One of Nickelodeon's 90s favorites will be coming back... In a big and satisfying way, too!
A show that needed closure, Hey Arnold!'s final episodes built up to a movie that almost never happened. Some twelve years later, it's finally back in development for a 2017 debut.
Being a 90s kid who doesn't wear rose-tinted glasses, how do I think Hey Arnold! holds up? It's actually one of Nick's best in terms of the writing, as the show did deal with some real issues some kids face, and shockingly had some emotional episodes (the Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Pigeon Man episodes come to mind, not to mention Helga's home life)... When revisiting the show a few years back, I was a bit surprised. Very surprised, actually.
Yes, the show had developed characters and actually gave them something to do, while still being funny and enjoyable for kids. It contrasted heavily with the anarchic fun of Ren & Stimpy, the surreal adventures of Rocko's Modern Life, and several other Nicktoons of the era. I think it hewed closer to something like Doug more than anything. This was all complemented by a very cool and jazzy soundtrack, and a pretty good sense of humor. Yes, I'd say it holds up.
There was a whole story concerning Arnold's missing parents, and the series' final episodes were centered on a journal of theirs. Nickelodeon of course botched things by showing the final 10 or so episodes out of order in the US, some of them arrived late. Those final two episodes concerning the journal would've then lead into the theatrical movie. Back in the early 2000s, Nickelodeon was still in the feature animation game, for both Rugrats movies had hit over $70 million domestically. Hey Arnold!'s feature film was originally going to be about the gang all heading to the South American jungles, where Arnold searches for his parents. Due to a test screening, Nickelodeon decided to turn a TV special - 'Arnold Saves the Neighborhood' - into a feature film, so we ended up getting that in 2002. It tanked.
It was said that creator Craig Bartlett was approached by Nick to sign an exclusivity deal at the time, but Craig wanted to move onto Cartoon Network and launch Party Wagon - a show initially intended for their Adult Swim block. However, Cartoon Network wanted it to be more family-friendly, but they ended up dumping the pilot of that show anyway, it showed up unannounced early one morning in spring 2004. It was over for football-head and the Western, but Craig moved onto other things.
Now, it seems like the "Jungle Movie" will finally be a thing...
It's official, Hey Arnold! is coming back in not one, but TWO TV Movies! Art by Craig Bartlett, the creator himself. pic.twitter.com/5kp5fYDDr8— Nick Animation (@NickAnimation) March 1, 2016
They did get as far as completing some animation way back in the day, I wonder if it'll be integrated somehow. I also wonder who will do the voices, and hopefully the animation style remains the same. Will it launch a new series? If they can continue rhings well, and if Bartlett has some good ideas, I say go right ahead. Maybe take Arnold into middle school for a new series, tackle some issues middle schoolers face. That would make it no different from some of the animated family-friendly shows today.
Either way, I'm glad that the "Jungle Movie" is finally a thing. This is a Nick revival that needed to happen. What say you?