Hey Arnold: "Arnold's Hat/Stoop Kid"Season 1 Episodes 3
Airdate: October 14, 1996
"Arnold's Hat" "Stoop Kid"
Hey Arnold was a Nicktoon from the late 90s about an exceptional 4th grade boy who was raised by his grandparents, who ran a boarding house in the big city for immigrants and deadbeat dads. I liked Hey Arnold when it started airing but grew tired of it after the first or second season. I don't know exactly when I stopped watching. Wikipedia says it ran from 1996 to 2004, which seems unbelievable. But it turns out Nickelodeon stretched the final season out for four years, so it really only had five seasons, which was still three too many. Johnny summed up my feelings on the show when he wrote this a few years ago:
Unfortunately, Hey Arnold falls into the old Nick pattern of not coming up with more then one plot for a show. The plot is always as follows: Somebody has a problem, they try to succeed but fail, so Arnold helps him and the person finally succeeds. That's it. If every episode is going to be the same you think they could at least come up with something better. Captain Planet episodes didn't have a lot of variety, but they managed to not only kick ass, but also educate viewers about environmental concerns. - The Ten Worst Nick Shows (Part 1)
The episode I am reviewing definitely falls into that pattern. It is from the first season, before the show had run thin. Hey Arnold did the same thing most Nicktoons did, they split a half-hour episode into two 15 minute (really 11 with commercials) shorts. I think Nickelodeon assumed its pre-teen audience did not have the attention span for a full 30 minute cartoon. Too bad we were all watching The Simpsons years before Nickelodeon even had the budget to produce their own cartoons. We were also able to follow Batman: The Animated Series on Fox, and that show was way more complex than anything on Nick.
Arnold is awoken by alarm clock, which is powered by a potato. He turns the alarm off by unplugging the potato. Arnold is a genius when it comes to electronics and built that himself. Too bad it means he has to wind it back to the correct time every night. It's a rather pointless setup.
The focus is on Arnold's blue hat. He loves his hat. He wears to bed and keeps it on in the shower. The hat doesn't get ruined because his shower only lasts 30 seconds, which is typical for a 4th grade boy.
Arnold and his best friend, Harold, are in the park with a kite. Arnold doesn't understand why his kite won't fly. It probably has to do with the spatulas he stuck on it. At least we almost get to see an upkilt shot of Arnold. Is Arnold Scottish? He is dressed kind of like those guys you see in college who are really, really into their Scottish heritage and express it by wearing traditional Scottish clothing and masturbating to Braveheart six times a day.
Arnold sticks his gum on the underside of the bench and the two go somewhere else. Arnold is a dick. Throw your gum in a trash bin, a-hole. No one wants to deal with your dry gum all over the park.
Helga pops out of the bushes and collects the gum into a plastic bag. Helga is the bully who picks on Arnold, but secretly has a crush on him. She calls him "football head" but I guess she has a thing for football heads.
On the subject of Arnold's football shaped head, you know, usually when someone complains about Family Guy ripping-off other cartoons, they are usually referring to its similarities to The Simpsons. But I always was a little annoyed that Stewie's head seems to have been copied from Arnold's.
Anyway, Helga takes the gum into her bedroom closet, where she has a secret shine to Arnold made out of gum he chewed and just stuck under benches or desks or on walls. Arnold sticks a lot of his gum in public places. Arnold is a dick.
You know what? If a boy made a shrine like this to a girl he liked, it would come off a thousand times creepier to the audience. Right now, it just makes Helga look kind of cross. It'll get worse down the road, I'm sure. When Helga turns 12, if she still hasn't gotten a date with Arnold, she is no doubt going to start cutting herself.
Helga wants to complete her shrine by getting Arnold's beloved hat. She tries several schemes to steal it from him, all which result in her getting injured. One attempt involves a fishing line, but that gets hooked onto a truck and results in Helga getting pulled along and landing on the roof of a building and smashing into a rooftop shed where pigeons store their poop.
Here is an interesting fact. One of the reasons there were few Looney Tunes characters that were girls (Grannie is the only one I can think of) and only Minnie on the Disney side, was that animators of the era felt uncomfortable with having a female be the victim of cartoon violence (also, they didn't allow women to become animators).
Warner Brothers tried to make up for this by creating Lola Bunny for Space Jam, otherwise that movie would have been a total sausagefest. I did not like Lola. It bothers me whenever a female cartoon character who is animal has human breasts. Most mammals don't even have nipples on their chests, they have them down by their belly. Apes have them up top, but only humans have the round, full breasts we all know and love. So when some cartoonist draws nice round boobies on an animal, it's just weird. I think this is how the furry fetish all began. You show kids enough rabbits and mice with large breasts from age 2 to 11, then don't be surprised if some of them develop some weird interests when they reach puberty.
I mean, seriously. They drew Pamela Anderson and stuck bunny ears on her.
Regardless, I love Space Jam. I was never an NBA fan as a kid (or adult), so Michael Jordan, Bill Murray and Newman were the only humans I recognized. I could only tell if one of the real life characters was an NBA player due to his jersey and horrible acting. I also love how the movie explained to us that Michael Jordan didn't return to basketball because he was poor at baseball, he returned because he was inspired after he saved cartoon characters from slavery by winning a basketball game in cartoon land.
Back at the park, Arnold and Harold give up and just attach a balloon to their kite. Arnold is going to be such a hipster when it's 2004 and he turns 18.
Suddenly, a gust a wind comes by and picks Arnold's hat off his head. Oh no!
The wind takes his hat to the rooftop Helga is trapped on. Helga is overjoyed at her good luck. Now she just needs to figure out how to get off that roof.
Helga celebrates by putting the hat on her gum statute and then making out with it. I bet the killer from The Silence of the Lambs was the same way as a kid.
Without his hat, Arnold feels like half a man. Wearing it his entire life has left him with a permanent gap in his hairline, which is kind of freaky to look at. As Arnold and Harold walk down the street, a bunch of townsfolk comment about how bad he looks without his hat. The mailman straight up tells him, "Man, you look terrible." That's very rude.
In a flashback, we learn that Arnold's hat was given to him by his parents when he was a baby. Arnold has not seen his mom and dad since he was 3. For most of the series, it was implied that they died, but we were never told how. In one of the later episodes, it was revealed that they were explorers who went missing in Africa.
I always thought that was so God damn stupid of his parents. Let's do some math. Arnold is in the 4th grade, which makes him 10-years-old. If he is 10 in 1996, he was born in--hold on let me fire up the Windows calculator---1986 (which is actually closer to my birth year that I would have thought). So, Arnold's parents left for Africa in--OK, so 1986+3--1989!
1989! What in the hell was there left in Africa to discover in 1989? Nothing, that's what! 1989 is not 1889, the Africans can tell you where everything is. There wasn't even anything left in Africa that you could have been the first white people to have seen. The place is pretty well mapped. But you know what Africa did have in 1989? A lot of wars and instability and AIDS.
Arnold's parents are a couple of assholes. "Hey, we like to go exploring in Africa. But we have a 3-year-old child now. Oh, well, let's just leave him with his grandparents. Having a kid isn't going to spoil our fun." At least the Thornberrys took their children with them when they trekked around the globe. If something tragic happens, then they all die together, as a family.
The ice cream truck driver has gone mad. However, without his hat, Arnold is too depressed to join the other kids and get lots and lots of free ice cream (which this crazy truck driver probably mixed with rat poison).
Arnold's grandpa tries to cheer him up by telling the boy about the lengths he went to to hide his baldness before learning that it's the inside that makes a person. I would have skipped describing that scene except I wanted to include the screencap of grandad wearing his cat as a hairpiece. My cat and I both have brownish hair, so I always thought I would do the same if I ever went bald.
Here's my bizarre ice ream truck story. On day, I was taking a walk when I heard some weird siren approaching from down the road. I figured it was a fire truck, even though it didn't quite sound right. As the vehicle passed, I saw that it was an ice cream truck, but not really, it was a van. An ice cream van. And it looked disgusting. It was a white van with just a little cheap, taped on sign saying there was ice cream inside. It was also one of those cargo vans with no back windows that contractors use. You know, the type of vans kids are warned to stay away from. Also, this was in the poor part of town, so no one was going to buy ice cream. Also, it was driven by one of those obese middle-aged woman who always look angry and are all over Michigan, so no one was going to buy ice cream from her. Also, this was Michigan in October. We didn't have snow yet, but it was still cold and gray out.
Not that I didn't eat plenty of ice cream in October, but no way was I going near that ice cream van. Ice cream trucks are pretty antiquated anyway. You can get good ice cream for the store for much less than from an ice cream truck. Kids don't even need ice cream on a hot summer day. Nowadays, kids just stay inside with air conditioning and their Super Nintendos.
Helga sees that Arnold is forlorn and decides to return his hat. But her mother threw the shrine away, thinking it was garbage. Which it was. Helga goes to the dump to hunt for the hat. It would have been awesome if she stumbled upon the dryer that was the entrance to the monster school in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.
Helga finds the hat and returns it to Arnold, who is overjoyed. Considering that he wears it all day, including in his bed and shower, it probably doesn't smell noticeably worse after having been in the dump.
Nickelodeon should do to Hey Arnold what they did with Rugrats by making a spin-off show where characters are all ten years older. It will be Hey Arnold: The College Years and it will be glorious. Arnold will be an engineering major, and Harold will be his roommate, an African-American studies major attending on a minority scholarship. Conflict will arise because Arnold will want to wear his hat during sex. The girl will be like, "Why are you naked except for your hat? It looks weird." Arnold will reply, "Shut up bitch. Donkey punch!" I can see it now.
"Arnold's Hat" "Stoop Kid"