"Arthur's Spelling Trubble" is the second half of the second episode in the first season of Arthur. It is based on the book Arthur's Teacher Trouble.
Arthur is entered in the spelling bee, but becomes nervous when he makes it to the finals with the smartest kid in his class and last year's winner.
Arthur is hiding backstage of the Spellathon. He asks the viewers if they have ever been nervous to do something that was important to them. He imagines himself as Benjamin Franklin doing his famous lightning and kite experiment.
Francine, as his wife supposedly, worries over him. But he is determined to do so. A lightning bolt strikes the kite, causing it to travel down to Arthur, shocking him.
In present day, Arthur admits he shouldn't be afraid of something so little, but then Mr. Haney calls Arthur to stage. Arthur becomes nervous again.
Arthur, Francine, and Prunella are walking down the hall and greet Mr. Haney, who is polishing the Spellathon trophy. Prunella boasts about how she won last year's contest with the word endurance.
She asks Arthur if he can spell it. He attempts to, but fails to do so. Class begins and Mr. Ratburn gives the announcement to the students that they will have a spelling bee.
He asks them to study thoroughly, for whoever wins gets a surprise. After school, Arthur, Buster, Francine, Brain wonder what the surprise is going to be. Buster guesses that it will be less homework.
This inspires the others to study hard. Francine studies at home with her movie star glasses. Brain attempts to memorize how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, but keeps forgetting how many i's are within it. His dad advises him to skip it. Muffy uses a computer spelling simulator and spells dog. Buster is sitting in his chair studying but eventually becomes bored.
He gets an idea and buys a lucky charm. Arthur shows his dad, who is making a model of a bodybuilder out of meat, a song about the first word in his spelling book which is aardvark.
Arthur goes to his treehouse and studies, although he is just singing the rap of one word over and over. D.W. arrives, but Arthur tells her to not bother him because he's studying. D.W. thought that he had ants in his pants, due to his leg movements.
He tells her again to leave. She does so, thinking that he is a grouch. Arthur resumes studying and is interrupted by Buster. Arthur asks him if he is done studying. Buster claims he doesn't need to, for he has his good luck charm, and asks Arthur if he wants to go to the arcade.
Arthur isn't sure and thinks he should study more. Buster tempts him by telling him that he is not the spelling type and that they have a new game that flips you all around. Arthur eventually agrees.
At the day of the spelling bee, Buster asks Arthur if he's ready, but this rather has Arthur worry, for he forgot about studying. Mr. Ratburn has the spelling bee begin, and so far all the students so far, except for the Brain, have spelled incorrectly.
Arthur thinks he could get closer to the heater so that he could go to the nurse, but it's too late, it's his turn and Mr. Ratburn asks him to spell aardvark, Arthur then briefly does the rap of the word. Francine's turn comes and has to spell pleasant, but she spells it incorrectly as pleasent, discouraging her.
The bee is over and only the Brain and Arthur have won. Mr. Ratburn announces that the surprise is that they will participate in the Spellathon, this shocks Arthur. After the bell rings, Arthur suggests to Ratburn that he himself should not be in the contest and admits that "aardvark" was the only word he studied.
Mr. Ratburn encourages Arthur to give more effort if he wants to do well in the Spellathon. Back at home at dinner, Arthur's family volunteers to help Arthur in any way they can, although D.W. doesn't apply. Later, Arthur is studying in his room, and D.W. prepares to annoy him, but their Mom stops her and bribes her with ice cream.
The next day, Arthur is again studying in the treehouse, Buster comes and asks if he wants to play football. But this time, Arthur declines this and spells "sorry".
At home again, Mom and Dad try to feed Baby Kate, while Arthur is studying, but he thinks he isn't getting any better. His dad tells him that he probably is getting better without realizing it.
He asks if he wants something to eat. Arthur answers and spells absolutely, he checks his book and is happy to see that he spelled it correctly. He continues studying. Just then the doorbell rings. D.W. answers it and it turns out to be Buster and Francine wanting to know if Arthur can play.
D.W. says he's still 'exercising his brain' and that she's available. Arthur is then shown walking down the street still review his book. Brain greets him, and Arthur asks how his studying is going. He says that it's going well and that he is now getting computer equipment for a program he is making on his spare time which amazes Arthur.
That night, Arthur is brushing his teeth, and then D.W. walks up to him and asks him to spell "toothpaste" he does so correctly. The next day, he continues studying and hears Kate say "glooba". Arthur spells this once again correctly, which confuses Kate. The moment of the Spellathon has arrived. Grandma Thora helps Arthur with his suit. He is also very nervous, but Grandma Thora encourages him.
Backstage, everyone feels excited, except Arthur. Prunella is especially excited when the Spellathon torch is lit, beginning the contest. Mr. Haney welcomes everyone and presents the contestants. DW cheers on Arthur when he is presented with the other contestants.
He wishes them good luck and calls Brain to the microphone. Mr. Haney asks him to spell "fear", but Brain doesn't respond for he is very nervous, he eventually attempts to spell the word, but he incorrectly spells it as "fere".
Some time later into the contest, the cat girl attempts to spell "pieces", but improperly spells it as "peices". Prunella's turn comes and has to spell "champion". She claims this easy, for she sees her last year's trophy every day, and spells it correctly.
Arthur's turn comes, his word is "suggest", he spells this correctly. Prunella mocks Arthur, thinking she is unbeatable. Her turn comes again and is made to spell "preparation". She is uncertain and asks him for the definition.
He grants her request and defines it. She attempts to spell it, but spells it as preperation, she is shocked to see that it was incorrect. Arthur comes up again and is asked to spell preparation.
He spells it correctly and wins the Spellathon trophy. After the contest, Buster is very glad for Arthur, while Arthur is very relieved that it's over. Mr. Ratburn congratulates him and that he knew he could do it. D.W. comments that now 'Arthur' knows this.
- This is the first appearance of the Treehouse.
- It is abnormal in this episode that Brain hopes to have less homework, yet in most other episodes, he likes homework.
- Mr. Haney and Mr. Ratburn referred to the Brain by his nickname, who he is usually referred to by Arthur and his friends; although he refers to the Brain by his real name, "Alan," in all later episodes.
- The word Arthur spells in his song references his species, "aardvark".
- Brain strangely can't spell "fear", a second grade word. (They are in third). It's either Brain was nervous, or he wasn't thinking.
- Although the title card has not been narrated on the home video and DVD releases, Binky narrates the title when this aired on television.
- First appearance of Thora Read.
- This episode features the first reference to the popular English rock group, The Beatles. In Arthur's dictionary, it says "Abbey Road" on one of the pages. This is the name of the studio in which the Fab Four recorded most of their songs, as well as the title of their last studio recorded album.
- The incorrect spelling of "pieces" refers to the saying, "i before e except after c, or when sounded as a as neighbor or weigh."
- The image of Arthur and Francine in the opening is from Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment.
- When the contestants are first seen backstage, Brain is wearing his usual clothes, rather than his tan colored shirt for the Spell-a-thon. In the next shot, he is now wearing his formal tan-colored shirt.
- At the starting of the Spelling Bee in Mr. Ratburn's class George can be seen at the end next to Francine but when it's Francine's turn to spell the word pleasant George has mysteriously disappeared making Francine the last person to spell a word in the Spelling Bee.
- For some uknown reason during the Spelling Bee in Mr. Ratburn's class Muffy isn't seen in line to spell a word.
- This is the first episode to use Arthur Finding an Umbrella as a title card.
- The word "trubble" from the episode title is intentionally misspelled from the word "trouble" as a joke for what Arthur can't spell.
- Running Gag: Baby Kate's first word is "Glooba!" in this episode.
Top 10 Arthur Songs:
Arthur is the second longest-running animated program in America, only behind The Simpsons. Think about that: an animated educational program about a talking aardvark and his anthropomorphic friends has managed to last almost two decades on television and constantly come up with fresh new episodes with 213 already in the can, and that’s not even counting the spinoff Postcards from Buster. Part of that longevity is not only in the characters they portray and the universe they’ve created; but also in the music they’ve crafted for the show as well. Throughout the series’ run, there have been many memorable songs that have been performed on the show. In fact, Arthur & Friends even released an album, 1998’s Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape). In fact, a number of the songs on this list could be heard on that album. One song that will not be featured on this list, however: the opening theme song. “Believe in Yourself” by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers has opened the show every episode since it’s run. However, I decided not to include it because I wanted to only cover songs that were performed within the realm of the show. Plus, this song is so iconic I don’t know if it’d be fair to the others.
#10. “What’s The Use of Presents” by Muffy Crosswire
Episode: Arthur’s Perfect Christmas
Muffy is the richest of the Elwood City kids, because her father can somehow create a fortune from owning one car lot. In fact, she is so rich that in Christmas morning, her stocking is as big as the tree. And that stocking is filled with lots of gifts that any little girl would be fortunate to have. Unfortunately, due to Muffy not understanding how important Hanukkah is to Francine and her family, the two have a big argument and that leaves Muffy to play with all of her gifts by herself. But she makes her feelings on this clear by singing about it. In this song, she discusses what she would do with all her toys if she got to do them with her BFF. Normally, I consider Muffy’s conceited nature irritating on this show; but it’s moments like this that allow the viewer to see another side of Muffy. We get to see a more humble side that reveals that she does value her and Francine’s friendship despite their numerous differences. Even a rich person who has everything needs someone to share it with; even R&B/soul legend Charlie Wilson wrote a song about it…OK, those were different circumstances, but you get the idea. Muffy no doubt still loves her riches, but if there’s anything she values just as much, it’s her friendship with Francine.
#9. “In My Africa” by D.W. Read, The Brain, & Chiekh
Episode: In My Africa
The most recent song on our list is a collaboration between D.W., The Brain, and the new African student in D.W.’s school, Chiekh. When Chiekh comes to the school, D.W. already has assumptions about what Africa is like, but it turns out she is completely wrong. She then wants to learn more about the continent, and decides to go about it by writing a song about Africa with the help of Chiekh and The Brain. The reason the Brain is included on this song is because he’s the boy genius of the show; also, it’s revealed in Arthur’s Perfect Christmas that his family celebrates Kwanzaa, which means that they do value and celebrate the roots of Africa and its heritage. What the three churn out is an educational beginner’s guide for those who may be uninformed about the continent. It’s basically their own version of “Yakko’s World” from the Animaniacs, but focusing on this one continent. An admirable effort from an admirable episode.
#8. “That’s Elwood City” by Lakewood Elementary
Episode: Elwood City Turns 100!
Arthur is one of those shows where the city is almost it’s own character. It’s landmark locations such as the Sugar Bowl and Arthur’s treehouse have been the backdrop to many a memorable scene in the show’s history. But if it hadn’t been for one Jacob Katzenellenbogan founding the town, who knows where all of this would’ve taken place. Well, the people of the time predicted no one would ever remember Elwood existed in 100 years time. It would have been a joy to see their faces 10 decades later when the students of Lakewood Elementary put on a musical to commemorate the city and closed out with this huge musical number. Francine kicks off the song with a singing voice she’s already aware is good; then the upbeat music kicks in and the children sing a love letter to the city they call home and a few of the adventures they’ve gone through. (Francine even references the pioneers from the episode where Elwood had a city-wide power outrage.) The kids even poke fun at themselves for their terrible track record against the softball team from Mighty Mountain. Even the late Mr. Roger’s gets a shoutout. This episode has other songs in it too, but this is the most memorable one by far. (OK, maybe Buster’s “Dr. Ector” song deserves a shout-out as well.)
#7. “Homework” by Nigel Ratburn
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival
There are there things Nigel Ratburn loves in life: he loves puppets, he loves desserts, and in the later episodes, he even became enamored with technology, especially the internet. Oh yeah, and he also loves assigning heaps of homework. From the second he bought in as a third grade teacher at Lakewood, he’s earned a reputation as a very tough teacher who does not hold back. Sure, he’s much nicer when he’s not on the clock, but when he’s in the classroom, he takes his job very seriously, so much so that one of the songs on the almost live not real music festival is dedicated entirely to the fact. Mr. Ratburn congratulates the class on working hard during the school day and rewards them with one bummer of a prize in “19 chapters of history” and having to list “63 adverbs alphabetically”. And just in case you feel the need to jus scribble it all down last minute, do NOT forget that “neatness counts!” Making this song even funnier is Buster’s reaction to all of it, a.k.a. the usual reaction of anyone who has a ton of homework to do. This is a hilarious acapella song that you should be able to jam to, anti-homework or not.
#6. “Crazy Bus by Joe Fallon
Episode: Buster Baxter, Cat Saver/Play It Again, D.W.
D.W. Read’s favorite song aside from the “Tina The Talking Tabby” song and that mind-numbing Mary Moo Cow song that teaches you how to spell “fun”. (Those songs are so annoying that they didn’t even make the honorable mentions; do not expect to see them here). OK, so “Crazy Bus” is annoying too, but it makes the list for a couple of reasons: it’s at least a fascinating kind of annoying. The “F.U.N.” song is just a lame cow on a preschool show spelling a word and expecting us to join in; Spongebob’s “F.U.N.” song was more fun. And “Tina The Talking Tabby” is just those four words repeated until the end of time. Who’d wanna listen to that? “Crazy Bus”, on the other hand, was a legit song in the Arthur universe, and while it also has some of the stupidest lyrics ever penned, it’s catchiness is kind of addictive and the lyrics are on the verge of hilarious. Arthur may disagree because “baloony” and “bus-a-looey” are not actual words, but even he was able to rock with it when Yo Yo Ma and Joshua Redman performed it on the My Music Rules episode. Plus, the song is so iconic that it would’ve just been weird to leave it off; I know D.W. would’ve caught a fit if it wasn’t included.
#5. “The Ballad of Buster Baxter” by Art Garfunkel
Episode: The Ballad of Buster Baxter
I’m not familiar with the music of Art Garfunkel. He was before my time and I didn’t grow up with his music. In fact, if you asked me what my favorite Art Garfunkel song is, my answer would be “The Ballad of Buster Baxter”, which he performed all throughout the Arthur episode of the same name. After being gone from a number of episodes because he was traveling the world with his pilot father, Buster returns to find out that some things have changed in Elwood City while he was gone. Therefore, as the song goes on, things seem to get sadder, leading to him being a “sad, sad bunny”. Luckily, things pick up around the end as Buster’s friends throw a party for him and they watch his home videos together. As such, Garfunkel’s instrumentation becomes upbeat once again. The song is basically a roller-coaster ride of what is going on as Buster settles back into Elwood City after his lengthy absence. Also, Buster and Arthur being confused by Garfunkel’s presence at the end was just hilarious.
#4. “Jekyll & Hyde” by The Brain
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival
II usually don’t mess with The Brain on this show. The kid born Alan Powers has an irritating habit of being a total know-it-all. Even the show is aware of this and created an entire episode dedicated to his buggy nature. Much like how Muffy is extremely spoiled, The Brain being extremely smart and often arrogant of the fact can be too much sometimes, but it’s necessary because it’s what makes his character work. And it worked so well that he got his own song on Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival. His song is a story set to pop-rock music about how he took out the Robert Louis Stevenson novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (just Doctor Jeckyll and Hyde in their universe) from the library and became so obsessed with it that he dreamed of making a potion that turns his into the wicked monster. Even after saying to himself that he wouldn’t read it again, he reads it again and dreams of turning into the monster yet again. But by the end, we’re left to wonder: “Did he make that formula for real?” Whether he did or not, this was my favorite thing The Brain has ever done on this show. The song is scary catchy and the hook will get stuck in your head.
#3. “Leftover’s Goulash” by Arthur, D.W., & Dave Read
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival
“ARTHUR! D.W.! DINNER!” Set to music of Jacques Offenbach and George Bizet‘s Carmen comes a song that’s all about food. Arthur and D.W. talk about the food they do and don’t like while their father suggests they try some of his new “edible” creations. Yes, the word “edible is in quotations for a reason because they are not feeling “jellyfish inside a beet” or “garlic eels” or a “liver cake” or a “cookie fish” any other of their father’s creations that seem like he whipped it together last minute. At first I found it a bit weird because Arthur’s dad isn’t really know for making terrible food on the show; his food is usually very much loved on the show (unlike Grandma Thora’s). But for the sake of comedy, I’ll give this song a pass. This song is crazy dramatic, but that’s what makes it funny, and add to it the fact that it uses music from some of the most famous composition in history and you have a very enjoyable song that may actually make you hungry by the end. By the way, I wonder if D.W. got over her fear of dead fishes seeing as she caught a ton of fish in the Cast Away episode.
#2. “Nothing But The Music” by U Stink
Episode: Arthur – It’s Only Rock N Roll
In the one-hour special It’s Only Rock N Roll, Elwood City’s noisiest drummer Francine Frensky started a band (with guitarist Molly, clarinet player Binky, keyboardist Ms. McGrady, and eventual lead singer Fern) and hilariously named it U Stink. When she puts this band together, the purpose was to be a band that was about the music and not the fame. Francine hates the idea of “selling out” so much that she decided to write the band’s one and only hit song about it. And it was actually a damn catchy tune, too. “Don’t want nothing but the music, don’t need no shiny limousines,” was a declaration of Francine’s feelings on the commercialization of music and she got her point across very well with this song. Even if you don’t feel the same, you’ll probably be singing along to this one. Oh, and by the end of the special, the song received a boost via a performance of it with the Backstreet Boys. You could say that’s technically “selling out”, but another way to see it would be that the Backstreet Boys, no matter how famous they get, are also in it for the love of the music. This song would have been #1, but one song was able to bypass it for that spot.
#1. “Library Card” by Arthur & Friends
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival
No other song stood a chance. The song that bookended that Almost Live Note Real Music Festival basically demands the #1 spot, for a number of reasons, actually. First of all, that’s the perfect message for the kids; the song discusses how there is no level of difficulty or limit to the amount adventures that lie beyond the covers of a book. As an educational program, Arthur is making sure your children get some kind of productivity out of their programming. And they do that by doing another thing that makes this song so cool: rapping. This is probably up there with “Do The Bartman” and “Clint Eastwood” on the list of the best rap songs by cartoon characters. The kids bust some rhymes on the many different things that kids can read about. George prefers books on card tricks, Francine prefers sports books, Buster shines a light on books about wildlife, and Binky even shows some love to books with pictures of pretty flowers (that get crush by dinosaurs, because yeah right, Binky). The song ends with everyone singing the songs catchy hook loud and proud (except D.W., who’s just trying to figure out who this Dewey Decimal person is). If there is a song from Arthur that people remember aside from the theme song, it’s this one. This one may even convince you to pick up a book or two. Easily the best song from the show. Also, did anyone ever tell D.W. what the Dewey Decimal system is? I’m really curious to know.
+ We Stink “We Stink Song”
After being rejected for Francine’s band, Arthur and Buster decide to form their own rock band with George, combining their piano, tuba, and vocal “abilities” to create their own…..”unique” sound. Their band name is actually pretty accurate, but their song itself is a very amusing kind of bad and probably would’ve made the list if they actually ever recorded it.
+ Muffy and Nick Carter “Manager of My Dreams”
Muffy was dead serious about that “Having a crush on Nick Carter” thing. Until the end of the episode when her crush switched to Howie cause he gets business and whatnot. Either way, what a daydream, Muffy.
+ George “I’d Play This Tree To Grow”
Yeah, between the “We Stink Song” and this, it’s well documented that George isn’t a very good singer. However, he has his woodworking and imagination, so it doesn’t matter than he’d never win The Voice. At least this song has an environmentally-friendly purpose behind it.
+ Buster Baxter “Baxter Day”
This seems like it’d be a fun holiday. Eat breakfast, wear PJ’s all day, and go into outer space? Only Buster would think of something like this. He is perhaps the most fun character on the entire show, after all.
+ Arthur Read “Perfect Christmas”
This song has a nice Christmas feel as Arthur sings about what he hopes his Christmas will be like this year (hint: it didn’t go down like he expected because where’s the adventure in that?) and it’s a fine way to start the one hour Christmas special.
+ Mrs. Sweetwater “I Like Fudge/Why Not Smile”
This song is so ridiculous, I just wanted to mention it somewhat. I’m still confused as to how her curriculum was certified for third-grade teaching. Maybe she and Ms. Morgan should switch places.
+ Binky “Matalij Ja Mustii (The Binky Song)”
My research tells me that this song is performed by a real-life Finnish folk band by the name of Värttinä. It would’ve probably made the list if the Arthur version of it had any real lyrics in it. But hey, sounds like good skiing music.