Shout! Factory // 1997 // 450 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 21st, 2012
Shout! Factory continues its onslaught of 15 year-old Nickelodeon cartoons, serving up another round of Hey Arnold!, the show about a young boy with a freakishly-shaped cranium and his gaggle of friends including a girl with a unibrow that would make Kentucky star Anthony Davis shudder with unrestrained envy.
This is yet another series that resided just outside of my purview during its broadcast run, so my familiarity with Arnold and his peeps was non-existent prior to popping the first discs into my DVD player. Yet, the jaded douchebag I tend to be when it comes to these dated slices of animation must confess: Hey Arnold! is pretty good.
Arnold is our protagonist and for the life of me I don't get the character design. The football head I can get behind. It's bizarre and unique and everyone calls him football head, so it's obvious the characters in this universe also recognize his hideous mutation. But the kid looks like a little girl. The tiny baseball cap on his head looks like a bow, his hair is in pigtails, and he's wearing a skirt...or at best a kilt. Weird.
Once you get past the fashion disaster, you'll find a likable cartoon, sporting a entourage of quirky characters engaged in all manner of inner city misadventure: they save a tree, do battle with a new teacher, grapple with the intricacies of journalistic integrity, skip school, and reap the whirlwind.
Hey Arnold! is light, witty, and refreshingly non-cynical. Not that I was expecting any kind of edgy darkness from Nickelodeon; it's just nice to see something that doesn't amp up the ADHD slapstick, pop culture references, and dubbed Japanese monster trainers in lieu of thoughtful, funny cartoon architecture.
This release offers up 18 episodes on two discs, comprising the first half of Season 2. Now, as sympathetic as I am to Arnold and the fate of his pals, these volume-by-volume releases of a TV show that aired in 1997 is ridiculous. I know that's the game for many TV on DVD releases, but would someone just once stand up and give us the whole enchilada? Big deal if it's two more discs and a few extra bucks. Rant done.
Not much happening, tech-wise here: mediocre standard definition full frame transfers, Dolby 2.0 stereo, and no extras.
Not Guilty. The piecemeal release schedule blows, but Hey Arnold! is
good, old-school fun. (I can't believe I just called something that was made in
the mid '90s "old school.")
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 450 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated