Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids
PBS has brought audiences some of the greatest series on television over the course of its roughly four decades or so that it has been on air. Series the likes of Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood, Antiques Roadshow, Nature, and NOVA have proven time and again over the decades why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming. British imports such as Inspector Lewis, Endeavour, and Mr. Selfridge have served to solidify that reputation even more. Each of the noted programs has done its own part to solidify PBS’ place in television’s upper echelons. As important as they have proven to be to PBS’ success rate, one other series has proven perhaps even more important than any other in recent years as a cornerstone to PBS’ weekly schedule. The series in question is another British import that goes by the name of Downton Abbey. It has garnered itself numerous awards over the course of its now four years and five seasons on the air. It was also recently renewed for a sixth season, which will likely debut in the U.K. later this year. What’s more it has even been spoofed by PBS’ long-running series Sesame Street with a sketch titled “Upside Downton Abbey.” Much like with NBC’s Saturday Night Live audiences know that when Sesame Street spoofs a pop culture phenomenon, it has really made it big here in the United States. It may sound odd to some. But it is true. The same applies to another of PBS’ family and fan favorite series, Arthur. Fittingly, PBS and PBS Kids will release a brand new collection of episodes later this month (January 27th to be exact) that features its own tribute to Downton Abbey. It will do so in the upcoming release Arthur’s Fountain Abbey. This episode alone is makes the upcoming collection well worth the watch by viewers of any age. Of course the trio of episodes that accompany “Fountain Abbey” make it worth the watch, too. That is thanks in large part to their writing. And for those audiences that perhaps are purchasing an Arthur DVD for the first time ever, the bonus material included on this disc is exactly the same as that included on previous Arthur DVDs. Each of the three elements noted here plays its own important part in the success of Arthur’s Fountain Abbey. Taken collectively into consideration, they make Arthur: Fountain Abbey a great watch for the whole family.
PBS Kids’ upcoming release of Arthur’s Fountain Abbey is a great watch for the whole family. The four-episode DVD is anchored by a tribute to what has become one of PBS’ most surprising series in Downton Abbey. “Fountain Abbey” focuses on one Muffy Crosswire. Muffy makes a surprising discovery about her family’s ancestry in this episode when she discovers that everything she knew about her family’s history isn’t exactly as it seems. The end result is that Muffy learns to better appreciate her family’s roots. Anyone that is familiar with Downton Abbey will appreciate the Arthur’s writers stayed as true as possible to Downton Abbey as possible in writing this episode. From the social stratification that separated those within Highclaire Castle to the castle’s very look inside and out, this episode’s writers made sure to pay proper respect to Downton Abbey and its fans. Not only that but that it stayed so true to its source material makes for wonderful marketing for that series as it is currently airing its fifth season here in the United States. It’s not the first time that those behind Arthur have paid tribute to pop culture. There have also been references to the likes of Batman, Dr. Katz (yes, Dr. Katz), Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Peanuts, and so many others throughout the series’ years on television. Being that it’s not the first time that the series has paid tribute to a pop culture hit, this latest is just one more notch in the series’ proverbial belt showing why Arthur remains today one of the absolute best series on television for the whole family.
Arthur’s full-on tribute to Downton Abbey on this disc is not the first time that the series has ever paid tribute to pop culture. And while it isn’t the first time it’s done so, it is the first time that it has taken on a show that has proven such a surprising hit among American audiences. The end result of that tribute is a presentation that pays full respect to both Downton Abbey and its fans. There is no denying its importance to the overall presentation on the series’ latest upcoming DVD compilation. It isn’t the only episode featured on the DVD, though. Also included on the disc are the episodes “Arthur Calls It,” “Whip. Mix. Blend.,” and “Staycation.” All three episodes provide their own importance and enjoyment to the whole that is Arthur’s Fountain Abbey. Each episode presents its own importance to the whole presentation thanks primarily to its writing. The first of the trio—“Arthur Calls It”—teaches a valuable lesson about acting on what one believes is right in life. The lesson is taught when Arthur’s friends force him to make a call on whether his best friend Buster was called out in a baseball game. If he calls Buster out, it could ruin his friendship with Buster. But if he calls Buster safe, it could put in jeopardy his friendship with his friends on the other side of the call. In essence, it teaches young viewers about the difficulties that come with doing what they personally believe is right, even with the potential consequences of said decisions. It is definitely its own important episode. Considering the story’s outcome, one could even argue that there’s a hint of the message that sometimes doing the right thing means doing nothing at all and letting others work out their disputes on their own. Again, more proof of the episode’s importance to the whole presentation. It makes for a great start to any discussion between parents and their children or even between teachers and students about ethics and doing the right thing.
Considering the lesson taught in “Arthur Calls It,” this episode proves to be as important to the whole of Arthur’s Fountain Abbey as the DVD’s title episode. The lesson in question is a basic lesson that centers on the topic of ethics. It is the most basic lesson possible but is just as solid a starting point for that lesson. It’s just one of the important topics covered in “Fountain Abbey’s” companion episodes that make the DVD worth the watch. “Whip.Mix.Blend.” teaches its own important lesson as it tackles the subject of blended families. In this episode, Arthur’s friend Rattles has to come to terms with potentially becoming part of a blended family when his mother starts dating Archie Vanderloo. Not only does he have to face the potential of his mother having a romantic connection to Archie Vanderloo but having to be around his children, too. Blended families have become increasingly common at least in America in the twenty-first century. And even as common as they have become, the very thought of two families coming together to form a whole new family is still not emotionally and psychologically easy for those involved in said situations. This episode will help any young viewer dealing with such situation deal with the situation in question and understand it when they feel like they have no one to talk to about it. And many times, young people in this situation do feel alone. So this episode makes for a good way to help young people cope with potentially having a whole new family when they otherwise might not have been able to. It’s just as much a good starting point for parents to talk to their children about the changes that come with becoming a blended family. Because it is just as valuable for children as for adults, it proves once again to be another reason that any family will want to add this DVD to their home DVD library when it is released later this month.
Both “Whip.Mix.Blend.” and “Arthur Calls It” present their own importance to the overall presentation that is Arthur’s Fountain Abbey. The lessons that are taught through both of those episodes are just as important for families as that taught in “Fountain Abbey.” The same can be said of the DVD’s closing episode “Staycation.” It is through this episode that Arthur teaches young viewers one of the most important lessons of all of those taught in the disc’s included episodes. It teaches young viewers about taking on too much and about responsibility. The lesson is taught when Arthur offers to babysit for his parents so that they can take a “staycation” in their own backyard. Taking on too much responsibility very rarely ever ends well. And Arthur learns this for himself when he tries to handle his little sister on his own. This is one of those lessons from which viewers of all ages can benefit as even adults have a tendency from time to time to try to take on too much responsibility. To that end, it serves as a good reminder for audiences about knowing their limits. In turn, it proves one more positive part of the whole that is Arthur’s Fountain Abbey. It sill is not all worth noting about the DVD either. The bonus material included with the DVD is the same as that included on previous Arthur compilations. It is a bonus primarily for those that are perhaps just beginning to build their collections of Arthur DVDs. It is the last element of this DVD worth noting. And when set alongside the collection’s episodes, it proves Arthur: Fountain Abbey an early pick for this year’s list of best new DVDs and Blu-rays for children and families.
The episodes that make up Arthur’s Fountain Abbey are on their own plenty of reason for families to add this new DVD to their home collection regardless of the number of Arthur compilations that they already have in said collections. That is not to take away anything from the activities and coloring pages included with the DVD as bonus material. The bonus material in question is the same as that included on previous Arthur DVDs. So those that might be at the beginning of their Arthur DVD collections will appreciate the inclusion of said coloring pages and activities. Parents and teachers alike will appreciate the self-confidence building “Definition of Cool” in which children have to tell things that make others “cool.” There is also a trading card game and even a board game of sorts for younger viewers. All of the activities and coloring pages can be printed out and saved. All audiences need is Adobe Reader in order to access each one. That’s the only catch to the whole thing. Most computers already have Adobe Reader installed on them, though. So it isn’t that much of a catch. Keeping that in mind, it is the last piece of the whole of Arthur: Fountain Abbey that makes the DVD so enjoyable. Together with the DVD’s included episodes, it rounds out the package in whole, proving once and for all why Arthur: Fountain Abbey is another welcome addition to the collection of any educator or family.
Whether it be for the episodes with their in-depth life lessons or the bonus material included on the DVD, Arthur: Fountain Abbey proves in the end to be another welcome addition to the collection of any educator or family. It will be available Tuesday, January 27th and will retail for MSRP of $6.99. It can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=49575116&cp=&kw=arthur+fountain+abbey&origkw=Arthur+Fountain+Abbey&sr=1. More episodes of Arthur and games are available online at http://www.pbskid.org/arthur. Viewers can get more information on this special episode of Arthur and all of the latest news on the series both there and through its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/PBSArthur. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.