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Arthur's Perfect Christmas
"This Christmas, I suspect, will be perfect in all respects. This Christmas will be the best Christmas yet!"
— The final lines of the theme song.
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It's time for Christmas, and Arthur wants everything to be perfect. Unfortunately, nothing is going right! Buster keeps getting woken up too early by his nervous mother, Francine is trying to tell Muffy that she can't attend the latter's holiday party on the first night of Hanukkah, and D.W. is obsessed with getting a Tina the Talking Tabby doll. Can Arthur at least receive a semblance of sanity in time for Christmas morning?

Not to be confused with the similarly titled Arthur Christmas.

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Tropes for this episode include:

  • Absentee Actor: Fern, Prunella, and Sue Ellen have no dialogue in the special whatsoever, though Sue Ellen and Fern are both seen briefly in Mr. Ratburn's class and both Fern and Prunella are present at Muffy's Christmas party. Fern also appears on the supplementary Arthur's Perfect Christmas music album, singing a punk rock version of "Silent Night."
  • An Aesop: Most of the special revolves around the cast learning to take things regarding Christmas in stride and to not allow their high expectations to ruin the holiday for them. Arthur eventually admits that his Christmas was perfect the way it was even without a traditional dinner, tree, or gifts. Muffy learns to accept that Francine doesn’t have the same traditions as she does and is able to enjoy her own time with her. Bitzi is able to realize her son just wants to enjoy Christmas with her and doesn’t need a huge, fancy day. As Uncle Fred tells Arthur near the end, "you don't always get what you want in life. Sometimes, you get something better."
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  • Arc Words: "A perfect Christmas."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Uncle Fred becomes one to Arthur when he decides to use his tea set gift under Arthur's name.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Before releasing Arthur's class for the holidays, Mr. Ratburn says that they have to address the issue of homework. He elicits a cheer with his statement that he's decided not to assign them any reading, then says that he's assigning them a five-page essay about what they did over the holidays. Arthur grumbles to Buster that he knew it was too good to be true.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The prayer Francine and her family sing when lighting the menorah is the traditional Jewish blessing for lighting menorahs in Hebrew:
    Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. translation  Amen.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While Arthur breaks the glass swan, Uncle Fred gives him the tea set to present to his mother instead, and Jane is happy. D.W. doesn't get Tina the Talking Tabby but is satisfied with her duck. Meanwhile, Buster and his mother celebrate a low-key Christmas while Francine and Muffy have a great time at the movies. Binky doesn't learn to cook but he finds another solution.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Buster likes the lutefisk, Binky's failed attempts at dessert, and the parsley at La Bruncherie...asking for a full plate of the latter.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When D.W. sees that her last Christmas present is Quackers, a talking duck doll, instead of the Tina the Talking Tabby doll she wanted, her mother can sense the disappointment in her voice and asks her, "Are you upset?" D.W. says in a mopey voice, "No." Then just a couple seconds later, tears well up in her eyes, and she starts throwing a huge tantrum on how she wanted Tina, complete with Inelegant Blubbering.
    • The salesman at the kitchen supply store says the olive de-pitter has been selling like hotcakes...as he blows the dust off one.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: D.W. of course, perhaps more than usual. She keeps bugging Arthur and her parents about wanting Tina the Talking Tabby for Christmas, and keeps accusing Arthur of having written her letter to Santa all wrong despite him saying he didn't. On Christmas morning she's the first one up and wakes up everyone else by running throughout the house yelling that it's Christmas. She opens the bathroom door on Arthur using the toilet (she thought Santa was in there). And to top it all off, there's her Caillou-esque temper tantrum among seeing she did not get Tina the Talking Tabby for Christmas that's so loud it can be heard outside, and she is not punished for her actions.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Binky randomly shows up in Arthur’s final Imagine Spot to taunt him, and Arthur calls him out for it, saying he’s not supposed to be in this fantasy sequence.
  • Brick Joke: When Arthur is Christmas shopping, he sees an advertisement for the "Veginator" cooking device and wants to buy one for his dad, only to find out they are sold out. Later on Christmas morning, we see that the dad had gotten three Veginators as presents.
  • Broken Treasure: Arthur tries to replace a glass swan statue that he broke by accident; his replacement breaks thanks to bad luck and he ends up in Heroic BSoD over having nothing to give to his mother. Uncle Fred gets a new tea set for Jane to replace the one he broke last Christmas, which he uses Arthur's gift tag on so he has a present for her.
  • BSoD Song: "What's the Use of Presents?", as Muffy laments she doesn't have anyone to share her presents with after getting in a falling-out with Francine.
  • Butt-Monkey: The waiter at the fancy restaurant keeps suffering Buster causing his food to splatter everywhere.
  • Call-Back: When Arthur finally decides he's heard enough of the Tina radio jingle, he begs his mom to put on something else...and she proceeds to pop in the "Crazy Bus" tape. Arthur is less than amused.
  • Chez Restaurant: La Bruncherie, labeled as "A Fancy Place for Brunch," is where Bitzi and Buster Baxter go for Christmas brunch after Bitzi burns her pancakes. Buster isn't very impressed except for the food.
  • Christmas Special: This special is still part of Arthur, but not in a specific season, and it's longer than a normal episode. That said, it can be treated as the Season 5 finale since it was produced by the same staff (and is the last episode to feature Michael Yarmush as Arthur) and aired between it and Season 6.
  • Cool Uncle: Uncle Fred realizes something must be wrong if Arthur vanished upstairs on Christmas morning. He goes up, sees Arthur crying on his bed with a broken present, and comforts him. The first thing Uncle Fred does is examine if the bird can be fixed. Then he gets Arthur away from the glass shards, "borrows" the gift tag and presents his present as Arthur's to Jane. Arthur thanks him, and Uncle Fred sincerely says that his gift to his sister is better coming from Arthur.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Arthur's dad, as usual; he decides to make a dinner more closely rooted in the real Christmas in Jerusalem rather than go for a turkey. Much to Arthur's surprise, everything is delicious and he asks for seconds.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: When the radio first plays the Tina the Talking Tabby song and Arthur tries to change the station, D.W. promptly stops him.
    D.W.: Don't even think about touching that dial!
  • Door-Closes Ending: The special ends with Arthur wishing the viewers Happy Holidays, before getting irked by D.W.'s duck again as he closes the door.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Averted once and played straight once. When Arthur's gift for his mother goes flying the first time, he barely catches it. The second time, it falls into a dog bed...then falls out and breaks.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: One of the things Arthur wants in his ideal perfect Christmas is snow, but so far there isn't any. On Christmas Eve, just as he and D.W. are outside leaving a bucket of water for Santa's reindeer, a single snowflake comes down, getting Arthur's hopes up, but instead it starts to rain hard. Then at the end of the special, on Christmas night, it finally does snow, but Arthur doesn't mind very much, as he still thinks it's a great way to end a great Christmas.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Both Uncle Fred and Grandpa Dave have this problem. Jane has the grace to laugh about it.
  • Ear Worm: Arthur hates that the Tina the Talking Tabby Jingle is constantly playing. He can't get it out of his head and it gives him a headache.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Francine's grandmother makes her first appearance here, but is not voiced by Joan Rivers.
  • Easily Forgiven: Francine and Muffy quickly forgive each other for their respective holidays' importances.
  • Encouraged Regifting: Arthur wants to get his mom a glass bird to replace one he broke. Unfortunately, he breaks the new one the day of Christmas. He starts crying, thinking he's ruined Christmas but is comforted by his uncle Fred. Fred decides to take the gift tag from Arthur's present and put it on the gift he was planning on giving Arthur's mom, so that Arthur will have something to give his mother.
  • End of an Era: This special effectively serves as the finale for classic Arthur. Not only is this the final episode where the majority of the original staff was involved, and it's also the last one to feature the older color palettes (though the show was always digitally colored, some have mistaken the older color palette seasons for hand-painted cel animation) and the last to star Michael Yarmush as Arthur.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Buster falling asleep in the cake at Muffy's party after one too many early Christmases with his mother is what gives Brain the idea for Buster to come up with a new holiday to stop her obsessions and keep her busy.
  • Exact Words: During a car ride when the Tina the Talking Tabby jingle is driving Arthur crazy again, he begs his mom to put on something different. She "remedies" the situation by putting on Crazy Bus instead, which needless to say does not relieve Arthur.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Buster gets a bad case of these due to his mother Bitzi waking him up repeatedly very early in the morning, mistakenly believing it to be Christmas.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: With the exception of the opening scene, the special is set over the course of three whole days.
  • Faceplanting into Food: Buster's subplot throughout the movie involves his very-stressed single mother constantly waking him up early every morning thinking it's Christmas. This leads him to fall asleep in his food a few times, including the cake at Muffy's party. This is the thing that gets Brain to suggest he and his mom not celebrate Christmas.
  • Fake Nationality: In-universe, when Buster and Bitzi go to La Bruncherie for Christmas brunch. The waiter that serves Buster and Bitzi speaks in an affected French accent, describing Buster's cheese omelet as "fromage americaine in a blanket of hen eggs." This confuses Buster, so he has to explain in his normal American voice that it is indeed a cheese omelet.
  • Feud Episode: Francine and Muffy's part of the story becomes this in the middle third of the special.
  • Fictional Holiday: Buster creates Baxter Day to stop his mother's constant stressing over Christmas after the Brain points out that his own family celebrates Kwanzaa, which was invented by Mulana Karenga in the 1960s. It basically consists of him and Bitzi Baxter hanging out together and doing whatever they feel like, enjoying their togetherness.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After Arthur meets Jane back at the giant cane, she tells him she got everything on her list, but one was all sold out. This could most likely be Tina the Talking Tabby, which D.W. throws a fit over when she gets a talking duck instead.
    • Uncle Fred makes a pitstop at the Reads house to drop off his gifts for the family, where his car breaks down. It turns out he bought an Apology Gift for Jane after breaking her new teaset by accident the previous year.
  • Forgiveness: After they talk it out, Francine forgives Muffy for what she said, and invites her and Mr. Crosswire to the movies with the Frenskys.
  • Get Out!: Arthur shouts at Binky to get out after Binky invades his Imagine Spot about his family chastising him for being too clumsy.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: In the flashback to last summer, Arthur knocks over the first glass bird, causing it to smash on the floor. Then when Arthur accidentally drops the second bird still in its present box, it lands on Pal's dog bed and is seemingly safe, then it falls off and hits the ground, and we hear shattering inside.
  • Good-Times Montage: The Triumphant Reprise at the end is interspersed with scenes of Arthur's friends celebrating their respective holidays with their families.
  • The Ghost: Despite hearing the jingle several times, and D.W. constantly begging for it, we never actually see what Tina the Talking Tabby looks like.
  • Hanukkah Episode: There is a small sub-plot where Francine celebrates Hanukkah with her family, skipping Muffy's fancy Christmas party, because she finds her traditions and family more personal and important.
    • We even see Francine and her family having Chinese food for dinner on Christmas day and then going to the movies afterward, both of which are popular "modern traditions" Jewish people follow on Christmas day.
  • Here We Go Again!: The special ends with Arthur bothered by the singing of D.W.'s duck toy, after spending the holidays being annoyed at the constant repetition of the Tina the Talking Tabby jingle.
  • Heroic BSoD: Accidentally breaking the replacement swan for Jane causes Arthur to break down, prompting Uncle Fred to reassure him and help out.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Uncle Fred gives his gift to Jane with Arthur's card on it, on seeing that his nephew is crying about the swan getting broken.
  • Imagine Spot: Several.
    • During the theme song, Arthur imagines his perfect Christmas.
    • After Arthur's father announces they're having a traditional first-century meal, Arthur briefly imagines a family dinner in a manger.
    • Muffy has several during her song about how she'd love to share her presents with Francine, but she can't because Francine isn't speaking to her.
    • Arthur imagines everyone's thrilled reaction to his present for his mother...and then, after the glass bird is broken, imagines being told that he's a failure and inherited "the clumsy gene". (Binky invades the last one.)
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The title card displays it as "Marc Brown's Arthur's Perfect Christmas."
  • Informed Judaism: The special confirms the Jewish background of Francine and her family.
  • Innocent Bigot: Muffy says that Hanukkah isn't as important as a secular holiday party. Francine gets furious and hangs the phone up on her; when Muffy comes by later to apologize, Francine explains to her why that was very Anti-Semitic and how the rituals with her family make her feel a part of something bigger.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Muffy’s song is about wanting to spend time with Francine - mostly imagining herself enjoying lavish treatment while Francine works herself to the bone as her servant in situations such as her being a princess. Later, Ed Crosswire gifts the Frensky’s with a ham, unaware they don’t eat pork (Francine’s father rolls with it, clearly understanding Crosswire’s good intentions).
  • Jerkass Realization: Muffy sincerely apologizes to Francine when hearing about why Hanukkah is important to her. Francine forgives her.
  • Jingle: D.W. really wants the toy Tina the Talking Tabby, a talking plush cat toy, having repeatedly heard its advertising jingle. Arthur, however, hates hearing said jingle, saying that it gives him a headache. The jingle goes as follows: "What's really, really neat and is always at your feet? It's Tina the Talking Tabby! Just scratch behind her ears and this is what you'll hear: "I'm Tina the Talking Tabby!" Oh, Tina, Tina, tiny Tina, Tina, Tina, tiny Tina, Tina the Talking Tabby..." Later, Arthur traverses a toy store at the mall and is forced to endure the chorus of "Oh, Tina, Tina, tiny Tina, Tina, Tina, tiny Tina, Tina the Talking Tabby..." seven-and-a-half times before finally escaping.
  • Large Ham: D.W. when she didn't get Tina the Talking Tabby for Christmas and got Quackers instead.
  • Leaving Food for Santa: Arthur and D.W. do this. D.W. also insists on leaving water for the reindeer in case they're thirsty. She also chastises Arthur for trying to eat one of the cookies that were left for Santa Claus, saying it's kids like him who get coal.
  • Lethal Chef: Binky tries his hands at holiday cooking, but his efforts are less than satisfactory; only Buster eats them, and not even Mr. Ratburn wants a taste of the brownies or cookies. Come Christmas Day, he's using storebought desserts and passing them off as his own.
  • Little "No": Arthur utters one when he sees the replacement swan shattered in the box.
  • Meaningful Gift: Arthur wants to buy the best gift ever for his mother, a small glass bird to replace one he'd broken a few years ago. Unfortunately, his uncle's dog keeps treating his present like a toy, and when he tries to hide it at the top of the closet, the box falls and the bird shatters. When his uncle finds him crying, he decides to help Arthur out by using the present tag to present his gift as Arthur's, which is just as meaningful — replacing a broken tea set, rather than a broken bird.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Muffy has the loud argument with Francine over the phone, shouting at her for not attending her party and saying Hanukkah is not important. Francine hangs up abruptly. Realizing this is awkward, Arthur goes to find Buster, who has fallen asleep into a slice of cake.
    • D.W. completely loses it when she gets a talking duck instead of Tina the Talking Tabby, but once she activates it the first time, she instantly calms down and finds herself enjoying it.
  • Musical Episode: Even has a soundtrack album with additional songs (most are covers of carols and other holiday songs).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Muffy has this reaction when she opens her presents on Christmas morning and realizes that she alienated her best friend the night before.
  • No Antagonist: This episode has no specific villain and instead focuses on Arthur and his friends spending the holidays together.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Francine tells Muffy 28 times that she has plans on the night of Muffy's big party, and she keeps track. Muffy refuses to listen and only realizes it when Francine doesn't show up.
  • Oh, Crap!: Arthur and D.W. both do this when D.W. opens the bathroom door on Arthur using the toilet on Christmas morning.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Brain treats the Crosswires to ice cream when they show up on Christmas morning, and Muffy mopes about missing Francine. It's implied that Brain convinced Muffy to go to Francine and apologize in person.
  • Only One Who Likes Spam: George brings a tin of lutefisk (dried and boiled fish), part of his Swedish family's holiday tradition, to school. Everyone pinches their noses and passes it around except for Buster, who happily eats a piece and then scoffs down another.
  • Only Sane Man: Brain is the only person who has a relatively calm holiday, and he offers sensible advice to his friends. He reassures Arthur that if it doesn't snow on Christmas Day, it's not the end of the world. When Buster falls asleep at Muffy's party, Brain tells him that making up a holiday and reassuring his mother that she doesn't have to make Christmas a big deal may save them both the stress. What's more, when he sees that Muffy is depressed about the big fight that she had with Francine, Brain treats her to a free sundae. It's implied that offscreen he convinced her to go apologize to Francine and make up with her.
  • Paying in Coins: Arthur pays for the glass bird in coins. The cashier falls asleep waiting for him to count them.
  • Peking Duck Christmas: When Muffy shows up, Francine and her family have just finished eating Chinese food, and then Muffy's and Francine's families go to the movies.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Uncle Fred becomes this to Arthur after Arthur accidentally breaks the glass swan and worries his mother will hate him for it.
  • Red Herring: D.W. and Arthur assume that she's going to get the Tina the Talking Tabby doll since she's been playing the theme song incessantly. It's implied that Tina the Talking Tabby was sold out, so Arthur's mom gets D.W. a talking duck instead. Arthur still finds it annoying.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: The Read family, of all people. The special begins three days before Christmas, which is when D.W. has Arthur start writing her wish list to Santa, and Arthur and his mother do all their holiday shopping two days before Christmas, when the mall is very busy and things are selling out. It's not really a surprise that D.W. did not get Tina the Talking Tabby for Christmas at that point.
  • Running Gag:
    • Arthur can't go even once without being bothered by the Tina the Talking Tabby jingle.
    • Binky trying to bake desserts and flubbing the recipe in some obvious way (such as forgetting to peel the bananas). By the end, he gives up and resorts to passing off already made desserts as his own.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Arthur spends almost half the special protecting his mother's present like a child, only for him to accidentally shatter it mere moments before he's ready to give it to her. Becomes subverted when Uncle Fred decides to use his tea set gift under Arthur's name so he at least has something to give her.
  • Serious Business: Exaggerated by D.W.‘s tantrum, as the music becomes deadly ominous as she throws a massive fit.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the "What's the Use of Presents?" Imagine Spot song number, Muffy plays a version of Super Mario Bros. in which Francine is Mario.
    • Jane says Fred works in a China shop, alluding to the classic stock phrase “bull in a China shop” due to his clumsiness.
  • Sleepy Head: Buster is more tired than usual during the holidays because his mother keeps waking him up at six AM, mistakenly thinking that it's Christmas Day.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Played for Laughs when Arthur imagines being so revered for his gift to his mother, he is the star attraction of a parade celebrating heroes of the 20th century - and where he’s more cheered than the likes of Albert Einstein and Gandhi.
  • Stock Scream: When D.W. opens the bathroom door on Arthur going in the toilet, Arthur lets out one of his first-season screams, resulting in his voice briefly sounding much younger (as his voice actor, Michael Yarmush, was going through puberty at the time, resulting in Arthur having a noticeably deeper voice during this special and the rest of the fifth season.)
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Buster does this in the "Baxter Day" song.
    We could just sleep late, if that's what we wanted to do / We could even stay in pajamas all day and maybe eat a snack or... five.
  • Take a Third Option: Arthur's Imagine Spot when Jane opens her gift results in him becoming the most perfect kid in the family. The second one, a potential worst-case scenario when he tells the bad news, results in him resented by the family. Uncle Fred helps by using the gift tag from the damaged bird on his tea set gift, and saying it's from Arthur, allowing her to be happy.
  • Tantrum Throwing: When D.W. does not get Tina the Talking Tabby but a duck instead, it causes her to go berserk.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When Jane senses that D.W. is disappointed for getting Quackers instead of Tina the Talking Tabby, she asks if D.W is upset. D.W. denies it...then she breaks down.
    • While Arthur is getting the gift containing the glass bird out of the closet, he accidentally drops it, but it lands safely on Pal's dog bed...then it falls off and hits the floor, and the bird breaks.
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: Clumsy Uncle Fred has dots of toilet paper on his face after he cuts himself shaving on Christmas morning.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Jane and David look visibly worried when D.W. opens her last present on Christmas morning, which is Quackers instead of Tina the Talking Tabby. After seeing Quackers, she throws a Caillou-esque temper tantrum that's so loud it can be heard outside.
  • Toilet Humor: A rare instance in the franchise. D.W. thinks Santa is in their upstairs bathroom (when it was actually Uncle Fred in a red bathrobe shaving) and wants to show her dad, but she opens the door just as Arthur is peeing in the toilet. Arthur naturally screams in shock.
    "Can't a kid get any privacy around here?!"
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: The three major storylines are Arthur trying to have a perfect Christmas, Francine getting in a spat with Muffy over being unable to attend her Christmas party due to the importance of her Hanukkah traditions, and Buster suffering Sleep Deprivation due to his mother's obsession over thinking it's Christmas two days early.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Perfect Christmas" returns with a more celebratory manner in the end as Arthur declares this truly has been a perfect Christmas.
  • Truthin Television: DW's behaviour on Christmas morning. Most kids her age are the first ones up on Christmas morning, and wake up everyone else to open presents. It's also pretty realistic for tired, out of routine, overwhelmed preschoolers to have a small breakdown at least once on Christmas. That it was only a few seconds is the most unrealistic part.
  • Visible Odor: The lutefisk that George shares with Mr. Ratburn's class has an awful visible odor and of the students, only Buster will eat it.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Uncle Fred bought a replacement tea set for the one that he broke. He insists that Arthur give it to his mother instead so that no one will notice Arthur's missing present, when Arthur breaks the replacement swan.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Arthur, over the summer, accidentally ran into the table that held the glass swan, so that it fell to the ground.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: When D.W. is going berserk when she does not get Tina the Talking Tabby but a duck instead, she cries out, "This is the worst Christmas ever!" just before she activates the duck.


Sometimes, the thing you hope for isn't the thing you get,
But after today I just have to say...
This was the best Christmas yet!
 
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Tina the Talking Tabby

"What's always at your feet and is really, really sweet?" Tina the Talking Tabby, as heard on this jingle on "Arthur's Perfect Christmas," much to the chagrin of Arthur, but to the joy of D.W., who wants the toy for Christmas.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / Jingle

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