In the 1970s, American illustrator Marc Brown began writing the children’s book series that would make him famous on television a few decades later. Why TV? That is because his books, detailing the everyday adventures of young boy Arthur Read in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, would be adapted into an animated series by WGBH and Canadian studio Cinar (WildBrain today) for PBS. Since premiering in 1996, “Arthur” became the longest-running US children’s animated program, second-longest US animated program period (behind “The Simpsons”) and a definitive part of many 90s kids’ childhoods. Unfortunately, all good things must eventually end.
Comicbook.com drops the bombshell that has actually been hinted at for as far as a couple years or so earlier, the PBS animated series “Arthur” is coming to an end after 25 seasons and about as many years in broadcast. The kicker was that the finish was a done deal back in 2018 or so. This was revealed by the show’s writer Kathy Waugh, on the podcast “Finding DW” hosted by voice actor and former “Arthur” voice cast member Jason Szwimer. “Arthur is no longer in production,” Waugh said in the reveal. “We had our wrap party two years ago.”
The news was confirmed by “Arthur” executive producer Carol Greenwald. IGN has it that Greenwald has charted the broadcast schedule for the series, with season 25 set to premiere on PBS in October of 2021. Once that is run through, there will be no more new episodes of “Arthur,” but the series with its multiple seasons will continue to rerun on the public broadcaster’s separate PBS Kids network. By this past Monday and Tuesday, July 26-27, social media denizens who grew up in the 1990s with “Arthur” have begun expressing their dismay at the quiet cancellation of the show, which they equate to the ending of a children’s TV era.
While primarily a child-focused animated series, “Arthur” was beloved by a wider demographic for its willingness to tackle a wide variety of subjects about childhood and life in general. Episodes of its many series have touched on subjects ranging from age-appropriate problems like bed-wetting, to all-ages issues like bullying, health problems like asthma or cancer, and even LGBT topics. The show also featured celebrity guests, sometimes voicing animated anthropomorphic animal versions of themselves like the late Mister Fred Rogers or the Backstreet Boys. Suffice to say, “Arthur” will be missed when it ends; but until then, what a wonderful kind of day for the fans.
Image courtesy of PBS