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"Arthur's TV-Free Week"
Season/Series: 2
Number in season: 7A
Original Airdate: United States October 28, 1997[1]
Canada December 2, 1997[2]
Germany February 1, 2002[3]
Written by: Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Stéphanie Gignac
"Play it Again, D.W."
"Night Fright"
Read transcript

"Arthur's TV-Free Week" is the first half of the seventh episode in the second season of Arthur.


Arthur and his friends are going TV-free for a week. Arthur's family also goes without TV in support of the idea. Everyone tries to resist the temptation of TV while they go through their week.


Arthur wonders what people would want if they were stranded on a desert island. He shows that he would have his favorite books, Pal, and a soccer ball, which Pal consequently knocks out in the water. He then says that Buster would want snacks and somebody to tell him jokes. Buster is shown laughing at a comedian talking about being a safe driver. Arthur then says that Muffy would want the bare necessities: she is shown jumping off a diving board on her clubhouse, and Bailey then brings her a drink. Arthur then imagines Mr. Ratburn taking his whole class with him, with Ratburn teaching the class on the island while the students are sitting in desks just like in the classroom, but on water. Arthur then confesses the one thing anybody would want on a desert island: he turns on a TV to watch Bionic Bunny. Arthur is instantly fixated on the TV, which happens to be connected to a satellite mounted on a palm tree.

Arthur's TV-Free Week

At school, Mr. Haney informs the students that it is the first day of TV-Free Week: Elwood City tries to not watch TV for one week. Haney encourages conversation between children and parents, although he drags on, much to the students' boredom. Ms. Tingley then simply tells the students to sign up in their classrooms, and dismisses them. In Mr. Ratburn's classroom, Francine tells Arthur and Buster that Catherine did TV-Free Week once: it went by very quickly, and Catherine got a gold TV-shaped badge for completing it, which intrigues Buster. Binky asks the kids if they will watch Bionic Bunny that night, but Buster sadly realizes that he cannot because he signed up for TV-Free Week. Binky then says the event is for geeks, as well as questioning whether a stupid little badge is more important than TV. Arthur then encourages Buster to not give up.

At dinner at the Read house, Jane and David are looking forward to family activities and being more creative during TV-Free Week. They do not know what they will do that night, but D.W. proudly tells the family that she can take care of everything. To start, D.W. poorly performs card tricks. Starting another trick consequently leads to Arthur and D.W. arguing. Jane then suggests to just do something relaxing, and reaches for the remote control, but David stops her, much to the family's humor. At the Frenskys', Francine and her dad listen to a sports game on a small radio. They cannot hear clearly because of too much static. Brain is looking at constellations from his room. He then spots a TV playing Eel of Fortune, but quickly goes back to watching the stars. At Mr. Ratburn's house, Ratburn finds a box of Masterpiece Theatre videos. He is ready to watch them, but then realizes he has to wait another week. At the school cafeteria the next morning, Arthur tells his friends how annoyed he was at D.W. for singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" for an hour last night. Muffy says that she has the worst situation: having a lot of TV channels she is not allowed to watch for the week. As Buster sits down to eat, he comments on how fun math class was, as well as not missing TV last night. When he sees Binky, however, Buster tells Binky how he could not sleep for not watching Bionic Bunny, and begs to tell him what happened. Binky refuses to give any details, and Arthur and Francine realize Buster will need to have an eye kept on him.

At the mall, Jane is distracted by All My Chickens playing on the TVs on display, and D.W. quickly blocks her view. Back at home, David wants to check if it will rain so his suit of armor will not rust. He turns on the TV to check the weather, but turns it off seconds after D.W. shouts "What are you doing?!". David then puts the TV away, much to Arthur's dismay. At The Sugar Bowl, Arthur says that there are four and a half days left in TV-Free Week, but Buster calculates in detail how much time that is. Arthur tells Buster to not have anymore milkshakes, and Buster starts acting paranoid, accusing Arthur of wanting to "take away his milkshakes too". He feels scared that he has the urge to watch TV, but Arthur tells Buster to call whenever he has the urge. Soon after Arthur leaves the Sugar Bowl, Buster calls the payphone right outside, and Arthur answers.

Outside an electronics store, D.W. even tells Pal to not watch TV. A news reporter and a cameraman finds Arthur, D.W. and Pal, asking for their take on life without TV. Arthur does not know what to say, but D.W. joyfully says she gets to do magic tricks, sing songs, and play with Arthur all the time. Back at the Reads', the family decides to watch the news story they are featured in, although D.W. is questioning doing this. Buster then calls Arthur about the urge to watch the first Bionic Bunny episode currently airing. Arthur then reminds him that he knows the episode by heart, and to do the whole episode in his head. Buster is relieved, and asks what Arthur is doing, but Arthur hangs up. Arthur returns to the living room, only to find that the family has ultimately decided to not watch the news story. Back at school, Buster acts out Bionic Bunny to his friends' entertainment. Binky then tempts him and Arthur into coming over to his house to watch a Bionic Bunny movie airing on TV that Sunday. Brain then tells them both that it's still Friday, and convinces them both to not give up. Arthur then says he is okay, but Buster is not liking the fact that he could miss the Bionic Bunny movie. This causes Buster to walk away, crying.

Over the next few days, Arthur and Buster keep resisting watching TV. Buster still imagines his bathroom mirror and bunk bed transforming into TVs airing Bionic Bunny; Arthur prevents himself from taking out the TV from the chest his dad's recipe book is in. He sees the gelatin rabbits and turtles David made transform into Bionic Bunny and Techno Turtle, and decides to go for a bike ride. Buster sees his alarm clock transform into a TV, and decides to go for a walk. To each other's surprise, they arrive at Binky's house, both admitting they came to see the movie with Binky. Arthur realizes that they are both very close to finishing an entire week without TV, and that they should not stop now. Buster follows Arthur to the park; they play Frisbee, and the day ends.

The next morning at school, Arthur, Buster, and their friends are rewarded with gold TV-shaped badges for completing TV-Free Week. Francine admits that she could not wait until it was over, and to get back to watching Monday night baseball. Buster says he found going through the week easy, but Arthur reminds Buster that he almost did not make it. Buster boasts that he could do it again for another whole week. Ironically, when he gets home, he watches Bionic Bunny, wearing a Bionic Bunny costume, without hearing his mom call him for dinner.







  • At the end of the 2000 rerun intro on PBS Kids before this episode, Arthur’s crashing sound changes to the Season 5 version.
  • This episode reveals that Arthur's mother is named Jane.
  • The episode's plot was established as early as May 1997.[4]

Episode connections

  • David dresses up like a knight in this episode. He does it again in "Crushed."
  • The cold open features Arthur on an island, asking the audience what they would bring if they were deserted on one. Mr. Ratburn would later give the class a similar assignment in "Desert Island Dish".

Cultural references


  • During the close-up of the TV reflected in Arthur's glasses in the intro before the title card, he is wearing his yellow sweater instead of his white t-shirt.
  • In one shot of the lunchroom scene, Muffy's buck teeth can be seen, despite having been officially removed during the middle of the first season.
  • When Muffy tells Arthur and Francine that she has 170 channels that she could not watch, Sue Ellen and Alan are frozen.
  • In the shot of the assembly, Alex is miscolored and is brown with an orange shirt.
  • When Buster's reflection turns into Bionic Bunny, it is wearing street clothes though Buster is wearing pajamas.
  • In the shot when Buster imagines that his bed is a giant TV, his clock reads 8:88.

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