Arthur's (Im)Perfect Christmas
Now, don't go confusing that with Arthur's Imp Perfect Christmas, my hypothetical Arthur-Game of Thrones crossover Christmas special. But oh man, that thing is a doozy...! Let's just say that Derpnaerys Snoregaryen dies a highly embarassing death by waterbed about five minutes into it, and it only gets better from there. I mean, Stannis Baratheon, the Rightful King of Christmas, singing "Sleigh Ride" as a duet with Karen Carpenter, anyone? Ahhh, good times... ...Oh yeah, well, anyway. Arthur's Perfect Christmas carries its imperfections on its sleeve, and is all the better for it. It plays like an extended episode of the show, really. It's got a good main message about how "the perfect Christmas" tends to happen no matter what kind of complications and/or wacky hijinx try to derail your "ideal" celebration, just as long as you get to celebrate it with the people you love. That's an anvil what can't be dropped too often, (god rest ye, merry) gentlemen. The subplots include Muffy acting a bit of a selfish cunt (No, really?!?) about Francine's iron-clad decision to forego Muffy's lavish, overblown "I'm the princess of Christmas! Grovel before my surgically removed buck teeth!" Christmas party to celebrate Chanukah with her family. There's even some stuff about Brain celebrating Kwanzaa and George engaging in traditional Swedish festitivies, too! That's about 100% more multiculturalism than you'd expect from your average animated Christmas special. The special's most effective moment is Buster's plotline, in which he foregoes the usual Christmas festivities (which is stressing both him and his hot mom out) so they can just do whatever they want to, the two of 'em. Tears of heartwarming Christmas goodness were shed. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted my mum to have a "Baxter Day" Christmas. One of these years, maybe. Big ups to Binky for providing the best laughs in the form of his Cordon Bleugh Chef running gag! This special isn't anything exceptional, but it is pure Arthur. And better yet, it spawned an album of the same name that's made its way into the merry company of my Christmas playlist. My girl Fern embracing her inner Joan Jett for her version of "Silent Night"... Oh yeahhhhhh. May your days be schmerfect, and may all your Christmases be imperfectly perfect.
Used to be great.
When I was a elementary school kid, Arthur was my favourite cartoon, after the demise of Rugrats. I used to watch it religiously - in the morning before I went to school, and noontime immediately after. Unfortunately, the show stopped being fantastic when the Flash animation kicked in, around season 12 or so. It's not just merely the animation quality that has taken a dip - the writing's become worse, too. I think it's because all the available plots have been exhausted - much like The Simpsons, they've done pretty much every plot under the Sun. And since the characters have to be nice to each other 98.9% of the time (it's a PBS show, after all), there's less potential for conflict. It's a shame too, 'cause when this show was good, it was GOOD. Funny without being vulgar, dramatic without being a melodrama, great moral messages for children without being preachy (well, most of the time). The references to things like South Park (yes, seriously), and continuity between certain episodes and elements (like D.W.'s infamous snowball) kept teen and adult viewers, as well. Now the show has become a shell of itself. If I were more of a drama queen, I'd call it tragic. Overall score: 7.5/10.
My report on Elwood City (It was founded in Something-03)
Okay, I'll admit it; as a kid, Arthur wasn't my bag. I was too busy wasting my time on trashy nonsense like re-runs of Biker Mice from Mars, Bonkers, or Spaced Out, or something. It was just a thing that was on in the background when I was playing Game Boy while waiting for something that interested me. Oy vey, young me... you sure turned out alright despite the odds! But hey (HEY!), you know... years later, that little bespectacled aardvark just popped into my head out of nowhere... something about it must have stuck with me. (...It was probably the theme song.) Anyhoo, I seemed to remember an episode about some trippy duck show, and decided to look it up on YouTube... and I saw the light. True, Arthur may not be the funniest, the most poignant, or hey (HEY!), even necessarily the most entertaining show out there... but it doesn't have to be. What Arthur does best is really capturing the seldom-seen world of children like nothing else I've ever experienced. Boasting perhaps the single greatest cast in all of serialized animation, they are none of them archetypes beyond the most superficial glance (and depending on the writer, natch) and all have their good and bad qualities. You might not always learn something from an episode, but the true joy of Arthur is just seeing how these characters respond to the situations they're put in. They just really make you care about those guys. These days, people seem to give Arthur an overly hard time because of certain (not entirely unfounded) quality issues, but it's not like it's that bad. Show's the same as it's been for a rough decade now, too... which is to say, not as good as in early times, but still more than worth a watch. It's maintained its quality better than The Simpsons have over time, I'll tell you that much (I keep hoping for them to just plain cancel it so that Arthur may claim the title of longest-running animated series, but second place ain't bad). But hey (HEY!), there's just something about a show where people's default expressions is a smile. No matter how the world may change and life may seem harsh sometimes, it's good to know you can always go to Elwood City for a while and forget your troubles. As long as Arthur is around, humanity's got a chance yet.
Realistic depiction of how a child's mind works
I'm just going to talk about what I love most about this show, and that is how it portrays the inner minds of the child characters. Their Imagine Spots, often in the form of flash forwards, are startlingly accurate to how children think the world works. Arthur, in his anxiety over messing up a school performance of a piano piece, envisions a flash forward in which he is a homeless beggar, whom no one will hire because of that one error, while his sister DW has become famous as the "Hiccup Kid", for having constant hiccups. On discovering Mr. Ratburn has a sister, the kids imagine her to be just as much of a taskmaster as he is. They picture Mr. Ratburn and his sister eating cereal composed of nuts and bolts for breakfast, just to showcase how cartoonishly evil they're supposed to be. Not only this, but the two Ratburns are envisioned to have a bit of a pissing match over who's the biggest hardass, by boasting how they eat their nuts and bolts without milk, or offering to eat the other's errant screw. When about to win a game show, Arthur wonders what will happen if he keeps winning, and imagines himself still playing it when he's old and grey and too senile to even remember the question. Wanting a particular musician to come visit their library, while DW wants a violinist to visit instead, Arthur and co. picture the two musicians having a musical wrestling match — in a ring and everything — wherein they turn props into instruments and try to sabotage the other's playing ability. DW in one episode pictures herself living in the ceiling above the grocery store, being "The Phantom of the Store" who rappels down to steal food and then disappears, always evading capture. Obviously, the real world does not work this way at all — but young children chronically imagine that it does. I simply love that Arthur gets childlike imagination right, especially considering how often Imagine Spots can crop up just in a single episode.
Great show for Families and Kids
Believe it or not, Arthur is a hit Canadian-American cartoon show for not only showing realism but also included slice-of-life issues that has happened for real from Bullying to School Fire. It's interesting to watch as these types of problems as they may remind you of them and learn from it as well. While the show is popular, the show's crew also added guest stars who are real life celebrities like Lance Armstrong, Yo-Yo Ma, Michelle Kwan, even the Backstreet Boys. Yes, this long-running show with loads and loads of characters is the best show for families and kids.