In which Arthur and the gang tackle the tricky subject of divorce by making
the kid with divorced parents feel inferior.
Basic Life Skill Failed: Having a nuclear family
Category: Arthur Fails at a Basic Life Skill
Basic Life Skill Failed: Being sensitive to the familial situations of others
This episode begins with an introduction where Arthur tells the audience that Buster's dad is AWOL, but that he takes Buster all sorts of places when he actually does show up so he's pretty cool. Buster gets a call from his dad while he and Arthur are flying kites and apparently it's really good news, but Buster refuses to tell Arthur what it is. Which was his first mistake.
This is also the first episode where we hear about Buster's infamous food collection...which apparently includes a paperclip chain?
After the title card, Arthur, Francine, and D.W. are walking Pal when they see some nameless extra putting up posters for the Father's Day Picnic. Arthur immediately panics because he's worried that Buster will have a miserable time and that everyone will find out that his parents are divorced (and have been for four or five years) and give him a group hug. Buster wanders by and Arthur accidentally glues himself to the wall in an effort to shield his friend from the trauma of seeing a traditional father and son poster.
|Friends don't let friends see things they probably see every day just in poster form.|
Francine asks Buster if he's going to the Father's Day Picnic. He says he has other plans. She says that her sister ran away to Crown City to be an exotic dancer (or something like that), so their family was one kid short if he wanted to chill with the Frenskys. He thanks her, but sticks to his guns and says he has other plans.
After he's gone, Arthur immediately kicks into high scheming mode. If Buster doesn't want to be a part of someone else's family, he reasons, maybe he'd want a surrogate dad all to himself! Genius.
So he starts recruiting fake dads. Because that's what best friends do.
His first choice?
Pickles the Clown, a recurring character with an allergy to dogs (which is ironic because he seems to be the same bulldog-ish thing that Binky is).
|Know what's scarier than a clown? A clown who rings your doorbell and says he wants to be your dad.|
Unsurprisingly (or maybe surprisingly because it is, after all, Buster Baxter), Buster refuses the clown's offer, but takes the balloons which Arthur has to pay for.
But Arthur is nothing if not
thick-skulled persistent, so he keeps trying. The following is a list of potential Mr. Baxters.
- A robot. Brain made said robot from a mannequin and parts of the robocat they used to prove that Buster was lying in a previous episode.
|It actually looks like the animated Mr. Rogers from another episode. They should've called Fred up for this gig.|
|Buster sets out to exorcise the demon. Or...he thinks this guy swallowed a cat so he's trying to do the Heimlich.|
- Mr. Ratburn. Because calling your teacher "Mom" or "Dad" is nowhere near as embarrassing as showing up at the Father's Day Picnic with them.
|Poor Nigel just wants to be loved.|
- Pal. George offers to use his ventriloquism skills for the greater good rather than irritating everyone and covering up his crippling social anxiety.
|Pal is not convinced.|
- A cushion. Yep. Prunella suggests that they hypnotize Buster into thinking a cushion is his father. Thankfully, Arthur has enough sense to shoot that one down.
|Unrelated: In some future post I'm going to explore the mystical and Arthur. They address divorce, cancer, and religion, but they never address the fact that Prunella and her family are freaking Wiccans.|
- A virtual reality helmet. We get a sad, sad glimpse into Muffy's loveless life when she decides that she'll go to the picnic with the helmet and Buster can have her lackluster dad.
|George still hasn't given up on his idea.|
- Binky Barnes. After everything else gets shot down, Binky offers to be Buster's dad and starts doing all sorts of parent-y things, like telling Arthur his shoe's untied without looking and tucking D.W. into bed. This is one of my favorite exchanges of all time:
Buster: *as Binky spills hot chocolate on his arm* "Ow! Watch it! Why don't you take those glasses off?"
Binky: "Quit moving the cup! I mean...Watch it, my boy. This is a hot beverage."
Buster: "Binky, why do you keep calling me your boy?"
Binky: "...uh...Starve a cold and feed a fever!"
Buster: "This is some crazy plan Arthur cooked up to keep me from feeling like I don't have a dad, isn't it?"
Binky: "Um...yes...uh...no! Just play along, doofus, it's for your own good."
Buster: "Well, you can tell him I already have a father and I'm not sad!"
Binky: "Yes you are! You're miserable!"
Binky: *falls into the creek trying to go after him*
Binky: "Some son. Bet he doesn't even get me a tie for Father's Day."
|I'll get you a tie, Binky.|
- A piñata. This wasn't actually Arthur's idea. It was more of a pissed off response from Buster. "Oh, I wonder who my father is today. Is it the cashier?" (who, you can see, is a girl) "Is it that piñata?" (plays a bar of Spanish-sounding music)
In the end, it turns out that Buster's dad hired a hot air balloon for everyone at the picnic, Mr. Ratburn took the Tibble twins, Arthur's dad tries to bond with his only son and ends up breaking an egg on his face, and Francine's sister wasn't cut out for Crown City life and came back to Elwood City so everyone is happy.
EXCEPT ME. Buster isn't the only one with an absentee father. Poor overlooked Fern Walters is dad-less for the entire run of the show (except for in a later episode when the creators try to dupe the audience into believing that Fern's had a dad the whole time but I'm not buying it because I've seen every single episode for the past fifteen years thank you very much.) The Tibbles don't have a father or a mother or even a grandpa. Although I have a theory that they killed their parents because that's the sort of thing the Tibbles would do. Or maybe their parents are/were Nazi hunters. Rattles (one of Binky's juvie friends) doesn't have parents. Molly (more of the same) doesn't have a dad.
The real moral of the story is, don't be best friend with the main character coz they will get all up in your business.
Happy Father's Day, y'all.