We all get nostalgic sometimes, that’s a fact. And some of us probably get nostalgic more than others. We miss the carefree lifestyle we enjoyed as children: drawing with chalk, riding bikes until 8:30 p.m., eating glue. But I’ve found myself wondering in recent years…were things really that great when we were kids? Or does the grass just seem greener in the past? I mean, there’s no way that all of the TV shows and movies and zebra stripe gum from my childhood were really as amazing as I remember them to be. So what does stand up to the test of time? That’s the question we’ll be trying to answer here at Thought Pizza. Whenever one of us has the urge to revisit their childhood, we’ll post about it in a feature we call “Flashback Friday.” You can expect these posts to appear on, yes, Fridays and to cover topics ranging from Koosh balls to Goosebumps books to Stick Stickly. For the very first Flashback Friday, I’ll be reviewing the first two episodes of the classic Nickelodeon hit, Hey Arnold! Luckily, all 100 episodes of Hey Arnold! are available on Netflix instant stream for easy viewing.
Screen Cap via Netflix
Episode 1: The gist of “Downtown as Fruits” is that Helga is directing a school play about the food pyramid or something else involving all the characters dressed as fruits/vegetables/bacon. Arnold and Gerald, dressed as a banana and a strawberry respectively, are taking the bus to their school for opening night when they decide not to put themselves through the torture of Helga’s play. They ride the bus to the end of the line and are left stranded…downtown as fruits. The rest of the episode revolves around Arnold and Gerald’s hijinks downtown: a few shady characters, a case of mistaken identity, and a bag of cash ($500 bills anyone?). Eventually, feeling guilty for ducking out on Helga, Arnold and Gerald retrieve their fruit costumes from a dumpster and return just in time for their musical fruit number.
- Helga calls her fist “Old Betsy” as she threatens violence if the group doesn’t show up early for rehearsal.
- Arnold’s stoner face during the first five minutes of the episode.
- Everyone at the pool hall gets super pumped (and actually cheer) when Arnold buys “sodas for everyone.”
Screen Cap via Netflix
Episode 2: After Arnold and Gerald encounter their daily “dork parade” at school (a Texas-shaped scab and linty nougats are shared), Eugene surprises everyone by rolling up to school on a fly new red bicycle. Everyone crowds around “Eugene’s Bike” in the schoolyard, soaking up its glory. But then, in a freak accident, Arnold causes the bike to be tossed into the street and chewed up by a street sweeper. Gerald tries to console Arnold by telling him that “stuff like this always happens to the geeky kids. And of all the kids in the school, Eugene’s GOTTA be the geekiest.” Surprisingly, this doesn't make Arnold feel better. Although he resolves to make it up to Eugene, bad luck always seems to get in the way of Arnold’s attempts. In the end, Eugene has a great day with Arnold, even though he choked on a hot dog, got hit with a baseball, and fell into the river.
- Eugene’s family exchanges gifts on Flag Day. Yes, that’s Flag Day.
- It took me a minute to figure out why the bike’s tiny license plate read “YOOJ.” Then I realized that it’s a phonetic abbreviation of Eugene. Gold.
- The hot dog vendor’s bored look as he hands over the “Heimlich Maneuver” guide that’s conveniently chained to his stand.
- I died a little when I saw Sheena’s crusty Texas-shaped scab. Blech.
- We get our first look at Arnold’s super cool bedroom in this episode. I still want that room, dang it!
The verdict? Almost sixteen years later, Hey Arnold! is still pretty hilarious. Although I mostly laughed at subtleties in the show’s humor, things I wasn’t likely to pick up on as a kid. I guess I was just laughing about banana suits and scabs as a kid, which is cool too.