Bartlett came up with the idea for the show based on a minor character named Arnold who he created while working on Pee-wee's Playhouse. The executives enjoyed the character, and Bartlett completed the cast of characters by drawing inspiration from people he grew up with in Portland, Oregon. He created the first episode in his living room in 1993, and official production for the show began in 1994. The animators worked to transform Arnold from clay animation to cel animation.
The series aired on Nickelodeon from October 7, 1996 until June 8, 2004. Hey Arnold! received generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising the show for its character development and the quality of its animation. Over the course of its eight year run, the series aired one hundred episodes. A feature film based on the series, Hey Arnold!: The Movie, was released in 2002 to generally negative reviews. After the show's run finished, Bartlett created the show Dinosaur Train for PBS. Hey Arnold! is currently being released on DVD and rerun on the TeenNick block The '90s Are All That.
Hey Arnold! was created by animator Craig Bartlett (who also voice directed the series). He graduated from Anacortes High School and obtained a degree in communications from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. During high school and college, he studied painting and sculpture at the Museum Art School in Portland, and his first job after college was at Will Vinton Productions, a clay-animation house. Originally, Bartlett intended to become a painter "in the 19th-century sense", but became interested in animated films during a trip to Italy. In 1987, he began working on Pee-wee's Playhouse, creating claymation clips about a character named Penny and her friend Arnold. Six years later, Bartlett was teamed up with five writers from Rugrats to develop animation projects for Nickelodeon. These meetings were generally difficult and the writers became frustrated; Bartlett recalled: "Our ideas were OK, but such a large and motley group couldn't get far at pitch meetings. Network execs got migraines just counting us coming in the door." As a last resort, Bartlett played some of the "Penny" tapes, intending to highlight the Penny character. However, the executives were more impressed by Arnold, despite him being a minor character.
After the meeting, the group began developing Arnold, creating his personality and evolving him from claymation to cel animation. Bartlett stated: "We did a lot of talking about who Arnold is. We came up with a reluctant hero who keeps finding himself responsible for solving something, making the right choices, doing the right thing." After creating ideas for Arnold, Bartlett began work on the supporting characters, drawing influence from his childhood: "A lot of the characters are an amalgam of people I knew when I was a kid. The girls in Hey Arnold! are girls that either liked or didn't like me when I was in school." He created the first episode of Hey Arnold! in his living room, and showed it to producers at Nickelodeon. A year later, the network decided to begin work on the series. The character was previously featured in a trilogy of clay animation shorts from 1988 to 1991, Arnold Escapes from Church (1988), The Arnold Waltz (1990) and Arnold Rides a Chair (1991), a latter having been aired as a filler short on Sesame Street in 1991, as well as an eight-minute short, titled Arnold (1996), shown in theaters before Nickelodeon's first feature-length film, Harriet the Spy.
Apart from the animation style, Nick's Arnold now wears a sweater, with his plaid shirt untucked (resembling a kilt). Only Arnold's cap remains from his original clay-animation wardrobe. Arnold comic strips also appeared in Simpsons Illustrated magazine. (Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is Craig Bartlett's brother-in-law.) Hey Arnold! was pitched to Nickelodeon in the fall of 1993, a pilot was produced in the spring of 1994, and the series was greenlit in January 1995. Hey Arnold! was in production continuously from 1995 to 2000, culminating in a TV movie originally titled "Arnold Saves the Neighborhood", which ended up being released theatrically as Hey Arnold!: The Movie in June 2002. Production of Hey Arnold! wrapped in May 2001.
The show aired in reruns on "Nick on CBS" from 2002 until September 2004. In 2011, the Canadian Nickelodeon channel starting airing episodes of Hey Arnold!. In September 2011, TeenNick brought Hey Arnold reruns to the The 90's Are All That programming block. The entire series is currently available via Netflix instant streaming.
The show stars fourth grader Arnold, a boy who lives with his paternal grandparents, Phil and Gertrude, proprietors of the Sunset Arms boarding house. In each episode, Arnold often helps a schoolmate solve a personal problem, or encounters a predicament of his own. The show also focuses on Arnold's classmate, Helga, who often treats Arnold cruelly and bullies him constantly. However, a recurring theme of the show is the fact that Helga only pretends to dislike Arnold to hide the fact that she has been secretly in love with him for years. Meanwhile, she is stalked by another boy during the moments she thinks fondly of Arnold and responds to "Brainy" by quickly assaulting him.
Characters and cast
Hey Arnold! stars nine-year-old Arnold and his neighborhood friends. Bartlett drew inspiration from people he grew up with when creating the characters for the show. Arnold's best friend is Gerald, a street-smart character who generally serves as the leader of the group. Many episodes detail Arnold's relationship with Helga Pataki, a girl who acts cruelly towards Arnold in order to cover up her secret crush on him. He lives with his eccentric but loving grandparents, who own a boarding house called Sunset Arms; several storylines involve Arnold's interactions with the house's tenants. Other characters include teachers at P.S. 118, parents, and citizens of the town.
Hey Arnold! takes place in the fictional American city of Hillwood. Craig Bartlett stated in an interview that the city on the show is based on large northern cities, which includes Seattle (his hometown), Portland, Oregon (where he went to art school) and New York City (from which many landmarks were borrowed), also with references to Nashville, TN Grand Ole Opry; as well as Hawk Mountain near Allentown, PA, as mentioned in the Sally's Comet Episode. Bartlett, having grown up in Seattle, bases many of the show's events on his own experience growing up in the city. The Pig War mentioned in the episode with the same title took place on the boundary between what is now the State of Washington and British Columbia. Evan Levine of the Houston Chroniclecommented "With its backdrop of dark streets, nighttime adventures and run-down buildings, all seen from a child's point of view, the series combines a street-smart attitude with a dark comic edge." Copyright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey_Arnold!