"Arthur and the Big Riddle" / "Double Dare"
Synopsis by KorraIsBack
Credit by Dave & Rob
Comments by Agent4002,TXC, & Amazing_asami.
We start another one in medias res...
We're in the boy's washroom at Lakewood Elementary. Arthur is half-in and half-out of one of the narrow small windows. We don't know what's outside, but inside, Buster has a tight hold of Arthur's bel and is trying to pul him in. Arthur is above Buster's head. Whatever Arthur is holding onto must be quite heavy; although Buster is pulling as hard as he can, Arthur isn't moving.
Arthur: Have you ever noticed that something really big can start from the littlest thing?
This is not a good time to start a story -- Buster is not having a good time heaving on Arthur's belt... he wants Arthur to hurry up and pull. Pull on what, we may ask. Although Buster wants Arthur to hurry, Arthur thinks it's a good time to cite examples...
Arthur: Like how some guy nobody's ever heard of, records a song in his bathroom, and it becomes...
We see Arthur sitting on the couch at home, clutching pillows to his ears as D.W. sings the infamous Crazy Bus song. Arthur wants her to stop, otherwise he says he'll eat the pillows he's holding over his ears.
Arthur cites another example -- D.W. can have a tantrum over nothing. We see D.W. look out the front door, and then she starts griping; it's been sunny too long -- she says it would be nice if they could have a little rain once in a while.
Back to reality. Arthur continues to talk, saying that in this case, this started over less than nothing...
He doesn't get a chance to complete his thought... At that moment, Arthur's belt comes off...
It fails in a very peculiar way -- it comes unpenetrable! More on that later.
Buster topples backward, and lands on his backside on the floor in the washroom, clutching Arthur's belt. He looks at it, rather surprised.
- * Double Dare * * *
The story starts in Arthur's treehouse. Arthur, Brain, Francine, and Buster are sitting around, surrounded by lots of books. They have a common complaint. Arthur is the first one to talk. He starts whining about Mr. Ratburn -- he assigns too much homework; so much so that they never get to watch TV.
Buster notes that tonight, they'll miss an episode of "Dark Bunny"... where Dark Bunny fights a 60 ft. squid.
Francine recalls this is the episode where Dark Bunny gets eaten by a giant clam, and digested by clam juice. Buster and Francine give each other a high five at the memory of this fantastic television moment.
Fashion notes... :)
- Arthur has a pseudo "Mr. Rogers"-type cardigan on.
- Francine has a jacket with 5 on it.
Brain looks up at a poster of Dark Bunny, sighs, and comments that they won't get to see it.
Arthur comments that is totally unfair. He suggests that one day he simply just won't do his homework! Buster scoffs at this. There's no way Arthur would ever do such a thing; how would Arthur be able to face Mr. Ratburn in class the next day?!
Arthur says he'd just skip school, and do his homework when he felt like it!
Big talk Arthur. Francine laughs at Arthur. She calls him a scaredy cat.
Arthur says he'd do it in a minute. He snaps his fingers to emphasize just how instantaneously he would do such a thing.
Francine calls his bluff, points at Arthur, and dares him to skip school!
Arthur makes his usual worried face. Buster gasps.
Buster: She dared you Arthur, you have to do it.
Arthur: No I don't!
Brain: (worried sounding voice) Yes you do, it's the rule!
Arthur: What rule?
Brain: I don't make 'em, I just call 'em!
Some Tenma-esque vein from #40602 - "Prunella Gets It Twice".
Arthur points at Francine.
Arthur: Yah, well, I dare you back.
So Francine's now dared as well, and according to the "rules" she'll have to go through with it too. She reacts defensively, and dares Buster! Buster reacts with shock -- he doesn't want to be involved, and wants no part of it. He says as much. But no dice...
Brain: Once you're dared, you're dared!
Buster responds to this by daring Brain!
Now they are all dared...
Brain: (worried sounding voice) This is serious guys, we need a plan!
They need a plan...
* * *
They're all in Arthur's room...
Actually, Brain's the one doing the planning. He has a map of the area drawn on a large piece of paper. This is spread out on the floor of Arthur's room. He is about to draw on this map, while the other three watch. Brain notes that normally they take a straight line route to school. Tomorrow, instead of taking that route to school, they will -- Brain improvises... take a right turn at a bush, then another right... and...
Brain: ...and we don't go to school.
The plan isn't much of a plan, as Francine notes. Brain sounds like he's in a lousy mood (which is to be expected) -- he counters by saying he only had 5 minutes!
Arthur's nervous. He wants to abandon the idea of skipping school. he "really doesn't think it's a good idea". Francine retorts that it was his idea! Arthur and Francine start arguing. Brain tries to restore calm -- it's a tense time.
Brain: Look. It's out of our hands. However it happened, we've all been dared, and that's that.
There isn't much time to reflect on this. Just then, Arthur's Mom calls up to him to come and get his dinner. The meeting is adjourned. The four friends get up off of the floor, the map is rolled up, and everyone heads towards the door. Francine says that she guesses they should all meet up at the bush tomorrow, and decide what to do from there...
The door is flung open. The "bad news" tuba music score plays. D.W. is at the doorway, hands on hips. She's annoyed. She claims that Mom called Arthur down for dinner two hours ago! Arthur's gang ignore her and file past her, one by one. Brain is first, carrying the map, followed by a smiling Francine. Buster looks rather guilty, tugging on his shirt collar. Arthur is the last one out of his room, and he stops to talk to D.W. He's belligerent, as D.W. is just stirring it.
Arthur: It was 5 seconds ago, and who said you could come in here?
D.W. wants to know what they were up to. Arthur says it's none of her business what he does, and having said this, Arthur walks past her. D.W.'s eyes narrow.
D.W.: We'll just see about that!
D.W. does exactly what would happen in my family :) She deliberately tries to get Arthur to spill the beans by making him nervous and making comments which are intended to make Mom and Dad question Arthur.
Arthur whines to Mom that D.W. is staring at him. Dad suggests D.W. eat her sprouts.
D.W. remarks offeasily that "Arthur is much more interesting than brussel sprouts... sometimes", but her clever comment is lost on Dad, as he doesn't hear it... he just happened to walk out of the room with some plates as D.W. started talking. Arthur takes advantage of Dad not being around, and sticks his tongue out at her.
I guess drawing those brussel sprouts took all the energy the animators could muster and they wanted to make sure we saw them (since they feature in the dialogue) Most representations of food are pretty unimaginative. It reminds me of the strange cubed food served in the original Star Trek-parody during special functions. In #50301 - "It's A No-Brainer"check out how many times the piles of orange and white food change colors in the Brain's household.
Some time later, Arthur's on the stripey couch in the living room, watching "Dark Bunny" on TV.
D.W.: Is it safe to come in?
Arthur says yes, because it's a commercial.
D.W. is afraid of the "Dark Bunny" show and will not go in the living room if it is on the TV; see #41002 - "That's a Baby Show". Note that the wide entranceway to the lving room now has a door.
D.W. asks if the clam has eaten Dark Bunny yet.
Arthur turns the TV off. D.W. then stops with the small talk and suddenly wants to know if Arthur will tell her why he's looking so guilty!
Arthur gets antsy at this. He says he's not guilty... he says he's "completely not guilty". Mom sticks her head in, and asks if Arthur has any homework...
Sheesh! Now Arthur's Mom is on his case. Or so Arthur thinks, anyway.
Arthur: I told you already, I am not guilty!
Arthur raises his arms up in the air, and storms off...
Mom makes her concerned face, but says nothing.
Arthur is feeling guilty. He has a nightmare.
Arthur dreams he's inside a giant clam. The clam is depicted in great detail, full of slimy clammy clam innards. Arthur asks where he is? The smart alec clam replies that Arthur's certainly not at school!
Arthur's scared. He says he wishes he was.
Buster walks over. Buster doesn't know where he is either. He wants to know if he's in a clam. Buster says it smells. Buster wants to be let out. He tries to make the clam open itself by banging on the walls, the shell of the clam.
Clam: Too late for that! You took a long turn at that bush back there, and now...
Buster and Arthur both realize that like Dark Bunny, they are about to be...
Yah, ok. That was dumb.
Early the next morning, Arthur phones Buster. Arthur is still wearing his pajamas when he makes the call -- he must come downstairs to make the call as soon as he got up. Arthur's bad dream has convinced him not to go ahead with skipping school. He claims he can't do it, and he doesn't care about Francine daring him.
Buster looks like he's in his thinking chair, but I can't recall the episode right now. Drat. The picture on the wall that was a kicking horse in that episode is now a horse with all four feet on the ground.
the advice of talking clams.
Arthur is about to go into detail on the phone, comparing notes with Buster, when D.W., in her pajamas, wanders into the kitchen.
Arthur wants her to leave so he can talk on the phone in peace, but D.W. says she has every right to be there, as it's a free country. As Arthur doesn't want D.W. to hear about the now-nixed skipping-school-plan, Arthur tells Buster to phone around and call "you know what" off.
Brain gets the message. Buster phones him while Brain is getting ready for school. We see Brain talking on the phone.
Brain: Ok, if you're sure.... What clam?!
Ok, so Brain knows the plan is a no-go.
However, at Francines, the message doesn't get through. We see the Frensky's phone. A red LED starts flashing. We hear the Frensky's answering machine.
Answering Machine: (Francine's voice) You've reached the Frensky's, leave a message.
Buster's voice: (worried) Francine, are you there? you know the thing? it's uh, well, we're not going to do it, there was this clam? And forget about the bush, ok?
The sad thing is, we can hear the message being recorded. But Francine can't! She is putting on her jacket with the number 5 on it, getting ready to go out, but Francine has her Walkman on... she can't hear the answering machine. She goes out thinking the plan is still on.
It's like Romeo & Juliet... kinda.
At school, Arthur meets up with Buster as people are heading inside. Arthur asks Buster if he phoned the others. Buster says everything is cool.
Francine is hiding behind some bushes. She looks visibly annoyed, because none of the guys showed up. Francine glances at her wristwatch, which reads 20 to 9. She hears a bell in the distance. School's starting. Francine ducks down to hide behind the bushes as Jenna, Fern, and that grey rabbity boy with the small ears go past.
Francine is skipping school.
In class, Mr. Ratburn does the attendance. Another boring, typical day. Jenna the cat is staring at the ceiling, concentrating. Mr. Ratburn calls out names, to which students respond that they're there. Mr. Ratburn sounds bored as he calls out names.
- Buster Baxter...
- Muffy Crosswire...
Arthur whispers to Buster. He's noted Francine's not around, and asks Buster where Francine is. Buster doesn't know.
Mr. Ratburn notes this as well a fraction of a second earlier. When he calls out Francine's name, there is no response. He calls it out again, and then once more he says Francine's name, but she's not there.
Worried glances are exchanged between Arthur and Buster.
Francine is pacing around by the bush. Francine is now angry rather than annoyed.
Francine: I'm going to kill those guys.
She looks at her watch.
Francine: ...and now it's nine o'clock! SHOOT!
Now she looks worried. She's late for school. The guys stood her up. Francine runs to the school, races up the front steps to the entrance, and tries to enter the school.
The double doors are locked!
Locked? More on this later...
Francine: Uh oh!
"Uh oh" is right. Francine is locked out of school. This could be troublesome.
Mr. Ratburn and Mr. Marco are shooting the breeze at the door of Mr. Ratburn's classroom as Arthur's class toil away. Ratburn and Marco are discussing television programming.
Mr. Marco: So did you catch it last night?
Mr. Ratburn: No, unfortunately it was scheduled opposite the "Many Loves of John Gallsworthy". Couldn't miss that!
Ratburn's voice is deliberately put into the background as the "doo doo, dah doo" detective snooping music starts up.
The camera pans across the classroom to the window. As the kids are working, Francine is peeping in at the window. She sees the teachers standing at the doorway -- she doesn't want them spotting her. Almost by fate, Buster and Arthur are sitting near to the window. She does want them to spot her.
Mr. Marco continues talking to Mr. Ratburn.
Mr. Marco: I've got a tape if you wanna take a look...
Mr. Ratburn turns to look out window for a second. Francine drops out of sight, just in time. Ratburn's attention is still on the conversation, which is lucky for Francine.
Mr. Ratburn says he'll meet Mr. Marco in the staffroom, at 11 o'clock.
Meanwhile, Francine is still trying to get the attention of Buster and Arthur. She succeeds. Buster sees her, and he's shocked! Likewise, she didn't expect to see Buster and Arthur inside!
Buster: Didn't you get my message?
Francine didn't -- and now she can't get inside. She explains this to Arthur and Buster.
Still at the doorway, Mr. Ratburn turns again to look out the window. He has his troubled look on. Mr. Marco on the other hand, looks like he is not getting enough sleep. Francine ducks down... did she escape detection? Some leaves fly upward as she ducks down.
Hoping to avoid the grip of Ratburn, Buster and Arthur attempt to look like nothing is up. They write on pieces of paper, trying to look busy. They hum.
Actually, they just move their pencils up and down on a piece of paper, without writing anything
Ratburn, it appears must think nothing is the matter, as he goes back to talking to Mr. Marco.
Arthur tells Francine to meet them by the bathroom...
Now we understand the setup for the teaser. We see the outside of the school. Arthur's upper half is sticking out of a window. He calls to Francine.
Arthur: Francine, over here!
Francine is just standing gormlessly near to the bathrooms. As if she was going to get into the school that way... She runs over to the side of the school. Arthur is high above her head. -- at least 6 or 7 feet above the ground. Francine steps up onto a pipe that connects into the wall, and steps up. That gets her about 18" higher, but Francine still has to reach up to grasp Arthur's hand. She grabs hold of Arthur's hand, but that doesn't get her inside the school.
Francine: Don't just hang there, do something.
Arthur calls to Buster, who happens to be checking his buck tooth with his finger in the mirror. Arthur wants Buster to grab hold of him, and pull. He'll pull on Francine, and she'll be dragged inside the school.
Buster pulls on Arthur's belt, which for some reason doesn't run through a loop in the pants at the back -- there's a lot of slack... It makes it easy for Buster to pull...
Arthur: Ow, not so hard!
As you might expect, Arthur is not able to simply lift Francine straight up and in. Francine's too heavy for him.
Francine: I am not too heavy! I weigh less than you!
Buster detects something is wrong. Arthur says not to let go of him. But it's too late. Arthur's belt comes off. Buster ends up sitting on the floor in the washroom staring at the belt. Francine ends up on the ground, still outside. Francine groans.
Binky's head appears at the window. He looks out at Francine.
Binky: Leave it to me, Francine.
Class has been let out for lunch, and the hallway is full of people going about their business. Arthur and Buster are at their lockers. Buster's worried.
Buster: Since when does Binky have ideas?
Binky appears and informs them of his plan. Here's his idea: He'll create a diversion. While everyone is watching him, Arthur and Buster can run to the door!
Arthur wants to know why they have to run to the door. Binky explains that they can open the door, and let Francine in! Binky is right to be surprised at the fact that Arthur didn't see the logic.
Binky puts his tactic into effect. Binky proceeds to start jumping around clutching his foot in agony, howling.
Arthur: What is he doing?
Buster grabs Arthur's hand, and they run. At least Buster has the good sense to realize that the thing to do isn't pay attention to the antics of Binky, but to go and let Francine in! The two of them run. Arthur ducks down as they move past the principal's office, but luckily for them, Mr. Haney's back is turned to the window, so he doesn't notice them.
They reach the front doors of the school. Buster holds the door open, and Arthur heads out onto the front concrete landing, and waves to Francine. Once again, Francine's in the wrong place, and isn't there at the front entrance; she's trying another door nearby. Arthur and Buster tell her she was supposed to be here at their door, but she disagrees. They waste what seems like an awful lot of time arguing back and forth, going "nuh-uh" and stuff...
Arthur says to hurry up, as they don't have much time.
Meanwhile, Binky is still hopping around making a lot of noise, and soon he has a crowd of onlookers around him. Ratburn breaks it up, and sends the kids on their way. Binky explains that his shoe, is err, too small! Mr. Ratburn isn't impressed. He suggests dryly that Binky should get a new pair then. He turns around and looks down the hall, and his eyes narrow as he sees the backs of Buster and Arthur at the front doors.
Binky tries to delay Mr. Ratburn, but it's too late -- Ratburn's already in motion walking towards the door. Binky tries to get Mr. Ratburn's attention again by suggesting that it's perhaps his socks instead that are hurting his feet. But it's no good; the jig is up.
Francine races up the front steps.
Buster: Hurry up, before it's too...
Buster looks up to see Mr. Ratburn staring at him.
Mr. Ratburn glances back into the school for a second, noting Binky lying on the ground, still trying to distract him.
Ratburn wants answers. Everyone starts talking...
Mr. Haney appears, opening the other door of the front double doors. He wants to know what all the commotion is about. Since his office, room 108, just happens to be directly across from the entrance doors, it's to be expected. Mr. Haney sees Francine in her jacket, and wonders why Francine isn't in school.
Francine goes "I ya, I err..." etc.. She doesn't have an answer at this point in time. Mr. Haney's not pleased.
Mr. Haney: i think you all had better come to my office immediately.
Mr. Haney walks back to his office. Arthur, Buster, and Francine have stunned looks on their faces.
We're outside the principal's office. Through the window, we can see Mr. Ratburn and Francine's Dad talking with Mr. Haney . Arthur, Buster, Francine, and Binky are outside the office in the hallway, sitting in chairs awaiting their fate. As it will, bordom has set in to replace the initial shock.
Francine: I... am... doomed...
Buster isn't sure about that...
Buster: Not necessarily... I heard about this one girl who got expelled, but then she got a job selling donuts, and now she can eat as many as she wants without paying!
Francine doesn't think it's cool -- she doesn't want to go to work, she wants to go to school!
Buster says that maybe she'll only be expelled for a year. Then Arthur tries to comfort her. He puts his hand on her arm as he says he's sure they won't be too hard on her -- after all, it really wasn't her fault. Francine doesn't react well to this.
Francine: you can say that again!
Francine looks good and mad as she gets up, surprising Arthur who recoils. Francine's on her feet, accusing Arthur:
Francine: It's your fault! If you hadn't made me dare you, none of this would have happened!
Before she kicks Arthur's butt, her Dad, Haney, and Ratburn come into the hallway. They look rather imposing.
Dad: I'm very disappointed in you Francine, where on Earth did you get the idea to skip school!?
(Dad's so shocked, he puts a hand to his brow)
Francine: I, I...
She stops, and lowers her head.
Francine: It was my idea, I guess. My stupid idea.
That flute music that's triggered whenever something VERY DEEP AND IMPORTANT IS LEARNED is playing. See also #22001 - "How the Cookie Crumbles" among others for another instance of this.
Mr. Haney says that Francine'll have to spend all of next week after school. And it had better not happen again. Arthur looks sad -- but not as sad as Francine. She says it won't happen again.
It's now Ratburn's turn to lay a guilt trip on her. He says he's disappointed. Francine says she knows.
Arthur puts his hands to his head. Predictably, Arthur is feeling guilty, and as you could have guessed, his conscience has kicked in. Arthur breaks down, and starts to explain, in a rambly sort of way how it was sort of his idea originally, only it wasn't because he never meant to do it, and then they got dared, and Brain said they had to... They wanted to skip homework to watch "Dark Bunny" -- and to sum things up, if Francine's punished, Arthur says he should be as well.
Having heard Arthur, Buster insists that he should be punished too. Arthur's right!
Then Binky gets up, with a tear in his eye. Arthur's speech moved him as well!
Binky: And me! Punish me!
Arthur rejects Binky, saying that he did not involved in his scheme, so there's no reason he should be punished! Binky suddenly realizes this, and sits down again, smiling, saying to forget it!
Oh Binky, you're too droll :)
Mr. Ratburn considers. He says that he applauds Arthur and Buster's spirit, but it makes no sense to punish them, since they made it to school. Arthur and Buster now take a turn at looking at the floor.
Arthur and Buster: But, but...
Ratburn says he is glad to have a plausable explanation for why they didn't do their homework, however. To make up for this, he's going to give them an extra assignment.
Buster and Arthur cheer, and give each other a high five. Mr. Haney and Francine's Dad look at each other and shake their heads in sad disbelief.
In the Teacher's Lounge, Mr. Marco is pouring himself a mug of coffee. Mr. Ratburn enters the lounge.
Mr. Marco: Busy day, Rat?
Mr. Ratburn: (tuckered out) A tough one, yes.
Ratburn: Do you have the tape?
Mr. Marco nods, hands it to him, and Ratburn puts the tape into a VCR.
Mr. Ratburn: I just fail to comprehend why good students would choose to skip school and fall behind on their homework.
Mr. Ratburn sits down on a metal chair, crosses his leg, and gets ready to watch whatever it is on the tape. It's "Dark Bunny" of all things!
TV Announcer: Time now for your favorite hairy hero... as he battles the Giant Squid! 90 minutes of non-stop oceanic action!
We see a moody dark industrial complex. There are bad guys here -- one's a bad guy with a mask and bowler hat., with an @ sign on his spandex outfit. Dark Bunny gets out of his car.
Mr. Ratburn is pleased.
Ratburn: All Right!
Marco points at the TV.
Mr. Marco: This is a great one. And wait til you see the giant clam. It's absolutely disgusting, the way it sucks up Bunny...
His voice trails off as we fade out -- that's THE END.
The first time I saw this one, I had a lot of problems with it. But having seen the entire fifth season now, I think this is actually one of the better episodes. That may be faint praise. There are however a lot of nitpicky details.
Locked Up! Edit
A locked up school does not make sense for a lot of reasons. Sure, it might keep weirdos out, a concern, granted -- but it also prevents deliveries from being made, parents from visiting to drop off lunches or to see teachers, etc. There are other reasons for kids arriving late to school that I can think of; perfectly legitimate ones -- what if a kid has a dentist's appointment in the morning?
Actually locked school doors are not unrealistic. The local elementary schools here are like that. At a certain time all doors are locked except for certain ones which are apparently chosen by throwing dice for all the sense they make. In order to get in you have to know the secret combination of illogicaly locked and unlocked doors. Usually the one closest to the office is a good bet. (the cafateria is another for some reason) This boils down to a safety issue obviously, but the people in the office are generally not hired for their astute powers of observation. You really could go anywhere and do anything before anyone noticed. For the most part these doors are locked in such a way that they can still be opened from the inside. (Notice they do try to open the door for Francine while Binky makes his distraction attempt.) Although the local elementary actually chains some of its doors from the outside.
The fact that Arthur's belt isn't looped in the back is odd, but easily explainable. Sometimes you forget to loop it in the back. I do, on occasion. Maybe pants are different in Elwood City. They may be able to come alive for one thing. :) Hanging on to a person's belt isn't that unrealistic either, having been in a simular position once. (It was the girls room and we were trying to get out, not in) Concievably, if the belt buckle were to scrape on the window ledge, it could come undone, more likely the little metal prong that sticks through the hole in the belt would snap off (Since this is proven by observation, luckily I wasn't wearing the belt. I really thought those bushes would break her fall too. Hmmmm)
Hmmm. I dunno. Perhaps more realistically, holding Arthur's shoes would have made more sense. Having Buster end up on the floor clutching Arthur's pants might have been funny as well, esp. if someone came into the bathroom at that point... Speaking of cheap laughs...
Misc. Notes and comments.Edit
When Mr. Ratburn loads the tape into the VCR, it kinda looks like the tape is upside-down, well, to me anyway.:) I know what it's like trying to co-ordinate things like this -- I can sympathize with Francine. Having a temper like hers, I can sympathize even more. :) Arthur's locker is beside room 110, and opposite room 172. I wonder if Brain got into trouble? It's a good bet Arthur and Buster's parents will be phoned. :)
...and one BIG gripe to wrap this up.Edit
Considering we already learned about the pitfalls of DARES all the way back in #20302 - "Buster and the Daredevils", why did we have to go through all of this? Buster and Arthur already found this out the hard way. (Buster especially.) Not only that, but Buster taught Brain that just because someone dares you, you don't have to go through with it.
To quote Binky... "Sheesh".
P.S. ...One last, last commentEdit
If Arthur and his buddies had of taped "Dark Bunny" themselves, none of this would have happened. VCRs are good for things like that -- you can tape Arthur for example, and then review it later, for instance. :) Double sheesh. :)