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Hey Arnold!: Season One

Shout Factory // Unrated // August 9, 2011
List Price: $29.93 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 16, 2011 | E-mail the Author


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Hey Arnold!
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> is a
unique and entertaining family-friendly
television program that aired on the popular Nickelodeon network
beginning in
1996. The series was in some ways unlike any of the other programs on
the
network: the differences begin with the title character having a
football
shaped head and extend to the multi-cultural and racial acceptance the
series
displayed along with the important backdrop of Arnold living with his
grandparents.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Arnold
is
raised by his grandparents Phil and Gertrude. An early episode in this
first
season displays an infant Arnold looking up at loving parents after
birth. The
scene plays out as a flashback of sorts, and the sentiment is moving.
Yet there
is no discussion given between the grandparents and Arnold over his
parents. No
information is given as to what exactly happened to his parents. Arnold
is an
orphan in the sense that he does not have his parents but there is much
love
shown and given to him by his grandparents. They make up a family unit
that works
and it's wonderful to see this display of a child's upbringing on a
children's
television series. There are many kids these days that end up being
raised by
grandparents instead of their natural parents for one reason or
another. This
element of the series brings a positive message that needs to be shared
with
youth. It could encourage understanding among young peers of the
different ways
in which fellow classmates or friends are being raised, and for
children who
are raised outside of the typical social norm it brings greater
understanding
of their own situation. Family is Family. That is one of the
core
elements to Hey Arnold! It is a message that helps the series
to be much
more valuable to youth than mere entertainment.  


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
series
has the benefit of being simplistic without ever being a simple show.
This is
the kind of development that takes a huge amount of talent on the part
of the
entire creative team. The plotlines are always secondary on this
series. There
are no continuing storylines to really bring viewers back for more in
that sense.
The only reoccurring elements that drive the story belong to a school
crush
that Arnold has for a girl he hardly knows and the much more, um,
passionate
crush (some might say obsession) that fist-wielding Helga has
for him
(she seems to want to beat him up constantly and bullies him around
others but
then she will turn around and professes her love for him... to herself).
Most of the
show is character based and while the storylines are always quite
involving and
worthwhile they also allow viewers to jump in whenever they want
without much
impact on the production continuity.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There
are
some essential episodes in the first season. The two biggest spotlights
are
actually the two 30 minute long episodes (Arnold's Christmas and
Arnold's
Valentine
). Series fans will be pleased with how each episode
further
develops the characters and enhances the richness of the storytelling.
The
longer episode format gives more time to developing the plot and
focusing
intently on the characters.  The standard
two-stories per episode format works considerably well and does bring
interesting plots but sometimes it is nice to see an episode that feels
as
though it was developed to be a short feature film.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The show
brings young audiences a sense of racial acceptance that isn't always
as common
in children's shows as one might hope for or expect to see. Arnold's
best
friend Gerald is as close to him as a brother would be and he is
African
American. There is never anything said on the show to make it seem out
of the
ordinary at all, which is wonderful, as it isn't out of the ordinary. Tons
of
kids these days become close friends with people of all races. Yet
there is
always a need to keep youth educated of how friendships and
relationships are
based upon character and not on appearances: no cultural boundaries
need apply
at all.   


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Craig
Bartlett did a wonderful thing in creating this show. It's contains
many
lessons for kids to learn and it has solid craftsmanship that makes it
entertaining
for viewers of all ages (including adults). The characters are
distinctive, memorable,
and downright wonderful. Viewers grow to like Arnold, Gerald, Helga,
and the
rest of the characters because they speak to viewers of all ages
through the
expertise of the genuine writing. Hey Arnold! is thematically
rich,
entertaining, and emotionally rewarding television that is worth owning
and
sharing with others.



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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
DVD:
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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Video:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Hey
Arnold! Season One
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">
presents the
entire 20 episode run across four discs in the original broadcast
aspect ratio
of 1.33:1 (full frame). The picture quality is considerably weaker than
fans
were probably hoping for but Shout Factory's release should be able to
match
the Burn on Demand release quality. The series is riddled with
compression
issues and the contrast is somewhat inconsistent too. The colors are
acceptable
but less vivid than some fans may be expecting to see. It's a
disappointing
release in the picture quality department but it is also unlikely that
a better
release will ever come out on DVD. The animation manages to still be
impressive
regardless.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Audio:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
audio quality for Hey Arnold! Season One manages to
match the picture quality in that
it seems disappointing and inconsistent. The Dolby 2.0 tracks are
certainly
listenable with a good enough ability to reproduce the dialogue but the
audio
tracks aren't dynamic overall. The series will never sound that
amazing, but it
was unfortunate that it ultimately sounded so average. style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Extras:style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There
are no extra bonus materials on this Season
One DVD release.


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style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Final
Thoughts:


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Hey
Arnold!
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">is a
meaningful show with plenty to offer audiences.
The series has charming characters, unique animation, and great lessons
for
youth. It is one of the best animated programs of the 1990's. Fans will
want to
purchase this DVD set despite the poor PQ/AQ because of the high
quality of these
twenty season one episodes. Highly Recommended.  style="">



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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