There aren’t too many things from my youth I’m super precious about, but Hey Arnold! is one of them. It was like an animated version of my own day-to-day childhood adventures, from the kooky grandparents, to the quirky neighborhood characters, to the grade school drama and schoolyard games. Twenty-five years after its debut on Nickelodeon, Hey Arnold! has given us over 100 episodes and two feature-length films to close out the story of the football-headed hero and his friends and family. Now, in the Hey Arnold! The Ultimate Collection DVD, fans of all ages can enjoy everything the acclaimed Nicktoon has to offer in 18 discs!
While you’d be well within your rights to simply revisit any or all of the 103 episodes from Hey Arnold!‘s run, or to watch the two movies again and again, there’s a lot more going on in this collection. We have a detailed breakdown of the special features below, but highlights include the original claymation short and pilot that led to the series proper, plenty of insight from Craig Bartlett, and some archived artwork that was eventually used to create the 2017 adventure flick, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie. It’s a must-have, one-stop shop for all of the Hey Arnold! fans out there, so don’t sleep on this ultimate collection.
Season 1 Disc 1
Hey Arnold! The Pilot (~10 minutes)
- Man, this takes me back. Clearly Bartlett & Co. made some changes between the pilot and the first season, but not too many: some different clothes styles and colors, etc. But the voices are pretty much in place, the signature jazz music is still there, the quirky characters reveal said quirks for the first time, and the schoolyard drama is part of its charm, even in this early stage.
- The relationships between the kids, Arnold and his grandparents, and the unrequited love between Helga and Arnold are still a major strength, right from the pilot stage.
- I forgot how cool Arnold’s loft room was! Mood lighting, a sound system, a skylight, an automated couch that folds into and out of the wall. How great was that?
- I love that Arnold dances his way out of a schoolyard fight by being “crazy”, though the show drifted away from these wilder, more cartoonish moments of humor and kept Arnold more reserved and slightly depressed.
Original Claymation Short: Arnold Escapes from Church (~2 minutes)
- About as different as you can get from the series people know and love since it’s Claymation vs traditional two-dimensional animation.
- Arnold’s also wearing his Sunday best along with the congregation. He daydreams about dinosaurs, animals, monsters, mountains, military skirmishes, feasts, and more, all while everyone around him recites prayers in a bored, disaffected drone, which is all very relatable.
Drawing Arnold (~1 minute)
- Craig Bartlett shows viewers how to draw Arnold, “starting with the football head”, in this featurette from the run-up to the launch of Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie.
The Jungle Movie: Table Read (~2 minutes)
- The cast of the new movie do a read-through, but it’s a highlight reel of some of the funniest moments, not a beginning-to-end event.
Unboxing the Original Jungle Movie Development Art (~3 minutes)
- Raymie Muzquiz (animation ) and Bartlett show off the boxes of journals and artwork from their original idea for the Jungle Movie from 14 years ago. Their original ideas predate ubiquitous cellphone use, so it’s kind of quaint to see newspapers and old-school phones in some of the sketches.
- There are maps from Arnold’s family’s journal, schematics of the hidden city’s buildings, sketches of the Central American volcanoes, and sketches.
- A very short little featurette, which I wish could have been more exhaustive, but it’s a nice tease nonetheless.
Hey Arnold! The Movie
Meet the Animals Game from Charlotte’s Web 2: Wilbur’s Great Adventure
- What a bizarre thing to include in this DVD, probably a hold-over from the original release back in 2002. It’s much closer to a preschool game than anything remotely close to a Hey Arnold tie-in. (I did learn more than I ever wanted to learn about Charlotte’s Web 2, however.)