The ContestEdit

===Episode #404===

"The Contest" / "Prove It!"

Synopsis, drawings (I must be the only guy around without a video capture card... good thing I can draw.) by Dave...

Comments by Dave and KorraIsBack-- sorry to Mobo for taking so long to get your comments on-line...

This is probably one of the more popular episodes among viewers.

All of the different entries to "The Contest" are done in different cartoon styles -- "South Park", "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Dr. Katz" just to name a few. Even Arthur itself gets parodied in this episode.


Francine, Muffy, Binky, Brain, and Arthur are all lying on the ground under some trees in a circle with their heads near each other like a sunburst -- this is the typical sad thinking position -- see #12802 - "The Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club"

Francine says this is the boringest day ever.

Francine: Too bad this isn't TV.

Why's that?

Francine: Then I could change the channel.

Everyone's very, very bored. But where's Buster?

As if Buster could be counted on to solve their problem.

Binky: I bet that rat's doing something cool without us.

Everyone gets up and starts they start scouring the field looking for Buster. Francine spots him.

Francine: Oh my gosh.

Muffy: Look! Francine found something.

Everyone gathers around Francine so they can see what she's seeing. Buster's sitting under a tree in a nearby clearing. His friends are shocked, and all of them stand where they are, motionless, staring at him.

Francine: Oh my gosh. Is he doing what I think he's doing?

Arthur: Maybe we should call the nurse?

Buster's furiously writing stuff down on a wad of paper. Buster's friends go over to see what he's doing. Could Buster be doing homework? It's unbelievable!

Buster: No no, it's not homework!

It's the contest in TV Schedule Magazine.Buster holds up a copy of the magazine. There's a contest in the magazine where kids can send in ideas for an episode of the "Andy and Company Show". The winning entry will get made into an episode!

Buster looks at his watch.

Buster: Oh no! it's starting now.

  • The Contest * * *

Everyone's sitting together watching the "Andy and Company Show" on television.

We see the show.

It's a thinly disguised simplified version of ARTHUR!

The characters are all distorted versions of Arthur drawn in thick black lines, like "Dexter's Laboratory" or perhaps "Daria". All of the characters have distorted long thin heads like sausages. Andy writes at a desk, while his younger sister, wearing a Groucho Marx nose and glasses bounces around on a pogo-stick annoying him. Andy yells for his Mom. Arthur and his friends start making comments about the show.

Muffy: Why does he always call for his mother? She's like a slave!

Buster: Shhh... TV.

Brain: If they're animals, wouldn't their school cafeteria serve bugs and garbage?

Francine: If he's a mouse, wouldn't his dog eat him?

I'd like to know how a mouse has a pet dog. Arthur says that Andy's not a mouse...

Arthur: He's a (thinks for a second)...something. I forget...

:) Hehehe --The question of what kind of animal Arthur is the top question in the FAQ on PBS's Arthur website. I've heard the comment about a mouse having a pet dog made about Mickey Mouse too.

The fact that Arthur and his friends feel the urge to discuss the "Andy" show shows that a website devoted to discussing episodes of Arthur might not be so off-the-wall after all. :) Does that come as a relief to me, you might ask. Perhaps... :)

The credits scroll past at high speed, and a voiceover announces the contest as the members of Andy and Company wave goodbye to you. Besides Andy and his sister, there's Brain and Buster with long distorted heads.

The credits are way too small (on my TV anyway) to make out, but it's a good bet they're actual credits -- possibly the same ones as used when we see the credits for "Mary Moo Cow" in #41002 - "That's a Baby Show" a few episodes later.

Then there contest is mentioned.

TV Voiceover: We'll anounce the winner right on our show it could be you.

Buster's writen an entry -- the winner could be him... Buster and the gang all head over to The Sugar Bowl so he can read his entry to them before he mails it in.

We're at The Sugar Bowl. Everyone's sitting at one of the booths looking at menus and ready to hear Buster's great story. Buster begins by explaining the idea that got him started. Buster says that as the announcer said, "it could be you" -- so Buster's story is all about him and his friends.

Buster: It's a story about us.

Buster tells his story.

"The Day the Earth was Saved"

Buster's story is depicted in a neat "South Park"-type style. The background is snow-capped mountains, like in South Park, and all the characters are short, squat, and look like the cut-out style of animation used in South Park. This and all the subsequent stories are all done in different animation styles, parodying lots of different cartoons.

Buster's standing on top of a hill, trying to convince aliens to visit. Buster shouts hello a couple of times, but no aliens are landing today.

Buster: Hey, I'm talking to you.

Buster's friends (Arthur, Francine, and Brain) are standing nearby watching Buster shouting into the sky. They're not impressed.

Buster: They've gotta come sometime. Hello, hello up there?

Francine: I'm outta here.

Francine, Arthur, and Brain begin to shuffle off -- the way South Park people move. As they're leaving, a large flying saucer appears above Buster and hovers over his head.

Buster: Arthur, Hey look, they're here. Land here, hurry!

The alien spacecraft lands. It comes straight down and crushes Buster.


Francine: Hey, you squished Buster!

Francine, Brain, and Arthur dash over to the flying saucer. Suddenly, Arthur's transported inside with the use of a tractor beam.

Arthur: Hey, let go!

Inside the spaceship, there are two typical aliens -- green, big eyes (the eyes are long horizontal narrow ovals -- so long that they extend past the sides of their heads) Arthur is lying on a large plate, surrounded by parsley as a garnish.

The aliens zap Arthur's clothes off, so he's just wearing his underwear.

Arthur: Hey you're not going to eat me.

One of the aliens has a handheld scanner with an antenna and a gauge on the front of it. It is pointed at Arthur, and the needle on the gauge rises. The aliens aren't pleased with this. Arthur (reclothed) is expelled out of the roof of the spaceship. Then the spaceship flies off, having abandoned any plans of eating Arthur.

Arthur hits the ground.

Arthur: Oof!

Arthur's remaining friends (Buster having been squashed.) gather around him. Arthur's puzzled. Or perhaps disappointed is more like it.

Arthur: What the...?

Brain: It would appear that you were too high in cholestorol. These aliens, although evil, must be health conscious.

Arthur doesn't look pleased. However, the aliens have left. Which is good, if they were evil aliens.

Everyone: The Earth is saved!

The End.

I remember reading in Dejanews in a South Park newsgroup that several SP fans were concerned that South Park had become too mainstream, as evidenced by the fact that Arthur, of all shows, did a parody of it. :)

All of Buster's friends think Buster's story is good, apart from Arthur, who's miffed that the aliens in Buster's story chose not to eat him! Now they'd all like to try their hand at winning that contest. Buster tells them that the deadline is tomorrow.

They'll have to hurry.

The plan is that they'll all write their entries to the contest that night, and they'll meet up tomorrow at The Sugar Bowl to read them to each other before mailng them in. Everyone has great ideas about stories involving all of them. They're all talking about them as they leave The Sugar Bowl. Arthur continues to mutter about the injustice of not being eaten in the story, a little too loudly.

Arthur: I'm just as edible as anybody!Methinks he doth protest too much -- Everyone looks at Arthur strangely, like he's some sort of freak.

Arthur says that what he means is that he's going to write a story too. Heh heh?

In the dining room at home, Arthur is trying to come up with an idea of what to write about. But what he's really thinking about is getting to meet Andy in person.

Arthur imagines shaking Andy's hand in a thought bubble. Andy tells Arthur that he's really cool.

Andy: Do you wanna hang out with us and be our friend?

While Arthur's miles away, D.W. is sneaking around the dining room undetected with a toy periscope. She uses this to peep over the top of the table from underneath. She spots a plateful of cookies, and reaches up to grab some.

Arthur comes back to reality as he sees D.W. grab the cookies.

Arthur: Mom...

Arthur stops. That gives him an idea. He starts to write.

Arthur IS an awful lot like Andy, always calling for Mom at the least thing, eh? D.W. makes light of the fact that Arthur DOES have a tendancy to do this in #40601 - "D.W. Tale Spins". Maybe Arthur's realized how much like Andy he really is, and that's what he's writing about.

It's the next day, and everyone's back together at The Sugar Bowl to read their stories to each other.

Muffy goes first.

"My Life as a TV Show" by Muffy Crosswire

We're outside the auditorium at a high school. Coming from inside are the syncopated "clunk clunk clunk" beats of some industrial music. We go inside, and there's a large stage set up with a catwalk in front. Gathered around this is a large audience. On the stage is an outer space set, with rockets, planets, etc.

P.A. Announcer: ...and now the new fall fashions.

In the front row of the audience sit Arthur and Buster, or what they'd look like if they were Beavis and Butthead.

Muffy is the first model to walk out onto the catwalk to show off her new designer outfit. She's wearing an outfit that makes her look like she's a teletubby, right down to the funny antenna on her head. Buster and Arthur don't think much of Muffy's outfit, and comment on it, loud enough for her to hear.

Bust-head: (sneering Butthead-type voice) Hey look, it's the fifth teletubby!

Bea-Arthur and Bust-head: Heh heh heh!

Muffy does her little strut on the catwalk, having had heard their comments, and returns backstage. Next up is D.W. in platform heels, a cowboy outfit, and a big cowboy hat, all of it covered with lots of rhinestones.

Bust-head likes D.W.'s outfit a lot better than Muffy's.

Bust-head: Wow. Look at that.

Backstage, Muffy's heard what Bust-head said, and she's not happy with the thought of D.W. beating her in the fashion show. She mutters to herself that it's time for "Plan B"...


Arthur and Buster is Beavis & ButtHead Of MTV.

Note Arthur's AB CD shirt, which manages to tie education and heavymetal music together., and the mildly shocking slogan on Buster's shirt...

Muffy's story is interrupted by Francine, who wants to know what "Plan B" is.

Muffy: Stinkbomb.

Francine: That's totally you.

Muffy: I AM a jealous person.

Brain has to say something. He says that Muffy can't go writing a story where the kids go out and get vengeance -- it sends the wrong subject. If kids saw that on TV, they might get the idea to go send an evil robot out after someone if something didn't go their way!

Francine: What kind of kid has an evil robot at home?

Brain tugs on his collar and looks away, and whistles. Then Brain changes the subject. He says he's got a story which is "exciting but won't give kids bad messages".

Brain's story is drawn in a style similar to that of Dexter's Laboratory. Brain, (looking and vaguely sounding very much like Dexter) is unveiling his latest invention to his friends (Binky, Francine, and Muffy, all depicted in Dexter's Laboratory-style... (Muffy and Francine are tall and thin and have long limbs like Dexter's sister Deedee) in his sprawling laboratory.

The Brain, however, roled as the enigmatic Dexter that referenced to Amon...

Note how Dexter-Brain has only four digits on each hand,unlike "real life" on Arthur where everyone's got the correct number.

Brain's invention is a new hair-growth formula. It can grow hair on anything. To demonstrate, Dexter-Brain runs over to a bowling ball, and sprinkles a drop of the formula on it. It grows hair instantly.

Dexter-Brain says he discovered it while trying to come up with a new kind of cherry soda. He shows his audience his hairy tongue. Gross!

Dexter-Brain puts a bit of the formula onto a carrot on a plate. It sprouts hair, and now it's a hairy carrot.

Binky asks what good is a hairy carrot?

Dexter-Brain has the answer -- to go with hairy fish! He pulls out a hairy fish on another plate, and his friends all make "bleah" sounds and faces. Disgusting!

Dexter-Brain's friends all run off, probably to be sick.

Dexter-Brain mutters that like all great inventors, his work is not appreciated. Now he's in a mood, and wants to work on his inventions in peace.

Just then, Arthur comes running in. He picks up the flask of hair growth formula.

Arthur: Hey Brain. Sorry I'm late. Is this your new invention?

Dexter-Brain doesn't want to be bothered now, and mutters that it is.

Thinking that Arthur won't be interested, and will go away to leave him in peace to sulk, Dexter-Brain doesn't tell him the true nature of the invention.

Dexter-Brain: Yes... it's a new type of... deodorant...

Dexter-Brain is too busy messing with his work to see what Arthur does -- thinking it's deodorant, Arthur takes the flask of hair growth formula and pours it all over himself.

Arthur: That's good. I ran all the way here and I stink!

Dexter-Brain: No! Stop!

Arthur turns into something resembling a dustmop with glasses. He doesn't realize what's happened.

Arthur: This new perfume of yours smells awful.

Arthur looks in a mirror.

Arthur: Hey, nice couch.

Then he realizes he's not looking at a couch, he's looking at himself!

Arthur: Ahhh!

Brain, narrating his story then says that Arthur then runs off to the woods because he doesn't want anyone to how he now looks. Arthur meetsup with Bigfoot, who looks exactly like Arthur, except Bigfoot also has big feet... (and doesn't have glasses...)

Arthur: Hair-growth formula?

Bigfoot replied...

Brain says to his friends in The Sugar Bowl that his story is good because it "not only entertains", but it's educational --

Brain: It shows how myths get started.

Reaction to Brain's "educational" show is mixed. Binky likes it. But then pauses a second to think.

Binky: What did I just learn again?

Francine thinks Brain's story is dumb. She says that she and Binky have come up with a much better one. Francine came up with the idea, and Binky went to the library to research the details.

"The Amazing Fight"

Arthur is in a wrestling ring with Hulk Hogan in a large arena. Everything has black shadows on it, like an episode of "Batman: The Animated Series". Hulk Hogan's growling at Arthur. Arthur's making a face back at him.

Then Arthur stomps his foot. Hulk Hogan screams like a little girl and runs out of the ring.

Then an announcer says that Arthur's next opponents are the following greats... and spotlights come on showing the following athletes:

  • John L. Sullivan,
  • Floyd Patterson,
  • Barney Ross,
  • and United Press International...

United Press International... ????


The newspaper reporters and cameramen of "United Press International" aren't athletes! This is pointed out to Francine, who looks to Binky.

Binky apologizes... while researching he must have copied that from under one of the the pictures without thinking -- he says he must have been on "cruise control"... :)

Buster says that maybe a cameraman got into the ring trying to get a good photo?

Francine likes this idea -- that could work.

Brain, probably still sore at the fact Francine didn't like his story says that he doesn't think they should show hitting on a kids show. Francine retorts back that she doesn't think they should show hair growth formula on a kids show!

Arthur says they should listen to his story, which has "conflict and drama, but no hitting".

Arthur's story is done in the style of the Dr. Katz cartoon. Everything is in black and white, except for the main characters who are in color, and everything is squiggly, the way everything is on Dr. Katz -- a technique called "Squigglevision".

I've never seen Dr. Katz, but I've heard of it enough to realize it's what's being parodied in Arthur's story.

Arthur's story takes place 10 years from now, when Arthur's 18, and an adult.

Arthur is lying on a couch talking to his psychiatrist, who looks like Dr. Katz.

Psychiatrist: Arthur,you seem troubled, what is it.

Arthur: The usual thing.

Psychiatrist: The sister?

Arthur: The sister.

Arthur begins to explain the latest hassle in his life. Since Arthur's now an adult, he's just bought his own house.

Arthur: My life is like, busy, so last week I have D.W. pick up my car while I get the new house.

D.W.'s grown up too. Did she get Arthur the car he asked her to get?

D.W.: Your car was just blah...

D.W. says she traded it in for something "much nicer". D.W. traded in Arthur's car for what looks like a Citroen 2CV with a giant fiberglass pony grafted to the front and back! It's horrible.

Arthur's expecting his friends to tell him how much they love his story, but everyone is too busy thinking of something else -- everyone has thought bubbles over their heads depicting Andy giving them a large trophy!

The "large trophy" also appears on the "TV Schedule" magazine featuring Andy on the cover. It's supposed to resemble an Emmy, an award that is given in the U.S. each year to the outstanding TV shows in various categories. "Arthur"'s won a few Emmys. (That's another similarity to Arthur and Andy -- both shows won Emmies!)

Thanks Amazing_asami. Actually, I kind of suspected that was an Emmy being awarded, after having seen this photo in the National Post newspaper a few months back:


You might be wondering who the people are in this photo... From left to right we have:

Arthur... that one was easy. :)

  • Hasanain Panju was one of the vice-presidents of Cinar. He was let go by Cinar in March 2000 for allegedly making unapproved investments to the tune of $122 million (US) in offshore investments without the knowledge of shareholders.

Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg are the husband and wife team who founded Cinar. They were fired on August 17, 2000 -- Allegedly, they're in deep trouble for a range of bad decisions ranging from possibly stealing the concept of a cartoon to using company funds to pay for an expensive nanny to tax fraud involving claiming that American writers were Canadian, including making up fake names.

  • Kinda off-topic, I know... back to the review of this episode... :)

Everyone starts arguing over who has the best entry. Everyone thinks they're going to win.

Muffy: Mine was the most dramatic.Brain, ever the rational thinker, makes a good point which stops the arguing.

Brain: Wait! Wait! We don't have to decide! TV will decide for us!Buster: Ahh.. TV. It knows everything...

  • * *

Everyone has their hand in the postbox so that they can all drop their entries in at the same time, so that nobody has an advantage.

Everybody: 1,2,3, Go!The envelopes containing the entries all flutter down inside the mailbox.

Now all they have to do is wait to find out who wins. But how long is that?

  • * *

"Five Years Later"

Muffy's voice doing voiceover: Five years later.Everyone's sprawled out in front of the TV, because today is the day they're finally going to announce the winner of the episode writing contest. The thing is though that everyone's aged five years... Arthur and his friends are all teenagers now.

A few pictures of Arthur's teenage buddies: Finally, these pictures have a place to go in a review, and don't have to clutter up the Season Four Index anymore. I drew Muffy, Francine, and Buster because they look really different; Arthur, Brain, and Binky look pretty much the same as they did at 8, except they're taller. Oh, and Binky has a pair of sunglasses. :)
13fran 13bust 13muff
Francine: Note that Francine and Muffy don't look as much like each other as they did 5 years ago. Buster: Buster's head got more elongated. And like Muffy, he's taken to wearing a coat indoors. Muffy: For some reason, Muffy's wearing a ski jacket inside. She also has a bit of a receding hairline; bad news if you're only 13.

The announcer says that the winner of the contest is...

Buster: At last!

Francine: He'd better pronounce my name right...

Everyone is eagerly awaiting the winner's name. The winner of the contest...



Huh? Who's that?

Muffy: Holly Holland? That's not one of us.

Brain: (pondering) She must be related to someone.

This is an outrage. Surely one of their stories should have won? Surely?

Muffy: My idea is better than anything Holly Holland came up with.

Mufffy's asked what her idea was...

Muffy: (indignant) I don't know. But it was better than anything Holly Holland came up with.

The television's shut off, and dejectedly Arthur and his friends head outside into the great wide open. It would seem that their lives have no meaning now -- and again, they've got nothing to do. What can they do now for fun?

Francine: (still grumbling) Why don't we call Holly Holland? I hear she has good ideas...

Everyone's glum. Then Arthur suddenly has a brainwave.

Arthur: Let's come up with more stories!

Binky: Without a contest?

Arthur says they don't need a contest -- they can write stories about all the things that happened to them. It will be fun to remember all the neat stuff that happened to them.

Francine: Nothing's ever happened to us.

No, that's not true. Arthur starts to remember, and as he starts to come up with memories as the group walk off into the sunset, they all start to join in with things they remember...

  • When they first encountered Mr. Ratburn, they thought he was a monster... (Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn)
  • There was the time Buster moved away, and then came back.
  • Remember when Francine taught Arthur how to play baseball?

Lots of great stuff happened to them. Everyone's feeling better already.

  • * * Epilogue... * * *

We're backstage on the Arthur "set". Arthur's up close to the camera. Arthur says hi -- there was a contest for writing an episode of Arthur in TV Guide -- and this is the episode that came from that contest.

Binky comes down from the ceiling in a movable camera platform. He says that they want to thank everyone who sent in entries.

On the set, which is the living room with the TV in it, Francine, Muffy, Buster and Brain thank the winners who sent in the different story ideas that were used in the story...

Arthur's friends then say who came up with their idea, and the city they're from... ending with Holly Holland of Canadian, Oklahoma, who came up with the idea for an episode about a contest.

Then Arthur's gang start arguing over who had the best story. Muffy still insists hers was the best.

Francine: You didn't even write it!

Muffy: It was the performance.

Everyone starts arguing.

Uo close to the camera, away from his arguing buddies, Arthur knows this isn't going to end soon -- his friends like to argue as much off-camera as on-camera apparently... :) Arthur waves to us.

Arthur: See ya later!



I don't know much about the actual contest that lead to these entries being sent in, but I hope it didn't take five years for the real contest to get from entries to finished product -- in real life, a five year wait would be fatal for a kid's show, as most of your entrants wouldn't be watching the same shows five years on... Arthur's gang go from 8 to 13... their ages almost double... I think it's a safe bet to say that during this time, a kid's interests are going to change a lot. (Of course, since this is only season 4, there couldn't have been a five year gap... Arthur wasn't around that long ago.) :)

Actually, it wasn't that long. The contest was announced in a (US) TV Guide with Arthur on the cover. I believe it was printed in either 1996 or 1997, I'm betting 1997. My grandfather has a collection of TV Guide covers from 1991-present, I'll check them later.

Here's a final downer thought -- the fact that it sounds like Arthur's gang go into a sharp decline in terms of doing memorable things for the five years after entering the contest... (i.e. not only do they still have nothing to do five years on, but all of their memories are from 5 years back) is frankly, just gosh-darn depressing... These kids are only 13, and they're already thinking back to the good old days of their youth...

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