That Banned (and Now UnBanned) Arthur Episode: The Great MacGrady

Posted on March 11, 2021


Arthur PBS 

       This post had to be mostly redone because of a recent development and that\’s what I get for not doing this sooner.  So I had to change the whole thing to fit a new narrative but still explain the old and original thing about this particular episode, so welcome to our mess. 
       There\’s an \”Arthur\” episode about cancer, they didn\’t do childhood cancer, they aren\’t as brave as \”Peanuts\” but still they did a topic that many shows for kids don\’t really touch. This episode is called \”The Great MacGrady\” it premiered on October 19,2009, as part of the premiere of the 13th Season. This episode was removed from circulation  after the revelations that Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs.  He was in this episode, because Arthur has used famous people for roles before and he was known as a cancer spokesperson because of his own battle with the disease.  So sadly, this episode was pulled from rerunning because well that.
     This is where I add a new paragraph, so season 24 premiered on March 8 2021, (wow 24) and they decided to \”update\” the episode. So, after almost 10 years of being removed, they brought it back, re-formatted and dropping Armstrong. I will explain that later.  So, here\’s how the post will work from here on out.  The  original episode version will be talked about then I\’ll drop in changes from the reformatted episode as notation. This is going to be fun.
       Actually, I am cutting in a line here, so the original airing was in SD because it was 2009 and still had the classic Arthur look to it, the new version is the name lines and scenes but redone in the new animation style in HD. Not a surprise, but a note still. The episode starts with Arthur and his classmates going to lunch.  Buster keeps a almanac of school lunches,  and notices the food doesn\’t smell as planned. They notice at lunch a new guy cooking named Skipp Bitterman, and that\’s not Mrs. MacGrady. (Good work, did you use science to figure that out?)   — They didn\’t change too much for the season 24 episode, the title card is different though. 

Don\’t worry about Arthur, he lost his sense of taste in the war/ Copyright WGBH 

        They don\’t  like Skipp\’s food because it\’s kind of disturbing. After multiple days of her not being there, Mr. Ratburn finally makes an announcement. This episode will focus slightly more on Francine who is very concerned about the woman\’s condition, because her grandfather died from the disease.  Muffy being Muffy is focused on other things: Her father\’s birthday party in this case. Muffy has a confidence it thinking Mrs. MacGrady will be fine. (She\’s seen the script then)  — The only differences here is the animation coloring and some slight dialogue modification  


               Arthur and D.W show up (on this show called Arthur) to Mrs. MacGrady\’s house to see how she is doing. D.W wants to play nurse. They use D.W to make sure to explain that you can\’t  catch cancer. (I will say the mask thing touches differently, but want to make the post work for the future so…) They also mention about how cancer patients through treatment have weaker immune system. The episode does a great job of explaining cancer to young audience in a well done well.  
So are you going share some soup with us or…? / Copyright WGBH 

      I will mention \”Why, Charlie Brown, Why?\” here since it\’s a special on the same topic. That special shows how differently people react to someone with cancer to show the various way people respond to it, this episode of \”Arthur\” does that  kind of as well. Francie is frustrated and worried, (like Linus was in that special)  while Muffy so far seems to at least be optimistic, but maybe looks un caring to the situation, but maybe she\’s hiding her worry more than others.  

more after the jump
       —Here\’s where I have to change and make a mess to a whole paragraph, let\’s go— Binky gives Franice a piece of paper that has an email address for Lance Armstrong, whom he met in a previous episode. He appeared as himself in Season 12\’s \”Room to Ride\” — In the re edit, they replaced the lines about Armstrong (duh) with an in universe wrestler named  Sydney B Lamar Jr or Uncle Slam.  So Binky suggests that Francine should write him because he had cancer and came back from it. — Binky tells Franince about how Armstrong overcame cancer and willing the Tour De France six times (pulls collar) — In both versions Francine is persuaded into writing  the person.— I like this scene where Francine pours her feelings out in the email to Lance —Uncle Slam— it really fits well and makes an impact. 

                              Computers sure have changed/ Copyright WGBH 

      They did keep in the original \”Now a word from us Kids\” segment so yeah.
      The second part of the episode. Lance Armstrong writes back—yeah so does Uncle Slam, they actually do change this part to where Franince reveals the news that she\’s meeting a pro wrestler and Muffy asks if she wants to go with her to see Mrs. MacGrady and Francine makes up an excuse— so Muffy helps Francine find the right to wear to meet Armstrong, or actually what she thinks would work. Here Muffy then asks if she would like to go with her to see Mrs.MacGrady, and Francine makes up an excuse but Muffy presses her and Francine reveals she wants to remember MacGrady as she was.  
      Arthur and D.W return again to see MacGrady along with Muffy.  Muffy finds out that Mrs. MacGrady is bald under bandana due to the cancer treatment. Apparently using fashion gets Muffy\’s attention more than anything else. 

       Anyway, Lane Armstrong shows up to Francine\’s house.  Katherine, her sister, answers the door and is  starstruck with the cyclist. (Ehhhh pulls colar again) — In the re cut, Uncle Slam meets Francine\’s Dad who is starstruck. Francine\’s  mother and sister were in the original version were cut out here, and Francine is her normal clothing  instead of dress. — Lance asks Franince to ride with him He keeps it breezy talking about how he dealt with cancer and talks to Francine to help her feel better.  Also, because Lance Armstrong,  how about a bike race charity. — Slam and Francine go and talk and this time walk around. (Instead of wrestling around?)  and he suggests an idea to help for cancer and Francine thinks of a bike race, they umm wanted to reuse something. —They still show Francine\’s fear of seeing MacGrady, but Muffy goes and sees her and decides to help clean up the house (That was nice of her)  Because it\’s Muffy, she thinks you can just put liquid on dishes.  Arthur and D.W show up again and help Muffy clean up. 
Hey it\’s me, Lance Armstrong, uhhh/Copyright WGBH 
Hey it\’s  me. not Lance Armstrong/ Copyright WGBH 

          Lance Armstrong (Uncle Slam too)  shows up again as the bike race and they bike race.  –They did keep in Francine\’s fantasy-  MacGrady shows up and everything is fine between these two again.  Eventually, Buster gets tired of the food and MacGrady shows up again and starts cooking. The day is saved or something. 

          The original episode was dedicated to Leah Ryan, who co-wrote this episode inspired by her own  cancer diagnosis; she passed away before this episode aired. 

  New addition here: I will add I \’m happy they decided to figure out someway to  have the episode be able to back to rotation, it took a long time, but glad they decided to do it again. It kept most of the original stuff intact while having it flow well. I had to cut a line of my post here to fit this in  which said \”It\’s disappointing that this episode was pulled because of the circumstance outside the control of those working on the show. The cancer message is really an important one, and for kids (adults too) it\’s a scary one. I wish there was a way they could maybe edit it somehow to have it work.\”  Heh, yeah. The episode does a great job at explaining things in a subtle way and gets things done without feeling like it\’s talking down to its target audience.(The next line is from the original post)  In an interesting way, the celebrity being in here doesn\’t feel out of place it\’s done naturally and they don\’t do too much of making it feel like the celebrity cameo is more important than the message, that in theory, they could rename this character and nothing would change too much, and revoice, forgot about that.  (Back to new cut ) I  think it was a well done episode, and shows the strength that \”Arthur\” has as a series.  
That\’s it for now, tune in next time, when we make a better joke in a better post. 


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