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"To Beat or Not to Beat"

To Beat or Not to Beat Singdrum

To Beat or Not To Beat Title Card

Season/Series: 4
Number in season: 7B
Original Airdate: Flag of the United States October 13, 1999[1]
Flag of Canada January 25, 2000[2]
Written by: Barney Saltzberg
Storyboard by: Jeremy O'Neil
"Binky Barnes, Wingman"
"1001 Dads"

"To Beat or Not to Beat" is the second half of the seventh episode in the fourth season of Arthur.


Francine is practicing her singing and drumming for the talent show, but her friends just think she's making a terrible racket.


In the cold open, Arthur explains how Francine is great at some things, such as baseball and winning an argument. Francine then tries to fly, which she does, until Arthur tells her that kids can't fly.

In the episode, Lakewood Elementary's talent show is coming up, and Arthur, Buster and Brain each discuss what they're going to do. Buster going to tell jokes, Brain decided to answer math questions from the audience until Arthur pointed out what if Mr. Ratburn asked a question. After imagining Ratburn asking a really hard question, Brain decided to juggle. Then they then hear a loud noise coming from Francine's apartment building. As they were walking, they wonder what it is, Buster believe it’s a new sound machine exterminators use to get rid of termites. Arthur believe that it’s somebody driving a big and crazy car.

They discover that Francine is both singing and playing the drums, which is her act for the talent show. The boys hurriedly leave and decide if they should tell Francine that her singing and drumming sounds really bad. Arthur said that they should tell Francine to drop out of the talent show because he doesn’t want to see Francine humiliate herself at the talent show, while Brain said that they shouldn’t say anything because it could hurt her feelings if they told her the truth. Later that night, Arthur dreams about two different scenarios (one where Francine cries after being told the truth, and one where she is relieved at first, but then finds out that her song made someone else famous).

The next day, now Brain thinks they should tell Francine about her singing and drop out of the talent show while Arthur have doubts about telling her. Then Buster comes up with an idea: tell Muffy about Francine's act since she always know what’s popular and what isn’t popular. However, Brain pointed out that Muffy would never say anything bad about Francine because that’s her best friend. So all three they sneak over to the roof of the apartment building and get a recording of Francine practicing disguise as bushes and use a toy car with a tape recorder. They managed to get the recording and leave.

When they give the tape to Muffy, she shares their thoughts and agreed with them that the noise it’s awful. Arthur revealed that it’s Francine singing and playing the drums at the same time. Shocked, Muffy is confused on how why Francine sounds so bad since she’s normally a great drummer, then Brain realizes that the singing is affecting her drumming skills which caused all the four of them to realize that they don’t need Francine to drop out of the talent show, just need to convince Francine not to sing. They head back to Francine's apartment to tell her. They do so one-by-one, but Francine doesn't listen to them.

At the tree-house, the four of them complain about Francine not listening to them and the predicated humiliation Francine will have to suffer at the Talent Show. Then, Francine arrives at the tree-house with the tape recorder they dropped. They asked what that horrible noise was, saying that it sounds like an elephant crushing Ratburn's car. Muffy stutters, then Arthur says it's her voice. Francine complains about no one telling her the truth until Arthur says that everyone did but she didn’t listen to them making Francine feel guilty for not listening to them.

Her friends comfort her, saying that she’s still an amazing drummer and Francine decided that she’s not ready to do two things at once and take her friends advice. At the Talent Show, Francine shows up but without her drums. Instead, she sings. Arthur and his friends fear the worst, but, much to her friends' amazement, she sings beautifully. She doesn't win the talent show (George does, as he did in "Buster's Growing Grudge"), but her friends still enjoyed her performance. Francine decided to still practice playing the drums and singing until she get better at it.






  • Part of Francine's song, the line "you can fly," is used in the season 6 ending credits.
  • In the Brain's fantasy of the talent show, Mr. Ratburn's question is "If a train carrying 1,873 scoops of ice cream leaves Chicago at 7 AM and the freezer stops working, how fast would it have to travel to reach New York before half the ice cream melts, factoring in a melting rate of 6 scoops per minute?" The answer is 5 miles per minute, or 300 miles per hour.

Cultural references

  • The title of this episode is a pun on the phrase "to be or not to be" from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Episode connections


  • Because stock footage from "Buster's Growing Grudge" is used, Mr. Ratburn is seen wearing his red necktie in one scene, and then his blue bow tie in the next scene.


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