“Hey Arnold!” – Arnold’s Halloween EPISODE REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
When the grown ups don’t let Arnold and Gerald join their Halloween party meeting, the two boys hatch a plan for revenge, by pranking the adults into thinking that aliens have invaded, by creating a fake radio broadcast, and they rely on the other kids coincidental alien costumes to play into their trick. However, the radio transmission was caught by UFO investigator Douglas Cain, who reports what he hears on his TV show, causing the whole city to go into a panic, and an angry mob chases after Arnold’s costumed friends.
This episode is an obvious tribute to Orson Welles’ radio reading of “The War of the Worlds”, which sparked the public into thinking that a real alien invasion was happening. Even Douglas Cain has an Orson Welles inspired voice, provided by Maurice LaMarche – who frequently voices Orson in movies & cartoons. A similar incident happened in the UK, in which a staged ghost hunting show tried to trick British viewers, resulting in an effective prank that offended folks.
What makes this Halloween special unique, is that it’s going down a sci-fi route, an underexplored aspect of Hallow’s eve, even though this is a genre renowned for it’s horror stories. That’s not to say that the aliens cloud over any seasonal atmosphere, because that’s not the case, there’s still a trick or treat spirit throughout the episode, and I did get that fun Halloween feeling from it.
The episode’s conflict and humour, mainly derives from the adult characters’ reactions to the alien invasion prank! Some consider themselves soldiers in a war against invaders, others are ready to surrender to a supposed leader, and some just want to stay indoors. It’s a great way to develop the grown ups, demonstrating their instincts in a dangerous situation, even though we know that this is all fake.
I did also find some charm to Arnold and Gerald’s radio broadcast, as they clearly put a lot of work into preparing it, fueled by a determination to get back at the grown ups for condescending them. Gerald’s charismatic personality helps him pull off the reporter act (he’s aided by a deep pitch filter), Arnold’s sound effects are endearingly creative, and the technical setup is pretty clever for something put together by kids. I can imagine this episode inspiring kids to make their own radio productions maybe? Wanting to try their hand at foley art or voice announcing, because Gerald and Arnold are having such a blast.
If you want to see this episode for some scares, you maybe disappointed, as this isn’t meant to be a story to curdle your blood, it’s more of a comical hi jink, but there are episodes of this show that are about creepy ghost stories. Although, there is something kind of unsettling about trick or treaters being chased by an angry mob, a fear that may tap into children’s imagination at Halloween, even though it’s mainly played for laughs.
To Conclude, this is a very enjoyable Halloween special, one that captures the spirit of the season while telling a funny plot. If you want a harmless spooky cartoon this month, then this is the one for you, because it mainly plays things safe, with an emphasis on comedy more than horror. Adults will also enjoy the reference to the Orson Welles radio controversy, as well as the episode’s commentary on media influence on the public, so consider making this episode into a family viewing.
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