing something even longer, so we’ll see how this goes down. Maybe a movie, who knows? This is a good way to test the waters.”

Considering how tight-lipped that Brumm has been in the past, it’s a clear sign that talks must be progressing. Bluey fans apparently have a lot to look forward to with the cheeky, big-hearted dog family from Brisbane.

Bluey: "The Sign” is streaming worldwide on Disney+.

UPDATE 04/22/2024: "The Sign" was a huge hit for Disney. From The Hollywood Reporter:

The much-discussed special episode of Bluey is also the most watched episode of the show on Disney+.

The April 14 installment of the beloved preschool series, “The Sign,” racked up 10.4 million views worldwide on Disney+ in the week after its release, the streamer says. (The view count is the total viewing time divided by running time.) That’s the biggest tune-in for any Bluey episode — or that of any other Disney Junior show — on Disney+.

Image: Courtesy: Ludo Studio / BBC Studios

Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith and public-policy issues for various media outlets. He and his wife are raising two children in Northern Virginia.

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