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"The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur"
Original Airdate: United States January 20, 2020 [1][2]
Canada March 23, 2020
(part 1) and March 25, 2020 (part 2) [citation needed]
Australia March 1, 2020
(part 1) and March 7, 2020 (part 2) [citation needed]
Written by: Peter Ferland
Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Greg Bailey
Gerry Capelle
Helene Cossette
Allan Jeffery
Glen Kennedy
Tapani Knuutila
Daniel Miodini
Jeremy O'Neill
Tony Tupilano
"Special: Arthur and the Haunted Tree House"
"Special: An Arthur Thanksgiving"
Read transcript

"The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur" is a one-hour TV special that premiered on January 20, 2020, on PBS.[1][2]


"Pack your bags, buckle your seatbelts, and get ready for an ARTHUR road trip to the family farm! Arthur's Great-Grand Uncle Theo is celebrating his 85th birthday, so the Reads (and Buster) are off to Ohio to join in the festivities. While D.W. and Arthur learn that farm life is a little different than life in Elwood City, Buster worries he may be getting in the way at this family reunion. With the help of Cousin Miles, some llamas, and a little bit of music, they all discover what it truly means to be family."[3]


Arthur packs his suitcase and mentions how much he likes packing, especially since it means that he is going on a trip, in this case to see his cousins in Ohio. His mom, dad and D.W. all want him to put some of their stuff into his suitcase which makes him change his mind about packing.

The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur

Road Trip

The next morning, Mr. Read gets the car ready. Thora brings self-made sandwiches, to D.W.’s disgust. When D.W. learns that her mom will not come with them because Kate is sick, D.W. does not want to go either. Her mom convinces her by telling her that the Ohio cousins live on a llama farm. Mrs. Baxter drops off Buster who is accompanying the Reads.

D.W. is shocked to learn that it takes five hours to drive to Ohio. She needs to go to the bathroom. Not much later, Mr. Read and Thora reminisce about spending their childhood summers in Ohio. Then Arthur has to go to the bathroom. At the rest stop, Buster takes a checkers board out of his bag and forgets to secure it again.

As they drive on, Arthur is anxious to see his cousin Ryder. D.W. wonders why Buster is coming along since he is not family. This hurts Buster’s feelings. Mr. Read swerves because a raccoon is crossing the road and Buster’s bag falls off the roof. D.W. sings the song “I’m Bored”.

Farm, First Day

When they reach the farm, they meet a pregnant llama named Bernice and Cousin Miles who welcomes them. At the house, the grown-ups want to meet baby cousin Laurie. Cousin Ryder invites the kids to see his pond museum. D.W. cannot keep up with the boys. She is introduced to her baby cousin, then her dad takes her to meet Granduncle Theo, who is going to turn eighty-five the next day. D.W. learns that she was named after Theo’s sister. She and Theo decide to stick together, since there are no other people in their respective age groups.

Ryder shows Arthur and Buster how to swing over the pond on a rope. Buster notices that Arthur and Ryder do not find his jokes funny. Ryder then shows the boys his museum, which consists of animals he caught in order to study them. Buster dares to hold a snake, but then he freaks out and drops it so that it gets away.

D.W. plays horseshoe against Theo while the boys want to go swimming. Arthur gives Ryder his present, a Dark Bunny snow plow, and Buster discovers that his bag is missing. Miles asks Ryder to lend him a swimsuit.

D.W. discovers the joys of walking barefoot on grass, but then a lizard climbs on her foot. Mr. Read removes it, but accidentally breaks its tail off. Buster sees how the family stands around D.W. and feels sad. He is now wearing a too-big swimsuit and Arthur and Ryder have left for the pond without him.

Miles follows Buster as he tries to find the way to the pond. When Buster tells him that he feels like he does not belong, since he is not related to the others, Miles tells him that he is not related either, but he and the Reads have become like family. He sings about family ("I See You").

Buster joins Arthur and Ryder who swing on a rope to jump into the pond. Buster uses too much momentum and hurts his foot.

Arthur and his dad take Buster to a clinic. He gets a bandage and cannot swim for a few days. He assures Arthur that it is okay if Arthur goes swimming with Ryder, but when he remembers that he lost all his comics with the bag, he gets sad.

Theo and D.W. talk about Grandaunt Dora, who had a similar character to D.W. Theo shows D.W. a photograph where Theo and Dora are holding soda bottles. Mr. Read calls them downstairs to have a video conversation with Mrs. Read, Kate and Pal. D.W. asks to speak to her mom alone. She wants to go home, because the farm is different and she is afraid of the lizard. Her mom asks her to be brave, then the connection breaks.

At dinner, Arthur asks Ryder about the Dark Bunny toy and Ryder says it was cool. Ryder apologizes to Buster for not warning him about swinging and Buster apologizes for losing the snake. D.W. is scared that it might be in the house.

Farm, Night

Ryder planned to sleep in the hayloft with Arthur and Buster, but Buster cannot manage the ladder with his injured foot. Arthur offers to sleep in the house, but Buster tells him to sleep in the loft with Ryder.

Buster gets to share Theo’s old bedroom with D.W. who makes him check the room for snakes. He just finds an old bottle.

Arthur and Ryder lie down in the hayloft. Arthur notices that Ryder does not know much about Dark Bunny. There is also a barn owl which frightens Arthur.

Buster cannot sleep because it is too hot. He goes outside with D.W. and they look at the stars. D.W. admits that she is homesick and so is Buster. They sing a song about home ("Home or Here") and decide, that the farm has good things too. Then they go to sleep on a couch on the porch.

Arthur cannot sleep because of the owl, so he runs to the house.

Farm, Second Day

Buster wakes up early in the morning and goes into the kitchen where Miles is baking for the birthday lunch. D.W. is woken by the lizard and runs inside screaming. She finds Arthur in her bed and throws him out. Arthur notices that Ryder has not opened the box with the toy plow.

After breakfast, Theo gives D.W. a lizard catcher made out of a flower pot and a piece of cardboard. Miles takes Buster to see Bernice. Arthur comes out and brings Ryder the toy, but he realizes that Ryder does not care for it. Ryder admits that he does not watch TV much or read comics. Arthur reasons that they do not have as much in common as they thought, but they are still cousins.

At the llama stable, Buster sees a rooster that regards the llamas as family, like Miles and the Reads.

Later that day, more family members arrive. There is another awkward moment, when Arthur and Ryder cannot agree on what sort of sausages to grill first. D.W. annoys the grown-ups when she tries to catch the lizard. Since no one has time for her, she decides to leave.

The family give Theo their presents. Since Buster’s present was lost with his bag, he picks some flowers and puts them in the old soda bottle he found under the bed. Theo is delighted, because the bottle reminds him of his childhood. He dubs Buster an honorary member of the family. Then they realize that D.W. is missing.

Aunt Minnie runs after D.W. When D.W. complains about no one paying attention to her, Minnie tells her that being in a family means that you are an important part even if no one is paying attention. They hear a screech from the llama stables and D.W. runs to get Miles.

Not long afterwards, everyone stands around a newborn llama. Miles tell D.W. to name it and she chooses the name Dora.

Later, Miles wants to sing a song for Theo and asks Arthur and Ryder to accompany him. Both boys protests and realize that they do have this in common. Miles sings a song to Theo about family ("At this Table"). The special ends with Mrs. Read and Kate arriving in a taxi.








  • This special reveals that D.W. was named after Theo's sister, whose full name was also "Dora Winifred Read" and who passed away before D.W. was born.
  • According to the credits, this special was produced in 2019.
  • An online game based on the special, titled "Moonlight Mazes," was released on January 8, 2020. It features the pond museum and the lizard, which the game reveals to be a five-lined skink.
  • D.W. says that Buster does not look like the Reads. He is a rabbit and the Reads are aardvarks. This seems to be averted with Miles and Lorraine, who are also rabbits, though Miles reveals that he is not biologically related, just an old and close friend. Lorraine may be an in-law.

Episode connections

Cultural references

  • During the "I'm Bored" song, signs for Highway 30 West and Highway 224 West are seen. These two routes meet near Van Wert, Ohio, which happens to be relatively close to Cridersville, Ohio. A sign for the Cridersville Fairgrounds is seen outside the medical clinic where Buster seeks treatment for his leg injury.
  • The highway exit featured in the episode, 111A, is based on the real Exit 111A on the northbound side of Interstate 4 passing through Deltona and Orange City, Florida. An image of this exit, taken in 2003, is featured on the Wikipedia article for Exit number, which is likely what inspired the artists. The overpass is based on Saxon Boulevard. The scene on Arthur retains the sign for Exit 111B towards Orange City, Florida, as well as the yellow exit speed limit signs, though the city for Exit 111A has been changed from Deltona to Sherbrooke, which is a city in Quebec and not Ohio or Florida. The "OLD 53CA" sign refers to I-4's exits being renumbered in 2002; the sign was removed by 2009.
  • Piccadilly may have been inspired by Nehi (“knee high”), which was a popular fruit-flavored soda when Theo and Dora would have been kids.
  • The line "Didn't it feel like third grade went on forever?" references the show's time loop and how the characters do not get older.
  • The line "Hey Lorraine, this cousin is on some show called Arthur!" is a reference to Arthur itself.


  • D.W.'s ear is incorrectly animated above her hat when she greets Minnie.
  • D.W. says that she does not know what a llama is, even though she acknowledges llamas on her birthday card in "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday."

Production notes

  • This is the first Arthur production where the series director, Greg Bailey, has helped storyboard an episode or special.



Promotional images



  1. 1.0 1.1 Rhythm and Roots of Arthur. Kentucky Educational Televison. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur. Connecticut Public Television (January 2020). Archived from the original on September 19, 2020.
  3. Rhythm and Roots of Arthur - episode: 394174 - Rhythm and Roots of Arthur. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020.