I had the VHS for this episode, and I have seen it so many times I could quote it nearly word for word. It opens with a foreshadowing for “Francine’s Stolen Bike and the middle of the episode. The opening and actual scene are different and I often watched it just to recognize the slight differences in animation, angles, and dialogue.
This feels more like a season 3 episode than one with the execution. Season 3 episodes had worse plots but near perfect writing, while season 1 had great writing and wonderful plots. Here we begin with things that could have been really boring like counting down days, shopping, and writing invitations. Arthur counted down days by holding Pal’s paw and moving it, which was cute. D.W. kept being a dead pan Snarker. Shopping was surprisingly good thanks to D.W.’s humor with how she imitated Arthur, tried to turn it into a pony party, and that Arthur found a decoration that looked just like Principal Haney.
The real plot then starts. I remember saying “Arthur goes to Camp” is the reigning worst episode and it had a boys vs girls plot. Well this episode does a boys vs girls plot well. Instead of just being set up like that it is them acting like third graders. They are closer to people their own gender and start to fight based on that, while knowing it is bad and hoping to end it.
The tug of war part is especially memorable. Binky ties it to his waist (legal I heard) and Prunella tied it to the swing set (illegal). Fern was dressed as Brain. She was apparently subbed out for Jenna in the middle of the game.
The way Arthur resolved two birthdays at the same time was very good writing. The actual party was not as fun as the rest of the episode, but the rest was great. This is the first time a character is referred to by their species.
Francine Frensky, Superstar
Since I had Arthur’s Birthday on VHS I normally turned it off when it came on TV, and as a result I have very little nostalgia for this episode. The opening is hilarious. I especially like her role as Isaac Newton. The plot itself is really good, as it offers intense emotional conflict with the characters and brings that. Francine is shown crying. IT is not as good as scene of her crying in a later episode, but it helps turn Francine from an unsympathetic character with good intentions into a well intended extremists. This episode really is similar to “Draw!” It is not as good as the show’s current best, but it is really funny and emotional.
Some early installment weirdness in the beginning. Sue Ellen suggests a monster story, and without a doubt any other season Fern would have had that role. Even more so in recent seasons Sue Ellen hates horror stories at first for being boring and then for being gross.
This is superior to “Arthur’s Baby.”
For I think the first time Arthur is talking right into a cartoon camera, which D.W. holds upside down to make Arthur more interesting. Considering D.W. is the reason the Read Family segments work so well I think she has a point.
We then get the “Super Sister” title card, which indicates it will be a D.W. episode. The end of “Arthur’s Baby” is shown from D.W.’s point of view. As a younger (and more evil) sibling most of the trust and responsibility is placed on Arthur. She is also no longer the bay of the family, and she is having a middle child syndrome. As a middle child I can relate and laugh at how they realistically exaggerated it. It was really fun watching this with my older sisters, as they kept saying how I was less annoying as a baby than Kate. Unlike Kate I did not cry at night.
The best humor came from D.W. trying to get rid of Kate by saying she was for sell (Did Elwood City never get the 13th amendment?), blaming her for a building falling down, and saying Kate put dad’s shows in the freezer, while trying to sound like a gangster. Unfortunately Dad is not an idiot.
In probably the first moment to show that D.W. I Grandma’s favorite she goes to Thora for help and she pretends to go along with helping her to runaway to an island. She talks her out of it on the way by appealing to Kate’s need for an older sister that is not Arthur. D.W. realizes that with only Arthur to be her older sibling Kate would be miserable (should that mean D.W. is miserable?) D.W. comes back to save her little sister.
I love this episode. D.W. was great in it. She gets further developed with her arrogance ad insecurity. Grandma Thora is shown to be wise. It has an extremely relatable and important moral.