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Phony Fern

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"Phony Fern"
Phony Fern 68.png
Phony Fern 38.png
Season/Series: 11
Number in season: 4A
Original Airdate: United States June 28, 2007[1]
United Kingdom December 11, 2007[2]
Germany May 13, 2008[3]
Written by: Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Gerry Capelle
"Prunella Packs It In"
"Brain's Shocking Secret"
Read transcript
Step Away From the Phone.

—Fern's Phone

"Phony Fern" is the first half of the fourth episode in the eleventh season of Arthur.


Fern receives the latest phone for simple communication, but becomes addicted to the appliance.


The episode starts with a fantasy sequence. Detectives Watteau and Bastings storm an apartment with the Baron inside. The Baron, however, has a hostage, and is hanging it outside the window. He threatens that he will drop the hostage if the detectives take a single step. However, Bastings sneezes and the startled Baron lets go. Watteau manages to apprehend the Baron with a lasso, but it is too late. She cries over the remains of the hostage - her Portilex-360 phone.

In the cinema, Muffy, Fern and others are watching a film about an elephant when Chip, Muffy's brother, calls. Muffy answers the phone during the movie (with Luke keeping on shushing her), which causes everyone else to scoot away. They are later seen eating in Chicken Lickin', where Muffy is texting Bailey, who is just outside the restaurant. She barely pays any attention to Fern, which ends in her getting annoyed and leaving.

On her way home with Buster, Fern voices contempt for the phone and the consumerism it generates. She doesn't like that seemingly everyone has one and uses it all day, without paying attention to their surroundings. Buster suddenly thinks that phones might be mind-control devices that turn people into robots, and runs home in a panic.

When Fern returns home, she receives a Portilex from her parents, only supposed to be used to contact them, for example during emergencies or to call dad when he is on a business trip. She reluctantly accepts it, sure that she won't become as attached to it as other people seem to be.

The next day during recess, Fern is sitting outside and flipping through the instructions to her new phone. Muffie notices this and teaches her how to set a ringtone and use its other features. Later, when playing detectives with George, Fern plans to use the Portilex's camera instead of a clue pouch. George says that a cell phone doesn't fit the detective era, but Fern starts staring into it and hardly pays attention to what George is saying.

Fern eventually becomes glued to the phone after being lulled by its large amount of features. When she wakes up she immediately picks it up from her nightstand and uses it during her morning routine, even while brushing her teeth or taking a shower. She uses the Portilex almost constantly throughout the day, and even lands herself in trouble with Mr. Ratburn when she uses the phone in class.

When the battery begins to run low during a heated talk with Muffy, Fern frantically attempts to run home and recharge it, but trips and drops it onto a street, where a road roller crushes it. Fern's parents are disappointed that Fern did not stick to the phone's main purpose - calling them - and so Fern decides upon a simple, no-frills model, deciding that she would be happier with that. The next day at school, when Muffy finds out what happened, she becomes disappointed and walks away, but before leaving invites Fern to a family dinner and the episode finishes.








  • Moral: Just because you hate phones doesn't mean you have to prevent others from having fun with said device for your own personal benefit.
  • This is the first appearance of Fern's father.

Cultural references[edit]

  • In Fern's opening fantasy sequence, she and George's alter egos - Detectives Watteau and Bastings - are a parody of Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings, respectively. George later mentions Inspector Clapp, referencing Inspector Japp. All characters belong to Agatha Christie's Poirot series.
  • "Masterpiece Theatre" is a reference to the PBS Masterpiece Theatre. It may also be a parody of an old opening, which was seen in "Binky Rules".
  • Mr. Ratburn has a copy of Plato's Republic in his desk.
  • The portliex 360 is a parody of Xbox 360.


  • When the book cart is pushed out of the library in Fern's song, the background outside the doors is the school hallway.

Home Video[edit]



:Main article: Phony Fern/Gallery