You know it and I know it, introduced originally in 1996 by Nickelodeon, Hey Arnold! ran an impressive run all the way to 2004. Man that's a long ass time for a series to exist, isn't it? Especially considering how many series, cartoon series in particular are cut short of their run.
Hey Arnold! was a unique show for me, it was a show that when it first came on I really didn't care for, in fact I hated it and avoided it when ever possible and I'm not quite sure why but one day I actually watched it and found.. It wasn't as bad as I had thought it was.. I'm not certain why I thought that Hey Arnold! was a bad show, I think the animation at the time simply put me off but whatever the reason it took a little time for me to grow into it.
Over recent years I've begun to watch Hey Arnold! again and found it to be far more enjoyable than when it was airing normally on television. Surprisingly it seems better, I'm not sure how or why..
( And as an interesting side note I'll add that Arnold got his start as Claymation on Sesame Street;
Again with the Nicktoons or what was to become to be the Nicktoons or were Nicktoons? Eh? Fuck it! Boy was on some serious goddamn psychotropics! )
Hey Arnold! is a cartoon of course as mentioned introduced in 1996 by Nickelodeon and follows a fourth grader named Arnold who lives with his Grandparents Phil and Gertrude and a mish-mash of insane tenants at the Sunset Arms boarding house in the fictional city of Hillwood, Craig Bartlett stated in an interview that the city on the show is based on large northern cities, which includes Seattle, his hometown, Portland, Oregon (where he went to art school) and New York City (from which many landmarks were borrowed), also with references to Nashville, TN Grand Ole Opry; as well as Hawk Mountain near Allentown, PA.
It's here I'll note that my two favourite characters in this show are not Arnold or any of his class-mates, it's his half senile and half insane grandparents, Phil and Gertrude whose awesomeness cannot be explained. They are prone to batshit madness and bouts of forgetfulness that often culminate into something truly amusing and hilarious.. Phil is a tad more sane than his wife Gertrude who I can only aspire to be like when I get older because she is absolutely shit dripping mad, I mean... Well... Here..
...Eeyah.. That's fucking awesome right there.. And Phil? Phil's just kind of 'out there', often his head seems to be in the cloud and he's prone more to being a tad senile and a little less insane.
As mentioned the story follows Arnold and his life in this city, his adventures and those of his class-mates often including Urban Legends, over the top Super Heroes and sometimes even genuine Paranormal shit such as ghosts and the like which seem to actually exist in the Hey Arnold! universe as on more than one occasion we actually see proof of their existence.
The show also focuses on Arnold's classmate, Helga, who is psychotically in love with him to the point that she's built a shrine and made homages to Arnold with chewed bubblegum. Bitch is crazy basically and the way she shows her love? She tortures him constantly speaking of obvious and serious mental problems.. That said the show also displays Helga's parents and it's really no surprise given the fact that her Father is a workaholic authoritarian Yuppie prone to violent outbursts and her Mother is a mopey and depressed woman who is constantly passed out on the couch and the like with "smoothies", I think we all realize what that hints. Durh.
'Course there are also dotted examples of weirdness and flat out blatant wrongness in Arnold's class-mates such as Chocolate Boy who is clearly the crack baby of the show;
And 'Brainy' who seems to be a crazy stalker/possesses some strange supernatural powers to appear behind people and just 'show up' in places where his presence otherwise can't be logically explained.
Although Brainy isn't quite as bad as Rhonda's stalker, Curly. The boys got the potential to be seriously Ax Crazy.
Surprisingly Hey Arnold! also features the rare exception of having characters that are kids that are also really voiced by kids or were voiced by kids rather. Arnold's class-mates are of course a diverse bunch, there are many that are good, many that are bad and many that are just kind of in between, neutral as it were.. One in particular however I still to this day cannot stand, Harold. Harold is the fat kid crybaby of the show and is as mentioned a porky little fucker who has no self control, a complete lack of moral compass, is flatly incompetent and whines constantly, there's never been a kid in a cartoon that made me want to deliver such a godless angry and unholy beating upon them before except for maybe Angelica from Rugrats.
This series in retrospective consideration is actually really good, the animation which I think was what originally put me off is actually quite impressive, the voice acting is well done and fits and the stories are genuinely entertaining with just enough honest chuckle and flat out snorting laugh humour to make me think the writers really put quite a lot of effort into this show, it's just sad that this show finished it's run and left many questions open. Unfortunately due to complications with Nickelodeon and creator Craig Barlett, Hey Arnold! and it's second movie was ultimately cancelled, the second movie meant to reveal what exactly happened to Arnold's parents and to clear up many questions and unresolved parts of the plot.
Hey Arnold! receives a retrospective 8.5/10 Big Cat Paw rating from me. I suggest if you haven't seen it you take a look and try it for yourself.
I just hope some day the dispute between Nickelodeon and Crag Bartlett will be resolved so that Hey Arnold! can finally receive some closure.
PS: Can I just point something out?
When you see it you'll shit bricks.
I was pretty proud of how this turned out. It all came together rather nicely.