Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Saturtainment: Hey Arnold! (1996)

There's a reason Nickelodeon has Hey Arnold! running during TeenNick's The 90's Are All That! late night block. It happens to be one of the most successful Nicktoons the network ever produced, lasting 8 years of production (1996-2004), in addition to a feature film that wasn't quite so hot at the box office. To think, though, that it all started with some claymation shorts on Pee Wee's Playhouse a decade earlier........!

Series creator Craig Bartlett was also responsible for the Penny shorts that aired on Playhouse, during which a prototype for the Arnold we know and love appeared as a minor character. Bartlett intended to spin Penny off into her own series, or so it would seem, but Nick suits were more interested in the little blond haired kid with a head shaped like a football. Hey Arnold! bowed in October 1996, and became a nightly staple on Nick, even though there really weren't enough episodes to warrant a steady weekday run, but then, this is Nickelodeon we're dealing with here, where they don't care about quantity of episodes, just the ratings.

The following episode showcases the two sides to one of the show's supporting characters, Helga Pataki (I wonder if Bartlett had a certain NY governor in mind), who on the surface is a bullying tomboy, but secretly is smitten with Arnold, though it may not be a secret too much longer after this episode from 2000, "Summer Love". Daniel Hall uploaded the video, which finds the episode already in progress.



While Nickelodeon made what some think was a mistake in creating a follow-up series for Rugrats, the failure of that project allowed them to think twice before trying it with, say for example, Arnold, Helga, and their friends. The series did spend a year or two on CBS' Saturday schedule, back when they were repurposing Nick reruns.

Rating: A-.

5 comments:

magicdog said...

This was a very likeable show!

It was always hilarious watching Helga put Arnold down one moment only to pine over him the next!

I was always jealous of Arnold's bedroom, which if you recall, was in the attic with a huge skylite in the ceiling. He would go to sleep gazing at the stars each night.

My one main disappointment with this show was never getting the full story on Arnold's parents and what happened to them. I remember they were supposed to be missionaries or some such thing, and were lost while on their way to help a remote village. The series seemed to lead that Arnold was going to go and find them, but then... nothing!

hobbyfan said...

It seemed to me that Nick didn't want to go there and focus instead on Arnold and his pals. He wasn't old enough to have the courage to travel and locate his folks just yet.

A follow-up series, be it on Nick or elsewhere (it's up to Bartlett, I think), and set with Arnold now all grown up, might work. Problem is, the reruns are on Nicktoons, which isn't as available as Nick or TeenNick. Their loss, as usual.

magicdog said...

Maybe Arnold was young, but if the Rugrats could still have adventures in a jungle while still wearing diapers while separated from their families, then Nick could have allowed some closure with his parents' storyline.

hobbyfan said...

Nickelodeon's programmers probably didn't think it'd work, and the fact that the 2nd Rugrats movie didn't exactly break box office records didn't help the cause.....

Mr. Sig said...

Hope you got to check out The Jungle Movie, because it aired on Friday the 24th, and let me tell you, it has everything you expect to see in a true series finale.

2017's been a fine year for cartoon enthusiasts expecting proper closure. Samurai Jack got it. Even Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero dodged the bullet and got a really good ending. Now Hey Arnold! finally got it. The next two Nicktoons slated to get TV movies are Rocko's Modern Life and Invader Zim, the latter of which should get a definite finale.

And lastly, there's one other cartoon that I want to see get closure by creator's consent: Wander Over Yonder. The SaveWOY movement is still building up, but I know we'll prevail in time.