Synopsis by: Agent0042 -- I liked the musical numbers and wanted to make sure to get them down Way too many comments by: Agent0042 with some from DetectiveSokka, dw_divastar, WonkaVision, Aonarr, TXC, and Dave. Pictures courtesy S.C.
We begin with a flashback to the past. We can hear the beginnings of a speech before there's anything on the screen. The picture comes in and we see that it's President Theodore Roosevelt speaking.
President Roosevelt: By the authority vested in me, I, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, in the year of our Lord, 1903, with the direct approval of the committee on towns and cities...
Jacob Katzenellenbogan: Get to the good part!
President Roosevelt: ...do hereby declare the area known as Elwood... an official city!
President Theodore Roosevelt is a bear-person with glasses and a black top hat. Get it? Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. (waits for the groans and boos to silence) Roosevelt was president from 1901-1909, so this is accurate. But does the president himself usually preside over the founding of a city? BTW, this establishes beyond any doubt that Elwood City is, in fact, in the United States. Not that there really was any doubt, after all we've seen envelopes addressed "Elwood City, USA" in both The Last Of Mary-Moo Cow (not noted in that synopsis) and #70301 - "Ants in Arthur's Pants."
The elderly gentleman (he's also wearing a top hat and has greying hair and an aardvark nose) who must be the city's founder, insists that it was supposed to be "Elmwood."; that's what he put on the official form.
I guess that's likely enough. A Google search for Elmwood turns up about 260,000 results, whereas one for Elwood turns up about 301,000. Given that some of the "Elwood" references are probably Arthur references, the spread could be somewhat less.
Uh, umm, thanks for looking that particular statistic up... I wouldn't have. :)
Roosevelt declares that for making fifty acres of swamp into a city, Jacob's good friends Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan are dedicating a statue to "you, our founder, Jacob Katzenellenbogan!"
The elderly city founder was displeased again, using his walking stick to point out that the gold plaque on the statue has his name misspelled with only one 'L'. He continues that it also makes him look too fat. He orders to tear it down.
As he continues grumbling, Ford and Morgan talk on the sidelines. Morgan figures that in one hundred years, "no one will know a place called 'Elwood City' ever existed."
From what history has to say about J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford, it's no surprise that they don't sound like they're good friends of fellow capitalist Jacob Katzenellenbogan...
- Elwood City Turns 100! ***
|A title card? Sorry, no dice. Buster reads the title as Arthur hops on the back of D.W.'s tricycle because he's losing the race.||Written by: Peter K. Hirsch, Matthew Lane
Storyboard by: Jeremy O'Neill, Robert Yap
Since this episode has two parts, I wonder if the writer/storyboard teams are respectively for the first and second half? This is just speculation though.
As the scene opens on a shot of a pigeon landing on the statue of Mr. Katzenellenbogan, Mr. Ratburn says that he has exciting news. The pigeon flies up to one of the classroom windows as Mr. Ratburn explains that Lakewood Elementary has been chosen out of fifteen schools to stage a musical. Everyone cheers the announcement.
Buster: (excited) We won! We won! (suspicious) Hey, wait! Is there going to be a big test at the end of all this?
Mr. Ratburn assures him there won't be a test. Buster starts cheering again. Mr. Ratburn continues that putting on a show isn't easy though. He recalls when he did his one man Hamlet with puppets in college...
Flashback sequence: Mr. Ratburn is on stage, holding up a Hamlet puppet. He starts reciting the famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy when suddenly Hamlet's head falls off. He quickly concludes the soliloquy: "that is... the end of the show! Good night, everyone!" He calls for the curtain as the audience laughs at him.
We already KNOW that putting on a show isn't easy, since we already put on a show in #11002 - "Francine Frensky, Superstar".
Back in the present, he tugs on his tie, saying the performance nearly cost him his perfect G.P.A
Mr. Ratburn had a perfect GPA? He's a weird guy.
He must have done some sort of extra credit, since in #12702 - "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble," his sister got his grade lowered because the star he discovered was "just gas." But then again, that was a just a fantasy sequence. BTW, there's some math problems on the board. 13X2=26, 5X9=45, 20/2=10, as well as one on the right side that I think is 10/5=2, but is cut off, so I can't be sure.
Mr. Ratburn grabs a tophat from his desk. He's having the class draw for their parts. He has Arthur draw first. Arthur asks for "something good" and draws narrator. He doesn't think that's very important. Mr. Ratburn counters that actually "a strong narrator will be the glue that holds this story together." He takes the hat over to Francine and she draws.
This seems like an awful way of chosing parts to me.
Francine: Chorus member! But I'm the best singer in the whole class! Why do I get such a small part?
Mr. Ratburn: There are no small parts, Francine, only small actors.
As ArthyrComedyDW wrote in the synopsis for the It's Only Rock and Roll special, if Jodie Resther is such a good singer, then why does Francine keep getting small parts. Then again, as we'll see, she ends up singing away.
The Brain draws "writer" and calls it a chance to write an accurate historical musical. Buster pulls out one of the slips.
Buster: (puzzled) Dr. Ector? Is he the villain? (excitedly) Can I wear a claw?
Mr. Ratburn: That says "director", Buster.
Busters likes the sound of being director. To him, that means that he gets to decide how everything looks and tell everyone what to do.
Mr. Ratburn: You could wear a claw if you were in the chorus...
I guess Mr. Ratburn is having second thoughts about this great way of doling out the play parts now that he's just made Buster the director.* * *
The paper slips drop down as a scene-changer. Mr. Ratburn is reading a book:
STANISLAVSKY AN ACTOR PREPARES
Muffy comes in. She wants to help with the musical's publicity.
Muffy: You know, making posters, stuff like that.
I think that's a reasonable leadership, given that she did a great job with campaign posters in #50601 - "The Election."
Mr. Ratburn agrees to her request. Then Muffy pulls out what she calls a "standard producer's contract" and asks him to sign it. It's in case the play ever goes to Broadway or something. He signs it, saying that he doesn't know if the play will be that good.
The contract is used as a scene-changer to somebody else who's reading a book, The Brain. He's in the library, adding to his boring image by reading this absolutely exciting title:
HISTORY OF ELWOOD CITY'S ENVIRONS FROM THE PLEISTOCINE TO THE PRESENT
Buster shoves his way in, pushing the book away from Brain's face. He says he has one word for The Brain: "alien invasion."
So Buster isn't counting any better than he was in #61001 - "Arthur Loses His Marbles."
Buster: Picture this: The curtain rises and a giant flying saucer lands on the stage. Whirrrr! Then the aliens come out, hundreds of them! They take over the Earth. But there's this one kid who becomes friends with them. And then...
The Brain puts an end to Buster's rambling. He doesn't want any aliens in the play. He lectures Buster on historical accuracy as the brown dog-kid walks by their table. The Brain talks about how he's been reading about green-tailed grebes. Elwood City used to be swampland.
There isn't and never was an actual bird called the "green-tailed grebe," but there is a bird known as the pied-billed grebe...
Buster: Green-tailed grebes? What are they?
Brain: Marshland birds of the family Podicipedidae.
Buster can't believe Brain's going to put this in the musical. He yells at Brain that it's boring, causing the dog-kid to look up in shock from the book he's reading. Buster and Brain argue back and forth about accuracy vs. fantasy. The dog-kid throws his book to the ground and runs off in a panic. A green-tailed grebe wipes across the screen...
... to music class. Arthur's there, singing scales as practice for his role of the musical narrator. However, he's singing really badly. Ms. Krasny calls it a good effort, but says that the narrator has to be pitch perfect. Arthur tries again, but he sounds awful.
Since when is Arthur such a bad singer? His singing on the show and on the CDs has always sounded reasonably decent to me.
If Arthur wasn't a bad singer, we wouldn't have any conflict here.
Francine offers to demonstrate and does so in perfect key. Artur's not impressed.
Arthur(In disgust'): Thanks a lot.
Arthur's at home now, singing just as badly. Pal, who's laying next to D.W. on the living room couch, howls and covers his ears. D.W.'s playing "Confuse the Goose" with Vicita. The Tibbles are also there. As Arthur continues singing, Pal whines, hops onto the floor and hides under the couch.
Vicita: I haven't heard such a horrible sound since Alberto and I gave the neighbor's cat a bath.
D.W.: It's like my Mary Moo Cow doll with only one battery.
Timmy:Hey, I bet I can sing worse than Arthur.
He starts to try, but Arthur drowns him out. It would seem he can't.
We're still at Arthur's house, but the scene switches to Arthur, who's also playing the piano while singing.
Maybe that's part of the problem? Since Francine is so bad at singing and playing the drums at the same time, maybe Arthur shouldn't be trying to play the piano while he's singing?
The doorbell rings. Arthur opens it and finds Francine. Before she can say anything, he shoots her down, as he thinks she's there to tell him that he stinks and that she should be the narrator. Francine snaps back angrily that she was there to help him. She begins to leave, but Arthur manages to keep her there by admitting that he does stink and that he can use all the help he can get.
The scene changes to the school and the light "doing something" music (the same as the scene in #22001 - "How the Cookie Crumbles" where the gang comes up with the ingredients for the cookies) is playing in the background. Jenna's working at a sewing machine. She puts a wing on Fern, who's dressed as a green-tailed grebe. (Fern makes a cute green-tailed grebe.) Buster puts on the headpiece. Brain notices that the headpiece has stalk eyeballs and removes them.
The background music continues into the next scene, but is soon drowned out by Arthur's singing. The singing causes Baby Kate to cry and D.W. covers her ears. Francine's still there. She apparently hasn't been able to help. But she's still able to do what Arthur can't: sing the scales perfectly. The scene wipes again and the background music picks back up. George is helping Buster and Brain with a construct of a cabin with small trees. Brain leaves and Buster pulls out and shows George a transformer-y robot action figure.
Still in the same sequence, the scene changes to the Elwood City Convention Center, the venue of the play. Muffy pulls a light switch, lighting up a sign that says:
OH ELWOOD! A MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA COMING SOON
The turning on of the sign causes power to go out across several blocks. Pretty soon, the sign itself goes out as well.
..without going to the effort of confirming it, this looks a lot like the night footage from the ending of the "It's Only Rock and Roll" special.
The background music ends, ending the sequence. We now wipe clockwise to a rehearsal of the play. Arthur's there, still singing badly. And now, he has lyrics to sing:
Arthur(singing): ...And the trees were chopped down for the bustling new town / By the women and men employed by Mr. Katzenellenbogan...
I wonder how many other turn-of-the-century lumber companies were employing women as lumberjacks. Zero would be my guess.
Arthur's wearing a straw hat, white blue striped shirt, blue jeans and his red bowtie. In the background are Binky, Jenna and Francine, dressed as lumberjacks, demonstrating what Arthur's singing about. Ms. Krasny thinks that Arthur's better, but he's still not projecting enough. Arthur doesn't understand. He's singing at the top of his lungs.
Isn't singing like Arthur's doing without any sort of voice training or anything bad on your voice? My sister used to do a lot of singing at her school and they had voice training and such.
What, bad singing can be bad for your voice? Uh oh.
Francine says that Arthur needs to sing from his diaphragm. She begins to demonstrate, but Arthur cuts her off before she can start, saying she'll just embarrass him.
But Arthur's not the only one who's being given unwanted advice. Binky argues with Jenna about her woodchopping style. She's not chopping on the beat. He demonstrates -- and his example of chopping causes his pants to split, showing his pink and white checkered underwear.
Sorry, but Binky? Ew. Really. Ew.
Binky split his pants last in #20501 - "Arthur's Underwear".
Jenna starts yelling at him, saying that they took forever to sew.
Binky: It's not my fault! They're too tight
!Jenna: Then why did you tell me you were a medium?
Binky continues to bicker with her as Buster rolls in a device he calls "Humongotron" onto the stage.
NOTE:"Humungotron" is a robot, but the kind of robot that would have been around when Elwood City was founded perhaps... since it's made of wood.
Brain, who's holding a clipboard, gripes at Buster that he said no aliens. Buster counters that it isn't an alien, it's a robot, who's going to save Elwood City from the "giant crab people". The shot pans out to show that now everyone on the stage is arguing. Mr. Ratburn asks everyone to settle down, but he can't be heard over the arguing. Muffy comes over to him, asking him to look at her guest list for the opening party. We see it:
- Michelle Kwan
- Yo-Yo Ma
- Mr. Rogers
- Alex Lebeck
- Marc Brown
- Jeremy O'Neill
- Mmmm, an all-star list. All are celebrities from past episodes, with the exception of Marc Brown, Arthur series creator and Jeremy O'Neill, one of the storyboard artists for this episode. We'll see later that Art Garfunkel and Joshua Redman also show up. In fact, the only celebrity from the series not invited is Jack Prelutsky and of course the Backstreet Boys, probably because there are too many of them.
Mr. Ratburn: Yo-Yo Ma? Mr. Rogers? You can't invite Mr. Rogers.
Muffy: I already did. He's so sweet.
Mr. Ratburn is concerned about inviting people like Mr. Rogers with the show in the state it is in right now.
Fantasy sequence, as Mr. Ratburn imagines what would happen. It's the opening night of the play. George pulls down Humongotron from the ceiling, knocking down the trees that are on stage. Everyone else is busy arguing. The scene pans accross the audience: Yo-Yo Ma, Alex Lebeck, Jeremy O'Neill (a rabbit person), Mr. Rogers, Michelle Kwan and Joshua Redman. They all gasp. Then a huge version of Mr. Ratburn's Hamlet puppet falls onto the stage, crushing the entire cast. The head, which isn't attached, bounces off the stage. Mr. Ratburn (his younger version) calls desperately for the curtain.
A rare look into Mr. Ratburn's imagination. I really liked this.
The sequence fades out to Mr. Ratburn's concerned face.
Mr. Ratburn: It could happen all over again.Muffy says that what they need is a pep talk.
Muffy: (walking away) May I? (She's handed a recorder by a rat-kid. She blows it and everyone goes silent.) We were chosen out of fifteen schools to put on this show, but maybe they were wrong to pick us. They could have picked Mighty Mountain or Glenbrook. (heading onstage) After all, would they be arguing?! No! (some peppy music starts ) They'd be working together, something we just can't seem to do.
That ends her speech. Brain makes the first concession, saying that he did read that there was an alien sighting in 1952. He notes quickly that it was probably just a weather balloon. Buster stops him and hugs him.
Buster: (on a megaphone) All right, people! Let's take it from the top.Everyone looks like they're going to work together from now on thanks to Muffy.
Muffy: (to stunned Mr. Ratburn) That should hold them till opening night. Then we're going to need luck... and all the candy we can get our hands on.
As they all file out, Francine tells Arthur not to worry, he still has a week. Arthur says that it wouldn't make a difference if he had a year, since he doesn't have her singing ability. He offers her his hat. He thinks she'd be better for the role, plus, he'd actually like to be in the chorus. Francine asks him if it's what he really wants -- she honestly does not want to force Arthur to do this if he doesn't want to himself. He hands her the hat.
Francine: (playing it cool) Okay. (gleefully, after Arthur walks off)Yes!
She tosses the hat in the air and in an almost seamless transition... (watch this in slow-motion if you can, it's really good)
...the hat lands a week later, Francine at her house. It's the opening night of the play and Francine and her Dad are running late.
Francine: Dad, come on. We're already late.
Oliver: I'll be right there. I'm just getting directions to George's house.
Francine looks at her watch as we swipe clockwise to the Community Center. The sign now reads:
OH ELWOOD! A MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA OPENS TONIGHT
Inside, Yo-Yo Ma shakes hands with Mr. Rogers A female rabbit-person snaps a photo. Backstage, everyone's getting ready for the play. Binky is having his pants reinforced last-minute.
Mr. Raturn: (on stage) Why are all those photographers out there?
Mr. Ratburn: Art Garfunkel is coming?
Muffy: No, he's already here. She waves to him, and he waves back.
Seeing Art Garfunkel in the front row of the audience is going to freak out Arthur and Buster, since they don't know him as Art Garfunkel, just as a creepy moose minstrel who was kind of stalking them back a few seasons ago.
On another part of the stage, Buster (who's wearing a blue director's beret, blue suit and glasses) is telling Fern that he wants "emotion out there."
Of all the strange directorial choices, the strangest must have been Buster's choice of costume for himself to wear as a "director." The peculiar outmoded suit with a beret and a megaphone seems to conform to some adult's unimaginative stereotype of a "director" in the same way that the show's creators insist that poetry readings are always accompanied by bongo drums. Bogus!
Buster: Remember, you're not just playing a grebe. You are a grebe!
Fern: Grebe! Grebe!
Buster: (over his megaphone) Where's my flying saucer?! Muffy tells him not to worry, Oliver Frensky is bringing it in his garbage truck. It was too heavy for the roof of George's car.
Over at George's, George's Dad ties the prop flying saucer into the back of Oliver's garbage truck. Francine and her Dad drive off.
Francine wants to know if Oliver can go any faster. He says that he can't, they're driving the speed limit.
I know by now we should be used to the fact that Oliver sort of owns the garbage truck he drives, but it still irks me everytime.
Francine: But we're already fifteen minutes behind schedule and... duck!
At first I thought this would be another duck-person gag, a la #11001 - "Arthur's Birthday," but it wasn't.
Oliver brakes and swerves the truck, just barely avoiding a duck that was crossing the road. They're safe, but a crunching sound indicates that the flying saucer isn't. Accidentally, the control for the compactor was activated, and when they head to the back of the truck, they see George's prop spaceship's completely totaled. Francine is worried about what Buster's going to do, but Oliver says it's just a prop... They'll think of something. The important thing to do is just to get there.
Francine: Oh, could this night get any worse?
Francine, haven't you ever heard of Murphy's Law?
Well, hopefully you and your father won't be suffering from the effects of whiplash... That seems like poor garbage truck design if when you put out your arm to stop being thrown into the dash, you activate the crusher mechanism, or any controls for that matter.
Oliver goes to start the truck, but it won't start.
Oliver: Uh, Frankie, we have a problem...End first half.
* * * And Now a Word From Larry King * * *Edit
Whew! Okay, take a breather. This is normally when I might get up for a snack or hit the fast forward button or something, but let's see what we have here. They show the normal "And Now a Word From Us Kids" card, but it says "And Now a Word From Larry King" and features instead of the kid's drawing of Arthur, a kid's drawing of Larry King. We move onto Larry King, who's in his studio, in his human form.
King: We've got some very special guests in the studio today. A few of the kids from the Lakewood Elmentary School in Elwood City are putting on a musical celebrating the city's 100th anniversary.'Like on his show, Larry introduces his guests. We see them, in normal cartoon form in King's studio, from left to right there's Buster, Arthur, Muffy and Brain. Muffy thanks Larry for having them on the show.
They really should have been interacting more at this point.
I don't doubt that it was Muffy who booked the appearance.
King: So tell me about the show. Who thought it up?
Brain: Well, I wrote it...
Buster: But we all came up with the ideas together!
King: Is it easy working together? Do you like it?
Uh oh, dialogue's starting to sag. Losing consciousness...
Everyone cheers their agreement for working together, but Buster breaks in, saying that they wouldn't let him have his robot. King asks about this and Buster details his entire plan about aliens and his robot. Brain shouts out that it didn't make any sense. Arthur tries to get everyone to behave, reminding them that it's live TV...
Then Muffy tries to hawk her production company. She doesn't know what Larry's deal with "the network" is, but says that "we could really use someone of your talent." Larry waves off the offer, saying that they're out of time. She then offers to throw in a used car...
Larry wishes them good luck on the musical. Arthur waves hello to Mom, Dad, and D.W. He's surprised when D.W. answers back. We see that she's there in the studio.
Arthur: What are you doing here?!
'D.W.: You have to get back to the musical. It's about to start. Francine's still missing. She's the narrator.
King: D.W.? What does that stand for?
D.W.: I don't like to talk about it... Are you really a king?
D.W. speaks the truth -- see #21901 - "D.W.'s Name Game".
Arthur rushes her as she starts to ask if he has a castle with unicorns... and starts trying to pull her offstage. He covers her mouth.
King: Thanks for tuning in folks. And now, back to Arthur.
Boy, that was a timewaster. Still, I'd watch that any day over some of the "Let's Talk to Some Kids" segments.
The Larry King interstitial was dullsville. Can you think of a less kid-friendly celebrity to feature?
How about Alan Greenspan? :)
Okay, here we go with Part Two. Part Two is a lot different from Part One. Part One was basically just setup, now we're getting into the actual play. And here we go!
We're back to the show, but the play hasn't started yet.
D.W.: (in the audience) Are you sure we came to the right place? Nothing's happening.
Mom: Just relax, D.W., Shows always start a little late.
Dad: (looking at his watch) Not this late.
On the stage, Muffy notes that there's still no sign of Francine. She says that they have to do something. Buster decides that Arthur will have to be the narrator.
Arthur: Me? Why me?
Muffy: You know all the lines. You only traded parts with Francine last week.
Arthur doesn't think that matters, the point is that he can't sing. Brain comes up with answer for that: the narrator doesn't really have to do any singing during the first part. By the time it's over, Francine will probably be there.
Arthur:Look, I can't do it! I don't have my bowtie! I don't have my suspenders!
Mr. Ratburn goes out on stage to calm the audience and get the show started.He gets the play started as Prunella shines a spotlight on him from above. We can see the dog-kid in the audience.
I think after the library incident, it's only fair that he get to see what all the fuss is about.
What's with Ratburn's pants? Are they going to fall down? And how come he has to read his lines off a card? Couldn't he memorize them?
The fact that Prunella gets the spotlight aimed wrong when the show starts reminds me of the play my class put on in grade five. It was a Christmas play with Santa and his reindeer. For the practices, we used a cardboard dummy as a stand-in for the sleigh all through the practices. Only one side was decorated, so the sleigh had to exit the stage going right.
On the night of the play, we finally got the real sleigh prop finished, and it was decorated on the opposite side. The actors weren't aware of this though, and instead of leaving the stage the opposite way to the way they'd practiced, they did it the same as they'd done in practice. As a result, Santa's sleigh was pulled by the reindeer off the stage, only the sleigh was hitched up back-to-front. :)
Mr. Ratburn: We kindly request that you referain from using flash photography, turn off all cell phones and take this time to unwrap any candy or lozenges.
A standard request at most plays these days. Especially the cell phone thing, given how obnoxious people can be with those. I'm surprised he didn't also ask them to refrain from unnecessary talking during the show.
Just for the sake of arguement, I know about the request about cell phones and photography, but I've never been told to unwrap my candy ahead of time.
In the audience, Art Garfunkel and Michelle Kwan turn off their cell phones. The Tibbles open their boxes of chocolate and immediately eat it. Arthur steps out on stage in a suit that must have been quickly found for him..
D.W.: (from the audience) Hi Arthur!
Arthur: D.W., shhh! (steps into character) Howdy! (singing off-key) This here's the story about a place ya'll know called Elwood City. (talking) But what you may not know: it wasn't always a city. It was just miles and miles of trees. The curtain opens to reveal a background of trees. The chorus is there and they start singing:
Chorus: The valley all around us was nothin' but wood'
The trees were ripe for cuttin
The timber was good'
To chop, to stump and stub, a man known as Ja-cob'
Katezen-ellen-bogan, a lumber ty-coon (Brain comes out on stage) '''Built a busy sawmill beside a lagoon
Soon woodchips filled the air
and got in people's hair'
Chop, chop, chop timberrrrrrrrrr...
Brain, as Jacob Katenellenbogan: So I went a hikin' to find a good spot
A place to build a mansion, a heavenly plot...
As they continue singing, Muffy takes a call on her cell phone behind the curtain.
Muffy: Hello? Where are you? We've already started!
It's Francine on the phone. Muffy tells her to get there as soon as she can. Buster comes in and asks about Francine.
Muffy: They're hitching a ride.
Buster: What about the flying saucer?
Muffy: You'd better sit down.
Back onstage, the song is finishing out. By now Elwood City is a small turn-of-the-century town, and instead of lumberjacks, the chorus is now dressed up as proporous townsfolk.
Chorus: ...down the stream
Houses mult-ip-lied... (and then back to the chorus of the song) Jacob Kat-zen-ellen-bogan
Brain, as Jacob Katenellenbogan: (in a dead-on imitation of displeased Katzenellenbogan) But I wanted it to be called Elmwood! Darn bureaucracy!
The entire audience applauds. The curtain closes and now Arthur is in front of the curtain on a chair.
narrating) But wait! Not everyone was happy that Elwood had become a city. When the forest was cut down, the beautiful green-tailed grebe had lost her home.
The spotlight shifts over to Fern, dressed in her grebe costume.
Tommy Tibble: What's that?
D.W.: A grebe.
Tommy: What's a grebe?
D.W.: Her! (points to Fern, dancing)
Tommy: That's just Fern wearing a lot of feathers!
D.W. tells them to use their imagination. Timmy says that he's using it, he's imagining that he has more candy. On the stage, Fern sings a mournful dirge of a song:
Fern(singing in a tragic tone): Taste the salty tears we "weep"
' For the long-lost green-tailed grebe
Our sorrows run so very "deep"
For the long-lost green-tailed grebe.
"Weeb?" "Deeb?" Who's writing this stuff? Oh, yeah. The Brain.
It's poetic license. I liked it. And of course, we all know Fern is a good singer... she was lead singer in a band.
Muffy looks on approvingly at Fern's performance from behind the curtain.
Arthur: I think it's going really well.
Brain (distracted): Yeah. Now if only the flying saucer would get here.
Binky: (walking in) Don't hold your breath. It was smashed to bits in the back of Francine's truck.
Arthur: Does Buster know?
Binky: (munching on a donut) Yeah. He's locked himself in the janitor's closet.
I think it's a bagel. It could be a donut, but I'm going based on Binky's love of donuts.
The scene wipes to the janitor's closet, where Buster has, in fact, locked himself in.
Why didn't we get to see George's reaction to his flying saucer being destroyed? That would have been a good scene. He could have flipped out backstage and run amuck.
Mr. Ratburn knocks at the door, telling Buster to unlock it as he's being very unprofessional. Buster shouts back that he's not a professional. Muffy, Buster and Arthur all knock on the door for him to come out, but to no avail. Muffy looks at her watch. Fern's scene is almost finished...
Muffy: What are we going to do?
Brain: I'll just have to write the flying saucer out. Quick, hand me those napkins.
Muffy walks over to a nearby table to get Brain the napkins he needs. Arthur: What about Francine? The narrator's singing part is coming up. Muffy: Don't worry. She's on her way.* * *
Francine's on her way all right, in a beat up car. Her and Oliver have hitched a ride with a mole-person with a very slow car.
After going to my videotape, I've determined that this isn't the same pseudo Yakone-mole who bought the junk 1972 Canberra Emu last season. The mole-person in that episode has a lighter skin tone and also looks a bit shorter. This one could be his brother though, he has the same general appearance and is also wearing glasses. The car he's driving has tires as well as all four of its doors, it's just slow.
Note:However that it is a right hand drive, and has a bird's head hood ornament. If it's not the same vehicle from that episode, it was probably part of the same shipment, and probably was sold by Ed Crosswire.
Mole-Person: Yes sir, this baby's a one-of-a-kind classic. She may not be a speed demon, but she gets great mileage.
He breaks for yet another duck on the street, telling it to go on ahead and take its time.
Yeesh, all of a sudden Elwood City's streets are being rampaged with ducks :) . They're probably avenging the extinct green-tailed grebe.
The scene wipes back to the play, where Fern's still singing. I think at this point she may just simply be improvising lyrics...
Fern: While lumberjacks were tickled pink'
the green-tailed grebe, she went extinct.'
It's obvious that the audience is getting pretty bored' with this. Art Garfunkel and Michelle Kwan don't seem to have enjoyed it, and neither do Muffy's capitalist parents... Mrs. Walters stands up and applauds her daughter's performance though and this makes the rest of the audience start to clap. Ferm bows and heads off-stage.
Arthur: Over the past one hundred years, Elwood City has grown bigger and bigger -- and we've had visitors from all over the world. Some say we may have even had visitors from outside this world. The year is 1952...
On the stage, Jenna, George, Binky and Steve, in a dog costume -- roll a prop of a beat-up blue car onto the stage. That kid in the dog costume. I don't know why, I just find it incredibly amusing that this animal person is dressed up as another animal. I find it equally funny when I watch a show in which puppets are using puppets. It's some sort of special irony I guess. I just find it funny.
Jenna, as the Mom in the family: My, look how high the corn has grown this summer.
Binky, as the Dad: (deadpan, not really getting into his role) Why, yes, it is a bumper crop.
The dog starts barking... George, as the son, Bobby: What is it, boy? Gee whilikers!
George asks if that's a flying saucer in the sky...
Brain's writing-out-of-the-flying-saucer begins. Binky, (reading off of napkins) begins to ramble on about it probably is a natural phenomenon, such as ball lightning. He drones on and on as we see Brain behind the prop car furiously rewriting the script on napkins. Brain hands them to Binky, who continues droning...
...as the scene shifts to the janitor's closet, where Buster's sitting around moping. He hears Binky's droning and puts his ear to the door. He realizes that they're going on without him... He grabs a sponge and a feather duster from the closet. The scene changes back to onstage, where Binky's still rambling on as the napkins are starting to pile up... and the audience is growing increasingly bored -- even Binky's stage family including the dog are just waiting around looking bored. The only ones still enjoying the show are Binky's parents!
Binky: ...Or another type of conventional aircraft, or...Buster: Or it's a real alien!
Arthur (Whispering, trying to get Buster to stop making a fool of himself): Buster, what are you doing?!
Buster: (who's rapidly decked himself out as an alien, including a umbrella-handle claw) "Buster?" Who is this "Buster" you speak of? I am... Dr. Ector! Behold my claw. I come from the planet... (looks at the backdrop and is inspired -- while the rest of the actors on stage stare at him dumbfounded) ...Korn! ...and have travelled millions of miles to deliver this very important message to you... which will be sung to the tune you Earthlings call "Yankee Doodle"
Wow, Buster's doing a way better job just improvising dialogue than Brain was doing writing it.
At this point, he nods to Ms. Krasney, who launches into "Yankee Doodle" for Buster.
Buster: Doc-tor Ec-tor came to Earth'
In a flying sau-cer '
Had a message to deliver
'Be a... 'Buster has to quickly makes this up, while Krasny adlibs the music, and then starts up as Buster comes out with...)
'...Be a frequent flosser!
'Floss your teeth every night, floss your teeth all day...
' If you floss your teeth with all your might
'You won't have tooth decay!
Buster just wrote the Dental Hygiene Choir anthem. ;)
Once Buster came up with "be a frequent flosser", he suddenly became a lot more confident, and started dancing around on stage. In a sweeping gesture with his claw he accidentally tears a hole in the corn background with his claw though, bringing the set down on top of him and the other actors. The audience roars with delight.
The whole Buster-fascinated-by-aliens thing is very tired. I don't particularly care to hear another word on that topic unless he actually gets abducted! The scene where he came out as "Dr. Ector" and tried to save the show was almost cringe-inducing. Ouch.
Mr. Ratburn: There will now be a brief intermission. Curtain... (desperately) Curtain!
The Brain wants to know what Buster was thinking. Buster says that people were falling asleep.
Brain: You didn't have to destroy the set.
George: Aren't we supposed to use this in the last number, Mr. Ratburn?
Mr. Ratburn says that they'll just have to improvise. Buster droops his ears. He calls himself a failure and starts to head back for the janitor's closet. Brain stops him and says that it's his fault, not Buster's -- his dialogue was boring.
Arthur: You guys are lucky. I still have to sing.
Binky: And I bet the audience thought the show couldn't get any worse.
Muffy wants to end the show, she's done enough damage to her producing career. Just then, Francine runs in. She says that they can't end the show. Muffy tells her that she's missed the worst third grade musical ever.
Francine: That's not what they think...
They part the curtain and see that the audience is chatting abput the play. Everybody's review seems to be pretty favorable thus far...
Arthur's Dad, talking to Mr. Crosswire: I'm really impressed. It's got humor, interesting facts, that very poetic piece about the bird.If the audience likes it, who are they to judge? The show should go on...
Muffy: C'mon guys. We've got a show to do.* * *
The scene changes clockwise again, to Francine in her narrator suit. It's time for the singing part.
Oh, Elwood City, so proud, so bold'
Now you are one hundred years old
'What were dark forests, bogs and, fens
'Is now called home by us children
'I lift my head and sing to thee 'Oh, Elwood, Elwood, Elwood City...
Steve: (in the audience, standing up) Hey, you've told us what Elwood City was like in the past, but what's it like today?
Yes, this is a plant. Steve is the rabbit-kid who we see all the time in Arthur's class, but almost never gets any dialogue.
Francine: Today? Today, things are a little different...
She gestures to the stage. There are buildings in the background: Elwood City Library, Al's Pet Shop, The Sugar Bowl.
Arthur: Hey, Buster, wanna get a snack?
Buster: You have to ask?
They head towards the Sugar Bowl as the next musical number starts up:
Chorus: (wearing orange "EC" hats) Slurping shakes at the Sugar Bowl
The crossing guard is on patrol
Francine: (tossing her hat) Hey, I scored a goal!
Chorus: That's Elwood City!
Reading books at the library
Our clubhouse is in a tree
Buster: Had a comet named after me!
Chorus: That's Elwood City!
The corn background drops down. Francine sings from behind the hole that Buster cut in it with his claw.
Francine: When the ice storm blew in 'Our prospects looked grim
"We were filled with hunger and fear (Binky goes by as a snowflake.)
'Chorus: But we got together
And battled the weather
With stories, cocoa and cheer!
Francine: Just like pioneers!
Chorus: Baseball games with Mighty Mountain
Lost a lot, but we're not countin'
Buster: Hey, don't hog the water fountain!
Chorus: That's Elwood City!
Arthur: Picnics for all sons and fathers...
Binky: Hey, I just met Mister Rogers. (He waves to him in the audience.)
Muffy: Crosswire Motors has super deals...
Brain: The ice cream shop serves gummy eels.
Fern: All clues point in one direction
Brain: Elwood City is perfection
Chorus: Yes, this town has passed the test
So much better than the rest
Elwood City you're the best
Elwood City, yeah!
|During the last line, we see a chorus line of everyone singing. There's some kids in the choir who have never had a word in the show up until today...|
Balloons rain down as the audience cheers. Mr. Ratburn looks relieved that everyone enjoyed the musical.
I enjoyed the musical numbers. I still like Buster's "Elwood City: A Report" better from the CD "Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix", but they did a good job with the music.
After the play, Mom and Dad are driving Arthur and D.W. home. D.W. has a closing thought:
D.W.: Next time they do a musical about Elwood City, you should play the alien.You look more "alienish" than Buster.
Arthur: (tired) They probably won't do another one for one hundred years. It was a centennial celebration.
D.W.: Oh, then I guess you'll play Jacob Katzen-what's-his-name. You'll have a beard by then.
Arthur: (yawning, about to fall asleep) Katzenellenbogan.
D.W.: I wonder what he would have thought of the show.
As they drive on, the shot moves to Katzenellenbogan's statue. A duck lands atop it and that's:
I wonder what Mr. Haney would have thought of the show. He's not anywhere to be seen in this episode. Considering the scale of the show, I would think that maybe he was at least in the audience somewhere.
Like "A:IORAR", this episode was apparently supposed to be an event, but hardly lived up to the hype. Overall it had a lot of possibilities but most were not exploited properly. The premise of a bunch of kids putting on a show really recalls "A Charlie Brown Christmas," perhaps not a comparison the show producers should really encourage people to make.
Elwood City - 100 Years OldEdit
Fans learned from Buster's "Elwood City: A Report" song that Elwood City was founded in "something '03." We know now from this episode that it was founded in 1903. That would place this episode in 2003 (in the future, as of the writing of this synopsis) and the Arthur series in 2002/2003, for those who are keeping track of the timeline. Of course, there are other references in the past that would suggest otherwise, but I'm going to shut up about this now, as the timeline discussion gives me a headache.
Things That Elwood City is Famous ForEdit
They got in some interesting stuff, but what else could they have included? How about the fact that the largest pizza ever was made there? How about the fact that the class was on a television show as another example? Also, there's not one reference to the fact thatElwood City is known as the "City of the Strawberries." (Thanks to WonkaVision for the tipoff on that.)
Ok, this is kids singing about their town, but there's no mention of Elwood City's heavy industry, like Lamakaroni Industries either.
The Roles of the StudentsEdit
Why did Brain get to be the writer and play the founder of Elwood City, an important part?
For that matter, how were the roles chosen? Brain was assigned to write the play. I can only picture this for Arthur's class, for any other third grade class I can't imagine asking one of the students to write the play, let alone having any of them produce it or direct it. Somehow I doubt the students wrote the play themselves back in #11001 - "Francine Frensky, Superstar." (One of my all-time favorites.) So after Brain wrote the play, then they decided who was going to play what? Additionally, some have wondered if why Lakewood was chosen out of fifteen schools to do the play, why is it just the third grade class that gets to do it?
Mr. Ratburn reading Stanislavsky's "An Actor Prepares," although of course he is not one of the actors. The actual songs in the musical were pretty good. It seems that the musical elements of the show this season are really coming to the fore, some might say overused.
Good to see Jenna get a bit of play, and Fern got a star turn, but Sue Ellen was relegated to a chorus member with no speaking lines. Too bad she didn't play the "dog" in the later scene -- That would have been ironic -- a cat-girl playing a dog. She did look good as a lumberjack and then as a townswoman.
Prunella was only glimpsed as a follow-spot operator. Muffy's endless scheming machinations are getting tiresome but her "professional career woman" getup and hairstyle are vastly preferable to her usual "Heidi" look.
Brain seems to be a little less helium-ated, perhaps they're coaching him to deepen it a bit or they started out with "tweaking" the voice electronicly and they are tweaking it less now.