“Farewell My Little Viking, Part 2” (season 2, episode 11; originally aired 11/20/1994)
Cue up the deep, disheartening sound effect, because the time has come. Artie has gone. Nonetheless, the ending of “Farewell My Little Viking” is probably supposed to be at least a little upbeat. Little Pete has, after all, absorbed everything there is to know from Artie and thus, the strongest man in the world has set off to help some other small guy. That being said, though, we can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of malaise, like a little bit of the absurdity has gone out of Wellsville and of The Adventures Of Pete And Pete all the same. Try as everyone might, nothing will ever be the same again.
It’s a bit of a sweeping generalization, but anyone who can remember the third season of Pete And Pete knows it’s at least a little true. It’s great that everyone can be their own Vikings now, but Artie—and more specifically the actor who played him, Toby Huss—brought a real sense of improvisation and, I don’t know, just plain fun to the show. That will still exist without him, of course, but we’ll all miss those herky-jerky motions all the same.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled that Little Pete threw suborbital meteor against Papercut in the playground battle. I’m even more thrilled that his friends threw volcano, dune buggy, and monsoon, standing up for their pal and themselves in the face of adversity. I’m glad to know the International Adult Conspiracy was vanquished and Don Wrigley did what was right for humanity and his family, but, man, this whole situation just stinks. We need some time to mourn.
Last week, I asked why Artie left the show, wondering if it was so Huss could move to L.A. or what. Some commenters noted that in the DVD commentary, the show’s creators Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi are kind of at a loss for a reason. Others posited that maybe Nickelodeon was just a little too squicked-out by a grown man dancing around kids in long underwear that don’t conceal all that much. Who knows, really? It might be any of those reasons or none of them, but hopefully we’ll get some answers at the cast reunion February 24 in New York. (Plug, plug. And if you didn’t get tickets or live not in New York, like most of the world, yes we’re at least thinking about trying to set up a live stream of the event.)
How many adult best friends have there been in kids’ shows, though? I can’t think of any off hand. Moreover, I can’t think of all that many TV parents that, when the chips are down, will do whatever possible for their kids, whether it’s what other parents want them to do or not. Sure, Billy Ray Cyrus probably saved ol’ Hannah Montana from some scrapes, but he’d never resort to armpit sounds and tire air. The Wrigleys, as we learned after a very nude foray into roof stack packing, aren’t afraid to put each other before basic dignity. It’s what family does and, hey, it makes a good story.
Ultimately, “Farewell My Little Viking” is an inspirational message wrapped in the tiniest bit of malaise. It’s probably summed up best by Big Pete when he asks, “What is it that makes a superhero? Is it muscles of steel? The ability to see through brick walls? To turn yourself into a human butane torch? Or is it small, like with Artie—a way of looking at the world and making everything a little bit stranger and a little bit better.” To be sure, Artie did that, and the Petes will do that, but beyond that, The Adventures Of Pete And Pete did that. I’m not one to lay it on thick, but if that’s what makes a superhero, then everyone who worked on this show is, I guess, kind of a superhero, as is everyone who’s really kept its memory alive. Pat yourselves on the backs then, readers, for we have made the world a better place just by knowing it’s okay to be ourselves.
- Lots of good insults in this episode including, but not limited to, Little Pete’s“What do you want you fiber-licking blowhole?” and “chew foil, Papercut,” Nona’s “Taste the tap, sicko!” and Papercut’s referrals to Little Pete as both “fungus lick” and “dinner mint.” I think the last one’s my favorite.
- There’s got to be a market on Etsy for Artie action land canoes and commemorative pennants, right? Right?
- The fact that Artie’s kryptonite is permanent press slacks is kind of amazing, especially considering the pants he wore previously.
- I’m amazed they could get the line, “You too will enjoy the feeling of the pleasure ridges” onto Nickelodeon, even if it was just Artie talking about aluminum siding.
- “Randy! Makifa! Please come in! Hey everybody it’s the Kleinmarkers!”
- The following lines are just put here to make everyone who made it this far cry: “This wasn’t just the story of being tricked by dad or hired by McFlemp or working for 10 percent commission. It was the story of a superhero and a kid who ruled at dodgeball, waltzed the lunar landscape, and beat up the Atlantic Ocean until one day the kid finally learned all there was to know from his friend, and now it was time for the superhero to move on.” “You’re a different Viking now.” “Was Artie gone for good? I guess we couldn’t know, but one thing was for sure: A part of Artie would always be with us, watching over us like the heroes in our dreams, like the stars in the sky.”