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"To Beat or Not to Beat"


To Beat or Not To Beat Title Card

Season/Series: 4
Number in season: 7B
Original Airdate: Flag of the United States October 13, 1999[1]
Flag of Canada January 25, 2000[2]
Written by: Barney Saltzberg
Storyboard by: Jeremy O'Neil
"Binky Barnes, Wingman"
"1001 Dads"
"To Beat or Not to Beat" is the second half of the seventh episode in the fourth season of Arthur.


Francine is practicing her singing and drumming for the talent show, but her friends just think she's making a terrible racket.


Intro: Arthur is at the playground, talking about how Francine can do a lot of great things: she can hit a baseball farther than anybody he knows. She can also argue about anything better than anything knows. A flashback is shown where Francine verbally enforces herself on a frightened Binky at school, and Binky unwillingly lets her win her argument that a tomato is a fruit, and not a vegetable. Arthur then says that Francine will try to do something that he thinks she should not: flying. Buster tells Arthur to tell Francine to stop because she could hurt herself. Arthur does, stopping Francine from flying and landing in a pile of leaves. He then admits hating to burst somebody's bubble.

The episode begins in Mr. Ratburn's class where he tells the class that he knows they've been concentrating on Friday's Spring Talent Show and that he's giving them extra homework so they won't forget what's really important to which the class awes over.

After school, Arthur, Buster, and the Brain walk home together and Buster tells them that he's telling jokes and asks What's orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.

Arthur then spots Francine getting on her bike and asks her what she's doing for the talent show to which she tells him and the others that she's not telling them and that they'll be surprised like everyone else.

Buster asks Arthur what he's doing for the talent show and Arthur says that he's been practicing tricks with Pal (in a flashback Arthur and Pal are doing tricks for D.W. and Kate and Arthur tells Pal to sit to which Pal does and Arthur tells Pal to shake his tail to which he has to help Pal with and D.W. sighs with boredom and says Oh brother).

Back in present day, Arthur says that he and Pal aren't quite ready yet, but Pal is smart. Buster then asks Brain what he's doing for the talent show to which Brain says that he will be correct the human calculator and that the audience will shout out math problems and he will do them instantly in his head.

When Arthur asks what will happen if Ratburn asks a question, Brain has a thought about himself standing up on stage and Mr. Ratburn asking a really difficult question which is If a train carrying 1,873 scoops of ice cream leaves Chicago at 7:00 a.m.

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 six scoops per minute. After finishing the thought, Brain tells Arthur that he might juggle instead.

They then hear a horrible sound and wonder what it is and walk in the direction that it's coming from to which Buster thinks it might be a sound that an exterminator uses to get rid of termites in houses (in Buster's imagination an exterminator uses a machine with the sound in it to get rid of all the termites in a house.

Brain thinks the sound belongs to an engine to which Arthur says it have to be one giant engine, (in Arthur's imagination a workman is trying to get control of his cleaning machine in which its engine is making the horrible sound).

Back in present day, Buster points out that whatever the sound is it's coming from Francine's roof and they climb to the top of the roof of Francine's apartment and find Francine playing her drums and singing revealing that it's her who's making the sound.

She sees the guys and tells them that she wanted it to be a surprise to which the boys tell her they're surprised and she asks them what they think, but before they can answer she volunteers to start from the beginning to which Brain says he has to go type up the errors he found in the encyclopedia.

Arthur says he has to clean his room and wash Pal and Buster says he has to dry Pal and they leave. Arthur, Buster, and Brain go to the Sugar Bowl and have shakes and Arthur tells Buster and Brain that they need to tell Francine that her singing is bad or else everyone is going to boo her off the stage, but Brain says they shouldn't because they could hurt her feelings.

That night, Arthur lays in bed thinking of what will happen if he tells Francine that her singing is bad (in Arthur's 1st imagination he tells Francine that her singing is bad and she cries heart broken).

Arthur also wonders if he could be wrong, (in Arthur's second imagination he tells Francine that her singing is bad and she thanks him for telling her, but then they hear a girl on TV singing the song that Francine was singing and that the girl's song is hitting records all over the world to which Francine gets angry at Arthur as she has lost her chance at becoming famous).

Back in the present night, Arthur begins to think maybe Francine's singing isn't so bad. The next day, Arthur, Brain, and Buster meet at the tree house where Brain says he agrees with Arthur and that they should tell Francine that her singing is bad, but Arthur says he thinks maybe Francine's singing could be the next big thing and make millions.

Buster suggests that they secretly record Francine singing the song and have Muffy listen to it to decide if her singing is good or not. The boys disguise themselves as bushes and use Brain's remote control car to carry the tape and Brain puts the car next to Francine's chair and records her singing, but then the boys accidentally fall backwards down the stairs and cause the car to drive off the roof into the bushes where they manage to get it.

They then take the tape to Muffy's where she listens to it and she calls it the worst and the boys tell her it's Francine practicing for the talent show on Friday.

When Muffy asks why Francine sounds so bad, Brain says that her singing is effecting her drumming to which Arthur says that they don't need Francine to quit the talent show she needs to stop singing. Muffy and the boys go to Francine's Apartment where Muffy tells Francine, but she doesn't believe her.

Arthur, Buster, and Brain also try to tell Francine without any luck. Back at the tree house, Muffy, Arthur, Buster, and Brain can't believe that Francine didn't believe them. When Francine arrives holding the tape of her singing and asks them what it is, saying it sounds awful, like an elephant crushing Ratburn's car.

Arthur tells Francine that it's her singing and playing the drums. When Francine asks them why they didn't tell her that her singing was bad they said they did and she proclaims that she isn't ready to do two things at once and plans to only do one of them and rushes off to practice for the talent show.

At the talent show, Arthur, Muffy, Buster, and Brain are happy that Francine isn't going to be singing, but playing the drums, but it turns out that Francine has chosen to sing and not play the drums. Everyone is horrified at this, and thinks it's going to be horrible, but  it turns out she is actually an incredible, singer and afterwards thanks her friends for stopping her from doing two things at once and the reason that she sounded so bad was probably because she needed more practice.

Muffy tells Francine that she should win, but the winner winds up to be George who hoped on a pogo stick. Francine says that she'll keep practicing and next time she will win the talent show.

Arthur tells her she should probably sing, play the drums, and hop on a pogo-stick. Later after the talent show, Francine continues to practice on her roof playing the drums and singing to which still sounds bad to Arthur, Brain, and Buster, but Muffy gives it a thumbs up to which Arthur asks her if she likes Francine's singing and playing the drums, but Muffy reveals that she was wearing earplugs and agrees with the boys that it still sounds lousy and the episode finishes.






  • When Francine's sings, "You can flyyyyyyyy" at the talent show, it will be heard again in the Arthur season 6 ending credits (techno remix, that is) in a different tone as it is in this episode.
    • Because the theme song is in the key of F, while Francine's song is in the key of E.
  • This episode continues the running gag of George seemingly winning every talent show in the series, once again by jumping around on a pogo stick like he did in the last talent show featured in Buster's Growing Grudge.
  • Francine's inability to sing and drum at the same time becomes a bit of a running gag in the series, with her still unable to do it later in the episode Citizen Frensky and the special Arthur - It's Only Rock 'n' Roll.

Cultural References

  • The title of this episode is loosely based on "To Be or Not to Be" from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.


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