Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Television Shows » Reviews » Arthur » User review


PBS children's cartoon based on Marc Brown's picture books featuring the beloved anteater

< read all 5 reviews

"Everyday When You're Walking Down the Street..."

  • Feb 24, 2010
  • by
In the early 90's when I was still in elementary school, I was introduced to the books of Arthur.  They were written by a man named Marc Brown.  As a student in elementary school, I was pretty impressed by them.  Then again, I was a kid--everything would've impressed me back then.  But I enjoyed the Arthur books for the same reason many kids enjoy those kinds of books.  They were simple reads where I knew all the words and, of course, they had pictures.  God how I loved picture books as a kid.

When PBS started the show, I was actually taken in because I loved those little books so much.  And I do mean I liked them a lot.  Of course, the television series wasn't like the books at all.  Not because the books were hard to follow, but mostly because there were eventually more episodes of the TV show than there were actual books.  Even when reaching my teenage years I would take a moment, sit down and watch Arthur just for the sake that I rather liked the show.  As far as children's shows go, Arthur is among the least annoying of them as you get older.  Perhaps it's a more grown up Sean talking when I say this, but it's hard to sit through a LOT of children's show.  Arthur was a fresh face when shows like Blues Clues, Little Bear and just about everything else on Nick Jr. was becoming increasingly popular.  And while I could handle shows like Rupert and even Little Bear (I could tolerate quite a bit as a kid--the main draw was that they were animated shows) it grew increasingly hard.  There are some shows that I look back on in my childhood and can't believe I watched.  That would be shows like Little Bear, Rupert and just about anything else that came on Nick Jr.  On the other there are also many shows that I look back on fondly.  Those would be those animated shows that came on Nickelodean like Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Doug and the like.  If I get a chance to see those shows I'll actually still watch them.  Yet a surprise for me was to discover that even as I grew older, I still had a fondness for Arthur.  I think an explanation is in order.

Throughout childhood there's this sort of sense every child has that they somehow want to grow up faster than they actually are.  That sort of sense actually doesn't run through my family.  Just about everyone in my family--myself included--found childhood something that was a blessing to leave behind and not a burden.  That doesn't mean I don't have good memories.  I have a ton.  And one of them was sitting by and watching Arthur.  And the reason it seemed to continue being enjoyable as I grew up was because I never got the sense that Arthur talked down to its audience, or that it was trying to be interactive by asking stupid questions the way Blue Clues did.  For example, I always hated how Blue Clues had the audience finding clues.  "Look, a clue," you'd hear some little kid shout and the main guy--who apparently had been hit with several bricks growing up--would always look around and say, "Where?"  And that kid would say, "Right there," and our stupid main character would look and confirm it.  It's evolved from that, of course.  Nowadays you have Dora the Explorer shoving a big mountain in their face and seeing if they see it!  At least there's not some annoying robotic kid saying, "The mountain is over there."  Oh, no.  Rather Dora does that for you.  She'll simply say, "That's right, the mountain is over there."  I do not hate Dora the Explorer or Blue Clues mind you, just the way it appears to be talking down to its audience from time to time.  I suppose that's being a little harsh, however.  For toddlers, those around ages say... 3-5 that's probably better for them than Arthur.  However, in the years from say... 7 to 10 come up, finding a decent cartoon to watch can be frustrating.

Arthur managed to get across messages and lessons without having to dumb itself down for its audience.  And for a children's cartoon to do is difficult.  Even then.  People are always saying how "dumb" cartoons are.  I don't think that's the case, I actually think it's mostly that you're getting older, wiser and smarter.  That's why some seem dumber.  And it's easy to look at your own childhood and think, "What I watched was better."  

There was something simple about Arthur without it having to dumb itself down to do it.  It's not a secret in animation.  The trick isn't necessarily for a cartoon to dumb itself down.  It's primarily to make sure that the characters who are kids are behaving as such.  And you don't have to fill it with slang to do it.  You don't have to make it an "educational" experience where a character looks at the audience and speaks or preaches.  The way Arthur does it is a way that makes us believe he's just part of a family that is hellbent on learning experiences.  There is Arthur and a whole other cast of characters.  That center primarily on his friends, Buster, Francine, The Brain, Binky etc. as well as his sister D.W. and her imaginary friend Nadine among other things.  

And while Arthur, his friends and classmates are definitely a big part of the show, it doesn't ignore it's adult characters who are primarily in the show to teach lessons.  But again, it's done in a way that isn't so dumbed down.  It's easy to understand but you rarely get the sense that the show is really.  So much so that it isn't annoying for older audiences.  Although much of that may be because Arthur is just as interested in telling a story as it is interested in teaching a lesson.  So even if the lesson isn't much, you might still find the story to be alright. 

That's not to say Arthur is the perfect children's show.  There can still be moments when watching that you get the sense it's trying really hard to appeal to kids.  On the other hand, it's not ultra annoying about it.  May children's shows have a tendency to focus only on the younger characters while making sure to portray the adult characters as being these evil minded people (and NOT just in the minds of the younger characters).  Why is the cranky old man cranky?  Because he's just an asshole usually tends to be the case.  Here Arthur and his friends perceive say, Mr. Ratburn, their teacher, as a strange guy who seems fairly mean.  Yet the show reminds us constantly that he isn't mean or anything like that, even while the children sometimes perceive him as a pain.  He's always doing things for the benefit of the class and not as a means of torture.  If there's one thing a LOT of children's shows (especially now) can be a little overboard about, it's that they make sure that every single adult is evil as hell or something like that.  Constantly trying to get the message out that the only reason adults exist is to be jerks to children.  The whole, "adults are lame, not cool and stupid," even when I was a child.  At least that's how it seems.  Arthur never played this game of good and bad or anything like that.  It's not a show about "adventure," to put it in another sense.  And while they may not seem like much, it should be known that Arthur is a comedy. 

Comedy in children's cartoons hardly ever fails when it comes to children.  Well, most times.  Yet for kids Arthur manages to make kids laugh because the jokes are innocent and fun, but it makes adults laugh because they're, well, cute.  Because it isn't talking down with adults trying to "be cool" or anythin like that.  Mostly it's because you have characters such as D.W. who, because of being so young, say things that are cute enough to be funny.  I'm sure every one of you can remember how some of the things you said as a child were considered cute and the adults around them laughed.  If you've got tons of little young ones in your family you've probably seen it from time to time.  It's the innocent kind of humor that even for adults is still a little funny.  Arthur was by no means a witty show.  It was simply an innocent show.  But it keeps from being so ungodly cute that you roll your eyes.  And there's none of this sort of, "In order to call the bird we whistle like this!" kind of crap.

The show runs for thirty minutes, but each little episode is really only around eleven minutes or so.  Then there's a segment called, "And now a word from us kids," where you see children involved in an activity before actually showing a second short.  Simply put, while the show runs for thirty minutes it consist of two shorts and a middle to substitute for a commercial break. 

The voice acting is good, but it's the one place with the show where I became extremely detatched throughout the years.  As the show keeps moving on and growing, the voice actors are constantly changing.  To the point where sometimes Arthur doesn't even sound his age.  It's hard to watch a show about a kid who sounds like a teenager or something along those lines.  I enjoyed it when it first broadcast, but Arthur--the main character--has gone throuh four different voice actors.  The other characters also go through that sort of thing as well.  Perhaps the original voice actors just got a little too old for it.  Who knows?  Yet there's a sort of detatchment in the voices changing.  And while the show still manages to be well done, especially for children who are a little too old for something like Dora but a little too young for a show like say... Southpark, it still manages to strike a balance.  The show hasn't really declined much in quality, though it is safe to say that what you presently get isn't exactly as good as what you previously got as it began.

For a children's show (well, for those around say... the title character's age) Arthur is actually enjoyable.  Not just that, but it's most defintely tolerable for adults and older children as well.  It has it's lessons and its stories but you hardly feel as though the show is trying to be something it's not.  It keeps from being suffocating in cuteness but remains innocent.  There's also not much about the show which an adult will understand but will fly over a child's head.

It may just be memories talking when I speak like this.  Arthur began broadcasting when I was nine years old going on ten.  It dropped down at a perfect time when I was too old for something like Blues Clues and too young to watch something like South Park (though South Park was still a year away, but I didn't actually have any interest in that particular show for many years).  It was nice to see something that I could watch where I could be a kid but not actually feel like I was one.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
February 25, 2010
My friend @Ulalume gave this a good rating too and I see that you have also. I'll see if I can check this out in the future...
More Arthur reviews
review by . February 02, 2010
Simply one of the best shows a child can watch.
For anyone who has been haunted by Dora the Explorer's grating voice as she takes five minutes to count to ten in Spanish, I give you Arthur.        Amidst the multitude of children's cartoons on the air today, Arthur stands out as being one of the few that doesn't try to teach children things that they will already be taught in school. Instead of trying to teach children the alphabet, numbers, colors, and shapes, Arthur instead shows children the …
Quick Tip by . February 23, 2010
A classic kids show that was a staple of my childhood. Buster was my fav
review by . December 17, 2008
OK, I have to admit: I'm in my twenties, and I still enjoy watching Arthur, the PBS cartoon based on Marc Brown's classic picture books for first and second graders, which I also used to read when I was, well, in first and second grade. I feel a bit guilty about watching this show because um, maybe it's a little regressive of me?But in defense, Arthur is one of the few cartoons for kids these days that isn't anime and doesn't involve fighting. Instead, Arthur is just a show about a kid being a kid …
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2009
I just realized that every character in this series had such Southern names, but I still have mad love for it!
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this tv show


Arthur is an American-Canadian educational television series for children, that airs on PBS in the United States; Radio-Canada, Knowledge and TVOKids in Canada; ABC2 in Australia and BBC One/ CBBC in the UK. It is aired internationally in 82 countries.

Arthur revolves around the lives of Arthur Timothy Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, his friends and family, and their daily interactions with each other. The series often deals with social and health-related issues that affect young children. There is a strong emphasis on the educational value of books and libraries as well as relationships with friends and family members. The television series is based on the Arthur book series, that are illustrated and written by Marc Brown. In 1994, WGBH Boston along with the Toronto-based Cinar, now Cookie Jar Group, began production of the animated series. Arthur has consistently remained one of the highest-rated shows on PBS Kids ever since it started airing in September 1996.
view wiki


Premiere Date: 2 September, 1996
Description: Children's television series
Genre: Educational, Children

Polls with this tv show

Favorite PBS children's programs


First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since