by Joe Lawrence
Last night I watched Quarantine 2 on Netflix. It was a pretty average scary movie. Afterwards, I was still in the mood to be creeped out, so I went to one of my old favorite shows: The Twilight Zone. I was halfway through an episode at 2 o’clock in the morning in my dark room before I decided I no longer wanted to be creeped out. But it was more like, “Ok, screw this; I’m gonna watch a comedy.” So I started searching through the not-so-deep (pretty shallow, actually) recesses of Netflix. That’s when I found one of the rare gems on Netflix Instant. The perfect show to cure the fears running through my head: Hey Arnold! (By the way, that exclamation mark is in the title, I’m not exactly one to exclaim a whole lot.)
I went ahead and watched it from the beginning. I was three years old when Hey Arnold first came on television, and yet, I still remembered the first episode. Normally, I could chalk this kind of thing up to having brothers that are seven and ten years older than I am, (this explains why I had seen TV shows like South Park and movies like Fight Club when my peers watched Barney), but I wasn’t the only kid my age watching Hey Arnold! at the time. Everyone watched it and reruns ran often on Nickelodeon for the kids like me that wanted to rewatch some episodes after we learned to poop like a big boy.
As soon as talk of good ol’ nineties cartoon shows begins, Arnold is definitely bound to be at least mentioned if not raved about. For a kid growing up in a small Texas city, life as a fourth grader living in New York City and going to P.S. 118 seemed amazing. The mere fact that their elementary schools were just numbered off for their names enthralled me. The people they dealt with were all so unique and they kind of creeped me out, but that made it more exciting. The shenanigans they pulled were all so large scale compared to anything possible in San Angelo, Texas.
The characters, the main ones at least, were relatable. They all had imperfections, which is what made them likable. In fact, a typical episode featured Arnold or his best friend Gerald messing something up, Arnold, the moral compass, feeling bad about it, and then spending the rest of the episode fixing it. This is seen in the first episode, Eugene’s Bike, when Arnold accidentally wrecks Eugene’s bike (hey, look at that). After a brief montage of Arnold remembering all the times he accidentally harmed the unlucky, lovable dweeb throughout the years, Arnold spends a whole day trying to help Eugene have fun, because as Arnold says, every dweeb should have his day. This is done in a Ferris Buehler’s Day Off sort of way, taking him all over the big city, including to a baseball game (I’m assuming the Yankees instead of Ferris’s Cubs) and onto a ferry tour of the Hudson. Of course, Arnold has trouble making things go right with the unfortunate Eugene, who falls down a manhole, is hit in the head with a baseball at the Yankees game, chokes on a hot dog, and falls in the Hudson River. At the end of the day, after Eugene barfs away his seasickness from the ferry, Arnold apologizes for the new mishaps he had dragged Eugene through that day, but in a very cheesy but impossible-not-to-love way, Eugene tells Arnold it was the best day of his life. What a great day for television and kids nationwide! I actually did an exclamation mark there because that sentence deserved it. Hey Arnold! was that great of a show.
I’ve gone back and watched a few of my other old favorite TV shows since the invention of Netflix, and nothing has matched up to the expectations set by my memories of sitting inches away from the only television in the house on Saturday mornings. Angry Beavers is one I do not recommend going back to watch. Arnold, on the other hand, may have been appreciated more by 18-year-old Joe than nine-year-old Joe because I now see the “football-shaped head”-shaped hole in television scheduling that can never be filled.
Arnold was a wonderful character and part of a wonderful show, and he will be missed, especially on a station that now has the penguins of Madagascar in a show. That’s actually the title, The Penguins of Madagascar. Don’t you just love spinoffs from movies that weren’t even that great? In fact, writing this article has brought back memories of sitting and watching Hey Arnold! with my mom because it was one of the only cartoon shows my mom actually enjoyed (she said could put up with, but I know she actually enjoyed it), and now I want to go give her a hug, so this article is over. But remember, keep on truckin’. I think that might be my new sign off. What do you think?
P.S. Can you do this in articles? I don’t care – I didn’t know where to fit this into the actual article. HOW COOL WAS ARNOLD’S HIDDEN COUCH?!