It started back in September last year, thanks to a post on an Asperger’s forum about an episode of the children’s TV show Arthur which featured a character with Asperger’s. I remembered hearing about that show before (I’m from the UK, where the show is not nearly as widely known, but still broadcast) and had watched a few episodes but had not really taken to it. But I decided to watch the episode mentioned on the forum, and I was able to find it on YouTube fairly quickly.
Of course, the inevitable happened and YouTube quickly started “suggesting” other episodes from the show, and I took to the show promptly and after a few days of watching about three episodes each day I decided that I should start from the very first episode and watch the complete series in order.
So I did. Most of the episodes were available on YouTube (there are a few here and there which I have still not seen) and with the help of a YouTube downloader I started downloading them in batches and watching them over time. With 17 seasons at the time (there have since been another two seasons released), and 10 episodes in each season except for season 1 with 30 episodes, season 2 with 20 episodes, and season 3 with 15 episodes, it seemed like a lot – 205 episodes in total, except for a few missing ones which I was unable to find online – and I was not sure if I would ever finish. Needless to say I came close to running over our internet usage cap quite a few times, and once or twice I had to wait to download the next episodes as we were running out of internet usage, but eventually in December last year I reached the end of season 17.
Then season 18 came out gradually from the beginning of this year until March, and season 19 came out in June. I watched them too, and although the animation style has degenerated over the years and the storylines have become somewhat less sophisticated I still have a childish sense of enjoyment when I watch the series.
And then the last episode came out. There have been many times that this has been speculated before by the fanbase of the show, but this time it seems real – with a name like “The Last Day” and no talk of another season, it seems that Arthur has at last come to an end.
But it sure was an adventure for me getting here. I can still remember those first episodes of season 1, many of which I watched on an old CRT monitor just to get that 90s feeling from when they were first aired. And it was a wonderful adventure. Season 6 brought with it the blind girl Marina, which I still suspect may have led to the development of my BIID (although I still believe that one is either predisposed or not predisposed to BIID, as it isn’t going to develop if there isn’t that initial “fascination” with the blind character – which in my case there definitely was).
I could write all day about Marina, but I’ll just mention that she appeared again in seasons 7, 9, 11, twice in season 13, briefly in season 17 and again once in season 18. She is definitely my favourite character, but a lot of the other episodes had a unique charm to them as well and I have a list giving how much I enjoyed each episode, in case I ever want to go back and watch some of them again (of which I have re-watched a few). Top of the list of course was the episode with Carl, the boy with Asperger’s who appeared in season 13, briefly in seasons 14, and three times briefly in season 17 but who had another episode to himself in season 19 which was a pleasant surprise considering that Marina was absent from season 19, and also Lydia, the girl in a wheelchair (believe me when I say that I most certainly have blindness-variant BIID, not wheelchair-variant, and I want to kid myself that I have no attraction to those in wheelchairs either), who appeared in the opening episode of season 14 and who appeared again only in season 19 – ironically enough in the very last episode that I watched, this morning, not because it was the last to be aired but because for some reason it did not air in the UK, so I carried on with the subsequent episodes that I had downloaded from the BBC iPlayer and only managed to download that episode from an American catchup service yesterday (the American service was considerably harder to download from).
It really has been an adventure, and a little treat with Lydia – who, it has been promised since season 14, would appear again – really rounded it up nicely; nicer, in my opinion, than the “official” ending where Arthur and his friends finally moved from 3rd grade school to 4th grade (although I must admit that that was a fitting ending as well, for those who don’t go mad over every disabled character in the series). I guess I’ve made it sound like I only care about the disabled characters, but that’s not true – while they are my favourites (and, unfortunately, the ones which appear the least often) I do enjoy the regular characters and storylines as well with a kind of childish amusement which it is not my business to try to understand but to merely embrace and enjoy.
As an aside, it’s also amazing how the feel of a series changes over time – I don’t really know how to describe it, but there is a definite change in the feel of the episodes at the beginning of season 4, and a slow progression where by season 10 things definitely feel different again, and then again there is a slow progression from season 10 to season 15, and of course seasons 16 and onwards use a different animation style (and are also produced in widescreen unlike the earlier episodes) so there is a definite change there but even then seasons 18 and 19 feel different from 16 and 17 in a way that I cannot quite work out. I really don’t know how to describe the way this feels, but it is very noticeable particularly when one watches the entire series in a (relatively) short amount of time, and compares episodes from different times in the series.
So yes, I enjoyed it, and I’m glad that I decided to watch the complete series. And now that I have seen the complete series, I am ready to go blind. The two things that had held me back were Arthur and another TV series called Covert Affairs which one of my friends with BIID introduced me to – I wanted to see them to the end (the latter was of particular interest to me because of a blind character who was a regular character, unlike Marina who didn’t appear in many episodes of Arthur – and Auggie Anderson from Covert Affairs sure was good!). I finished watching the latter a few weeks ago (hence why I did not blog about it) and now I have finished the former as well. I am ready to go blind, and if I ever want to listen to the episodes again I have them all on my hard disk, and the video streams in my memory.