Introduction

A telephone rings in the office of the Elwood City Times.

Stevens: Elwood City Times. Stevens here... What?! You don't say! I'll be right there! He hangs up. Murphy, grab your camera. We just got a hot tip!

Arthur sits on a tire swing talking to the two reporters.

Arthur: I don't know what happened! One minute she seemed normal, the next she was a monster! I guess she sort of snapped.

Murphy takes a photo.

Muffy sits on a couch in the Crosswire Mansion.

Muffy: (blows nose) How could she do this to me... (sobs) ...after all I've done for her? (sobs) Murphy takes a photo. Did you get my profile? Boohoohoo...hoo!

Buster sits in the Sugar Bowl.

Buster: I'm telling you, it's the aliens! What else could explain it? They're controlling her mind through her tooth fillings.

Stevens shrugs. Murphy takes a photo.

The reporters stand in Bitzi Baxter’s office.

Mrs. Baxter: Great work, boys. I'm making it our lead story.

The printing press is shown printing lots of newspapers.

Newspapers are loaded into a truck.

A stack of newspapers is thrown out of the truck in front of the Frenskys’ apartment building.

Francine steps out of the apartment in her pajamas and picks up the paper.

Francine: What?! "Frensky frames friends!" That's a dirty, rotten lie!

She goes inside.

Title Card: Francine Bangs Gong

Mr. Ratburn walks into the classroom.

Mr. Ratburn: Good morning, class. You can put away your books. There’ll be no school today.

Class: (gasp)

Buster: Arthur, pinch me. I'm dreaming!

Mr. Ratburn: Instead, you'll all be going to work.

Brain: Um, excuse me, Mr. Ratburn, but I think that's against child labor laws.

Mr. Ratburn: You won't actually be working, Alan. The school has arranged for you to spend the day with someone else's parent at their workplace.

Buster: Can I go to the Brain's mom's ice-cream shop?

Class: (No, I wanna go!)

Mr. Ratburn: You can't all go to the same place, so I'm going to pass around this hat and you each pick out a name.

Buster picks the first name.

Buster: Oliver Frensky. Cool! I'm going to the dump!

Arthur picks the next name.

Arthur: "Run, don't walk, to Crosswire Motors..." (sarcastically:) Great.

Muffy: Hmph!

Arthur: I mean, great! Heh heh.

Francine: Aw, the newspaper! Bo-ring! Nothing interesting ever happens in Elwood City!

***

Muffy stands behind the ice-cream shop counter with Mrs. Powers.

Muffy: So if you color-coordinate your flavors, you can increase sales dramatically! Presentation is everything! Like my daddy always says...

***

Arthur stands in Crosswire Motors’ lot with Mr. Crosswire.

Mr. Crosswire: Never overestimate the intelligence of the customer, Arthur. Why, just the other day, I convinced my own cousin to buy a worthless...

Arthur looks at a car. It turns into a computer icon.

***

Brain sits at the Reads’ computer with Mrs. Read sitting beside him.

Brain: ...new version of Speedo Accounting is infinitely superior to Speed 5.0 I just demonstrated. To install it, just drag your old accounting program into the trash.

He drags the car icon to the trashcan icon.

***

Buster sits beside Mr. Frensky in a garbage truck. He points at a red button with a trashcan symbol.

Buster: What does this button do?

He presses it.

Mr. Frensky: No!!

The truck dumps garbage on the street.

***

Francine and Mrs. Baxter stand in front of the Elwood City Times.

Mrs. Baxter: First time at a newspaper, Francine? You must be so excited! Come on, I’ll show you absolutely everything. The building was built in 1949 of brick and limestone.

They go inside.

They walk through the lobby of the Times building.

Mrs. Baxter: And this is a broom closet. The cafeteria's that way. The specials are London Broil and Chicken Piccata. Did I mention that the ceilings are 15 feet tall? Francine looks bored. Over there is a fact-checker, which is someone who checks facts. And this... is the newsroom.

She opens the door to a large room full of desks and busy people.

Francine: Wow!

Mrs. Baxter: And now... for a very special treat, we're going to send you on an assignment with our top sports reporter Harry Mills.

They enter Harry Mills’ office.

Harry Mills: Hiya, Frensky! How do you like horses?

Francine: Horses? I love them!

Harry Mills: Great! You're hired! He gives Francine a camera. I lost my photographer today and need someone to shoot the horse race in Erie. Let's go!

***

Francine and Harry Mills sit in the stands at the race course.

Harry Mills: So, over there is where they bring the horses after the race for the crowning ceremony! Oh, look, they're starting!

Francine: What's that white goat doing on the track?

She takes pictures while Harrry checks the program.

Harry Mills: White Goat? Don't think I know that horse. Who's the jockey?

The goat charges the racehorses who jump aside.

Francine: Ooh!

***

Francine and Harry have put pictures of fleeing horses and jockeys on Mrs. Baxter’s desk.

Mrs. Baxter: Who would guess that one little goat can cause so much trouble?

Harry Mills: It's lucky for us we had Francine there to get these photos. You're an ace reporter, Frensky!

Mrs. Baxter: I think this one will go very nicely on the front page of tomorrow's sports section.

***

Francine gives a report in class showing the front page of the sports section. It has a picture showing a horse rearing up in front of a goat.

Francine: And then Mr. Mills and Mrs. Baxter said that I was an ace reporter. So I've decided to share my talent with the entire school by starting my own paper - The Frensky Star. With the help, of course, of my dad's old camera and this high school reporting cap.

She hangs an old instant camera around her neck, puts on a blue cap and returns to her seat.

Mr. Ratburn: Thank you, Francine. That was quite a story. I, for one, can't wait to see your first instalment. He accidentally pushes some books of a table. Oh!

As he bends over to pick up the books, Francine takes a picture of his rear.

Class: (laugh)

Mr. Ratburn: Francine, I definitely can wait until after class.

Francine: Sorry.

***

Francine has put a sign reading “Newsroom” on her door and pasted newspaper clippings on the walls, including Catherine’s side. She puts an old typewriter on her desk and blows away the dust.

Francine: Okay: typewriter, pads, pencils, camera. I'm all set. Now all I need is a story.

She leans back and puts her feet on the desk. Catherine comes in.

Catherine: "The newsroom?" What have you done to my room?

Francine: You’re forgetting it's my room too. And now it's also the headquarters of a very important paper.

She puts a sheet of paper in the typewriter and starts typing.

Catherine: Have you completely lost your mind?! I want this junk out of here now!

She throws papers off her bed.

Francine: Hey, that's not junk! That's my research! I have a job to do!

Catherine: The only job you have to do is to keep your grubby little hands away from my stuff, you pesky little...

Francine takes a picture, blinding Catherine with the flash.

Francine: That was great! How about a little more rage?

Catherine: Give me that camera!

Francine takes more pictures while walking backwards.

Francine: Sorry, Charlie. This is great copy!

She runs out of the room pursued by Catherine.

***

Francine and Muffy stand at the counter in “Stinko’s Copies”.

Francine: Thanks for helping me out, Muffy.

Muffy: Don’t mention it. Daddy and I are very supportive of the media, and it's free advertising. The shop assistant gives her a stack of copies. Thanks, Gordy. Put it on the account.

The girls look at the copies.

Francine+Muffy: (laugh)

Muffy: This is an embarrassing picture, even for Catherine.

Francine: We’d better make sure Mr. Ratburn doesn’t see this.

***

Francine, Binky, Arthur, Buster, and Muffy stand in a school corridor and look at the Frensky Star. It shows an add for Crosswire Motors, a picture of an angry Catherine, and a picture of Mr. Ratburn bending over.

Arthur: "Catherine cracks!" Heh heh. She looks like a werewolf.

Binky: I like the next one. "No ifs, ands or Buts!"

Buster: This is great, Francine. You really make the news interesting.

Francine: You think this is good? Just wait till you see what else I have in store.

***

Binky sneaks up to the school building. Francine looks out of a bush.

Francine: Very interesting.

She follows him.

In a classroom, Binky pets a rabbit.

Binky: Aw, there's a cute wittle wabbit!

Francine takes a picture.

***

Arthur, D.W. and Mrs. Read come out of a movie theater showing “Mary Moo Cow – The Movie”.

Arthur: Two hours of my life wasted! I'd rather have been done math homework.

D.W.: It’s your own fault, Arthur. You lost the bet. I told you that Nadine could hold her breath for two hours.

Arthur: D.W., your imaginary friend doesn't even have breath to hold. You tricked me into playing that.

Mrs. Read: All right, you two! Arthur, next time you can pick the movie and you'll get an extra-large popcorn.

Arthur: Yes!

Francine takes a picture.

***

Arthur, Buster, and Brain play soccer. Francine brings Nemo.

Francine: Well, it worked with the goat. Okay, Nemo, just like I told you.

Nemo: Meow.

Nemo runs offscreen.

Brain: Hey!

Buster: Whoa!

Arthur: Watch it!

Brain: Ow!

Francine takes a picture. It shows the boys bumping into each other while Nemo runs by.

***

Francine and Muffy try on clothes in Mrs. Crosswire’s bedroom. Francine puts on a pink hat.

Francine: Where’d your mom get all this stuff anyway?

Muffy wears a hippie-style dress.

Muffy: Ta-da! What do you think? Oh, I need pearls. Francine takes a picture from behind. (gasps) What was that?

Francine: Er, was that lightning? Must be a storm coming. Gotta go!

She runs off hiding the camera.

Francine gets a new stack of copies at the copy shop.

Francine: Thanks, Gordy. Put it on account.

***

Maria, Alex, and Prunella pick up copies of the Frensky Star at the school entrance. Arthur, Binky, Buster, and Muffy stand together looking horrified at their copies.

Arthur: "The truth behind Arthur's love for Mary Moo Cow!" D.W. tricked me into seeing that dumb movie.

The picture of Binky is captioned “Binky’s cute wittle wabbit” while that of Muffy is captioned “Look Ma, I can dress myself”.

Muffy: I would never wear polka dots and stripes together. We were just kidding around!

Binky: Yeah, and I thought I was petting a rat.

Francine joins them.

Francine: Hey, guys. Anything interesting in the papers?

Muffy: The Crosswires are officially withdrawing their funding!

Arthur: Nobody say another word, Muffy. It might be printed in that rag - The Frensky Star.

They walk off.

Francine: Hey! I just tell it like it is.

***

Francine walks up to a cafeteria table where Brain, Muffy, and Arthur are sitting.

Francine: Can I sit here?

Brain+Muffy+Arthur: No comment.

Francine: Oh, this is ridiculous. How long am I gonna get the silent treatment?

Brain+Muffy+Arthur: No comment.

Francine: But it isn’t fair. I didn’t make up those stories. I just reported them. What do you guys want me to do?

Brain: You could print an article saying that you took all those photos out of context.

Francine: Hm… I don’t think so. That’s not a very good story.

Muffy: Ha! I can’t eat here with the tabloids hounding me like this. Arthur? Brain? Care to join me?

They leave. Francine sits down alone.

Francine: (sighs)

Mr. Ratburn puts a copy of the paper in front of her.

Mr. Ratburn: You left out all the commas. If you're going to be a journalist, you should at least try to use proper grammar.

Francine: (sighs)

***

Francine sits on the roof with her drum kit and practices.

Francine: (sings horribly off-key)

Someone takes a picture.

***

Someone gets copies from the copy shop. The copies are headed “The Inquirer” and show a picture of Francine with the caption “Dumb or Drummer?”.

Someone puts The Inquirer in mailboxes and passes it to kids on the street and in the ice-cream shop.

***

Francine walks along a school corridor where everyone is reading The Inquirer. A boy hands her a copy.

Francine: (gasps) What?? Who??

Everywhere, kids are reading and laughing.

Kids: (laugh)

Francine walks up to Brain, Binky, and Muffy.

Francine: This is the lowest of the low. This isn't news! It's just revenge!

Muffy: (giggles) We didn’t do anything, Francine. Honest.

Binky: Yeah. But we wish we did.

Arthur and Buster join them. Buster is carrying a stack of papers.

Francine: A-ha! I knew it was you all along, Buster. You were jealous of the praise I got from Harry and your mom. And look, you’re even passing them out!

Buster: These? I just picked them up off the floor. Ever since my day with your dad I see garbage everywhere.

Francine: Arthur?!

Arthur: Really, Francine, it wasn't us.

Francine: Grrr!

She walks off in a huff.

Arthur: Even we don't work that fast.

Francine passes Mr. Ratburn on the school steps.

Mr. Ratburn: Nice work, Francine. It takes a lot of character to be able to poke fun at yourself.

***

Francine sits on her bed with Nemo. She takes off her cap.

Francine: Looks like the ace reporter is a laughingstock.

Catherine stands in the door.

Catherine: I think I’ll call this story: “Pesky sister gets just desserts”.

Francine: You?? You’re “The Inquirer”??

Catherine: What? You think you’re the only one with a camera?

Francine: But why? Everyone’s laughing at me.

Catherine sits down beside Francine.

Catherine: So you would know what it feels like. Besides, I didn’t want you to lose all your friends.

Francine: I think I did that anyway.

Catherine: Don’t worry. Tomorrow it’ll all be yesterday’s news.

Francine: How do you know?

Catherine: Because that’s what happened when I was an annoying third-grader who took photographs of all her friends.

She puts her hand on Francine’s shoulder.

Mr. Frensky: Wow! My two daughters not fighting for a whole minute? Now this is a story!

He takes a picture.

***

A copy of the next Frensky Star is stuck to the Frenskys’ refrigerator. It shows a picture of the sisters sitting side by side. Both girls reach for a can of soda pop.

Catherine: Hands off the can, squirt!

Francine: It’s mine! I called it!

Catherine: I don’t care what you called! I’m older and stronger and it’s my soda!

Francine: You want a piece of me?! Come on, twinkle-toes! I’m never letting go!

Catherine: I’ll be buried with this soda! It’s mine, do you hear, mine!

The camera zooms back from the apartment building.

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