Hey Arnold! is an American animated television series created by Craig Bartlett for Nickelodeon. The show's premise focuses on a fourth grader named Arnold who lives with his grandparents in a large city. Episodes center on his experiences navigating big city life while dealing with the problems he and his friends encounter, including urban legends. Certain episodes focus on the lives of supporting characters, such as the tenants of the boarding house that Arnold's grandparents own.
Bartlett's idea for the show is based on a minor character named Arnold whom he created while working on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The executives enjoyed the character, and Bartlett completed the cast by drawing inspiration from people he grew up with in Portland, Oregon. He created the pilot episode in his living room in 1993, and official production began in 1994. The animators worked to transform Arnold from clay animation to cel animation.
The series aired on Nickelodeon from October 7, 1996 to June 8, 2004. Hey Arnold! received generally positive reviews, with many critics praising its character development and the quality of its animation. Over the course of its eight-year run, the series aired 100 episodes. A feature film based on the series, Hey Arnold!: The Movie, was released in 2002 to generally negative reviews. After the show's run, Bartlett created Dinosaur Train for PBS. Hey Arnold! is currently being released on DVD and rerun on the TeenNick block "The 90s' are All That".
Animator Craig Bartlett graduated from Anacortes High School and obtained a degree in communications from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. During high school and college, he studied painting and sculpture at the Museum Art School in Portland, and his first job after college was at Will Vinton Productions, a claymation house. Originally, Bartlett intended to become a painter "in the 19th-century sense", but he became interested in animation during a trip to Italy. In 1987, while working on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, he created claymation cutaways about a character named Penny and her friend Arnold. Six years later, Bartlett was teamed up with five writers from Rugrats to develop animation projects for Nickelodeon. These meetings were generally difficult and the writers became frustrated; Bartlett recalled: "Our ideas were OK, but such a large and motley group couldn't get far at pitch meetings. Network execs got migraines just counting us coming in the door." As a last resort, Bartlett played the "Penny" tapes, intending to highlight the Penny character. However, the executives were more impressed by Arnold, despite him being a minor character.
After the meeting, the group began developing Arnold, creating his personality and evolving him from claymation to cel animation. Bartlett stated: "We did a lot of talking about who Arnold is. We came up with a reluctant hero who keeps finding himself responsible for solving something, making the right choices, doing the right thing." After creating ideas for Arnold, Bartlett began work on the supporting characters, drawing influence from his childhood: "A lot of the characters are an amalgam of people I knew when I was a kid. The girls in Hey Arnold! are girls that either liked or didn't like me when I was in school." He created the first episode of Hey Arnold! in his living room, and showed it to producers at Nickelodeon. A year later, the network decided to begin work on the series. The character was previously featured in a trilogy of clay animation shorts from 1988 to 1991: Arnold Escapes from Church (1988), The Arnold Waltz (1990), and Arnold Rides a Chair (1991), the latter having been aired as a filler short on Sesame Street in 1991; as well as an eight-minute short, titled Arnold (1996), shown in theaters before Nickelodeon's first feature-length film, Harriet the Spy.
The show stars fourth grader Arnold, a boy who lives with his paternal grandparents, Phil and Gertrude, proprietors of the Sunset Arms boarding house, in the fictional city of Hillwood. In each episode, Arnold often helps a schoolmate solve a personal problem, or encounters a predicament of his own. The show also frequently focuses on Arnold's classmate, Helga, who often treats Arnold cruelly and bullies him constantly. However, a recurring theme of the show is the fact that Helga only pretends to dislike Arnold to hide the fact that she has possessed a profound, Shakespearean-in-magnitude love for him for years.
Many episodes involve urban legends usually told by Arnold's friend, Gerald. These episodes often feature over-the-top events such as those that involve superheroes or headless horsemen.
Hey Arnold! takes place in the fictional American city of Hillwood. Craig Bartlett stated in an interview that the city on the show is based on large cities particularly in the American Northwest, which includes Seattle (his hometown), Portland, Oregon (where he went to art school) and others such as 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, as mentioned in the "Sally's Comet" episode. Bartlett, having grown up in Seattle, bases many of the show's events on his own experience growing up in the city. The Pig War mentioned in the episode with the same title took place on the boundary between what is now the State of Washington and British Columbia. At the end of Road Trip, when Helga and Miriam are headed back home after having car troubles en route to South Dakota, they pass a sign marking the Washington state border, implying that Hillwood is in Washington. Evan Levine of the Houston Chronicle commented "With its backdrop of dark streets, nighttime adventures and run-down buildings, all seen from a child's point of view, the series combines a street-smart attitude with a dark comic edge."
- Urban Adventures
- The Helga Stories
- Love Stinks
- Hey Arnold: The Movie
In this 2002 feature film, Arnold, Helga and Gerald set out on a quest to save their old neighborhood from a greedy developer who plans on converting it into a huge shopping mall. This film was directed by Tuck Tucker, and featured guest voice talents of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Sorvino, and Christopher Lloyd.
DVD and digital releasesEdit
Nickelodeon released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1 via Amazon.com through its CreateSpace Manufacture-on-demand program in 2008/2009. Season 1 was released on August 21, 2008, Season 2 on August 29, 2008, Season 3 on December 8, 2009, Season 4 on November 27, 2009 and Season 5 on December 4, 2009. All of these releases are now discontinued.
On May 9, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series. They subsequently released Season 1 in a 4 disc set on August 9, 2011. Season 2, Part 1 was released on March 20, 2012, followed by Season 2, Part 2 on July 24, 2012. Season 3 was released on January 29, 2013, as a Shout Select title. On May 14, 2013 season 4 was released as a shout exclusive followed by season 5 released on October 15, 2013 also as a shout exclusive making the entire series available on DVD.
|DVD Name||Episodes||# of Discs||Release Date|
|Season 1||20||4||August 9, 2011|
|Season 2, Part 1
Season 2, Part 2
|20||4||March 20, 2012
July 24, 2012
|Season 3♦||19||3||January 29, 2013|
|Season 4♦||17||2||May 14, 2013|
|Season 5♦||24||3||October 15, 2013|
♦ - Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store.