Buster and Arthur poke fun at a classic horror film called The Squirrels, shown to them by Mrs. Baxter. Both of them, however, are secretly scared by it and afraid to go outside. In fact, everyone in Arthur's class except Binky has seen the film and are suddenly spending a lot more time indoors doing homework. Arthur resorts to drastic measures to solve the problem until he realizes that the only way to face the fear is to confront it head-on..
"Fern & Persimmony Glitchet"
Fern loves writing stories and dreams of being published. She sends a letter to the author of the books A Series of Horrendously Horrible Happenings, Persimmony Glitchet, who writes back in invisible ink. He encourages her to read, write and rewrite, and always look for opportunities to publish. She publishes a story in the Lakewood Elemntary Reader under the name Agatha Shelley, but it's dismissed as a boring failure. She wonders if she should give up, but reconsiders after receiving another letter and thinking about the second bit of advice.moreless
The organ music from the "Phantom of the Store" sequence in "D.W. Gets Lost" is used in the teaser for "The Squirrels" when Arthur warns how scary the episode is going to be. It also shows up in later episodes such as Bats in the Belfry and Tales of Grotesquely Grim Bunny.
Real Kids Segment: Dean from Curious Creatures visits a class and shows them various animals, including a tarantula. The kids learn that while some animals may seem scary, they all have important purposes in nature.
Buster reads the title for the first story and the title card features him roaring like a lion. Francine reads the title for the second story. The title card is new --- it features Fern writing at her desk.
Persimmony: I'd much prefer an Agatha Christie mystery to one of those Horrendously Horrible books.
Persimmony: When people criticize my stories, it helps me to imagine horrible things happening to them.
Fern: Not all stories have to be scary or mysterious.
Fern: So have you read "Happy Happenings" by Agatha Shelley?
Arthur: Is that the boring one?
D.W.: (as Little Red Riding Hood) Hey, you, narrator --- if there's no Big Bad Wolf in my story, then what's the point?
Brain: To think we were all so freaked out by squirrels.
Francine: I know! I feel so silly!
Buster: Hey, you know, The Birds is on TV tonight. Anybody gonna watch?
Arthur: All we need to do is become friends with one and when we see how nice it is, we won't be afraid anymore.
Buster: Were you scared?
Arthur: Not at all. (giggles fakely) Squirrels.
D.W.: Wake up, Arthur! It's time to start the show!
Arthur: Do you ever think about how little difference there is between things that are scary and things that aren't scary?
Agatha Shelley is a mix of the names of Mary Shelley and Agatha Christie.
Silly Squirrel School
When Arthur is picking out DVDs of squirrel-themed kiddie programs, one of them is called "Silly Squirrel School," and the cover art depicts two cartoon squirrels at desks holding up the letter cards of "A" and "B." This DVD cover is a parody of the cover artwork to Richard Scarry's Best ABC Video Ever, produced in 1989 by Random House Home Video (formerly a division of Sony Wonder.) At one time, Random House Home Video also distributed Arthur episodes onto VHS and DVD.
The kiddie show Arthur watches featuring happy, singing and dancing squirrels (portrayed by actors in costumes) to try and conquer his fear of squirrels is a parody of Teletubbies. It is made obvious later in the episode, when the squirrel suits have Teletubbies-esque antennas and jumpsuits, and closing out the show by saying "Bye-bye!"
This is not the first time Arthur parodied Teletubbies, as it was also spoofed in That's a Baby Show! (with the Love Ducks) and The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies (with Vidiboobies), and the squirrel videos even feature reused backgrounds from Love Ducks.
The film titled The Squirrels is an obvious parody of the classic Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller The Birds. It's even referenced by name later on. Meanwhile, Persimmony Glitchet and his Horrendously Horrible Happenings are a spoof on A Series of Unfortunate Events written by Daniel Handler under the pen-name Lemony Snicket. There are several references --- including the titles of the books, the author's reclusive habits, and even the author criticizing his own works.
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