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To Beat or Not to Beat

How's that for a title?

Episode #407

"Binky Barnes, Wingman" / "To Beat or Not To Beat"

Long winded Synopsis by Dave
Comments by: Gammra, sue_ellen_armstrong, & Dave

This was the 30th review added to the site.

Like 10501 -- "Arthur's Pet Business" this review's got some multimedia in the form of sound files recorded from the TV.

However, unlike those reviews, which were recorded digitally, and sound great, these were recorded in the following manner.

  • While watching Arthur in my bedroom on a portable TV, I placed my almost 10 year-old portable stereo beside the TV and recorded the sound.
  • I then took my stereo downstairs and played back the tape holding the microphone that I bought for the computer in front of the speakers.

    The files sound pretty rotten, a bit like they were recorded in a wind tunnel -- download at your own peril :)

[IMG: Recorded in Mono :)]


"What if you had to burst someone's bubble?" asks Arthur. Francine walks past him wearing a football helmet, and tells him she's going to fly.

Francine flaps her arms, and jumps off a ledge. She flaps her arms, and suddenly she's capable of flight. Francine flies around like a bird. She flys over some trees and hovers near Arthur.

Kids can't fly, Arthur tells her. As soon as he does, Francine falls to the ground. Oof!

* * * To Beat or Not to Beat * * *

Hi, Dave here -- this is a weird episode... all the stuff in yellow's my comments. I have a lot to say about this one. :) This prelude to the episode before the title sounds weird -- just go with it. "The I can fly" bit returns later...

It's almost time for the school's annual Spring Talent Show. Everyone's got something planned.

Arthur: Hey Francine, what are you doing for the talent show?

Francine: I'm not telling. You'll be surprised with everyone else.

Buster, Brain, and Arthur are walking home after school, discussing what they've got planned for the big show.

Arthur's trying to teach Pal some tricks. He tells Pal to sit, and Pal sits then rolls over. Roll over, says Arthur, as Pal's already rolling. Arthur wants Pal to shake Arthur's hand with his paw, but Pal turns around.

Arthur changes the command to "Shake your... tail" on the fly.

D.W.: Oh brother.

Arthur tells Buster that they're not ready yet, but that Arthur's confident, since Pal's a smart dog.

Buster: What about you Brain?

Brain: I am "Correcto the human calculator". The audience will shout out math problems, and I will do them instantly in my head.

Arthur: What if Ratburn asks a problem?

Brain: I never thought of that.

Brain imagines Mr. Ratburn asking a problem.

Mr. Ratburn: If a train carrying 1,873 scoops of ice cream leaves Chicago at 7 AM and the freezer stops working, how fast would it have to travel to reach New York before half the ice cream melts, factoring in a melting rate of 6 scoops per minute?

Brain: Maybe I should juggle.

Suddenly the three hear an odd rythmic groaning wail mixed with the sound of banging and cymbals crashing.

It's an awful noise.

Buster: You know what it could be? I saw an ad in the newspaper for an exterminator who uses sound to get rid of termites...

They imagine an aligator-headed exterminator holding a nozzle which issues the awful sound... termites run out of a house screaming.

Brain: There's a definite rhythm to that noise, like an engine...

Arthur: It would have to be one gigantic engine.

They imagine a gigantic streetsweeping machine with lots of nozzles... it rolls down the street, making the awful noise.

Brain: Whatever it is, it's coming from Francine's roof.

That horrible noise turns out to be Francine playing the drums and singing at the same time .WAV sound file link
(bad1c.wav - 8.77 seconds - 193.6 kB)

Apparently she can't tell how bad she sounds. Her singing waivers in and out like a sine wave, mainly consisting of Ohhhs and Awwws.

Francine stops when she notices Buster, Brain, and Arthur open the stairwell entrance and walk out onto the roof towards her. She's slightly annoyed, but she's not angry.

Francine: Hey, no fair, it was supposed to be a surprise. I didn't want anyone to know until the day of the talent show.

Arthur Oh, well, ahh... We're surprised!

Francine: I didn't want you to hear me until the day of the talent show! Now the secret's out, Whattdya think?

The three are speechless.

Francine: Oh, you haven't heard the whole thing. I'll start over...

Brain: I have to type up the errors I found in the encyclopedia.

Arthur: I'm 'sposed to clean my room and wash the dog.

Buster: I uh, I'm 'sposed ta dry his dog.

They beat a hasty retreat down the stairs, leaving a puzzled Francine to continue doing her thing.

* * *

At the Sugar Bowl, Buster, Brain, and Arthur are stressing over what to do next. There's a poster advertising $2.50 milkshakes, one of which Buster is just finishing with a rude slurp of his straw.

Buster sighs with delight at the end of his shake. Brain and Arthur sigh too, probably with consternation.

Arthur: So, whattda we do now?

Buster: (looking at his empty milkshake glass) Order another shake?

Arthur: I mean, what do we do about Francine? We gotta go tell her how awful she sounds before the talent show.

Buster: We do?!?

Arthur: She's going to get booed off the stage!

Brain's feeling conservative. He thinks they should keep their mouths shut. Brain doesn't think it's "nice" to tell someone they're awful at what they do, even if they are awful.

Brain: It wouldn't be polite, and it might hurt her feelings...

Buster: (who's inverted his glass above his head and is staring up at it.) Are you sure we shouldn't order more shakes?

Arthur: We've got to do something -- don't we?

* * *

Back at home -- Arthur's devoting all of his brainpower to the task of deciding what to do next...

Arthur: We have to tell Francine, I bet she'd thank me. Who are we kidding? This is Francine!

Arthur goes through some emotional hand ringing... he figures it's a Catch-22 (although he doesn't say that) If he tells her she's no good, it will either crush her emotionally, or worse yet, it could turn out that horrible screechy singing becomes very popular, and Francine will have missed the opportunity to become rich.

In thinking this second option, Arthur imagines being at Francine's house and having Cathrine (Francine's sister) watching the holographic rock band Binky on TV (from #30601 -- "Binky Rules" & #30602 -- "Meet Binky".) making the exact same noise that Francine was, and the halter-top wearing VJ (from the same episode) mentioning that this new song's a smash hit all over the world, After hearing this, Francine starts growling at Arthur. but that's only what could happen.

Arthur tells Buster and Brain this.

Brain's been thinking it over too. They should tell her, but can they, without hurting her feelings, or getting hurt?

Buster suggests that the best person to tell her would be her best friend, Muffy. Also, as Buster says, since Muffy always knows what's popular, and what's not, she'll be able to tell if Francine's wailing will be a new trend or not, which will quell Arthur's fear. :)

Brain raises a good point. Since Francine and Muffy are such good friends, Muffy'd never say anything negative about Francine if she knew it was her playing.

Hmmm. How to get Muffy to hear Francine's "music" without Francine knowing???

The three guys devise a plan. They dress up as leafy bushes, and hide in the rooftop entrance to the stairwell. From where they lurk, they can see and hear Francine practicing on the roof. (Francine's noisemaking has evolved -- it now includes words: "Yeah ooohhh, I can fly-iyiyie, uh, uh uh" etc.)

Francine's noise -- Mk. II..WAV sound file link
(bad2c.wav -- 241.5 kB)

Brain's brought up a tape recorder, and a remote control truck. They place a tape into the tape recorder, tape the tape recorder to the truck and start the tape.

While Francine makes her noise, the truck races up (in reverse) and stops behind her, and starts recording Francine. However, in the stairwell, Brain trips and hits the remote control. The truck starts up, and races out of control across the rooftop, up a plank of wood, and flys off the roof -- landing in some bushes.

Francine turns as if she's heard something, but doesn't notice anything, so she keeps playing.

Down at ground level, Mr. Frensky was just doing some trimming of the bushes, when to his surprise three bushes run off with a remote control truck.

Why is Francine's Dad trimming the bushes?

* * *

...Next, we're at Muffy's. They're playing the tape for her.

Muffy: Ooh... what is that awful noise?

She's told it's Francine practicing for the Spring Talent show. That's it then. They're going to have to tell Francine to stop, for her own good.

Next we see Muffy, Arthur, Buster, and the Brain in the hallway outside Francine's door in the apartment. (Unit 2, 4th floor.). Since Muffy's Francine's best friend, she's going to be the one to tell her.

Muffy doesn't have any luck. Muffy reports that Francine told her that she must just be jealous.

Hoping to change her mind by numbers alone, Arthur, then Buster, then Brain takes turns going in by themselves to talk things over with Francine. No luck.

...Back at Arthur's treehouse:

Muffy: How could she not believe four people?

Arthur: Well, she's gonna have to believe it when everyone's booing and holding their ears!

Brain: Poor Francine!

Just then, Buster spots Francine coming up to the treehouse.

Buster: She's here, Francine's here!

Muffy: It worked! She thought about it, and she knows we're right!

Francine: One of you dropped this in my hall. I've never heard anything so awful in my life! What is it?

Buster: Oh, that, its... what is that exactly?

Brain: well, Francine, it's, it's an audio cassette.

Francine: Come on, Muffy, what's it a tape of? It sounds like an elephant crushing Ratburn's car!

Francine: Ummm, Iyiee, ahh, uh --

Arthur: It's YOU, Francine, we recorded you while you were playing the drums and singing.

Francine: (angry) What kind of friends are you anyway? Why didn't anyone tell me I sounded so bad?

Arthur: We ALL told you.

Francine: (realizing --) Oh... Yeah... I guess you did...

(in the background, you hear the sound of panpipes, or a flute perhaps... an IMPORTANT LESSON's just been learned :) )

Everyone tells her that her drum playing has always been good in the past -- her singing must be throwing her off.

However, Francine tells them that to her, singing is as important as playing the drums... but she admits that she she shouldn't play and sing in the talent show.

It's strongly hinted that she should concentrate on what she's good at, (Drumming) although nobody comes out and says so.

She guesses that she'd better just concentrate on doing one thing then. She thanks them for saving her from embarassing herself, and leaves quickly, since she's got to go home and practice, since the show's tomorrow!

* * *

Next day at the talent show, Prunella's just finishing her fortune telling act. She predicts that Mr. Ratburn will give a lot of homework.

Mr. Ratburn, who's emceeing the show, thanks Prunella. "Incredible... I don't know how she does it."

Next up is Francine. Buster, Muffy, Brain, and Arthur are backstage in their good clothes, and they're peering at Francine, who's on the stage.

Uh oh... Francine's on the stage, but there aren't any drums! There's a mini stereo on a table though. It would appear that Francine's decided not to play the drums, but to sing instead! Everyone is worried, since Francine's drumming was what she was good at, while her singing in the past couple of days has been terrible. It looks like Francine's going to be laughed at anyway. Everyone's afraid to look, or listen...

Francine starts up the stereo, which will accompany her... and starts to sing.

To everyone's surprise, she's actually pretty good, once she gets started.

Francine sings, and backstage, Buster, Arthur, Brain, and Muffy comment on Francine's ability... Francine finishes singing, to the sound of applause....WAV sound file link
(fransong.wav -- 1.07 MB (!!!) -- roughly 45 seconds long.)

At the end of Francine's performance, Arthur's puzzled.

Arthur: If you can sing, and play the drums so well, how come when you did them both at the same time, they sounded so different?

Francine: You mean bad?

Arthur: Well, um...

Francine: Guess I need more practice!

Muffy's sure Francine'll win. However, Mr. Ratburn proclaims George the moose the winner for his... pogo sticking abilities.

Arthur: George again? He always wins!

Francine thanks everyone for not letting her make a fool of herself, and tells them that she's going to practice to improve her drumming/singing combination.

Arthur suggest to Francine that next year she should try playing the drums, singing, and hop on a pogo stick at the same time. Then she'd be sure to win.

* * *

Next we're on the roof, some time later... Francine's still as bad as ever, and her friends are sitting down, with agonized expressions, except for Muffy, who's sitting cross-legged and smiling at Francine's performance.

Arthur: I guess she sounds a little better... You really like it Muffy?

Muffy: Hmm? You says something? (As she's taking out her earplugs.) :)


In #12901 - "My Club Rules", Francine stated that her allowance was only 50 cents a week... therefore, it'd take her 5 weeks to make enough money to buy one of those shakes that Buster had... longer if there's tax as well. :/

Let's rate this story using a point system:

Well, here we are, a score of 0... neutral. This episode wasn't great, but it's not without its merits either. Sort of typical for a Season 4 episode. :/

Seems I was a little too hasty in dismissing George and his pogo stick though... Gammra has this to say, and I quote from his e-mail:

"This happened once before in another episode. George won a talent show for some mysterious pogo sticking act that was never shown. Whatever it is, it must be pretty good. If there's another talent show in the future, I assume he'll win again."

This episode is #30802 -- "Buster's Growing Grudge"

Ok then, I stand corrected. After having seen that episode recently, I now have new respect for the multitalented George -- George is a force to be reckoned with then, when it comes to talent shows :)

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40702.htm / Last Updated: 6:30 PM August 14, 2001.