Our household has always had a kind of special connection with PBS’ Arthur, because it’s one of the first kids’ shows I remember specifically sitting down to watch with my daughter. The show debuted in September 1996, so it’s almost the same age as my daughter herself – although she’s in high school now, while Arthur’s still in Mr. Ratburn’s class at Lakewood Elementary.
I’ve written before about what makes Arthur a great show for geeklets, so when Mike Wood at WGBH in Boston sent me a note about the show kicking off its 15th season today (there was a full year break from April 2005 to May 2006), I thought it would be fun to round up a list of the 15 geekiest episodes so far. Mike sent his list of suggestions, and then my daughter and I tweaked it with our own favorites and settled on the following:
15: Team Trouble – Arthur, his best friend Buster, and their classmate Francine decide to do their group project on Ancient Rome in comic book form.
14: The World of Tomorrow – During the school sleepover at the science museum (I know: Awesome, right?), Classmate Binky Barnes stars in a classic “dream trip to the future” storyline.
13: Muffy and the Big Bad Blog – Muffy and Francine deal with severe cases of “Someone is wrong on the Internet”-itis.
12: Castles In the Sky – After the gang’s treehouse collapses, the kids design a new one. With help from Frank Gehry.
11: Arthur and the Big Riddle – “RiddleQuest” stands in for a kids’ version of “Jeopardy!”, with Alex Trebek lending his voice as the TV show’s host.
10: Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked – The Lakewood kids deal with pwnage issues as Sue Ellen takes competing at Virtualgoose.com to the next level.
9: Arthur the Wrecker – Our favorite aardvark becomes addicted to a video game called “Deep Dark Sea.” (Includes the ever-popular “I wasn’t playing, I was just showing the game to my friend” gambit.)
8: Prove it! – Arthur’s younger sister, D.W., latches onto his interest in science and demands to join him on a trip to the Exploratorium. Her views on snake evolution are illuminating.
7: Tales of the Grotesquely Grim Bunny – Changes on the shelves at the comic shop have the kids debating the merits of different expressions of sequential art.
6: The Return of the King – Arthur and his friends go to a Medieval Fair and knowledge-joust against a superior team of students. Bonus points for the episode title itself, naturally.
5: Prunella’s Special Edition – Elwood City’s fandom for the latest book in the saga of Henry Skreever, the boy wizard, reaches a fever pitch. (Yeah, kind of far-fetched, I know.)
4: The Boy Who Cried Comet – Buster spots a celestial visitor that’s not in his usual UFO style, and even points out that kids have discovered Stuff Out There, too.
3: Buster Spaces Out – Buster gets inspired by moon landing footage. NASA astronaut Mike Fincke guest stars.
2: The Secret Origin of Supernova – Arthur designs his own superhero backstory and costume for a visit to a comic convention. Includes a Jack Kirby reference, too!
1: Falafelosophy – Geekiest Arthur ever, no contest: Neil Gaiman stars as himself and inspires Sue Ellen to write and illustrate a graphic novel.
Arthur fans, did we miss any?