|Number in season:||10|
|Original Airdate:|| November 29, 2002|
February 5, 2003
|Written by:||Peter K. Hirsch|
|Storyboard by:|| Gerry Capelle|
"Return of the Snowball"
A fire destroys the teacher's lounge and forces Lakewood Elementary to close, prompting a range of reactions from the kids.
- Sue Ellen is upset that her journal was destroyed.
- Binky tries to act cool even though the flames scared him.
- Buster feels totally left out because he slept through the whole thing.
- Arthur's dad, at the school on a catering job, escapes unhurt, but now Arthur finds himself constantly worrying about his father's safety.
It all began as a beautiful normal spring day in Elwood City, as the kids prepare to head off to school. Sue Ellen places her new postcard she got from a friend in Bolivia in her precious journal; Arthur learns his dad will be catering a breakfast at the Lakewood Elementary School and asks if he can get a ride with him; Muffy and Binky are also on their way to school; and Buster overslept as he didn't hear his alarm going off.
In the usual classroom at Lakewood Elementary School, Mr. Ratburn starts the day. But things begin to go wrong the moment he smells smoke. Right then, the fire alarm goes off and they begin to evacuate the building. But Sue Ellen forgot to get her journal, and has no time to get it. Binky catches a glimpse of the fire, making him very nervous.
Once outside, the parents all show up, the kids learn that the school janitor Mr. Morris had injured his leg in the fire, and he is taken to the hospital. Sue Ellen starts sobbing in dreadful tears at the loss of her journal, and Arthur is worried about his dad. Arthur is happy to see that with the help of some firefighters, his dad got out alive and well. But after the firefighters leave, Buster arrives late and is devastated, because he slept through the whole thing.
The gang learns that they will have to temporarily go to their biggest rival, Mighty Mountain Elementary School, until Lakewood is repaired. Binky continues to try and cover up his fear of the fire (despite him actually seeing the "flames", and Sue Ellen is still upset over her journal being destroyed. When Muffy doesn't understand Sue Ellen's feelings by claiming a journal is "just a journal. You can buy them at any stationery store." Francine says she's had that journal since first grade. Things don't seem to help when Binky watches a Bionic Bunny episode featuring the rabbit hero's fiery arch-villain Hothead, and when Muffy tries to cheer up Sue Ellen with a brand new journal.
Buster also feels left out since he was not actually at the fire so he begins exaggerating his "eyewitness" story to the Mighty Mountain students about how dramatic and scary the fire was. Arthur gets annoyed with Buster since his dad could've been really hurt in the fire. Buster's mom then gets an idea for him to do the next day.
That night, Arthur learns that his dad's next catering job will be at the aquarium for a deep-sea fishermen convention. Arthur is relieved that it will not be at another school, but that does not stop him from having a nightmare about his dad being attacked by a squid at the convention.
The next day, Buster goes to the hospital to visit Mr. Morris, and when he discovers that they both have asthma and love chocolate, it looks like a new friendship has started.
The day after that, in their temporary classroom at Mighty Mountain, Buster talks to his friends about Mr. Morris, and Sue Ellen is finally pleased with a new journal Muffy bought for her (complete with personalized cover and a stunning pen), saying she feels much better now. But then a mysterious gloved hand in the hallway pulls the fire alarm, causing all the kids to gasp in fear.
Once evacuated, Francine learns that it's only a false alarm, and that it was deliberately pulled. Buster is disappointed that he's still the only one in the class that hasn't been through a fire, and then Binky enters, laughing at how the Mighty Mountain kids reacted to the fire alarm. But then unintentionally slips out that he timed the firefighters in how long it took to get to the school. He then realizes he is in big trouble when this earns him looks, and the fire chief comes up with the knapsack she found near the pull station Binky activated.
Binky writes a confession and apology to the Mighty Mountain principal and Mr. Haney. He still tries covering up the true reason why he did it to Mr. Haney, and his punishment is doing some clean-up work with Mr. Frenksy in the park. There, he learns Mr. Frensky was a volunteer firefighter in the past.
Buster comes to visit Mr. Morris, who tells him the time he worked as a dog groomer, only for the dogs to run into a perfect circle made in a cornfield, and surprisingly, Mr. Morris thinks it was caused by aliens, just like Buster. When Buster offers to get another soda for Mr. Morris, he explains that he needs to get used to his crutches, and that at his age he may need his cast and crutches for a long time.
On the morning Arthur's dad is supposed to go to the aquarium, Arthur fakes being sick as an attempt for his dad to stay home, but when his dad finds out the truth, he quickly understands and explains a similar scenario. When he was younger, Grandma Thora was in a car accident, but wasn't hurt. However, he feared that each time she set foot in a car she would get into another accident. So to pass the time he'd crumple up pieces of paper and toss them in a wastebasket, which made him feel better. One time he forgot to do it, and despite being gone for three hours, Thora came home just fine. This makes Arthur feel better.
Sue Ellen gets the idea that the kids work together on a mural to paint outside Lakewood Elementary School while it is being fixed up, showing the fire, their thanks to Mighty Mountain, and then the school reopening. When the school is reopened, Francine makes a report for the school paper about how Sue Ellen managed to find a portion of the postcard she lost from the old journal, and does not manage to get anything from Binky. Turns out, back in Lakewood Elementary, Binky can't stop remembering the fire and this upsets him, so he runs out of the school.
Mr. Frensky finds him and when Binky finally tells him what has been bothering him, Mr. Frensky said that he had similar problems when he saw his first fire close-up, and that talking about it made him feel better. Binky feels better as well, but still doesn't want to go back to school, so Mr. Frensky calls Mr. Haney to let him know where Binky is, then invites Binky to do some of the garbage collection rounds with him.
In the new version of Mr. Ratburn's classroom, they have cake in the middle of class in honor of the reopening, and Buster learns from Mr. Ratburn that Mr. Morris is not in because he is retiring. Turns out, Mr. Morris will be moving down to New Mexico to live with his daughter in retirement, and Mr. Morris gives Buster his daughter's accordion as a present to remember him by.
That night, Arthur and Buster talk via walkie-talkie about the changes the fire has caused, including Mr. Morris's retirement and his friendship with Buster all being caused by the fire. Then as Buster plays "Clementine" on his new accordion for Arthur, his dad returns home from catering Mr. Crosswire's birthday, safe and sound.
This episode finishes with Sue Ellen writing in her new journal that it will have been one month since April 9th, and that though she doesn't want to go through another fire again, she is happy that she and her friends made it through the situation and feels happy knowing that if she and her friends stick together, they can get through just about anything. When she finished, she turns her lights off.
- Arthur Read
- Buster Baxter
- Binky Barnes
- David Read
- Mr. Morris
- Muffy Crosswire
- Oliver Frensky
- Sue Ellen Armstrong
- Bionic Bunny
- Bitzi Baxter
- Mrs. Barnes
- D.W. Read
- Firefighter No.3
- Francine Frensky
- Francis Haney
- Mr. Morris's paramedic
- Nigel Ratburn
- Mr. Armstrong
- Mrs. Armstrong
- Alan Powers
- Bruno's Music worker
- Ed Billings
- Ed Crosswire
- Fern Walters
- George Lundgren
- Jane Read
- Jenna Morgan
- Kate Read
- Leah MacGrady
- Ed Billings
- Mrs. Lundgren
- Maria Pappas
- Mighty Mountain principal
- Mighty Mountain teacher
- Millicent Crosswire
- Mr. Powers
- Prunella Deegan
- Sam Scarborough
- Unknown Elwood City Librarian
- 3rd Grade Male Dog
- 3rd Grade Male Dog (Number 3)
- Beulah McInnerny
- 3rd Grade Male Rabbit (Number 3)
- 3rd Grade Female Bear
- 3rd Grade Female Bear (Number 3)
- 3rd Grade Male Rat (Number 2)
- 3rd Grade Female Aardvark (Number 2)
- 3rd Grade Male Cat
- 3rd Grade Female Aardvark
- This is the first time the fire department plays a major role.
- The name of the moving company is Tolon Moving, a nod to the fact that Marc Brown's son's name and Marc Brown's own middle name is "Tolon."
- Buster and Mr. Morris would reunite in the Postcards from Buster episode "Alien Adventure".
- We also find out Mr. Morris is allergic to pollen, dander and peanuts.
- This is also the first time the fire alarm goes off at the school.
- This episode was based loosely on the September 11 attacks, though the episode is mainly an allegory on how people deal with tragedies.
- When Buster goes to deliver the flowers to Mr. Morris, there is an announcement over the intercom which calls 'Doctor Davis' and 'Doctor Blair.' The audio was taken from the Queensrÿche song 'I Remember Now' from their 1988 album, 'Operation: Mindcrime.'
- In the "And Now a Word from Us Kids" segment, a 3rd grade is talking about fire safety and they are putting it on the Arthur website at pbskids.org/arthur/firesafety.
- Buster remembers having asthma since "Buster's Breathless."
- This episode is the second time Mr. Morris injures his leg; the other was "The Half-Baked Sale."
- There are several references to "D.W. All Fired Up" in this episode, most notably the enforcement of fire safety.
- This is the last episode in which Mr. Morris was the janitor.
- Almost a month goes by during this episode, meaning several episodes that aired before and after April 9th occurred during this timeframe, such as "Arthur the Wrecker", which could have taken place either right before the fire, or in the weeks after it, as Lakewood Elementary did not appear in that episode. In addition, the events of "The Great MacGrady" would take place immediately after Lakewood Elementary reopened, as referenced by the calendar shown in that episode. The events of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" would also happen at the tail end of the timeframe.
- Right before the title card, you can see Mr. Ratburn's class walking out, but Francine is not with them.
- In one shot of the scene with the firetrucks outside Lakewood Elementary, Buster is in the crowd.
- Ms. Morgan can be seen in the crowd of people outside Lakewood when Arthur is talking to the firefighter.
- Her hair went from red in one shot to blonde in the next.
- When Mr. Morris was in the hospital, his cast was on his left leg, but for the rest of the episode, his cast is on his right leg.
- Francine mentions that Mr. Ratburn's classroom was badly damage and all burnt, but as the alarm went off, there wasn't a fire anywhere in the room. Also how come Sue Ellen's backpack and journal got burnt if there wasn't a fire in the classroom? It is possible the fire spread to their classroom after they evacuated.
- Arthur says that Buster only met Mr. Morris and became friends with him because of the fire, despite the events of "Arthur Accused!" and "Binky Rules." However, Arthur is correct about his second point.
- When the kids start walking into Mighty Mountain, Hothead can be see amongst them.
- Hothead's hand is layered on top of Fireball for a split second before her arm is there too.
- See: April 9th/Gallery