Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Top 5 Most Iconic "Arthur" Episodes of All Time! + Two Specials

In honor of its 20th season premiere, I am currently writing a blog post about my favorite "Arthur" episodes of all time. As I am doing my research for that one, I also remembered plenty of episodes early on in the series that were especially unique and iconic for the series. When you think of "Arthur", you automatically think of these installments. I can't write a blog post honoring my favorite "Arthur" episodes without mentioning these guys, so here are some honorable mentions:

Some spoilers ahead!

"Arthur Meets Mister Rogers" (Season 2, Episode 1a)

IT'S MISTER ROGERS! Come on! This was epic because two PBS Kids shows were colliding, with Fred Rogers voicing himself. :) Fred Rogers comes to visit the Read family and Arthur is ashamed because he thinks that the other kids will make fun of him because "Mister Rogers's Neighborhood" is a "baby show." He and Fred have a heart-to-heart on the swings, which is one of the most memorable scenes of the series.

"The Ballad of Buster Baxter" (Season 3, Episode 1b)

Props to "Arthur" for even introducing me to Art Garfunkel. I had no idea who he was until this. 

Buster, whose parents are divorced, leaves Elwood City to go traveling with his father, which spawns the spinoff series "Postcards from Buster". This was actually a turning point in the series and they stayed true to it. Buster was actually not featured in many episodes to represent his time away and the ballad addresses them.

"The Ballad of Buster Baxter" marks Buster's return, and he quickly finds out that things aren't quite the same as he had left them. The kids also feel like Buster has changed. Buster then feels withdrawn and a sense of non-belonging. Art Garfunkel in moose form (voiced by Garfunkel himself) follows him around documenting his sadness and loneliness with song. Eventually Buster's friends invite him to watch a slideshow of his traveling adventures and both Arthur and Buster wonder why there is a singing moose in front of the house. That breaking of the fourth wall is pretty funny.

"Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival" (Season 3, Episode 11b)

Quite possibly the most well known "Arthur" episode of all time. You can't mention "Arthur" without chanting "HAVING FUN ISN'T HARD, WHEN YOU'VE GOT A LIBRARY CARD!"

This episode isn't a coherent story but rather a collection of music videos with original songs. It opens with Buster beatboxing in the Read basement and D.W. going down to investigate the strange noise. She discovers that they are pretending to film a music show and the episode then proceeds to air the music videos about libraries, food, and homework.

However, alas, I must admit to something. As a kid, this episode scared me. Well, not the entire episode, just the "Jekyll and Hyde" segment.

Don't get me wrong! It's a catchy song, but the ending made me cringe. In the track Brain, upon reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, represents these characters. He goes to the library to return the book and when the librarian asks if he is returning it, he thinks and responds, "No." Then he transforms into Mr. Hyde and growls "RENEW," and then cackles before fading. His freaky way of saying "renew" was enough to send chills down my spine, to the point where I couldn't even watch it, and this is how I remember the episode. lol

Incidentally, this episode is what introduced me to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

"The Contest" (Season 4, Episode 4a)

This episode is actually very meta. The kids enter a story contest for a TV show called "Andy and Friends" (a parody of "Arthur" itself) and each of their stories is a parody of another TV show. Many people remember the "South Park" spoof that is Buster's story, amazed that a kids show would parody such an adult program like that one. Their stories were actually written by children across America and Canada and the winner of the contest, announced at the end of the episode as Holly Holland, was a real life kid who suggested the idea for the episode. The kids are acknowledged by the characters at the end.

What really blew my mind about this episode back then was the final scene of Arthur and the gang as teenagers. It was amazing seeing them age to another stage of life.

"Elwood City Turns 100!" (Season 7, Episode 5a&b)

This one is also up there as one of my favorite episodes of all time. Mr. Ratburn's third grade class is chosen to produce a musical honoring Elwood City's centennial, which also coincides with the 100th episode of the show. We see things go wrong, we see things go right, we see everything that happens behind the scenes of a live musical, which I love. A two-part episode, during what normally is the "A Word from Us Kids" or "Postcards from You" segment, some of the kids get interviewed by a real life Larry King on his show.

"Arthur's Perfect Christmas" (Special)

I talked about this episode more in detail in my PBS Kids Christmas special blog post. This special covers every holiday during the season and even acknowledges Jesus Christ, which makes it different from other specials.

"It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" (Special)

I don't remember that much about this episode, but I do know that it guest starred the Backstreet Boys. I always appreciate celebrities making guest appearances on kids shows. I believe this MIGHT have been around the time N*Sync made their guest appearance on "The Simpsons", but back in the '90s I was always Team Backstreet Boys. :)

Stay tuned to find out what my Top 20 favorite "Arthur" episodes are! It's going to be awesome! :D

Photo Credit: Arthur Wiki, PBSWGBH, Cookie Jar, and Marc Brown

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