Posts Tagged ‘Arthur’s Perfect Christmas’

Arthur’s Perfect Christmas Is Perfect For All Winter Holidays

December 4, 2011

While I am sure that I mentioned a few posts back that there aren’t many modern day cartoons I am really into anymore, there are still a few that started when I was a kid and are still running today. While some of them are more adult oriented, like The Simpsons and South Park, there is one cartoon that has been on the air since I was 9 and is still as family friendly as it ever was, and that would be Arthur. It’s great to have grown up with a cartoon as a kid, and enjoyed it as a kid’s cartoon with some nice lessons thrown in at the end, but it’s even better to also to be able to watch it now and pick up on the pop culture jokes and guest stars that I never noticed as a kid. I’m not ashamed to say that although I am 24, Arthur is one of the most watched shows on my Netflix. It’s never too childish or preachy, rather it tries to stay topical and just be consistently funny. Although there have been a few Arthur Christmas episodes over the years, today I’m going to tell you about Arthur’s Perfect Christmas. But before I do, a bit about the show.

Arthur is a cartoon show on PBS that is based on a series of books by author Marc Brown. The show mainly focuses on and Aardvark named Arthur and the situations and problems he faces in his day to day life as a kid in the third grade. He has a mom, a dad, and two younger sisters, D.W, who is 4, and Kate, who is just a baby. Arthur’s best friend is a bunny named Buster, who lives with his mom because his parents are divorced and his dad is a pilot. Arthur has a few other friends as well, including Francine, Muffy, The Brain and Binky. Some episodes focus on issues his friends are facing, but most are about Arthur. That’s all you really need to know about the show and the characters, now on to the special.

The cover of the VHS tape

The episode starts with a montage of everyone in Elwood City (Where the show takes place) preparing for Christmas. From buying gifts to picking out a tree, everyone seems to be in the Christmas spirit. The montage ends at Arthur’s house, where we see Arthur playing the piano. He starts singing a song about how great Christmas will be and we see a music video taking place in his imagination. When he finishes his song, D.W. comes over and asks him how he can be so calm with Christmas only 3 days away. He tells her not to worry, and she asks him to help write a letter to Santa. Arthur writes it out all out for her, and she goes off to bed.

D.W. mailing her letter to Santa

We cut to the next day and we see D.W pop the letter in the mail box before the kids are driven to school. Before Arthur arrives however, Muffy and Francine are on the front steps of the school and Muffy tells Francine how she can’t wait for her Christmas party the next day. Francine tells Muffy she can’t go, but Muffy isn’t listening and walks away. Francine is visibly upset, and then Arthur comes along. He asks her what’s wrong, and she tells him that even though she has told Muffy over 20 times that she can’t com to the party because of her conflicting Hanukkah party, Muffy hasn’t paid attention once. Arthur just tells Francine to keep trying, and they head inside.

Inside the classroom, Arthur’s friend George is giving a presentation about the Christmas traditions of Sweden, even going as far as to pass around Lutefisk (A Scandinavian fish dish that sounds rather interesting). After everyone’s presentations are done, Arthur goes to check on Buster, who looks like he could pass out at any minute. Buster tells Arthur that ever since his parents got divorced, his mom wakes up early every day leading up to Christmas thinking it is Christmas morning and wakes Buster up at 5:30, makes pancakes, and gets the presents ready. After he eats, he tells her what day it is, and she goes back to bed. Buster thinks his mom is worried that he won’t have a good Christmas because his dad isn’t there. He wishes he could tell his mom she doesn’t have to make such a big deal.

Buster's mom on December 23rd, thinking it is Christmas morning

We cut to later on that day and Arthur is at the mall with his mom and they split up to find their last presents. Arthur buys his dad, who is a chef, an olive pitter and jar of olives, and is at a loss about what to get his mom, when he sees something sparkle in a store window. It’s a small glass bird, just like the one she had that he accidentally broke last year. It’s perfect! He lines up to buy it, and when he is done paying, has just enough time to get back to where he and his mom were supposed to meet. Arthur has found all of the presents he needed, but his mom ended up one present short: The toy D.W. asked Santa for.

Now we are back at Arthur’s house, and Arthur’s parents have to have the tough conversation with D.W. telling her that sometimes Santa can’t get you the present you asked for because he has run out. D.W. is convinced however that she might not get the talking cat doll she wanted because Arthur wrote her letter wrong. Just then Arthur’s dad comes in with Uncle Fred’s Christmas video. He wishes them all well, and tells them he is going to Florida rather than their place this year. Arthur says he’ll miss Uncle Fred this year as he is so funny, and reminisces about when Uncle Fred broke his mom’s china set last Christmas. They all sit down to dinner, and the night comes to an end.

Christmas Eve Eve dinner at Arthur's

The next morning, like clockwork, Buster’s mom gets him up and it is only Christmas Eve. Buster looks upset and obviously wishes he could lighten his mom’s load, but doesn’t want to upset her.

Later on, at Muffy’s party, Muffy calls Francine up to get the first gift, only to realize Francine isn’t there. She calls her from her cell phone and Francine tells Muffy she told her over 25 times that she wouldn’t be coming because it’s her Hanukkah party. Muffy makes a comment about how Hanukkah isn’t as important as Christmas, and Francine loses it and hangs up. Elsewhere at the party Buster has fallen asleep in his food, and Brain and Arthur tell him he should just tell his mom that they can do their own thing on Christmas, maybe even celebrate a different holiday just for them, call it Baxter Day (Baxter being Buster’s last name) Buster imagines how great that would be, and debates whether or not to tell his mom.

Buster's imaginary Baxter Day with just he and his mom

Later on, Arthur has come home from the party and decorates the Christmas tree with his mom and D.W. After they finish, D.W. gets Santa’s milk and cookies ready and then it’s time for bed. Just as Arthur is falling asleep, he hears someone at the door. It turns out Uncle Fred is here, his truck having broken down on the way to Florida when he stopped to drop off their presents. Arthur gets up to say hi, and notices that Uncle Fred’s dog is running around with his mom’s present in his mouth. After chasing the dog around the house, Arthur finally gets the present back and decides to put it away for safe keeping, and then heads off to bed.

It is now Christmas morning, and D.W. wakes up and runs around the house waking everyone up. After a brief mix-up involving D.W. thinking Uncle Fred is Santa, everyone heads downstairs to open presents. At the same time, Buster’s mom is finally up early on the right day. She jumps out of bed and runs around trying to make sure everything is perfect, but in her hurry accidentally burns the pancakes. Meanwhile, at Muffy’s house, she has opened all of her presents and would love to call Francine to tell her about it, but remembers her and Francine aren’t talking. She realizes that Christmas and presents aren’t so great if you don’t have anyone to share it with. Since Muffy seems down, her dad suggests they go out for a car ride.

Muffy, with no one to call

It’s a little while later, and back at Arthur’s, his whole family has arrived and they are ready to open presents. Arthur runs upstairs to get his mom’s, but he accidentally drops it and breaks the little glass bird. He is devastated, and runs to hide in his room while everyone waits for him to open their presents, and D.W. nearly has an aneurism. Uncle Fred goes up to check on Arthur, and Arthur tells him what happened to the bird. Uncle Fred tells him it will all be ok, and they head downstairs.

Meanwhile, Buster is out to brunch with his mom, and even though she has a day full of plans, he tells her he’d be happy just to spend the day with her at home. She is touched and seems slightly relieved.

At the same time, Muffy and her family have stopped at one of the only local places that is open, Brain’s family’s ice cream shoppe. Brain explains to them that his family is celebrating Kwanza, which won’t start until the next day. He explains to them what Kwanza is all about, and Muffy decides she’d like to celebrate Kwanza next year so that maybe she could spend it with Francine and not worry about Hanukkah overlapping it.

Back at Arthur’s the presents are almost all open now, and Arthur is about to tell his mom what happened, when Uncle Fred says he found Arthur’s present for his mom under the tree. She opens it, and it is a mug to replace the one Fred broke last year. She is touched, and so is Arthur, knowing this was actually Fred’s gift for Arthur’s mom. D.W. opens her last present, hoping it is the talking cat, only to find a talking duck instead. She is not pleased, and throws a tantrum.

D.W. freaking out

Over at Francine’s, they are finishing their Chinese food dinner, when Muffy and her father arrive. Muffy apologizes to Francine, but still doesn’t seem to understand why Francine missed the party. Francine tells Muffy all about what Hanukkah is about and why it was more important to her than a Christmas party. Muffy finally understands, and her and Francine are back on good terms again.

Francine's family celebrating Hanukkah

We are shown a montage of everyone in town celebrating their traditions, ranging from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanza, and we finish on Arthur wishing everyone a Happy Holidays.

Where to begin with this episode. It is a Holiday episode, rather than just a Christmas centric episode, which makes sense for a show funded by a public television station. It does a good job of balancing each character’s own holiday celebrations, which is why it took me so long to write my blog on this special. As far as which category it falls under, it’s mainly a Christmas/Holiday special that gets more than a few messages across. Arthur episodes usually convey some kind of message, so this special is in keeping with the show’s usual format, which is something I like. I’m not a fan of when a show changes gears and becomes very preachy just to teach a Christmas lesson. It more often then than not comes off as awkward and forced, but with a show like this, a Christmas/Holiday episode makes perfect sense.

I like every lesson taught in this episode, and while most of them are the usual lessons most specials try to convey, this episode one ups the the others by touching on how important it is to understand and accept other people’s traditions and holiday celebrations. By the end, Muffy understands why Hanukkah is so important to Francine, which is a nice thing to teach kids. Some kids just don’t get people not celebrating Christmas. Buster and his mom discover that they don’t need to do Christmas traditions to have a great day, they can make up their own traditions and holiday and just enjoy each other. Although no issues arise with Kwanza, Brain reveals that his parents choose to celebrate it instead of Christmas because of how and why it was created, and they are supportive of what it stands for.

Other than those lessons, we have a few traditional Christmas ones. Muffy teaches us that Christmas isn’t special if you don’t have anyone to share it with, a cliché, but a good one. Although I already touched on Buster, it’s also a nice message that they touch on that as long as you are with your family, it doesn’t matter how you celebrate. Arthur’s Uncle Fred teaches Arthur the importance of being selfless by giving up his own present and giving it to Arthur so that Arthur doesn’t feel bad. D.W. learns that even if you don’t get what you want for Christmas, you may just end up enjoying what you get instead. I may have missed one or two, but you get the idea. The writers really did a great job of tackling different holidays and teaching many lessons, but they never end up coming off as preachy. It’s a tough things to do, but in just under an hour, they did it.

I highly recommend this episode to both children and adults alike. The kids will love the silly cartoony elements and musical numbers, of which there are no shortage, and they will definitely benefit from the lessons taught. It’s great for adults as well because they touch on the frustration of not getting your kid what you want, as well as the pop culture references and jokes that only a parent would get (Like the fact that Muffy’s dad brings Francine’s family a ham for Hanukkah, despite the fact that they are Jewish). It’s a special that I enjoy watching, as does my girlfriend, and my brother (All of us over the age or 20). It will definitely be put it into my regular rotation of Christmas specials, and is one I suggest everyone seek out.