Thanks to the success of its rerun on TeenNick’s The ’90s Are All That segment, Hey Arnold is currently being re-released on DVD not only in the US, but Australia as well! Let us geeks rejoice! With such exciting news, Ctrl+GeekGirl takes a look at Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold Season 1 (boxset) and we determine whether the release was worth the wait or not.
Hey Arnold Season 1 (boxset)
Runtime: 4 discs, 20 episodes (2 subsets in each ep), 460 minutes
Review: Hey Arnold Season 1 introduces us to fourth grader Arnold ‘Shortman’ (aka ‘Football Head’) and his friends living in the snazzy neighbourhood of Hillwood. Living with his paternal grandparents in Sunset Arms’ apartment, the show revolves around Arnold’s experiences of being a kid and dealing with dramas that he and his friends encounter.
Whether it is Gerald recounting ghost stories, Arnold trying to catch the attention of sixth-grader Ruth or Helga repeatedly trying to ruin Arnold’s life or Arnold rescuing an ancient turtle from the aquarium or Arnold reuniting Mr Huynh with the long-lost daughter as a Christmas present, the audience knows right from start that they have embarked on a wild rollercoaster ride with Arnold and the gang.
Known for its ‘coolness’ and abnormal characters, Hey Arnold is a genuine coming-of-age show that is filled with soul, heart, education, humourous entertainment, and it also acts as a strong reminiscent of the times when it was once simple, rose-coloured yet confusing.
For a kids’ show, the content has not been simplified or ‘dumbed down’ for its audience. Hey Arnold is highly mature, thoughtful, sophisticated and full of swag – literally. Perfectly catered for all walks of life, the show delves with issues such as depression, abuse, love and aging and it effectively explores these issues like no other kiddy cartoons does. A mixture of comedy and earnestness in each episode is guaranteed to leave a lasting, powerful and emotional impact on the audience. If it weren’t for Craig Bartlett’s brilliant storytelling, Hey Arnold would not be successful at all.
In terms of the product itself, the DVD quality for both image and audio is distinctly clear and much more refined. With something ‘simple’ like Hey Arnold, many would argue that high-definition is not a high priority. This perception is proven to be wrong as high-definition actually empowers the quality of Hey Arnold’s art, especially for scenes that uniquely encompass a ‘traditionally drawn and coloured’ style. While it’s positive to see less grainy illustrations, the quality is not well-received on a huge HDTV screen in order to enjoy the show at its fullest. Don’t get us wrong, viewers should be still content. After all, it is Hey Arnold.
It’s difficult to fault the soundtrack as well. From downtown New York to solemn melancholic music, music composer Jim Lang clearly shares Craig Bartlett’s vision. Cartoons typically have one or two tunes that play continuously throughout the show, but Hey Arnold has its extensive set of tunes that suits the show’s plot and atmosphere, along with each character’s personality. With a variety of styles and instruments being used from piano to electronica to jazz, Jim Lang’s scores are composed to be heard with clarity and patience. His music is seductively atmospheric and emotional that it will completely entice the audience into the story, making you become one with the mood and characters.
However, it was rather disappointing to see no extras and/or bonus features in the boxset. As a major Hey Arnold fan, it would have been cool to see interviews of the cast and directors talking about show. Maybe even a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show, in terms of the voice-acting and artistic process. These features could have been a special treat for its fans but it was ultimately a massive let down in the end.
Other than that, Hey Arnold Season 1 boxset can be purchased at an affordable price. Since the show hasn’t been on our Aussie television for many years, hardcore fans will no doubt start their DVD boxset collection. Besides, how could anyone miss out on a great opportunity like this? Especially for a show that was ultimately the epitome of our childhood? With this sort of love for the show, Hey Arnold will live on as a classic for many years to come.