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"Francine Frensky, Superstar"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 10b
Original Airdate: United States October 18, 1996[1]
Canada January 17, 1997[2]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Darren Brereton
"Arthur's Birthday"
"Arthur's Baby"
Read transcript

"Francine Frensky, Superstar" is the second half of the tenth episode in the first season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Francine the Superstar.


Francine lands the lead role in a school play. However, she becomes bossy towards her friends in doing things her own way.


As the episode starts off with Arthur's class auditioning for a school play, Buster tap dances on the stage while Mr. Ratburn takes notes and he taps his pencil to the music. Arthur, behind the curtain, tells the viewers that whenever they put on a school play, Francine gets bad parts which result in her getting hurt. The first bad part mentioned is the Cherry Tree in "George Washington and the Cherry Tree", where Buster as George Washington cut her down and she fell flat on her face. The next bad part is Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree (played by Muffy). Arthur stood on a ladder above them with a bucket of apples and dropped one on Francine's head to show how Newton discovered gravity. But then Arthur lost his balance and caused the rest of the apples, the bucket and himself to fall on Francine. The last bad part is the mighty cymbal in the orchestral orientation; Francine wore a cymbal on her head and Brain hit it very hard with a mallet. After Arthur is done speaking, Francine walks out on stage wearing a football uniform, falls and gets hurt once again.

Francine Frensky, Superstar

We see Mr. Ratburn's class, where he's giving them math problems to do. Arthur looks at Miss Sweetwater's class eating donuts and drinking milk, and he licks his lips. Mr. Ratburn announces that it's time for the class to put on a school play and asks anyone if they have any ideas about what play they should do. Sue Ellen suggests that they should do a spooky story about a monster of mucus who gets his arms pulled off, but they grow back. Brain suggests that they should do a play about space so that he could just make a rocket with his homemade rocket fuel easily out of paper. Mr. Ratburn calls both their ideas good, but too complicated for them to perform. He then shuts them down and instead suggests that they should do a play about the inventor Thomas Edison (Even though that no one, Including the Brain, knows who he was, with Francine asking if he invented anything that would hit her in the face, and Muffy asking if he invented the Dewey Decimal System, because she thought "Dewey" was Edison's middle name.) Mr. Ratburn also explains that Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph, which played music before CDs were invented. The kids don't have any idea what a phonograph is, and Mr. Ratburn thinks the play should definitely be educational for them to perform.

Later that afternoon, as Mr. Ratburn is sitting in the auditorium assigning the parts in preparation for audition, Everyone, along with Arthur, Buster, Brain and Muffy approach and ask him to give Francine a lead part because she has never had one. He says that he will.

The next day, Mr. Ratburn announces the parts: Buster will be the first light bulb, Arthur will be the first phonograph, Binky will be the locomotive and Francine will star as Thomas Edison. Everyone cheers for her and congratulates her. Francine promises she won't let the class down and will give 110% to her part, prompting her role to go to her head.

Francine spends the next few days learning everything she can about Thomas Edison. When she goes to the library for research, she asks for the Thomas Edison section, only to learn that he's in the biographies and doesn't have his own section. Insulted, she declares the library to be "crummy".

She checks out all the books they had about Edison (actually a sizable pile of them) and heads home, refusing Arthur and Buster's offer to go to The Sugar Bowl because she has to "study her inventions". That night, at home, she messes with the lights in her apartment to study light bulbs, and in the process, almost gives her a seizure to and annoys her older sister Catherine, who is trying to read. Catherine suggests she instead learn about a phonograph or a movie camera, but Francine messes with the lights some more until she nearly gives Catherine another seizure, finally forcing the teen sister to tattle on Francine by calling for their mother.

Francine goes to the local stores where she studies movie cameras and an old phonograph, annoying the shopkeepers in the process. While she is in the hardware store looking at light bulbs, Prunella and Muffy ask Francine if she wants to go to the mall. Francine refuses, but offers to let the girls study incandescent filaments with her. When Muffy calls that boring, Francine is insulted once again and tells Muffy an insult that states that without lights she would have to shop in the dark, but according to her, she already does. Offended, Muffy starts to shed tears and runs out, making Prunella angry. Francine points out it was Muffy who started it, and that she should be embarrassed for insulting incandescent filaments.

Francine grows cockier as she corrects Mr. Ratburn during class and during rehearsals, Francine is examining everyone's costumes, which Brain offers to mend if there is a problem. Francine notices Buster's light bulb costume has air holes, which outrages her because if an "incandescent lamp" had them, they wouldn't work. Buster needs them to breathe, but Francine forces Brain to patch them anyway.

In class the next day, Mr. Ratburn is asking the class when the first light bulb was invented, but Francine tells him he's wrong to call it a light bulb, much to the class's shock. According to her, Edison invented the incandescent lamp, and it wasn't given the name "light bulb" "till much later." Mr. Ratburn agrees and then Francine signals rehearsal.

At the rehearsal, Francine is angry because Sue Ellen's camera costume has no sprocket holes, which would ruin the film, and she yells at Mr. Ratburn right in the face when pointing it out. Mr. Ratburn, humoring Francine, takes Sue Ellen to Brain to fix it. Francine then notices Arthur (dressed as a phonograph) is not wearing his bell speaker because "it makes everything echo." She forces it on him and shouts that she'll "uninvent" him if he takes it off again and that he won't be in her play at all.

Arthur, Muffy, Prunella, Brain, Buster and Binky are at The Sugar Bowl, regretting asking Mr. Ratburn to give Francine a good part. Because of that, she acts like it's her show, instead of theirs. Arthur asks Muffy if she'll talk to Francine, but Muffy says she's not speaking to her. Prunella explains how Francine insulted Muffy's clothes. Binky threatens to pound Francine and pounds down on his soda to demonstrate, but gets stained with soda. Arthur plans to reason with her, but Francine refuses to accept his phone call because she is still studying her inventions.

That night, the class prepares to put on the play for the kindergartners. Buster can't breathe because his light bulb's air holes are now sealed by bandages, but Francine doesn't care. Arthur tells Francine flat out that everyone is angry at her because of how she's treated everyone, but she calmly brushes it off because "they don't have her talent at winning personality". Fed up, the students vow to teach Francine a lesson.

During the play, as it begins, Muffy welcomes everyone and refers to Menlo Park as "Mental Park". Francine pops out of the curtains and angrily corrects her. In the first scene, Francine as Edison presents Arthur as the phonograph. Instead of playing music, Arthur does automated telephone message imitations which amuses the audience, but makes Francine annoyed; so she confronts him and insists that his job is to play due to being a phonograph.

Next, Francine presents the first light bulb. She pulls down the sheet covering Buster and discovers that he has a huge grid in the front of his costume, but covers up her shock by acting like it's supposed to be there. When she flips on the light to turn him on, he squirts her in the face with a water gun, annoying Francine once again.

Then she uses her kinetoscope (Sue Ellen) to film The Great Train Robbery. Binky chugs along until the robbers (Jenna and Muffy) rob him. They mess up the act when Binky beats back the robbers, telling them to "put 'em up!", and everyone on stage starts dancing. The play ends, but Francine tries to stop the closing curtains, and ends up getting knocked onto the stage floor. By this point, it's clear her classmates were making mistakes on purpose to turn the tables on her for her entitled attitude.

Later, Francine is sobbing in the dressing room, humiliated at what her friends did to her. Mr. Ratburn is disappointed as well and asks that the kids make improvements before the parents' show. Francine blames her friends for messing up her show, but they explain to her that it belongs to all of them and that they all worked hard to put on a good show. Francine thinks this over, realizes what a poor sport she has been, and apologizes for her bad reputation. She then asks if they would be willing to help her put on a great show together, and they happily agree.

That night, the parents' play goes well and is a total success. As they take their bows, Francine gives credit to her whole cast for its play and that she couldn't have done it alone. But after the curtain closes, she says they couldn't have done it without her, either. This causes her friends to pull her back behind the curtain while the episode ends.






  • This episode depicts the first appearance of Francine's older sister Catherine.
  • Moral: Just because you are the leader, doesn't mean you should be bossy towards others.
  • Muffy doesn't have her buck teeth in this episode.
  • For unknown reasons, George is the only member of Mr. Ratburn's class to not be involved in the play.
  • The music that's played when Francine plays the phonograph in the shop is some of the background music played in Arthur.
  • During the ending when everyone is bowing, Maria is the only reporter actor seen, Alex and Fern Walters have mysteriously disappeared.
  • All the past three plays mentioned in the intro take place during Arthur and his friends' 3rd grade school year with Mr. Ratburn as does the Thomas Edison play they are auditioning in, so it's possible this episode and the Thomas Edison play may take place during the 4th quarter of their school year and likely one play per quarter of the school year.
    • The first two plays mentioned have two flaws: George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree, and an apple never fell on Newton's head.

Cultural references

  • Thomas Edison was the real inventor of the light bulb and the phonograph
  • In three past plays, Francine played the roles of a cherry tree, Sir Isaac Newton, and a cymbal.

Episode connections


  • Buster was complaining he could not breathe in his light bulb costume. But this doesn’t make sense because there were already holes for his arms.
Francine and Catherine's Room Mistake

Francine and Catherine's room, having excluded Catherine's bed.

  • In the play finale for all the families to see, George, Francine, Sue Ellen, Buster and Muffy can be seen in the audience (With Francine in the front row), however, the real classmates are performing on stage.
  • Although Catherine made her debut in this episode, her and Francine's bedroom lacked her bed (showing only Francine's bed), which was also lacked in "Francine's Bad Hair Day" and many other episodes in this season.
  • When Muffy says "Me, too" and Brain adds "Me, three", Brain's hand is the same pale color as Muffy's hand.
  • When Mr. Ratburn asks the class to name one of Edison's inventions, nobody answers. It is unknown why Brain did not answer, as he is very advanced intelligently compared to his classmates.
    Buster mistake

    Half of the Brain is copied onto Buster.

  • In the scene at The Sugar Bowl, Buster's sweater and skin tone of his hands both match Brain's in one shot.
  • When Mr. Ratburn is speaking to the class about the phonograph, Alex appears to look like Patrick.
  • In the beginning, Francine's body gear was green and purple. later it was changed to orange.
  • In the beginning, just as Sue Ellen stands up to announce her idea for the play, Francine's sweater is mistakenly colored yellow, as can be seen while Binky is talking in the foreground.
  • At one point, Luke can be seen in Mr. Ratburn's class.
  • In the classroom, Alex Davidson and Maria are sitting next to each other when Ratburn collects their papers. Later in the scene, Maria is next to Otis and Alex is next to George.
  • When Mr. Ratburn is placing a book down, its top can be seen overlapping the two books.
  • When Francine gets angry about Sue Ellen's costume not having sprocket holes, Sue Ellen's hair is briefly colored an orange shade.
  • It isn't explained how during the performance for the parents at the end, Arthur (playing the phonograph) was able to convincingly make the sound of recorded music. No wires can be seen coming out of his costume, and he stays completely motionless except for his costume's crank. Such a feat would've been easy to pull off in recent times (i.e. using a Bluetooth speaker inside the costume), but such technologies did not necessarily exist back in 1996 when this episode was made.
  • When Muffy says "Oh no!", she doesn't appear to be frowning.

Storyline analysis

Differences between the book and episode

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