DVD Review: Hey Arnold! (Season 2, Part 1)

When you’re an adult, it just doesn’t seem right to watch cartoons on a kid channel. But during late ‘90s several of the animated shows running on Nickelodeon weren’t aimed completely at preschoolers. These were shows that could be viewed without the stigma of being tagged as an overgrown child. Hey Arnold! is more comparable to The Simpsons than Max and Ruby. This connection makes sense in an odd way since creator Craig Bartlett is the brother-in-law of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. The character had his own strip in Simpsons Illustrated. Hey Arnold! has the ability to appeal to kids and adults that don’t have to act like kids. Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 1 has the first ten episodes including the super-size Halloween special.

The series revolves around a football headed shaped fourth graders named Arnold and his friends in his urban neighborhood. He lives with his grandparents that own the Sunset Arms boarding house that’s filled with colorful almost-retirees. The animation brings out the inner-city feel to the action.

“Save the Tree” the resting spot for the neighborhood tree house for death. Who would do such an evil thing? The owner of Big Bob’s Beepers needs the land for his new shop. Trouble is that unibrow Helga’s dad is the owner. Will she let her old man turn her into the most hated kid in the neighborhood? “New Teacher” has the kids run off the replacement for Mrs. Slovak. They need to get him back when the Lieutenant Major makes the report for duty. “Helga’s Love Potion” makes her take a dramatic step to kill her longing for Arnold. She wants to punt the football boy. “Longest Monday” is a ritual hazing event where the kids can get tossed in dumpsters. “Eugene’s Pet” is that age old issue of how do you replace a goldfish without the child owner noticing someone new in the bowl. “Monkey Business” scares Helga with a case of monkeynucleosis. Can you really catch that from an ape? “Big Caesar” puts Arnold and his pal Gerald in a major fishing competition. The goal is to hook Big Caesar so they can become angling legends.

“Freeze Frame” puts Arnold and Gerald on the trail of a mysterious man. Is there a murder involved? “Mud Bowl” is a brutal football game between Arnold’s gang and a group of fifth graders. How much pain can their little bodies endure on the gridiron? “Gerald Moves Out” and into Arnold’s boarding house. Can he really handle being away from home and with the oddities at Sunset Arms? “Ransom” is a toy kidnapping plot that must be solved by Gerald before his sister cries. Who would steal a doll on such a nice day? Arnold and Gerald go bad when they skip school on “Hookey.” The big highlight is “Operation: Arnold’s Halloween.” Things go out of control when Arnold figures out a way to pay tribute to Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Things get completely out of control when neighbors fear a real invasion since Helga and her pals are dressed up as Star Trek aliens.

Hey Arnold! is pure family entertainment in that you don’t have to dumb yourself down as an adult. This is the perfect time to discover the series if you missed watching the show back in 1997 since you didn’t want look immature watching Nickelodeon. This a fine companion show to The Simpson with a rougher neighborhood and less of a yellow hue.

“Save the Tree / New Teacher,” “Helga’s Love Potion / Gerald’s Secret,” “The Big Scoop / Harold’s Kitty,” “The Big Scoop / Harold’s Kitty,” “Monkey Business / Big Caesar,” “Monkey Business / Big Caesar,” “Ransom / Ms. Perfect,” “Arnold Saves Sid / Hookey,” “Freeze Frame / Phoebe Cheats,” “Mud Bowl / Gerald Moves Out” and “Operation: Arnold’s Halloween.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are fine with the details of the urban landscape shining. The audio is stereo. The mix brings out kids voices with the noises of the city.

There are no bonus features.

Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 1 brings back more of the animated urban joy. Arnold was the original football shaped head kid except he didn’t deal with a talking dog. He had human friends and a love-hate relationship with Helga.

Shout! Factory presents Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 1. Starring: Toran Caudell, Dan Castellaneta, Fencesca Smith and Jamil Walker Smith. Boxset Contents: 10 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 20, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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