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Buster Baxter, Cat Saver

Season 2 Episode 6a

There’s only one thing this episode is based on, and that’s the old folk tale “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Here, that boy is Buster. It kind of is amazing that a disgusting-sounding ice cream flavor, Rocky Trout, from the Brain’s ice cream shop is what does the job here, but cats do tend to like fish and Alphonse might have been hungry. Maybe Mrs. Powers and the Brain should’ve gotten more credit for the rescue. It probably could’ve been really good for business (at least until people discovered the flavors).

It’s interesting to me how Buster originally was downplaying the rescue, but once the story got down to the newspaper, whose editor-in-chief just happened to be Mrs. Baxter, it took off. As a journalism minor from college, that is the definition of a conflict of interest. And if that story were to be put in the newspaper, it probably would’ve been better in an “oddities” section. With the notoriety that the story got, it’s understandable that Buster would be excited and want to take it in, but at the same time, his friends were right to be annoyed. The runaway piano at the end is maybe the most bizarre thing that could’ve been rolling through the street, not just because Arthur and the crew didn’t believe Buster (which is when “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” comes in), but because it’s almost impossible for a grand piano to roll anywhere unless it had a huge push. The ending with the Buster Baxter, Piano Tamer trailer is pretty funny, though (and the “21st Century Rat” production company name is genius).

Lots of what happened here could’ve been avoided if Mrs. Baxter had followed basic journalism ethics, and the amount of attention that Buster got was a ton, considering he’s just 8 years old. Nobody was set up for success here on what really was Buster being in the right place at the right time (which he even admitted).

By Guthrie Edson

Play it Again, D.W.

Season 2 Episode 6b

To me, this episode is a classic case of Mr.and Mrs. Read not having house rules about things like loud music and letting it get out of hand. Like how does Mrs. Read, an accountant who probably spends most of her day looking at spreadsheets, concentrate on her work with Crazy Bus playing nonstop? Mr. Read is lucky that he works primarily in his kitchen, but even he needs earplugs to concentrate because D.W. is playing the music so loudly. But you can’t accuse them completely of not being fair: since they all went to Bionic Bunny on Ice with Arthur, it’s only fair that they went to Crazy Bus Live with D.W. Fair and square, sometimes one has to hold their nose and do something they don’t want to do in exchange for having everyone else do what they want to do. I will say that the animation in this is very good, especially with the breakfast scene where the music causes ripples in Arthur’s cereal and juice. That music must’ve been loud, and I mean LOUD.

The whole saga of the CD disappearing is interesting to say the least. It may seem logical for Arthur to want to at least hide it so that he can have some peace and quiet, but it’s ironic that it was Mr. and Mrs. Read, who really enabled D.W. when it comes to Crazy Bus, who took the CD and put it in the case of an album “Songs You Can’t Believe You Liked” from 1978, to boot. (I did some research and Billboard’s No. 1 for that year was “Shadow Dancing,” by Andy Gibb, with “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees clocking in at No. 4). But again, when Catherine is babysitting, she totally takes a both-sides approach towards D.W. doing everything it takes to find her CD. Even at the end after Mrs. Read halfheartedly tells D.W. to not bother others with it, the grown-ups can’t stop enabling D.W, as Grandma Thora gets her the VHS of Crazy Bus: The Motion Picture. It probably isn’t much more than the song with animation.

To wrap it up, this episode has many funny moments, but also could’ve-been’s for Mr. and Mrs. Read in terms of avoiding chaos.

By Guthrie Edson


Season 2 Episode 9a

First of all, this episode is one of many indicators that Elwood City is an idealized, almost utopian place, because my parents would NEVER have put me on a public bus at just 8 years old. One interesting cultural reference to this though; the fantasy Francine describes where the bus driver doesn’t let Arthur off the bus because he can’t pay is totally based on a song called “M.T.A.” written by noted American folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes, about a man named Charlie who is forced to ride on the subway under Boston forever, just because he was short just a nickel for his fare. The song was used as a campaign song for a Boston mayoral candidate who pledged to lower fares, and I don’t know whether this reference was intentional or not on the part of the writers, but I definitely noticed it.

Although everything turns out well in the end, I think this episode captures what both the kid and the parent may be thinking at the time. Arthur was in an unfamiliar part of town and didn’t know where he was or what to do (especially after being told not to talk to strangers), and Mrs. Read was stressed with D.W. and Kate at home and was under the impression that Arthur was at the pool. Both of them did the right thing, and luckily, the diner was right there for Arthur to wait in for the bus back home, despite Francine and Buster’s fearmongering about the other side of town. The scene where Arthur explains the situation to Sam, the bus driver, is also very well done, again considering the tall tales that Francine and Buster had told earlier. The only knock on this episode is D.W. butting in when Arthur is telling the story back at home–I don’t see what they were trying to add other than her being her.

Once again though, the writers pass the test in taking on an issue that parents should discuss with their kids. There’s a great Sesame Street special I watched when I was younger where Big Bird is at the ABCD Mart with Maria, and they get separated when Big Bird chases a runaway roller skate through the store. Big Bird follows the advice that Maria gave him before they left, and they find each other.

By Guthrie Edson

The Short, Quick Summer

Season 2 Episode 9b

In the space of the few seconds it takes for the title card to be read, they go from the last day of school to just a week left in the summer, and Arthur can’t believe it. I feel you on that one, Arthur. When I was younger, the swim team would take up most of June and July, and then August was when we’d go on vacation. Before we knew it, it was time to buy school supplies, new clothes, and go back to school, often leaving us to be just like Arthur in asking “Where did the summer go?” The only difference is, I never really made any lists about what I wanted to do each summer, so no need to go on a wild goose chase and end up rolling through the driveway in a trash can like Arthur did.

Maybe Arthur should’ve taken the advice of his uncle from “Arthur’s Cousin Catastrophe” who doesn’t need a list to have fun. He definitely could have made a mental wishlist of stuff that he wants to do over the summer, and that way he wouldn’t have spent the entire last week before school started again looking for the sheet of paper, which was right under his nose the whole time. But as it turned out, he did have a lot of fun, without the list, and so did his friends. Buster helped save their local carousel, Fern was the poetry champ at poetry camp, and Sue Ellen learned the ins and outs of card tricks. Even Binky made something fun (the mud sled) on a day with bad weather. “Fun” is Arthur’s uncle’s middle name and he didn’t need a list to have it. Neither did Arthur, apparently.

They say that August is the Sunday of summer, and that is very accurately portrayed in this episode. Even as a 23-year-old who graduated from college a year and a half ago, it definitely feels like the party is over and it’s time to get back to the business of looking for a real job. So for an 8-year-old who is about to go back to elementary school, it feels even more like that.

By Guthrie Edson

D.W. Goes to Washington

Season 2 Episode 10a

The episodes where someone goes on vacation never seem to disappoint and this one is no exception as the Reads hit the road for the American capital. However, that does not come before D.W. makes her desire to go to Ponyland known. I would’ve loved more of a backstory on Santa’s Igloo, where D.W. had seen on TV and where the family had gone but turned out to be a total bust (also I wish there was an episode where D.W. gets her wish of going to Ponyland and Arthur has to tag along, just for the heck of it). As a lifelong DC area resident, I’ve never experienced a DC where one can just walk right up to the White House or Capitol and get a tour that same day–that changed after 9/11, so this gives us a glimpse of what it was like (I have taken tours of both, arranged through my grandfather’s members of Congress, which is how one goes about getting those tours these days). Maybe this is the older sibling bias coming in, but watching this now, I got tired of D.W.’s constant badgering of everyone about ponies at every turn. That said, some of her lines in this episode are both iconic and relatable, like “This government is too complicated, no wonder Daddy is always complaining about it,” and “I don’t care about the president, I care about ponies!” Sadly, that apathy is all too common nowadays.

While the end of the episode could never happen in reality, it is funny how D.W. just stumbles across the president (presumably Bill Clinton) and doesn’t even realize it was him and thinks he’s just a tour guide. And some of the interactions involving the Secret Service agents are also memorable (“Bundle recovered, ducks in a row, peas in a pod.” “What?” “We found D.W.” “Who lost a duck?”). Overall, one of my all-time favorite episodes, a throwback to days of yore in DC–a reminder of what things used to be like and a stark contrast to what we’ve seen transpire there as of late..

By Guthrie Edson

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