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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Retro Review: Arthur's Perfect Christmas (2000)

Arthur's Perfect Christmas
TV Movie

Plot: Arthur, D.W and their family and friends prepare to make the best Christmas ever in Elwood City - but obstacles get in their way

'Almost Perfect'

An hour-long length TV movie special, based on the books by Marc Brown and animated TV series on PBS that also aired here in the UK on CBBC, Arthur is an educational show aimed at children aged 4 to 8 years old. Set in the fictional town of Elwood City, which resembles and is based on Brown's hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, the episodes revolve around the characters and residents, with the central character being the mild-mannered Arthur Reed: an 8-year-old anthropomorphic bespeckled aardvark, his friends that include Buster, Francine, Muffy, Binky, Brain and his family, mother Jane, father David, his young bratty sister, DW (real name Dora Winfred, which she hates being called that) and younger sister, baby Kate and their pet dog, Pal.

Each of these characters faces their own share of problems and dilemmas, which consist of 11-minute episodes. Unlike many other animated children's shows, the storylines and issues are set in the real world with realistic situations, whereas whilst some of the stories may not express the character's point of view, they may be relatable or relevant to some or a lot of people. Such episodes will depict the characters, particularly the younger ones in Arthur, DW etc, dealing with situations often faced by children and from a children's perspective. Arthur's run eventually ended in 2012 indefinitely with the penultimate 3 episodes airing. With over 20 seasons and over 200 episodes, Arthur is the second-longest running animated television series in the U.S, right after Fox's The Simpsons.  

In Arthur's Perfect Christmas, the kids and their families prepare for Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hannakah: Arthur tries to make sure that Christmas turns out perfectly for him and his family, Buster and his mother spend the holidays together, with the latter doing her best with her efforts and Muffy and Francine have a dilemma when Francine cannot make it to the Christmas party, as she is celebrating Hanukkah with her family.

The religious sentiments weren't as overt as I'd expected and much like the show, it entertains, whilst teaching life lessons along the way. At the same time, it doesn't become preachy and heavy-handed, thus force-feeding the messages down people's throats. With Arthur himself, he understands and realises that the joy of Christmas isn't the gifts and the gift giving and receiving, but in relishing and embracing the holiday spirit with his family and friends. 

Despite being a children's show and film aimed at youngsters, the issues and storylines throughout the Arthur franchise are so universal and speak to people, regardless of age, as well as race. I think that is one of the reasons why it has not only caught on with so many people from around the world, particularly adults but because, even though it is technically a kid's series, it's not kiddie-like to the extent it is juvenile, childish and low-brow and dumbing down for the sake of kids. It actually has something to say and the way it does it, is not so blunt, but it is also not complicated or difficult to wrap one's head around. 

The animation and character designs are well designed and being a fan of the show, is just how they'd turn out onscreen. The stories are well-written and they do not become complicated, nor do they drone on and on. & the characters are two-dimensional and show their good sides, their bad sides, but also despite being anthropomorphic animals, they are and still act and behave like humans and have human feelings and emotions too.

Final Verdict:

Marc Brown's Arthur has always been one of my favourite cartoons that I enjoyed watching on TV and for fans of the series, Arthur's Perfect Christmas still retains that wholesome goodness and spirit, as well as its ability to entertain through its diverse storylines and characters. 

If you loved the cartoon, you'll enjoy this as well. If you want to spend the holidays with an animated special, then give Arthur, his family and his mates a whirl. 


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