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

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Simply one of the best shows a child can watch.

  • Feb 2, 2010
  • by
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 proper way to behave and treat other people. Following the life of Arthur Read and his anthropomorphic animal friends, Arthur usually covers topics that are lighter in nature such as dealing with bullies, family reunions, the responsibility that comes with adopting a puppy, etc. However, there are episodes that deal with heavier topics such as bed-wetting, welcoming a new baby into the home, and coping with a friend's cancer diagnosis.

While it may sound like Arthur is a heavy series that is too mature for young viewers, it really isn't. The main characters themselves are only in the third grade, and so the characters' reactions to the events around them very much mirror those that real young children would have. Also, the adults in Arthur, mainly the characters' parents, are always there to explain events and situations, as well as actions and their consequences, to the characters. I heard one of the best explanations as to why children shouldn't use swear words from an episode of this show, in fact. Arthur's four-year-old sister D.W. had learned a swear word from a teenage boy in a store, and upon asking why it was wrong to say these words to people, their mother said, "Let's just say it's like saying that I want to hurt your feelings." For some reason, I never forgot that.

Arthur features very solid animation, full of bright colors and fluid movements. Because the characters are animals, that paves the way for several distinctive character designs. You can always tell the characters apart, and while the characters wear the same clothes every day, they do switch to different apparel on special occasions, or during the episodes that take place in winter. The soundtrack features a catchy opening theme by Ziggy Marley and a few equally catchy background melodies. The ending theme is just the opening theme again, which changes occasionally between seasons; sometimes, it is the same song, sometimes, just the instrumentals, etc. The series is currently in its thirteenth season, with a fourteenth season in production.

Overall, I myself have loved Arthur for years, and watch it every day, because it isn't another shallow children's show that emphasizes facts over family values. There are several characters with differing personalities, so I'm certain that there is at least one character for every child to relate to. Everyone with children or younger siblings around should give this one a try. I highly recommend the books as well.
Simply one of the best shows a child can watch.

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February 22, 2012
Interesting perspective !
February 05, 2010
I remember this show, I watched it all the time when I was younger and all my family had was PBS. Those were the days, lol.
February 05, 2010
Haha yeah. I used to watch it every day after school. Now it's on at seven in the morning...
February 03, 2010
Great review as always, my friend! I will check this out soon, but It'll be later since I have so much on my plate right now. Thanks!
February 03, 2010
You're welcome, and thank you! The show doesn't exactly follow a linear formula, so you can easily watch an episode from the middle of the series, if you wanted, although some episodes make references to events from past episodes. Overall, it's fairly easy to get into the show, so you don't have to make a big commitment or anything. I know you have a lot of other titles to check out.
February 03, 2010
I usually let my daughter watch thic. Nice job
February 03, 2010
Thank you :)
February 03, 2010
I really enjoyed Arthur as a kid, though I thought the series really lost some magic as it went on.  I used to watch it.  I even watch some of the older episodes now.  I also enjoyed the books my Marc Brown as a kid as well.  It was one of the few shows I can remember watching as a kid that actually wasn't on Nickelodean or something like that.  
February 03, 2010
I somewhat agree. I think that the series also lost some magic when several of the characters got new voice actors after a few years. I'd become so used to the old voice actors, and felt that they were a vital part of the show.
February 03, 2010
Yeah they changed the voices and that was the first step.  They were perfect before.  It was kind of strange.
February 04, 2010
I agree.
February 03, 2010
Well, I'll ignore your jab at "Dora the Explorer", and give you kudos on your taste in kid's programming. My cousin's daughters used to watch this and it was one of the few shows that didn't annoy me to the point of madness. I also have to say that "Arthur" has been unique among cartoons for children because it has handled some sensitive issues, which is kind of uncommon considering how brainless so many cartoons are these days.
February 03, 2010
Sorry about the Dora jab! I don't find it to be a bad show necessarily; it just isn't something that I enjoy personally. Thank you for the feedback.
February 03, 2010
LOL! Nor I. In fact I never watched it, but her pet monkey is so cute that I felt there must be some redeeming qualities to the show, even if the title doesn't rhyme.
February 03, 2010
Oh, okay. The characters are likeable in the show, and it can be fun to watch, but it's one of those shows where Dora asks the audience questions, such as if they see a tree, how many rocks there are, etc., and it can get annoying at times.
February 03, 2010
There are quite a few shows like that. Unfortunately, we've reached a point in educational programming for children where people seem to think that a show has to literally interact with the viewer. Probably because educational video games are becoming so popular. But in the end it only hurts the overall quality of the show and personally I don't think it's a very effective way of progressive teaching. It gets old too quick and children adapt faster than adults... so to have them watching something that is repetitive and predictable is only going to condition them so that they won't be as adept at using their imaginations.
February 03, 2010
Part of it as well is that most children may not actually be learning anything other than what they already knew.  Most children who watch Dora the Explorer, for example... already know how to count and thus having them count say... a number of rocks only puts their counting skills to the test, it doesn't actually teach them anything.  Most children learn through repetition (but I don't think the show being "predictable" is going to somehow make them less adept at using their imagination--the children's shows I watched used to preach--they'll grow out of things like Dora the Explorer, eventually and as they become adolesecents... creativity tends to boom).  Children learn through repetition, but they also learn best when interacting with... well... other people.  It's why the parent who works with their child tends to teach more than the Baby Einstein video they would've watched as a kid.
February 03, 2010
I wonder if statistically that's true. I find that my creativity has waned the older I get and that repetition is more necessary for me as an adult in order to retain information. Whereas when I was younger I would instantly memorize things and absorb them into my thinking. But of course, I was a weird child. ; )
February 04, 2010
When I was younger, my mother didn't work, so she spent the day reading to me, etc., which I think really helped out in the long run. I now love books and just learning in general, while I have younger siblings who could easily play xBox Live literally all day. My siblings don't seem to enjoy learning, and they only read if they have to for school. That may have something to do with the fact that my mother eventually began working and didn't have enough time to do with them what she did with me, between working and taking care of more than one child. Also, not to offend, because I don't have children, but it seems that, sometimes, the educational videos such as Baby Einstein are a way for people to "babysit" their children without feeling guilty about it. Although these days, a lot of families have two working parents, and I can understand how everything feels rushed and there isn't as much time anymore.
February 04, 2010
Yeah, but relying on the television to watch over and educate your kids is pretty irresponsible. So I totally agree with you there.
February 05, 2010
February 02, 2010
I used to love watching this show with my son. I remember Arthur always wanting to be a superhero, DW with Ponytown and the mystery song (magic bus or something).
February 03, 2010
...and DW with her Mary Moo Cow. That girl has some crazy antics.
February 02, 2010
Your review brings back such memories!  When I was in elementary school, I just had to watch Arthur every day.  I haven't watched Arthur in a really long time, but still have fond memories of the show, and of the books.  This is right up there with Magic School Bus for me! :)
February 03, 2010
Thank you very much! I used to watch this every day when I was younger, then rediscovered it about a year ago. The Brain has always been my favorite character :)
February 03, 2010
I forgot about The Brain! I just remember the core family. I've gotta find this online now! :)
February 03, 2010


More Arthur reviews
review by . February 24, 2010
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 …
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
GCS ()
My user-name was derived from the title of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I came to Lunch with the hopes of publishing reviews that would be appreciated by others and reading the reviews of others that hope … more
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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.
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Premiere Date: 2 September, 1996
Description: Children's television series
Genre: Educational, Children

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