Yet More Psychedelia and Subversion in Arthur's Fourth SeasonEdit
Overview by Jasmine SailingEdit
Pictures by DetectiveSokka,Jeriah02,AwkwardAmon,& AwkwardArthur
Credit from Wikipedia website and Google Images.
Recently they wrapped off another spat of new Arthur episodes. This is the nly kiddie show I've been going out of my way to see new episodes of for the past year or more (I was already watching it and buying the books before then, but hadn't developed quite as much of a habit), so naturally I had to go out of my way until the new ones wrapped up. You may be thinking "Hey, wait a minute,W.I.T.C.H. is a action show and you go further out of your way for that one!", but W.I.T.C.H isn't in the same category as far as I'm concerned. Arthur, though I love it, simply doesn't have all of the cross-dressing, seductive affairs, and past-generation humor meant to fly over kids' heads that Naruto does (not that Arthur isn't good about aiming some of its humor at the parents watching it)... nor does it have hot guys and girls with rocket launchers and bombs! While these debits apply, Arthur remains the home of numerous radical and psychedelic influences for young children. You gotta love that...
You've also gotta love the characters in general, especially when you look at how they'll grow up. The Brain is the brains, Fern is the gothic girl, Buster is the conspirant bunny,Francine is the tom-boy, Binky is the Dubois-esque who secretly loves reading and ballet (or not so secretly since the "death by green potato chip" episodes), Sue Ellen is the tough eccentric whom has lived everywhere, Arthur is more or less the mediator between all of them, etc. Sounds like a batch of kids we'll all be working with twelve years from now!
Highlights from the new batch of Arthur episodes included a touching rendition of "A Christmas Carol" wherein Prunella was ghosted into realizing how much of a s**t she was being about her birthday present from Francine (who typically deserves any s**t she gets, but in this instance it was heart-breaking). One of the best, and my daughter Amara's favourite, she even has a puffy suit to wear while watching it, was the Mr. Puffy episode. Arthur inherits his Dad's Mr. Puffy coat, Mr. Puffy having been a comic book character who looked like a giant puffy green marshmallow, and is horrified by the concept of being seen in it. He has a cute nightmare about being ridiculed as Mr. Puffy, even after saving everyones' lives, and goes to the grocery store to stock up on food so he can hide for a year. Prunella is there doing the same over her own fashion disaster (methinks these kids need Jessie and James to cross-over for an episode so they can bestow a little fashion guidance upon them. And so Jessie can out-snob rich brat Muffy Crosswire!) and knocks over a stack of cans near Arthur. Bruce and I both got some hearty sniggers out of the intercom announcement of "Clean up on aisle 3, by the puffy green boy." Too bad it doesn't translate in writing. ;)
Also amongst the new episodes: Binky the butch bully (reformed by Sue Ellen) turns into Captain Ahab over a purdy butterfly. Everyone in town gets to play survivalist during a blizzard, and then Tough Teacher Ratburn is forced to stay at Arthur's house for a while after his roof caves in. Real ghosts appear in a pranks episode. Arthur literally gets egg on his face after turning everyone and everything — even a pillow was considered — into Buster's supplemental Dad. Yo-Yo Ma and Francine's extended uncle Joshua Redman duke it out over whether Jazz or Classical is better... except they really don't, that's simply what the kids wish they would do. And Arthur's little sister DW tells an alternate version of The Odyssey. She also proves her (scary) smartness by tricking Arthur into taking her to the Exploratorium in the scientific episode Prove It!.
For those who prefer more adult humour in their animated shows, there was also a little South Park spoof in one of the episodes. It was the one about the kids entering a contest for coming up with a story which would be used in a show they were watching. And it used actual contest entrants for the varying story-lines (the primary contest winner wrote a story about the kids entering a similar contest). The first one was South Park, out of Buster's head obviously (he thinks aliens are behind everything). Aliens squish him after he calls for them to land right where he is, and Francine exclaims "Hey, they squished Buster!". Arthur is abducted but isn't eaten due to being too high in cholesterol, and develops a complex about it after Buster finishes telling the story. "I'm just as edible as anyone!" Other segments in this story are based on Beavis and Butt-head(Muffy's story wherein Arthur and Buster as Beavis and Butthead ridicule her fashion show get-up by calling her the fifth Teletubby. She gets even with a stink bomb),Dexter's Laboratory(The Brain portrays himself as his Mad Scientist Dexter-escapade self, go figure, to explain the practical origins of legends like Bigfoot), etc. I rather enjoyed the segment wherein Binky was listing several professional fighters whom Arthur would be going up against (or actually the star of the other show, but they portray him as Arthur) and gets a bit carried away to the point where he also lists him as fighting the Associated Press (copied it from the caption with the other names). What a brawl that would be!
Probably the most representative episode from this batch of Arthur's sometimes oddly psychedelic nature was That's a Baby Show. The general discussional topic it provoked was "What exactly is it that some of the people working on this show are taking?" I know what gives me that kind of a kiddie perspective: Jellyfish. Yes, the Radiate Ones bestow this sight upon me.That's a Baby Show appeared, in subtle ways, to be about Teletubbies, but there was more. The regular show which Arthur and his friends watch is Bionic Bunny. In this episode there was a Dark Knight spin-off version, a darker/scarier version: Dark Bunny. (They are good about trends with this show. For instance the kids were hooked on Scare Your Pants Off club books at the same time Goosebumps' was popular. Then when Animorphs took over they decided Vegemorphs make Scare Your Pants Off books look like baby stuff. Of course you're about to read how they really feel about baby stuff, though!) After hearing Buster and Francine talking about it, Arthur decides he needs to see it. Sadly, he has to wait for DW to finish watching Mary Moo-Cow. After it comes "the babiest of baby-shows", the Love Ducks, which is even too baby-oriented for DW. She doesn't want him to watch Dark Bunny, though, because shows like that scare her. He starts carrying on about how formulaic Mary Moo-Cow is, you always learn the same things watching it a.l.a "2+3=5" or "blue and yellow make green". She refers his show as "Bubonic Bunny" is equally formulaic: "bad guy comes and causes trouble, Bubonic Bunny gets in fight with bad guy, bad guy loses, the end". Can't argue with that logic. ;) Arthur convinces her to leave the room so she won't have to be scared by Dark Bunny.
But instead of switching the channel, he gets sucked in by Love Ducks. The show is thoroughly psychedelic: rubber-looking ducks swimming through colourful psychedelic patterns and quacking operas or classical tunes. He is immediately hooked by its weirdness, but he's also thoroughly embarrassed and tries to hide it. This takes much lying, to prevent his friends from discovering that he isn't watching Dark Bunny instead. He even tries to sneakingly buy the CD (he does buy it, but loses the sneaking factor when the cashier asks over the intercom if they have a copy in stock for him).Before long Arthur is caught when Francine and Buster stop by to drop off a book he forgot (he needs to rush home from school to see his show). Naturally Francine blabs to everyone in school and he is tormented en masse... he can't go anywhere without kids walking up quacking behind him. But as he's walking home with Buster, claiming he'll need to change schools just like every other time he's suffered a mass embarrassment, Buster notices the TV stacks in a shop window and is sucked in by the psychedelic weirdness on their screens. It's Love Ducks, of course, so they go inside to watch it. Buster buys the CD as well.
The next day when the fun-making starts up, Buster asserts that Love Ducks is a cool show and droolingly declares "It is the single weirdest thing I ever saw!" Turns out, then, that pretty much all of the kids, Francine included, also have a bit of a Love Ducks habit so they all begin watching it together.
Hey, I wish I could watch Final Witness. =)
Another good season for Arthur. I'll be looking forward to the next new batch!
Note: check the show's episode on the official ABC website
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