Posted by: Tendra | April 4, 2009

Confirmed Notes About “The Patakis”

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Ah, the Patakis.  They’re such a complicated family… so complicated that Craig Bartlett wanted to do a spinoff starring just them!  In his spinoff “The Patakis”, Helga would have been 15, where episodes would center around the individual family members and the family as a whole.  Sadly, this spinoff did not get picked up, so we’ll never know what “The Patakis” truly could’ve been.  However, like “The Jungle Movie”, Craig Bartlett has managed to spill some of the beans on it in his chats/interviews with the fans.

Like with last week’s post (Confirmed Notes About “The Jungle Movie”), the following will be a series of Q&A between the fans and Bartlett, organized in several categories.  Some questions are repeated as they fit in more than one category.  I have left the Q&A’s in their original wording to avoid misinterpretating Bartlett’s responses.  They have only been slighty edited in terms of typos, mechanics, ect.  If you see any additional Q&A’s that should be added, please let me know.  :D

So enjoy reading about “The Patakis”!

Arnold's Thanksgiving

GENERAL PLOTLINE/QUESTIONS

Question (Before Hey Arnold! The Movie)

[What are you working on now?]

Craig Bartlett

[One] thing I’m working on right now [is] a spinoff called “The Patakis” about Helga and her family, and Helga’s 15 years old. It would be an original show for Nick at Nite!

Question

Will The Patakis tell us more about the lives of Olga, Bob and Miriam?

Craig Bartlett

The Patakis is all about the family so we’ll have episodes with all four characters stories and go into individual stuff.

Question

What I’d like to know is, where do you come up with the character names? For example, does “Pataki” come from: the governor of New York, the voice of George on “Ren & Stimpy”, or is it just a good-sounding name?

Craig Bartlett

Governor Pataki? We like Pataki, it sounds funny. And Helga is, you know, “hellish”.  At least she started out that way.  The rest of them are really kinda Seattle names.  And you know we use the Ikea catalog for obscure names like torvald.  It’s a couch or something.

Question

‘Chest of drawers’ in the interview.

Craig Bartlett

Okay, chest of drawers.

Question

[What's the deal with The Patakis?]

Craig Bartlett

Here is the deal with The Patakis. Nick has ordered a script a half hour script more structured like The Simpsons: three acts, half hour.  If they like the script they order the episode or if they were really cool, they’d order a series.

Question

What is that [The Patakis] about and what ever happened to it?

Craig Bartlett

I wrote a pilot script with Michelle.  Nick at Nite was the place where they thought they would show it. I’m afraid it was too… dark for them. They passed after a year.  Oh, Helga was 15. Arnold had moved away but she still was culty about him. Wrote a letter to him every night, but never mailed them.

Question

So, at that point had she confessed to him?

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, I imagine they were a “couple” and had some stormy times. They both can be difficult.  We had lots of ideas for Bob, Miriam, and Olga.  Olga moved back home, was pursuing an acting career. Yeah, in The Patakis, she’s [Miriam] twelve-stepping. Not exactly Nick at Nite material.

Question

If “The Patakis” [were to be] made, what would be your plan for all the characters?

Craig Bartlett

All the kids would be in it, but Arnold moved away. I had to clear him out of the action, so it could feature the Patakis. It was making Helga clearly the star and not the costar. I concentrated on Helga and her family. I really love Olga though some don’t, and wanted to move her back into the house after college.  She was an aspiring actress and Helga the budding writer. Bob more like Tony Soprano and Miriam in 12 step, working at a TV station. I guess beyond that, just everyone else as a teenager.  Arnold featured only far away, because Helga writes to him every episode and then puts the letters away, doesn’t mail them, keeps them in binders, very organized like her shrines. The other kids would be fun, I can’t remember what I was going to do, just show them all as awkward teens. Sid and Stinky, Gerald, Phoebe would of course be important.  Phoebe and Gerald would be a cool couple, not dysfunctional like Helga and Arnold.

It girl

 HELGA

Question

[Two questions:] In The Pataki’s, is Olga now living at home again? And secondly, will Franny still be the voice of Helga?

Craig Bartlett

Yes, Olga comes home from Bennington, moves back in, and one of the main reasons for growing helga up to fifteen is so we can work with Franny!

Question

Does she [Olga] still drive Helga up the wall?

Craig Bartlett

You bet!  Franny just turned fifteen.  Life imitates art.  Franny started with me at nine, auditioned when she was eight.

Question

Will Helga be a little bit depressed in The Patakis?

Craig Bartlett

She’s still the underdog. She’s still pretty grumpy.  She needs to be the underdog so we’ll love her. Not exactly depressed, just pissed off.

Question

Will Olga get a job teaching at Helga’s school?

Craig Bartlett

She’s decided to become an actress.  A good move, since she’s already an award winning over-reactress.  Helga is more of an artist, writer-photographer-painter.  Olga’s always auditioning for plays off-off-off-off-off broadway.  Helga still thinks she’s an annoying dork.

Question (for the regular series)

Why does Helga feel she has to cover up her feelings for Arnold by being mean to him?

Craig Bartlett

That’s Helga’s deal: she’s acting out her anger. Her home life sucks. Bob and Miriam ignore her. Compared to Olga, she feels like some kind of graceless little ugly duckling. So she’s developed this tough, brittle exterior as the meanest, most cynical kid in the fourth grade. How could she love Arnold, the nicest guy in school? It’s her secret: she’s got a soft, gooey, poetic, romantic interior. You’d think that a kid as smart and self-aware as Helga would realize that she should just tell Arnold and deal with it, but she still believes that if her secret got out, she’d die of embarrassment. But let’s give the girl a break: she’s nine. She’ll learn someday (but not yet).

Question

What does the G. stand for in Helga’s name?

Craig Bartlett

Geraldine! After our Nick founder Gerry Laybourne. I love Gerry!

Quesiton

Who was your inspiration for Helga?

Craig Bartlett

Well, she’s all the girls I loved and didn’t love me back and vice versa, and the name is sort of “Hell girl”. The ones who strangled me in the playground, had strong personalities, and secret other lives.

Question

What the heck does Madam Fortress Mommy mean?

Craig Bartlett

Justin Shenkarow actually made that up on the spot once. He is a very talented and funny guy. We played it back, said, “What the hell did you just say?” Justin’s all, “I dunno.” No meaning whatsoever. We started writing it into all his scripts, and Justin couldn’t even remember saying it.

Question

[Did] Helga inherit her bad attitude from Bob?

Craig Bartlett

You mean why she’s so mean to Arnold?  It’s just an act.

Question

Helga is more like Big Bob than either cares to admit.

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, she’s a Pataki, through and through

Question

When is Helga’s birthday?  Is it at March 25?

Craig Bartlett

I don’t really know. Maybe Franny’s birthday.

Question (to Francesca Marie Smith)

Franny, can you still make the voice of Helga or is your voice way too different now?

Craig Bartlett

Franny will ALWAYS voice Helga, even when she’s ninety.   A ninety year old Helga: scary

Francesca Marie Smith

The cool thing about Helga, in my opinion (and I do hope Craig doesn’t disagree), is that she really does have my voice. So, even though she grew up a little as the show progressed, and her style of speech may have changed, I don’t think it was really awkward…my voice never changed into a non-Helga voice…at least I don’t think it did.

Craig Bartlett

Especially when you yell!

Question

[Helga's] life is so complicated. When you first created her character, had you planned on it being that way?

Craig Bartlett

Helga: we wanted her to be complicated and crazy and talented and funny and mean from the very start. She did grow though.  I credit Franny for adding so much subtext, and always being up to our challenges as an actor.

Helga's makeover

HELGA’S APPEARANCE

Question

Will Helga get rid of those pigtails?

Craig Bartlett

No, she keeps them stubbornly.

Question

How will the 15 year old helga LOOK different than the nine year old helga

Craig Bartlett

Helga is taller, skinnier…

Question

Skinnier? She’d have to be anorexic.

 Craig Bartlett

Not quite anorexic

Question

Does she keep her bow?

Craig Bartlett

She keeps her bow, but hides it under a cap.

Question

Hides her bow? How sad.

Craig Bartlett

She’ll never get rid of the bow, but her feelings for Arnold are even more underground now.

Question

A little blue cap, perchance?  Could it be Arnold’s cap?  Like exchanging rings or jackets?

Craig Bartlett

No, Arnold keeps his cap.  I should say hat.

Question

How does Helga look? Like Cecile?

Craig Bartlett

She’s taller, skinnier, gettin boobs…

Question

Does she still have the one eyebrow?

Craig Bartlett

…but she hates growing up and being a teen.  She still has the monobrow.  An awkward teen proud of her awkwardness.

Question

Does Arnold keep his hat in The Patakis?

Craig Bartlett

Yes.  He’ll never lose it.  Helga never loses her bow, she hides it under a cap though.  The reveal will be funny.

Question

Why does Helga only have one eyebrow?

Craig Bartlett

You’ll notice that several characters have the same “monobrow.” I just think it’s funny. And it makes her look mean.

Question

How does Helga look like when she’s 15? Does she still have the pigtails? Does she still wear her pink bow and pink dress? Did she get rid of her unibrow?

Craig Bartlett

She dressed more tough — wore a grungy cap over her bow. Same monobrow.

Helga on the couch

BIG BOB AND MIRIAM

Question

Do Helga’s parents care about anything?

Craig Bartlett

You bet! Big Bob cares about winning, selling tons of beepers, getting rich, football, golf, alien abduction conspiracies, his Lincoln, his Humvee, and Olga’s collection of awards. Miriam tries not to care about anything — she’s unrealized potential personified. Miriam’s got an interesting past, but doesn’t see anything particularly interesting in her future. Bob’s such a blowhard, Miriam has lost the will to assert herself. Don’t count her out, though. Miriam has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Question

Will there be any Big Bob or Miriam eps?

Craig Bartlett

You bet.  It’s the Patakis after all.

Question

Why does Big Bob forget about Helga and think only about Olga and his beeper company?

Craig Bartlett

Poor Helga is the passed-over kid. I’m not sure why her parents mostly ignore her. Helga is cool! Well, at least WE know she is.

Question

Does Miriam drink because of Bob’s verbal abuse?

Craig Bartlett

Miriam, she drinks because Bob keeps her down. She is unfulfilled potential personified. Remember she could ride? And probably write and dance, and sing…

Question

Not to mention she was a successful business women for one episode

Craig Bartlett

Right. She COULD do anything.  It’s fun to have depressed characters, because once in a while they break out and BOOM!

Question

I liked how Miriam always seemed like she was on some kind of drug.

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, she was maybe taking prescription stuff.  She wouldn’t tell me.  Or I forgot to ask.

Helga on the couch

OLGA

Question

Do you have any plans where Olga loses favor with her parents?

Craig Bartlett

What a good question… our Patakis pilot involves that.

Question

For the spinoff?

Craig Bartlett

Yes, a spinoff. We’re good to write it. Helga is fifteen, Olga is back  home from Bennington and wants to pursue a career as an actress.

Question

[Two questions:] In The Pataki’s, is Olga now living at home again? And secondly, will Franny still be the voice of Helga?

Craig Bartlett

Yes, Olga comes home from Bennington, moves back in, and one of the main reasons for growing helga up to fifteen is so we can work with Franny!

Question

Does she [Olga] still drive Helga up the wall?

Craig Bartlett

You bet!  Franny just turned fifteen.  Life imitates art.  Franny started with me at nine, auditioned when she was eight.

Question

Will Olga get a job teaching at Helga’s school?

Craig Bartlett

She’s decided to become an actress.  A good move, since she’s already an award winning over-reactress.  Helga is more of an artist, writer-photographer-painter.  Olga’s always auditioning for plays off-off-off-off-off broadway.  Helga still thinks she’s an annoying dork.

Question

Does she keep straight A’s throughout college?

Craig Bartlett

Yes, she’s like a machine.

Summer love

ARNOLD (AND ARNOLD X HELGA)

Question

Where’s Arnold in the spinoff?

Craig Bartlett

He’s … MOVED AWAY! Okay, calm down, he’s still her true love.  A lot of stuff happens before The Patakis starts between Arnold and Helga. They are meant for each other, you know, duh (I mean doi). They will get together, but I want Helga to have her own show in the meantime, ya know?  Arnold is Arnold and how could it be The Patakis unless he’s out of the way for a while.

Question

Will Arnold and Helga be together in The Patakis?

Craig Bartlett

As I said earlier, he’s moved away but Helga still loves him. I’ve got this idea: she writes to him at the start of each episode: Dear Arnold…  And he’s still her “higher power” but she is not with him even though she loves him.  I have an idea for an episode where Helga runs away to find Arnold

Question

Does this mean the entire boardinghouse crew has moved as well?

Craig Bartlett

A cool thing for a fifteen year old.  Good question, we’ll see.

Question

Will she actually send the letters to Arnold? Or will they just gather in her drawer?

Craig Bartlett

She writes the letters, then at the end of the show, mails it, then takes it out of the mail and files it away…

Question

Why?

Craig Bartlett

… in a binder because Helga is very complicated

Question

So the main thing here will be for her to finally mail a letter?

Craig Bartlett

Volume 1000. Maybe

Question

You mean she doesn’t actually send them? What??

Craig Bartlett

She and Arnold are in a difficult stage at fifteen. Who knows what happened in the intervening years

Question

Where’s he going anyway? Will they be… friends?

Craig Bartlett

I havent decided yet.  Mostly it’s about getting him out of the picture so The Patakis can be about the Patakis. Write to Nick and ask for it.

Question

In “The Pataki’s” will Arnold ever come back and visit?

Craig Bartlett

I want to do an episode where Helga runs away to find Arnold.  Sounds like a cool fifteen year old plotline.  I mean one episode, not a series. She’s going through some changes.

Question

Does she find him when she runs away?

Craig Bartlett

I haven’t written it!

Question

Does Arnold get over Lila?

Craig Bartlett

He really does, I promise.  We have milked that one to the teeth.  She and Arnold are done by episode 100.

Question

Does Arnold keep his hat in The Patakis?

Craig Bartlett

Yes.  He’ll never lose it.  Helga never loses her bow, she hides it under a cap though.  The reveal will be funny.

Question

What is that [The Patakis] about and what ever happened to it?

Craig Bartlett

I wrote a pilot script with Michelle.  Nick at Nite was the place where they thought they would show it. I’m afraid it was too… dark for them. They passed after a year.  Oh, Helga was 15. Arnold had moved away but she still was culty about him. Wrote a letter to him every night, but never mailed them.

Question

So, at that point had she confessed to him?

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, I imagine they were a “couple” and had some stormy times. They both can be difficult.  We had lots of ideas for Bob, Miriam, and Olga.  Olga moved back home, was pursuing an acting career. Yeah, in The Patakis, she’s [Miriam] twelve-stepping. Not exactly Nick at Nite material.

Question

Does Helga read Arnold’s letters (if he even sends her any?)

Craig Bartlett

In The Patakis we hear her read them aloud in her head as she writes them.

Question

Does the series also show what Arnold looks like at 15? If so, does he look the same, only taller? Did his hairstyle change in any way?

Craig Bartlett

We never got to that. All we had decided was that he’d moved away.

Question

How old was Helga when Arnold moved away?

Craig Bartlett

They’re fifteen in the show, and we hadn’t decided yet when he moved. Recently, I suppose…

Question

Are Helga and Arnold a couple in the series?

Craig Bartlett            

Nope, they’re broken up.

Question

Does Arnold writes letters to Helga, and if so, does she reads them?

Craig Bartlett

I think it would be poignant if he wrote, and thought that she had forgotten him, and she wrote every stinkin’ day but didn’t send them. So tragic. So angsty.  Helga will never be Olga, though.

Question

Right before “The Patakis” start, did Helga and Arnold break up just because it was ‘a long distance relationship’, or was it due to their ‘personality problems’ fitting together, etc? 

Craig Bartlett

A lot of years pass between Hey Arnold! and The Patakis, so they could have been broken up for years.  We never really decided.  That development got cut off pretty early, we only wrote a pilot and did some designs.

A day in the life of a classroom

OTHER CHARACTERS

Question

Yeah. Are any of the other kids still there?

Craig Bartlett

It’s still Arnold’s city.  Sure, anyone you know and love.

Question

So, all the kids, not just Helga, are gonna be in The Patakis?

Craig Bartlett

Right

Question

Are you going to make a Pheobe/Gerald ep?

Craig Bartlett

No Phoebe/Gerald episode yet.  It’s more fun to keep their relationship in the background [and have] Phoebe and Gerald share meaningful glances.  Y’know maybe as older kids in The Patakis.

Question

Will it have a mostly new cast of characters or a mix of new and the old?

Craig Bartlett

Right, some new, many old.  Dr. Bliss, Nick Vermicelli, Phoebe, the gang.

Question

Did you plan to include Brainy in the Patakis; did he still stalk Helga and get punched for that?

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, if I did The Patakis, I’d have everyone there.

Question

Even Lila?

Craig Bartlett

Yeah, can’t resist.  It’s fun to see them all as teenagers, except not “all growed up.” Y’knowwhatImean?  These teens would be evil and dark and stuff.

Question

[What is Lila's future like?]

Craig Bartlett

Lila I think probably stops being the bane of Helga’s existence.  If Arnold moves away, then Lila and Helga could even be friends.I like their little understnding in “School Play” but Lila kind of messed with Helga’s head some more after that, and I think that’s why fans hated her.  We made her kind of a monster in the end.  It was for laughs, but I really like Lila and think we should give her a break, they’d be funny together.  Yes, Lila was actually a lovely person.  The actor who played her was the sweetest kid.

Question

1) How’d you react when you first found out that Nick actually released seasons 1 and 2 on DVD?

2) If The Patakis ever happened, would you have added one or more NEW characters to the show?

Craig Bartlett

I was glad to learn that Arnold was on DVD, because I want fans to have pristine copies of the shows.  And the second question: I’m sure we would have added tons of new characters. A high school, after all, a whole new setting.  Yeah, don’t be mad at Nick, buy the DVDs.


Responses

  1. Thanks again for the great work! I’m gonna reorganize it into an article too.

    To tell the truth I’m not sure if I want to watch The Patakis. I mean. I mean, I like The Simpsons, Daria, South Park, but I somehow feel that bring up “adult themes” in Hey Arnold just would not be right. I like Hey Arnold! as it is — wise and innocent.

    Can anybody remind me what “The Patakis”-based fanfics exist?

  2. I think this is the place you’re looking for hellerick: http://thepatakis.0catch.com/index.html
    I don’t think it would have worked. In Hey Arnold! the kids all pretty much act like teenagers already, so The Patakis would have just been Hey Arnold! minus Arnold to me

    • Man, you posted the link before I could. That was a pretty neat project. There were eight of us who worked on each story, a handful of beta readers, a few artists, and we had started work on “casting” for a radio-show for each episode. It’s too bad that there’s next to no chance of any real “The Patakis” episodes…

  3. Thanks for the link, it was an interesting project.

    Actually I meant fanfics on FFN, or something.

    • Guh, that’s hard to list.

      Practically any fanfic where Helga and the gang is around the age of 15 would qualify is a potential “The Patakis” fanfic. And even fanfics where Helga isn’t 15 can qualify, as it could be some sort of flashback (e.g. “The Argument” by Pyrex Shards: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4787858/1/The_Argument ).

      Luckily, most of the HA! fanfics are written in the period where the gang is grown up (i.e. in their teens / adulthood). So if I were you, I would just link to fanfiction.net ect for the Wiki article, or just list some of your favourites. (You can always check my list of recommended fanfics for some of my favourites.)

  4. Nope. There are “Real” The Patakis fanfics. Their features: Arnold is in San Lorenzo, Helga writes him, she hides her bow under a hat, etc. When an author intends their fanfics to be “The Patakis” it’s clearly seen.

    On the other hand we hand we have very interesting fanfics like “Hungry Hearts by Kaydance — it starts as canonical The Patakis fanfic and then turns in very surprising direction.

  5. Here’s some pics of what Helga would’ve looked like in The Patakis, Tendra. :) :

  6. Thanks Justine. :-)

    I wonder where the first picture is from.

    BTW, it’s interesting that Craig Bartlett never mentioned where exactly Arnold moved away. Everyone presumes it’s San Lorenzo, but maybe they moved to Casa Paradiso, or something?

  7. What about this one? Is not she cool?

    http://unluckystunt.deviantart.com/art/Hey-Arnold-teen-Helga-sketch-56798089

    Anyway, here is my article about The Patakis:

    http://heyarnold.wikia.com/wiki/The_Patakis

    Check it please.

  8. Once again, thank you very much for posting these! <3

    I read somewhere that it was a little bit too much like Daria and that’s why it was turned down. I don’t know how popular Daria was in the US, but in Mexico it was a hit! Most of my classmates grew up watching Hey Arnold, and then moved on to Daria…

    ANYWAY

    I WANT MY PATAKIS!!! ; ^;

  9. I love Daria!! Yeah…apparently MTV dropped The Patakis because it was too much like Daria….which is not exactly true.

    Thanks for compiling this!!


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