“Hey Arnold!” – Pigeon Man EPISODE REVIEW

Posted 8th February, 2023

When Arnold’s pet pigeon Chester starts feeling ill, he decides to take the poor bird to the legendary “Pigeon Man”. Arnold’s friends warn him that Pigeon Man is a disturbed psychopath, but once Shortman meets the eccentric Pigeon Man? The dude turns out to be a sweet gentle guy who genuinely loves birds!

“Hey Arnold!” has always been great at making us care about the outcasts of society, all thanks to Arnold’s natural empathy for the downtrodden or neglected. In this case, Arnold helps Pigeon Man to see that good DOES exist in humanity, because he’s a kid who sincerely adores pigeons just as much as Pigeon Man, but also has an optimistic view of people.

Pigeon Man is distant at first, but he slowly grows to trust Arnold, and the two of them develop a friendship founded on a mutual admiration for birds. In return for curing Chester, Arnold helps Pigeon Man to revisit human society again, and even buys Pigeon Man a pizza; something Pigeon Man has actually missed. It’s a friendship that works both ways.

It helps that Pigeon Man is voiced by the amazing Italian-American character actor Vincent Schiavelli, who gives the character this subdued calmness that’s very soothing. It’s Vincent’s dramatic and earnest voice-over that makes Pigeon Man feel all-too-real. Vincent is acting, truly acting.

This isn’t to say that Pigeon Man’s return to civilization is all gumdrops and rainbows, because while Pigeon Man is away, a bunch of bully kids decide to trash Pigeon Man’s home; which he shares with his pigeon friends. It’s a heart-breaking moment, a gut-wrenching scene that shows how humanity CAN be needlessly cruel – especially to unusual people and animals. Pigeon Man meant no harm, he just found stronger bonds with birds than humans, that’s it.

The episode ends bittersweetly, with Pigeon Man thanking Arnold for reigniting his belief that there are good people out there, but also deciding to fly off into the sun with his fellow pigeons. While there’s a tragedy to Pigeon Man’s rejection of human society, we can also understand his perspective, because there’s a truth to simple-hearted animals being easier to understand than people.

Pigeon Man is considered by many to be a magnum opus “Hey Arnold!” episode. I honestly can’t disagree with this consensus. It’s an emotionally rich and profound cartoon that explores the complexity of humanity, while also making kids better appreciate the rich intelligence of pigeons; a bird that’s pretty unpopular in the mainstream.


Posted on February 8, 2023, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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