Season 4 Episode 4 of Hey Arnold, “The Beeper Queen/Oskar Can’t Read?” originally aired March 29th, 1999. It was written by Michelle Lamoreaux and Joseph Purdy. It was the 63rd episode of the series.
The first half of the episode is “The Beeper Queen”. It’s the story of how Helga’s dad Big Bob hurts his back, so her mom, Miriam has to fill in at Big Bob’s Beeper Company.
The episode opens with Miriam (who Helga refers to by her first name rather than “mom”) reaching for tabasco sauce in the cupboard. A toilet is heard flushing then Big Bob walks in the kitchen and goes, “let a man show you how its done”. Hard to imagine a kid’s cartoon getting away with a line like that in 2016! The social justice warriors would have their heads. Anyways, Big Bob ironically hurts his back after showing the women “how its done”.
Big Bob realizes that his Beeper clients Bubniak and Krapowski are flying in from Buffalo to close a major deal and he will need someone to take his place. So, Miriam steps up to the plate and volunteers but Helga and Big Bob laugh her off, she insists that she is serious. He gives in and tells her to go to the meeting but after come straight home. Again, good thing there were no Social Justice Warriors around in 1999 or else all hell would break loose over this!
So, the next day she goes off to the meeting and gets home late. She comes in the door and Big Bob says, “Get your ‘patoot’ in here and tell me what happened before I explode!” She gives the details: they went to lunch and a pastry place for coffee and Big Bob says, “Faster Miriam!” She says they ended up tripling their order of beepers! They are also going to stay in town an extra day to look at Big Bob’s Beepers’ selection of cell phones. Big Bob actually seems disappointed it went so well.
The next morning, Helga and Big Bob are shocked to see Miriam dressed up in business attire for her next meeting with the Buffalo guys. Helga gets annoyed by her dad’s moping and she goes to talk to Miriam. It then cuts to a montage of how their relationship is getting better, but towards the end it shows Miriam getting to busy to show Helga attention. Finally, one day she forgets to bring Helga to school and Helga asks her dad but he’s sleeping and got fat and just ignored her. When Helga gets to school, she realizes Miriam forgot to pack her lunch and that’s the last straw.
Arnold sees Helga sulking in her sorrow on a bridge with an ice cream cone melting and asks if she’s okay. After telling Arnold its “none of his beeswax”, she says, “fine if you need to know,” then she complains about her mom. Arnold, with all his wisdom, suggests that she tells Miriam what she just told him. Helga approaches Miriam at the set of the new commercial she’s filming, a song about how “Beepers are a girls best friend”, and Miriam tells her its not a good time because she’s needed in five minutes. Miriam then sees her interaction with Helga caught on tape and realizes how heartless it was and rushes to go see what Helga wanted. She promises Helga she will be a better mom, and the next day, they force Big Bob to go back to work.
The second half of the episode is “Oskar Can’t Read?”. The episode opens with dinner at the boarding house. Ernie, who is voiced by the famous Dom Irrera (I never knew he was a voice on the show!), asks Oskar to pass the salt and Oskar gives him the pepper. Ernie replies like a mafioso with “Oh marone what a dimwit!”
Next, the X-Ray glasses Oskar ordered are delivered to the boarding house. Oskar very creepily exclaims “Oh great it’s my new X-Ray glasses so I can see through peoples’ clothes!” The delivery man tells Oskar to sign his name on line 1 and Oskar is stumped. Another instance of Oskar’s inability to read is shown when Grandpa Phil is cutting onions and asks Oskar to read him the rest of the recipe. Oskar says “Oh I can’t help right now because my eyes are too teary from these onions.”
Next, Arnold sees him opening a bottle of tablets to clean fish tanks and Oskar says he needs the pills for his headache. Arnold calls Oskar out on not being able to read. Ernie and Mr. Hyunh overhear this exchange and start laughing. Oskar bets them he will be able to read by the end of the month and they take the bet. After the others leave, Oskar asks Arnold to teach him how to read.
Arnold accepts and starts teaching Oskar. But Oskar doesn’t take it seriously and makes up various excuses of why he hasn’t been making progress. One day, Oskar says he has learned and is ready to read the first page of A Tale of Two Cities. He then finds a random kid and buys him chocolate as payment for helping him memorize the first page of the novel.
The day comes, and Oskar reads the first page to everyone. After he finishes, Ernie asks him to do it one more time, and secretly swaps A Tale of Two Cities out for another book. Oskar doesn’t realize the books were swapped and he recites the same passage. Oskar was busted on his lie!
Oskar is down and out and mopes around the street. A kid approaches him and asks to help read the map because he’s lost and Oskar says sorry he can’t, and the kid starts to heckle and make fun of Oskar. This embarrassment forces him to come back to Arnold to try to learn to read once again. Arnold hesitantly grants him another chance.
Oskar actually puts in the effort this time around. One day Arnold drops Oskar off at a library. Oskar is struggling to read on his own then notices a children’s reading group and asks if he can read them the story. The book is called “Pet the Kitty” (how appropriate after these recently released comments about “petting kitties” our Dear Leader Donald Trump was recorded as saying).
He is so excited about successfully reading the story, he even fights with a kid about who can read the next story! Arnold’s final test is to blindfold Oskar and bring him to the opposite end of the city. Then Arnold gives him directions home and leaves him, telling him to find his way home. Oskar ends up getting lost in a bad part of town. He sees a stray cat and remembers his reading of the story about petting kitties and he realizes he can read the street signs and make it home. He makes it home very late, and everyone is shocked. The episode ends with him reading the kitty story late at night, very loudly.
The end. Thanks for reading. I love Hey Arnold so much that I felt it was appropriate to write this summary of a classic episode! Hope it brought enjoyment!