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Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 2
Hey Arnold! 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 began with the title character having a football shaped head and extended to the multi-cultural and racial acceptance the series displayed along with the important backdrop of Arnold living with his grandparents.
Arnold is raised by his grandparents Phil and Gertrude. Arnold is an orphan in the sense that he does not have his paternal 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 all the more valuable to youth.
The series has the benefit of being simplistic without ever being simple. 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. The reason people will enjoy this series so immensely (above everything else) is the characters. There are some reoccurring character-based elements though: Helga is a fist-wielding girl with a massive crush on Arnold (she seems to want to beat him up constantly and bullies him around but then she 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 to without production continuity problems.
The show brings young audiences a sense of racial acceptance that isn't always as common in children's shows as one might hope 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, who a person truly is inside, and not upon appearances: no cultural boundaries need apply at all.
Craig Bartlett did a wonderful thing in creating this show. It's contains 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.
Hey Arnold! works as a learning tool to some degree because of how it brings audiences a positive message within almost every episode. One of the reasons the show remains as so relevant today is because it is a series that doesn't just seek to entertain, but to educate. I wouldn't want for people to think that means the series isn't entertaining as well. I often recognize that some of the most entertaining programs are also ones that offer up deeper meanings and lessons behind them as well.
Many of the episodes tend to focus on specific issues relevant to kids. These were worthy discussion points when the show was airing new episodes and they remain as such today, because kids still go through many of the same issues: the problem with bullying, how to encourage friends, be nice to others, work hard in school, and be yourself. These are just samplings of the many ideas presented eloquently on Hey Arnold! Even with the humor, somehow the show's writers find ways to make things always come from the heart.
Like with any season of the show, there are some definite standout elements in the second half of season two. I think one of the main additional elements that seemed especially interesting and important to me is the fact of introducing that Rhonda needed a pair of glasses. Speaking as someone who has worn a pair of glasses since some year in High School, I remember what getting the prescription and glasses felt like and how worried I was that people would then relentlessly make jokes about it.
The main thing is that I had spent too much time focusing on it. I resisted getting glasses at first, and I had trouble reading anything my teachers put on the boards for the following several weeks of resistance, which led to a decrease in my grades until I allowed myself to acknowledge that I needed to get a pair. I remember how surprised I was when I noticed significantly clearer vision. Students and youth of all ages surely still encounter similar scenarios and I was particularly appreciative of the show bringing forward elements like this. Kids will always be able to relate to issues that remain relevant from generation to generation.
As with the first half of the season, Hey Arnold! seemed to make a bigger effort than the first season to focus sometimes on the supporting characters, and this is something that enhances it dramatically as a series. It makes it more meaningful to kids to have it reflect a wider group of children and their unique personalities. Personally, I can't recall that many television series that managed to do as good of a job at this. As for fellow Nickelodeon productions, the main series to compare it to is probably Doug, because both tapped into youth cultures in effective (if different) ways.
Shout Factory has once again released a set containing only one-half of a season of the hugely popular Hey Arnold! animated series. This realization shouldn't surprise anyone because the previous collection was also released in a half-season collection. However, it's clear that the series should have been left at full-season sets and it still doesn't make sense to me why it's being released in broken-up volumes.
The bottom line is that the volume approach will lead to additional box-set releases if the studio continues to release the series this way. That leads consumers into paying more, and with even less space left on the shelf. Hey Arnold! will eventually take up a lot of valuable space for a lot of collector's and that's something that could affect some purchasing decisions that some people make. One could hope that this company (well known for a wide-variety of television offerings) will decide to return to releasing complete season sets for season three and beyond.
I don't expect dramatic numbers of newcomers to jump at the opportunity to watch Hey Arnold!, but it actually is a wonderful show that I believe would play well to today's kids, as it did for the youth growing up while watching the show air on television. Lower pricing models and higher-episode counts might help to encourage this. The series itself is top of the line. Its one of the greatest animated programs to become a part of the line-up on Nickelodeon. This is a creative show, and it's high quality is something longtime fans will still recognize as the number one reason to consider picking up these DVD collections despite some shortcomings. This release is still worth it for the fans.
Video:Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 2 presents ten episodes across two 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 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. It's the best fans should expect to see at this point. The animation manages to still be impressive regardless because the animators did such a tremendous job with the character designs, style, and unique artistic flourishes.
The audio quality for Hey Arnold! Season 2, Part 2 manages to match the picture quality... in that it seems disappointing and inconsistent the entire time. The Dolby 2.0 tracks are certainly listenable and effective in reproducing the dialogue but the audio tracks aren't dynamic at all. The series will never sound that amazing, but it was unfortunate that it ultimately sounded so uniformly average.
Extras:There are no extra bonus materials on this Season 2, Part 2 DVD release. I wish there was but there's absolutely nothing extra at all. Zip. Nada. Menus don't really count as extras anymore!
While its annoying that Shout Factory released season two of the delightful Hey Arnold! by producing two box-set's (especially when the episode count is the same as season one was), revisiting this series is a constant reminder to how great animated television can be. It's an essential series for children and families and I am glad to see the series receive DVD sets.
The presentation leaves much to be desired, but if you can find a decent price on the DVD release it's still well worth considering a purchase. Absolutely for longtime fans!
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.