If you’re feeling nostalgic for just about anything from your childhood, there’s a good chance it’ll be reappearing in your life in the near future. Over at Nickelodeon, which is preparing for the 25th anniversary of its Nicktoons brand, they’re gearing up for a brand new Hey Arnold! special. And just in case you’re a full-grown adult who’s worried about your favorite football-headed character getting watered down for a new generation, have faith. Here’s what Nickelodeon exec Chris Viscardi, who is partly in charge of show revivals, says about the changes we can expect to see.
Well, the things that we know kids love now are the same things that we loved back in the day. They love great stories, they love comedy, they love humanity, and they love that Nickelodeon personality and point of view that we uniquely have on stuff, so that’s going to be there, and ultimately that’s going to be the biggest draw to it. When we talk about re-imagining these things for a new generation, to us that really only means if there any design things here or there—ideally probably just small things that the creator may want to do just to update the look and feel a little bit—it’s been, for some of these series, quite a long time—that’s really all the re-imagining that will be done.
Now, it remains to be seen if that delightfully refreshing point of view will remain on everyone’s minds for the entire duration of bringing Hey Arnold! back for the special. But even if a few more things get tweaked for modern audiences, it’s nice that Viscardi and others have the intention to keep things as close to the original as possible. It helps that this is a continuation of the original series rather than a straight up reboot, as that would likely change way more than is necessary. What if they gave Arnold a perfectly round head and made Gerald get a buzzcut? The horror!
So we can expect some updates on the animation front, but thankfully the story will be picking up where the series left off. You might recall that even though there were random episodes that aired later, Hey Arnold!’s last produced episode (“The Journal”) ended on a cliffhanger where Arnold discovered his parents’ jungle adventure journal, which contained a map detailing where they went after they had to leave him. That story was supposed to get wrapped up in a second feature dubbed The Jungle Movie, but in-studio problems caused creator Craig Bartlett to leave the network. He’s back for the TV movie, though, so no worries about some newb taking over.
Viscardi, who created the absolutely perfect The Adventures of Pete and Pete, told AV Club that while the network is interested in returning to the worlds of its past series, they’re mostly looking to do so via specials and possibly miniseries, without a strong interest in bringing them back in full series form. (Yet.) As well, we can probably look forward to only animated shows getting this treatment, as there are obviously more complications with bringing live-action shows like Salute Your Shorts back in a way that makes a lot of logistical sense.
In the end, though, I think we can all agree that the biggest change they should make to Hey Arnold! is giving Harold a shirt that fits over his belly.