This week will begin the revival of three classic Nickelodeon cartoons with the release of “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie” this Friday. Two other Nicktoons, “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Invader Zim” will also be getting television movie reboots next year, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Nicktoons.
Nickelodeon announced that they were looking at reviving some of their older properties in Sept. 2015. This led to “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie” being announced in March 2016 and the “Rocko’s Modern Life” film announced in Aug. 2016.
“Hey Arnold” ran for eight years with five seasons and 100 episodes. It focused on the title character and his experiences going to school and living in a big city with his grandparents.
Arnold and his many friends would go on zany adventures that would lead to Arnold solving their problems and sometimes learning some lessons along the way. The show was well received by fans and critics.
“The Jungle Movie” will answer many cliffhangers and loose ends from the original series, chief among them being the mystery surrounding Arnold’s parents, who have been mentioned but not seen in a speaking role.
It was set to be produced after the show’s first theatrical movie, but due to the first movie’s poor performance at the box office it was scrapped and creator Craig Bartlett left the show, resulting in its cancellation.
Bartlett is excited about the film’s release stating at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, “It’s very meta, checks a lot of boxes, answers all the fan questions.”
He also said the movie is allowing him to bring a “long, long, long fulfilled dream” to audiences.
A large portion of the original cast and crew have returned from the film, and the film will tie up the series’ loose ends, while leaving the door open for a new season of the show.
Also being revived is Joe Murray’s cartoon “Rocko’s Modern Life.” The show aired from 1993-1996 for four seasons and 52 episodes to critical acclaim and many awards.
The show focused on the title character Rocko, an Australian wallaby who lives in O-Town, a place where corporations control most of the businesses there. He has two friends, Heffer the Cow and Filburt the Turtle, who each have their own issues.
The rest of the cast of characters are animals who have crazy personalities. Murray stated that the characters traits are inspired by their kind of animal, creating a natural order.
The show was noted for the adult humor and innuendos sprinkled in throughout the episode, one of the more recognizable ones being Rocko working a job similar to a phone-sex hotline worker.
Many members of the creative team went on to work on “Spongebob Squarepants” after the show’s end. Stephen Hillenburg, creator of “Spongebob” was the creative director of “Rocko.”
Several voice actors from the show played roles on “Spongebob Squarepants” including Tom Kenny (Heffer, Spongebob) and Mr. Lawrence. (Filburt, Plankton)
The new movie will be titled “Static Cling” and follows the three main characters waking up from 20 years spent in space. They awake into a world with the technological marvels of today, such as smart phones, social media sites and food trucks. Heffer and Filburt embrace the new distractions, while Rocko is apprehensive of them.
The final nicktoon getting an update is “Invader Zim” a show created by Jhonen Vasquez that ran from 2001-2002, with a short re-release in 2006.
The show ran for one season and was directed at an older age demographic. It contained more dark humor and violence than other Nick shows at the time.
The show’s premise revolved around Zim, an incompetent but high energy alien sent to invade Earth to conquer it. He has a dumb robot sidekick named Gir, and has to fight the only person in the neighborhood that knows he’s an alien, Dib.
The show only aired one episode of its second season before being cancelled due to budget problems, low ratings, parent complaints and a questionable work environment.
Despite this, the show went on to have a cult following after being released on DVD. This resulted in Nickelodeon’s sister channel Nicktoons to show the finished episodes of season two that were never aired. The episodes aired in 2006 and showed a renewed interest in continuing the show.
The series continued in 2015 when Oni Press collaborated with Vasquez to produce a line of comics based on the series.
In its short time it won critical acclaim and an Emmy award, alongside multiple Annie awards.
Nickelodeon announced in April of this year that the show would return with a one hour TV movie. Vasquez and most of the original cast are reprising their roles.
“Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie” releases Friday Nov. 24 on Nickelodeon. “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” is in production and set to premier in 2018. The “Invader Zim” movie does not have a title or release date and is in pre production.