A postmodern “peanuts” with a put-upon hero, a fluid circle of friends and foes, and a moral, more or less, at the end of each 15-minute segment, Nick’s animated “Hey Arnold!” Nicely serves the couch-potato family audience.
In “Downtown as Fruits.” Arnold — he of the football-shaped head — and his pal Gerald skip out on the class musical and head downtown in their fruit costumes. They encounter any number of menacing types, unexpectedly come upon a big bag of cash, and make it back to the school just in time to save the show and the reputation of Helga, the tyrannical director who enjoys a love hate relationship with the hero (think Lucy).
In “Eugene’s Bike,” Arnold is determined to provide numero uno geeky kid one day free of physical and emotional trauma. Naturally, awful events ensue.
The animators use a subtler palette than most of these shows employ, and Jim Lang’s jazz scoring ads a lot to the atmosphere. Hip and purposely ragged around the edges, “Hey Arnold!” evokes urban fears and fantasies without getting too dark or too silly. It’s in the right place at the right time — in more ways than one.