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Postcards from Buster
Created byMarc Brown (characters)
Natatcha Estébanez
Based onArthur episode from Season 8, Postcards from Buster written by Peter K. Hirsch
Voices ofDaniel Brochu
Theme music composerRay Fabi
Mitch Knowles
Bill McRae
Opening theme"Hey Buster" performed by Wyclef Jean featuring 3 on 3
ComposerClaudio Ragazzi
Country of originUnited States
Canada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes55 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersMarc Brown
Irene Mecchi
James Atoka
Pierre Valette
ProducersTolon Brown[1]
Lesley Taylor[1]
Patricia Alvarado Nuñez[1]
Alan Catello Grazioso
AnimatorsAKOM (Season 1)
DQ Entertainment (Seasons 2-4)
EditorsJean Dunoyer
Cherry Enoki
Running time22 minutes
Production companiesCookie Jar Group (Season 1)
9 Story Media Group (Seasons 2-4)[2]
Marc Brown Studios
WGBH-TV
Original release
NetworkPBS Kids Go!
ReleaseOctober 11, 2004 (2004-10-11) –
February 25, 2012 (2012-02-25)
Related
Arthur

Postcards from Buster is a live-action/animated children's television series that originally aired on PBS. It is a spin-off of the Arthur TV series. The show features Buster Baxter, an 8-year-old anthropomorphic rabbit and Arthur's best friend. The television series was created by Cookie Jar Group (now known as WildBrain), WGBH Boston, and Marc Brown Studios.

A backdoor pilot episode for the series, also titled "Postcards from Buster," originally aired as part of Arthur's eighth season on December 22, 2003.[3] The official series aired on PBS Kids Go! from October 11, 2004, to February 20, 2012. The series went on a 3 years hiatus between November 2008 and February 2012.

In Arthur, it is already established that Buster's parents had divorced, and his father is a pilot. This spin-off series revolves around Buster's travels with his father, Bo Baxter. Arthur Read and many other characters from Arthur make cameo appearances in this series, with many episodes featuring an Arthur character playing a minor role.

Overview

Postcards from Buster featured Buster travelling to various locations across North America. His travels primarily took place in the United States, but he also visited destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, and many other places. Buster is accompanied by his father, who is a pilot for a band of musicians. In each episode, Buster meets children in the location who introduce him to their real-life families and provide insights into global culture.

The sequences featuring Buster are animated, while the segments showcasing the children are live-action, presented from the perspective of Buster's video camcorder. After each location, Buster sends his friend Arthur a "video postcard" tape, providing a summary of his experiences and the people he has met in that specific location.

The series aimed to showcase multicultural and diverse families, including a Muslim family in Illinois, a Mormon family in Utah, and a Mestizo family in Texas, among others.[3][4]

Episodes

Main article: List of Postcards from Buster episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
140October 11, 2004 (2004-10-11)April 1, 2005 (2005-04-01)
210November 27, 2006 (2006-11-27)February 19, 2007 (2007-02-19)
33November 7, 2008 (2008-11-07)November 21, 2008 (2008-11-21)
42February 18, 2012 (2012-02-18)February 25, 2012 (2012-02-25)

Cast

Home media releases

PBS Distribution, in collaboration with Paramount Home Entertainment, has released a series of "Postcards from Buster" DVDs and VHS releases focusing on specific topics. The releases include themed DVDs of "Postcards from Buster," such as "Buster's Outdoor Journeys," which features episodes like "Sugartime," "Meet Me at the Fair," "The Giant Pumpkins," and "Bayou by Me." Another release is "Buster's Got the Beat," which includes episodes like "Beats by the Bay," "Buster and Beatrice," "The Music Mystery," and "Buster's Sweet Song." There is also "Buster's Buddies," featuring episodes like "Buster's League of Champions," "Best Friends," "A Sense of Direction," and "Sleepy in Seattle." Additionally, there is "Buster's World of Sports," which includes episodes like "Winter Gold," "Swimming in the Desert," "Rock and Roll," and "Rodeo Cowgirl." VHS releases only include the first two episodes from each DVD.

On October 12, 2010, Mill Creek Entertainment released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1. It also includes bonus episodes of Busytown Mysteries, The New Adventures of Nanoboy, Mona the Vampire, and Wimzie's House.[5]

"Sugartime!" controversy

In January 2005, Margaret Spellings, United States Secretary of Education, revealed that the show had explored same-sex marriage. Episode #33, "Sugartime!", which features Buster visiting Hinesburg, Vermont, to learn about the production of maple sugar, includes Buster meeting several children who have lesbian parents. Vermont was one of the first states to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. In the episode, the word lesbian or homosexual is never said, and the episode — like all Postcards episodes — has no sexual content.[6][7][8][9][10]

In "Sugartime!", Buster meets the first lesbian couple: Karen Pike, a photographer,[11][12] her partner Gillian Pieper, a health educator,[13][14] and their three children: Emma, Emma's brother David, and her stepbrother James. One scene shows family photos of the three kids, then Buster's attention turns to a framed photo of Karen and Gillian together; Karen is Emma and David's mother, and Gillian is James' adoptive mother.[13] Buster says to Emma, "So Gillian's your mom, too?" Emma replies that she is her stepmom, to which Buster comments "Boy, that's a lot of moms!"; Emma adds that she loves her mother and stepmother very much, and no other comments are made about the couple.[15][16][17][18] After meeting Emma's family, Buster meets yet another lesbian couple: Tracy and Gina, and their three children at a dairy farm nearby. Later in the episode, both families get together at a bonfire, then take a family picture, with Buster sitting in the middle between the children.[19][20] PBS vice president of media relations Lea Sloan said at the time, "Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had the opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time."[21][22]

Spellings demanded that PBS return all federal funding that had been used in the production of the episode, claiming that "many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode."[23][24][25][26][27] PBS decided not to air this episode to its 349 stations, but some member stations across the country chose to air the episode, including WNET in New York City, New York, KCTS-TV in Seattle, Washington, and KVIE in Sacramento, California, which are flagship stations; and the show's co-producer, WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts (which distributed the episode directly to public television stations after PBS's decision).[28][29][30] It was, however, included in both the VHS and DVD version of the collection "Buster's Outdoor Journeys" which was distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Some of these stations opted to air this episode in prime-time, with some following the episode with a local discussion on the controversy. Shortly after the controversy, PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell announced that she would step down when her contract expired in June 2006, after coming under fire for her support for the episode.[31][32][33][34] Talk show host Bill O'Reilly compared Buster visiting the lesbian couples in Vermont to visiting "a bigamy situation in Utah", or "a S&M thing in the East Village" on his former show, The O'Reilly Factor.[35][36][37] After the episode had aired, Pike and Pieper appeared in a PSA by the Family Pride Coalition, along with U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, and actor B.D. Wong, where they denounced Spellings' decision to cut future funding for Postcards from Buster for featuring a child of a lesbian couple.[38][39] Pike, Pieper, and their three children were later on honored at the Provincetown Town Hall in Provincetown, Massachusetts, as part of the Family Pride Coalition's Family Week celebration.[40][41] Cusi Cram, a writer for Arthur, later wrote a play titled Dusty and the Big Bad World, based on this controversy.[42]

In a February 2022 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Marc Brown expressed regret that the episode was removed from airing due to a depiction of a gay couple, and appreciated that Mr. Ratburn's wedding to another man in 2019 on the main Arthur show ("Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" in Season 22) was received far better due to society's progression.[43]

References

  1. ^ a b c "35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards" (PDF). p. 26.
  2. ^ "9 Story Entertainment: 9 Story Announces Summer Production Lineup". 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 7 September 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b Publicity, PBS (29 May 2003). "'Postcards From Buster' Will Arrive Fall 2004 on PBS Kids". PBS. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  4. ^ Cutler, Jacqueline (10 October 2004). "Hey, Buster, Let Me Tell You Something". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  5. ^ Lambert, David (30 August 2010). "Postcards from Buster – The Entire Run of PBS' Arthur Spin-off is Coming in One Complete DVD Set!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 4 September 2010.
  6. ^ Ryan, Suzanne C.; Shanahan, Mark (27 January 2005). "Fallout from 'Postcards' Decision". Boston.com. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  7. ^ Salamon, Julie (27 January 2005). "Culture Wars Pull Buster Into the Fray". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  8. ^ Salamon, Julie (5 February 2005). "A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  9. ^ Moore, Frazier (11 February 2005). "Fallout Continues Over Lesbian-Inclusive 'Postcards From Buster' Episode". Advocate. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  10. ^ Stasi, Linda (21 March 2005). "No Bunny Needs to Worry About Lesbian 'Postcards'". New York Post. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  11. ^ Calloway, Anne (22 April 2009). "Pike's Peak Moments". Seven Days. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Karen Pike Photography". Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  13. ^ a b Smith, Lynn (14 March 2005). "By Nixing Show, PBS Spotlights Gay Family". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Meet the Team". Vermont Education Health Initiative. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  15. ^ Collins, Geneva (31 January 2005). "Buster to Visit Gay Moms on Some Public TV Channels". Current. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  16. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (1 February 2005). "'Postcards' from Edge of Morality War". SFGate. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  17. ^ Ryan, Maureen (3 February 2005). "'Boy, That's a Lot of Moms'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  18. ^ Montgomery, David (6 March 2005). "What Has Floppy Ears and a Subversive Tale?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  19. ^ Moore, Frazier (9 February 2005). "What's the Big Deal About 'Buster'?". Today. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  20. ^ Gaylord, Peggy R. (23 March 2005). "Buster Exposed to Two Pairs of Moms". Umaffirm. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  21. ^ "Education Secretary Criticizes PBS Show with Gay Couples". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 26 January 2005. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  22. ^ "Education Chief Rips PBS for Gay Character: Network Won't Distribute Episode with Animated 'Buster' Visiting Vt". NBC News. Associated Press. 26 January 2005.
  23. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (27 January 2005). "PBS's 'Buster' Gets an Education". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  24. ^ "Lesbian Parents Upset by Decision to Not Broadcast Show". Advocate. 28 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  25. ^ Leupp, Gary (29 January 2005). "The New Education Secretary vs. Vermont's Lesbians". Counter Punch. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  26. ^ Ireland, Doug (3 February 2005). "Post Cards of Intolerance". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  27. ^ Chasnoff, Debra (4 February 2005). "Bluster Over 'Buster'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  28. ^ McFarland, Melanie (2 February 2005). "KCTS/9 Will Air "Postcards from Buster" Showing Lesbian Parents". Seattle P.I. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  29. ^ Walsh, David (4 February 2005). "PBS Officials Cave in to Bush Administration Over Children's Program". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  30. ^ Smith, Lynn (11 February 2005). "Children's Show Faces PBS Inquiry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  31. ^ "PBS Chief Won't Seek Third Term". CNN. 17 February 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  32. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (17 February 2005). "PBS Chief: 'Buster' Didn't Boot Her". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  33. ^ "PBS Chief to Step Down After Lesbian Cartoon Controversy". CBC. 17 February 2005. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  34. ^ Deans, Jason (18 February 2005). "U.S. TV Boss Steps Down After Gay Cartoon Row". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  35. ^ Casta, Nicole (17 February 2005). "O'Reilly Compared Lesbian Parents on PBS' Buster Cartoon to "a Bigamy Situation in Utah" or "an S&M Thing in the East Village"". Media Matters. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  36. ^ McCarthy McMorris, Christine. "Same-Sex Toons". Trinity College. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  37. ^ Maerz, Melissa (24 October 2010). "Some "Sesame Street" Viewers Sense a Gay-Friendly Vibe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  38. ^ "Family Pride Coalition Announces New PSA Defending GLBT Parents Equality". Go Pride. ChicagoPride.com News Staff. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  39. ^ "Just Out, May 20, 2005, Page 20, Image 20". Historic Oregon Newspapers. 20 May 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  40. ^ "Cape News in Brief". Cape Cod Times. 10 June 2005. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  41. ^ Williams, Eric (3 August 2005). ""Buster" Couple Honored for Standing Up to Critics". Cape Cod Times. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  42. ^ Jones, Kenneth (29 January 2009). "Controversial PBS Cartoon Is Focus of Denver World Premiere, Dusty". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012.
  43. ^ Alter, Ethan (16 February 2022). "'Arthur' creator remembers his favorite moments from the PBS cartoon, including a gay wedding and a visit with Mister Rogers". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved 26 December 2022.