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Help Wanted (SpongeBob

is thepilot episodeof the Americananimated television series. It originally aired onNickelodeonin the United States on May 1, 1999, following the television airing of the1999 Kids Choice Awards. The episode follows theprotagonist, ananthropomorphicyoungsea spongenamedSpongeBob SquarePants, attempting to get a job at a local restaurant called theKrusty Krab. However, he is tasked to find a seemingly non-existent high-caliber spatula because the owner,Mr. Krabs, considers him unqualified for the position. Eventually, crowds of ravenousanchoviesstop by the Krusty Krab and demand meals. SpongeBob returns from his errand, having fulfilled the request of Mr. Krabs and found a mechanical spatula. He utilizes the spatula to fulfill the anchovies hunger. SpongeBob is then welcomed by Mr. Krabs as a Krusty Krab employee against Squidwards, the cashier of the Krusty Krab, wishes.

Series creatorStephen Hillenburginitially conceived the show in 1994 and began to work on it shortly after the cancellation ofRockos Modern Lifein 1996. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approachedTom Kenny, who had worked with him onRockos Modern Life. For the seriespitch, Hillenburg originally wanted the idea of having SpongeBob andSquidwardon aroad trip, inspired by the 1989 filmPowwow Highway. Hillenburg gave up the idea, and started new with the idea he andDerek Drymoncame up for Help Wanted based on an experience Hillenburg had in theBoy Scouts. The original idea would be used for the later episodePizza Delivery.

The episode was written by Hillenburg who also functioned as storyboard director, Derek Drymon, who also functioned asstoryboard artist, andTim Hill. The animation was directed by the shows supervising director,Alan Smart. Help Wanted features a posthumous musical performance fromTiny Timsinging his songLivin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the Moonlight.

Help Wanted was excluded in the series first season DVD release because Nickelodeon did not want to pay Tiny Timsestatefor the DVD rights. It had since been released as a bonus feature to various series DVDs. Help Wanted gained an average of 6.9 million views, receiving positive reviews from media critics.

The episode opens with an introductory glimpse of the aquatic town ofBikini Bottom. The audience is then introduced toSpongeBob SquarePants, an ecstatic, hyperactive, anxious and friendly youngsea spongepreparing to fulfill a lifelong dream and passion by applying for afry cookjob at the underwaterfast food restaurant, theKrusty Krab, to the annoyance of the restaurants cashier and SpongeBobs irritable neighbor,Squidward Tentacles. SpongeBob then gets nervous and almost reconsiders applying for a job at the restaurant until his best friend, astarfishnamedPatrick Star, convinces him otherwise. Humored with SpongeBobs vulnerability, gullibility, and impenetrable enthusiasm and innocence, both Squidward and the restaurants proprietor,Mr. Eugene Krabs, decide to manipulate SpongeBob, whom they secretly consider unqualified for the position, by sending him onan impossible errandto purchase a seemingly non-existent high-caliber spatula.[3]

Soon after his anxious departure, five buses containing crowds of ravenous touristanchoviesstop at the Krusty Krab, its abundance of passengers furiously demanding meals. Unable to satisfy the anchovies hunger and alarmed by the mob, Squidward and Mr. Krabs are left to helplessly deal with the unsatisfied crowd. Before long, SpongeBob returns from his errand, having fulfilled the request of Mr. Krabs and found a mechanical spatula, which he uses in speedily whipping up bundles of Krabby Patties for the anchovies and satisfying their hunger. After the mob subsides, SpongeBob is welcomed as a Krusty Krab employee, much to Squidwards dismay. After Mr. Krabs leaves, Patrick orders a Krabby Patty and is hurled from the establishment upon a mostly-unseen, and audibly manic, reprise of SpongeBobs cooking feat.[3]

Help Wanted was written by series creatorStephen HillenburgDerek Drymon, andTim Hill, and the animation was directed by the shows supervising director,Alan Smart.[3]Hillenburg also functioned asstoryboarddirector, and Drymon worked asstoryboard artist.[3]Hillenburg initially conceived the show in 1994 and began to work on it shortly after the cancellation ofRockos Modern Lifein 1996.[4][5]

Hillenburgs original idea for the pitch was that the writers would write a storyboard for a possible episode and pitch it to Nickelodeon.[6]One of the original ideas was to write an episode withSpongeBobandSquidwardon aroad trip, inspired by the 1989 filmPowwow Highway.[6]Eventually, the idea developed while they were working on it but Hillenburg gave up on the storyboard idea for the initial pitch.[6]The crew resurrected the road trip idea during the first season and used a lot of the ideas for an episode calledPizza Delivery.[6]

Originally the character was to be namedSpongeBoyand the show was to be calledSpongeBoy Ahoy!.[7][8]However, the Nickelodeon legal department discovered that the nameSpongeBoywas already in use for a mop product.[7][9]This was discovered after voice acting for the original seven-minute pilot was recorded in 1997.[7]Upon finding this out, Hillenburg decided that the characters given name still had to contain Sponge so viewers would not mistake the character for a Cheese Man. Hillenburg decided to use the name SpongeBob. He chose SquarePants as a family name as it referred to the characters square shape and it had a nice ring to it.[10]

The execs from Nickelodeon flew out toBurbank, and wepitchedit to them from thestoryboards. We had squeezy toys, wore Hawaiian shirts and used a boom box to play theTiny Timsong [Livin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the Moonlight] that comes on in the third act. We really went all out in that pitch because we knew the pilot lived or died by if the execs laughed. When it was over they walked out of the room to discuss it; we figured they would fly back toNew Yorkand wed hear in a few weeks. We were surprised when they came back in what seemed like minutes and said they wanted to make it.

Hillenburg andDerek Drymonhad dinner and came up with the idea for Help Wanted based on an experience Hillenburg had in theBoy Scouts.[6]Hillenburg and writerHillworked it into an outline.[6]In 1997, while pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon executives, Hillenburg donned a Hawaiian shirt, brought along anunderwater terrariumwith models of the characters, and Hawaiian music to set the theme. The setup was described by Nickelodeon executive Eric Coleman as pretty amazing.[11]When given money and two weeks to write the pilot episode,[12]Drymon, Hillenberg and Jennings returned with what Nickelodeon officialAlbie Hechtdescribed as a performance [I] wish [I] had on tape.[13]Although described as stressful by creative director Derek Drymon,[12]the pitch went very well;Kevin Kayand Hecht had to step outside because they were exhausted from laughing, making the cartoonists worried.[13]With a help from Hill and art director Nick Jennings, Hillenburg finished the pitch and soldSpongeBob SquarePantsto Nickelodeon.[6]Drymon said the network approved itso we were ready to go.[6]

In an interview withCyma Zarghami, she told their [Nickelodeon executives] immediate reaction was to see it again, both because they liked it and it was unlike anything theyd ever seen before.[14]Hillenburg said the character construction in the episode was loose. But the character development was already pretty strong.[15][16]

When the crew began production on the episode, they were tasked to design the stock locations where the show would return to again and again, and in which most of the action would take place, such as theKrusty Kraband SpongeBobs pineapple house.[8]Hillenburg had a clear vision of what he wanted the show to look like. The idea was to keep everything nautical so the crew used ropes,wooden planksships wheels, netting,anchors, andboilerplateandrivets.[8]

The pilot and the rest of the series features the sky flowers as the main background.[8]When series background designer Kenny Pittenger was asked What are those things?, he answered They function as clouds in a way, but since the show takes place underwater, they arent really clouds.[8]Since the show was influenced bytiki, the background painters have to use a lot of pattern.[8]Pittenger said So really, the sky flowers are mostly a whimsical design element that Steve [Hillenburg] came up with to evoke the look of a flower-print Hawaiian shirtor something like that. I dont know what they are either.[8]

While Drymon and Hill were writing the pilot, Hillenburg was also conducting auditions to find voices for the show characters.[6]He had created the character of SpongeBob withTom Kenny,[6][17]in which he utilised Kennys and other peoples personalities to help create its personality.[7]Drymon said, Tom came in a few times so we could pitch him what we were working to help him find the right voice. Tom had already worked on lots of other animated shows, and Steve wanted to find an original sounding voice.[6]The voice of SpongeBob was originally used by Kenny for a very minor female alligator character named Al inRockos Modern Life. Kenny forgot the voice initially as he created it only for that single use. Hillenburg, however, remembered it when he was coming up with SpongeBob and used a video clip of the episode to remind Kenny of the voice.[7]Kenny says that SpongeBobs high pitched laugh was specifically aimed at being unique, stating that they wanted an annoying laugh in the tradition ofPopeyeandWoody Woodpecker.[18]

Kenny also provided the voice of Gary, SpongeBobs meowingsea snail, and the narrator in the episode. According to him, It was always Steves intention that the narrator be a nod to his belovedJacques Cousteau. Kenny described Cousteaus voice as very dispassionate, very removed, very flatline, even when hes describing something miraculous and beautiful. At first, they found that the narrator just sounds bored, so they decided that he has to sound a little fun and playful. Kenny said, Eet ees the most amazing thing I have ever seen I have ever seen in my life. We found that after a while we had to make the narrator a little more playful than that.[19]

Bill Fagerbakkevoiced SpongeBobs best friend, astarfishnamedPatrick Starin the episode. He auditioned for the role after Kenny had been cast as SpongeBob. Fagerbakke said, Steve is such a lovely guy, and I had absolutely no feeling for the material whatsoever. He described his experience in the audition, saying I was just going in for another audition, and I had no idea what was in store there in terms of the remarkable visual wit and really the kind of endearing child-like humanity in the show. I couldnt pick that up from the audition material at all. I was just kind of perfunctorially trying to give the guy what he wanted.[20]For the part of Squidward, Hillenburg originally hadMr. Lawrencein mind for the role.[6]Lawrence worked with Hillenburg and Drymon before onRockos Modern Life, so while working on the episode, Hillenburg invited him to audition for all the characters.[21]Drymon said, We were showing Doug the storyboard, and he started reading back to us in hisTony the TigerGregory Peckvoice. It was really funny, and we wound up having SpongeBob use a deep voice when he entered the Krusty Krab for the first time.[6]Hillenburg decided to give Lawrence the part of the series villain,Plankton, instead.[6]

The episode features the song calledLivin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the MoonlightbyTiny Tim.[22][23][24]At the point the pilot had already been completed, music editor Nick Carr was asked to retool the existing music on it.[22]Carr said When I first started onSpongeBob, my duties were mainly music editorial but would quickly thrust me into the composers/supervisor chair.[22]The production team had no budget and no music but they placed the budget on the song called Livin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the Moonlight.[22]Carr said [It is] a sadly familiar scenario with most cartoons for television. By the time it comes to consider the music, the budget is blown.[22]

The idea of using Livin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the Moonlight originated when an anonymous sent Hillenburg a tape with a bunch of music.[6]While the writers were developing the show outside Nickelodeon, Hillenburg played the song for Drymon as an example of the enthusiasm he was looking for.[6]When it came time to write the pilot, they had the idea to use the song in the third act.[6]The crew eventually got the rights to use the song for the pilot, but all they had was the crummy copy on Steves old tape.[6]The writers were able to use the music, as one of the women who worked at Nickelodeon at the time knew somebody somewhere who had access to something, and she brought in a copy of the song on CD.[6]Drymon said We were totally lucky that she had the contact, otherwise we wouldnt have been able to use it. The sad part wasTiny Tim diedright around the time we were writing the pilot, so he never knew we used his song.[6]

Jeff Hutchins was with Hillenburg inRockos Modern Lifeworking on animation sound.[25][26][27]Hutchins was approached by Hillenburg to do music for the show.[25]He was asked for 20 things, like an ocean liner horn, and Hutchins knew he had the music Hillenburg was looking for.[25]Hutchins said I offered him options and, in some cases, multiple choices. We agreed to meet at theWarner Bros.gate near the water tower in 20 minutes.[25]He recorded the sound to a tape and met Hillenburg by the gate.[25]Hutchins said He was about as happy as you could imagine, and off he went. Next thing you know, I am working on the show.[25]Hutchins became the regular series sound designer.[25]

SpongeBob SquarePantsaired its first episode, Help Wanted, along with sister episodes Reef Blower and Tea at the Treedome, on May 1, 1999, following the television airing of the1999 Kids Choice Awards.[1][28][29]The series later made its official debut on July 17, 1999 with the second episode Bubblestand and Ripped Pants.[1][28][29]

Help Wanted was excluded in theSpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 1st SeasonDVD, featuring the rest of the first-season episodes, since its release on October 28, 2003.[6]It was not included because Nickelodeon did not want to pay Tiny Timsestatefor the DVD rights, because the music in the episode was copyrighted.[6]Drymon said Help Wanted had to be left off[…][6]However, on the German release of the season one DVD, the episode Help Wanted actually is included.[30]Help Wanted was later released on theSpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 3rd SeasonDVD as a bonus feature on September 27, 2005.[31][32]It was also released on theSpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 EpisodesDVD, alongside all the episodes of seasons one through five.[33][34]The DVD included a featurette calledHelp Wanted the Seven Seas Editionthat featured Help Wanted in numerous languages.[35][36]The episode was also a bonus feature in the series DVD calledSpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Momentsthat was released on September 14, 2010.[3][37]On April 29, 2014, Help Wanted was released on the SpongeBob, Youre Fired! episode compilation DVD.

In 2013, the series main cast members, includingTom KennyClancy BrownRodger BumpassandBill Fagerbakke, performed a liveread-throughof the episode during theSpongeBobevent called SpongeBob Fan Shellabration.[38]The read-through took place on a sound effects stage at theUniversal Studios Hollywoodon September 78.[39]The event also hosted the screening of the winning videos from the inauguralSpongeBob SquareShorts: Original Fan Tributescompetition.[40][41]

pilot is one of the best pilots Ive seen because it conveys a strong personality for the character and a strong sensibility for the show overall. Its interesting to remember that the show was not a huge hit immediately. It was just really good and interesting and went along in its own way for a while before people noticed it.

Eric Coleman, Executive in Charge of Production forSpongeBob SquarePants.[42]

Upon its release, Help Wanted scored a 6.3Nielsen rating, or 6.9 million total viewers, including 3.6 million children aged 211.[43]Furthermore, the episode received generally favorable reviews from media critics. Michael Cavna ofThe Washington Postranked Help Wanted atNo.3 at hisThe Top FiveSpongeBobEpisodes: We Pick Emlist.[15]Other episodes in the list areBand Geeks, Ripped Pants, Just One Bite and Idiot Box.[15]Cavna rewatched the episode in 2009 and said so much of the style and polish are already in place.[16]Nancy Basile of said [The] humor and optimistic essence of SpongeBob is evident even in this first episode.[44]Maxie Zeus ofToon Zonesaid the episode is a winner.[45]In anAssociated Pressarticle, Frazier Moore lauded the featured song in the episode called Livin in the Sunlight, Lovin in the Moonlight calling it the kookie part.[46]

Kent Osborne, a member of theSpongeBob SquarePantswriting crew during the shows third and fourth seasons, considers the episode really good.[47]Eric Coleman, vice president of animation development and production at Nickelodeon, lauded the episode and calling it one of the best pilots because it conveys a strong personality.[42]

In a DVD review of the first season, Jason Bovberg of theDVD Talkwas disappointed on the set, saying Where is it? This is perhaps the only disappointment of the set. I was a little aggravated by the loooong animated menus that introduce all the characters, one by one, but its really that missing episode that has me upset.[48]Bovberg described the set as annoying for missing the episode.[48]Bill Treadway of theDVD Verdict, on the exclusion of the episode on the DVD, said Its a small flaw in an otherwise top notch package.[49]In a DVD review of the third season, Bryan Pope of the DVD Verdict, on the episode as a bonus feature, said The most intriguing extra is the series pilot episode, Help Wanted. He asked in his review Why release it now instead of in its natural spot with the first season? At the end, he said Regardless,SpongeBobcompletists will cherish its inclusion here.[31]

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