My kids would probably watch just about any television that I let them, but they truly do have their favorite shows. There are some characters that they just don't miss if we don't see them for a while... and then there are some that they wonder about and get excited when they reappear.
One of those is Arthur. Lately it seems like we've been missing that aardvark, but, much to my girls' delight, he is back for an all-new season premiering on PBS KIDS Go! on Monday, October 11 (check your local listings).
In the five new episodes that are premiering, a new friend is introduced and kids are encouraged to get creative through the arts, making movies and even writing graphic novels. There's something for everyone! We sat down to watch a preview of what is to come this season with Arthur and the gang in Elwood City and, as usual, were not disappointed in the entertainment value as well as the underlying message of the importance of going after your goals and dreams.
In the premiere episode, "The Wheel Deal," Lydia Fox moves to Elwood City in time to help Brain learn how to be a wheelchair basketball player. Having been confined to a wheelchair after an injury, Brain is afraid that he won't be able compete in a basketball tournament going on for charity but, with Lydia's help, learns that feats can be accomplished even while in a wheelchair.
As with all Arthur episodes, the animated story is followed by a live-action segment, this time featuring 10-year-old Kaitlyn who doesn't let the fact that she uses a wheelchair stop her from enjoying life. Kaitlyn shows viewers that, like all kids, she has homework to do, enjoys spending time with her family, eating pizza and going to the beach.
In "Falafelosophy," an episode to kick off Halloween week, author Neil Gaiman has a guest roll. At the urging of Neil, Sue Ellen tries her hand at writing and illustrating a graphic novel and turns to Neil for inspiration and encouragement wherever he happens to appear. And where better to find philosophy lessons than from her local falafel vendor?
Also just in time for Halloween, the Arthur episode "Tales of Grotesquely Grim Bunny" focuses on the local comic book store changing ownership and the new, darker and scarier comics that are then available. Fern likes them but Arthur can't seem to stomach it and he gets worried that it is wrong to be afraid. In the end though, maybe his friends will be more supportive than he realizes.
In "Agent of Change," after watching the latest animated hit in movie theaters, Muffy and Francine are disappointed that there never seem to be any cool female characters on screen. With the help of a very talented artist, the three set out to make their own movie just the way they want it.
Finally, in "D.W. Unties the Knot," after watching the Wedding Channel, Arthur's younger sister sets out to plan the biggest unicorn wedding imaginable. But when she realizes she is getting more than she bargained for, will she be able to back out in time?
All in all, Arthur is a great show on many levels. My kids like the cute, animal characters and I am glad to that they are receiving messages of creativity, acceptance, empowerment, determination, hard work and more. Whenever a show can be fun and have a great lesson built right in, it's a winner for everyone!
(Other than the copies of Arthur that I was provided by WGBH, I was not compensated or enticed or to do this review in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion of this show and its contents.)