Viacom and Nickelodeon have already teamed up to bring you The Splat, a block of programming that shows reruns and promos from early Nickelodeon every night on the TeenNick channel, now they’re going a step further into the 90s revival by bringing Hey Arnold! back for a limited engagement and refocusing on the classic lineup of Nicktoons.
The news first broke that the creator of Hey Arnold!, Craig Bartlett, had been in contact with Nickelodeon who has been giving their old properties a second look as we start to approach new anniversaries of old shows. Nick is tapping Chris Viscardi, a co-creator of the live action 90s show Pete and Pete as senior vice president of content development for franchise properties, and he liked the idea of reviving the show.
The Hey Arnold! TV movie got a greenlight from Nickelodeon to get scripted at the end of November, but the network can still refuse to produce it if the script is not to their liking. There’s a delicate balancing act to be had, as this reboot technically isn’t for the millennial audience that remembers the first run of Hey Arnold! on Nickelodeon, it’s for the new viewers. “Everything that we do, we want to appeal to kids, 2 to 11 years old,” Viscardi told The AV Club, “so that’s first and foremost what we’re after when we open our library vault, so to speak.”
The new Hey Arnold! will have a slight re-design when it finally gets produced, but everyone involved insists there won’t be any blasphemous changes to the characters (wild guess: Arnold’s head is still shaped like a football). The story has to be a stand alone in the sense that it introduces the characters to a new audience, but Bartlett has promised that it will pick up where the series finale “The Journal” left off.
If you don’t remember the two-part story of “The Journal” it centers around Grandpa, Grandma, and Arnold reading the log Arnold’s long-lost parents kept when they were living in the fictional country of San Lorenzo (where they met, married, and had Arnold). At the end of the story-within-a-story, Arnold’s parents have to leave him behind to help an endangered jungle people and everyone is sad. However, the episode also included a hopeful cliffhanger where Arnold found a map to where his parents were traveling at the back of the journal. The series ends with him running to tell his grandparents.
Hey Arnold! ended in 2002 in its fifth season, so the story of Arnold discovering his parents are still alive will have a fourteen year gap in it, at least. If the TV movie works out, Nickelodeon has the option to renew it as a series, but this revival isn’t specifically to resurrect the TV show. This seems to be the general plan for Nickelodeon “revivals” going forward: bring it back as a special, see what sticks.
As for what’s next on Nickelodeon’s trip down memory lane, don’t hold your breath for Hey Dude 2016 or new episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? anytime soon. According to senior vice president Viscardi, it’ll probably be some early Nicktoons. “The reality is that right now, because next year is the 25-year anniversary of Nicktoons—in 1991, Doug, Rugrats, and Ren & Stimpy launched—next year is a really big anniversary for us, so we’re really only focused on animation right now.”
It’s not about anyone’s specific nostalgia, it’s about rolling the dice on some properties Nickelodeon already owns and seeing if there’s any cash left in the 25-year-old piggy bank. The fact that we might get to see grown up Rugrats in the future is a side-effect to good franchise development. Another ingredient in good franchise development is involving the original creative teams, which it sounds like Viscardi and Nick are dedicated to.
It sounds like all this is worth a try, however, John Kricfalusi probably won’t be back for Ren and Stimpy and Jhonen Vasquez won’t be bringing back Invader Zim. Neither of them left their Nicktoons in the best ways.
Meanwhile there's a new YouTube series called The Anytown Show which includes classic characters from such shows as Rugrats, Dexter's Laboratory, Hey Arnold, Johnny Bravo, Recess, The Wild Thornberrys, The Powerpuff Girls and Rocket Power interacting with each other in the heart of Anytown.
This show is geared towards a new generation of kids 6-11 who've never heard of this shows before and will be facsisnated by the way they all interact, this show is also geered towards 90s kids (millenials) who've missed these shows and been wanting them to come back and would be pleased to see them back as some shape or form.