Although Marc Brown’s TV series Arthur debuted on PBS in 1996, the themes and characters continue to feel relevant and necessary today. Each 30-minute episode includes two separate stories and occasional short segments to reinforce messages.
Aardvark Arthur and pals encounter problems ranging from sibling squabbles to schoolyard bullying, problems familiar to young viewers. Arthur patterns problem-solving and pro-social behavior, and scripts do a good job of blending fanciful elements with real-life references to keep the program both entertaining and educational. For example, in “Arthur Takes A Stand,” school administrators are busy preparing for a visit from an important civil rights advocate. When Arthur recognizes an injustice facing an overworked cafeteria cook, he takes inspiration from civil rights tactics and explores options from boycotts to sit-ins in order to call attention to her plight. In other recent and representative episodes, a pal deals with disappointment when he loses his paper route job; Arthur’s younger sister frets over finding a toy that’s appropriate for a wheelchair-bound friend; and the gang grapples with the challenges of taking responsibility for a mistake.
Arthur strives to follow his conscience, think through his actions, and consider the perspectives of others as he and his diverse group of pals encounter common struggles of kid life. The theme song lyrics sum it up well: Everyone you meet / has an original point of view . . . and it’s a wonderful kind of day/ when you can learn to work and play / with each other.
Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.