Monday, January 19, 2009

Remember "The Electric Company"? - It's BACK!!!

Hey Family!

Y'all remember "The Electric Company" when it ran on PBS back in the day right? A lot of well known stars today honed their skills on this show (Its cast included Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno; John and Faith Hubley were among the animators; and Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks contributed voices.)

Well according to David Hinkley of The NY Post....It's BAAAAAACKKKKK!!!

"The Electric Company" has turned the power back on, and let's just say the room looks a lot different than it did in the 1970s.

It also feels a little more confusing.

The first "Electric Company" started more than 30 years ago as a learn-to-read project, targeting viewers who knew the alphabet and were figuring out words.

It came out of the Children's Television Workshop (now the Sesame Workshop), so it had a good pedigree and understanding of how to make words cool and fun. One of its star characters, for instance, was "Silent E," which could tack itself onto the end of a word and magically turn a cap into a cape.

Traditionalists will be happy to know Silent E is back, proving the rules of language and vocabulary still have surprising similarities to the rules of three decades past.

The same cannot be said, however, for the cultural trappings of the new "Electric Company."

Now as then, many of the letter lessons are put to music, or reinforced with music. But where the music in the 1970s was bright, upbeat pop, with a sprinkling of sing-along folk, the keys to the music now have been turned over to rap.

Which only makes sense. Rap years ago spread way beyond urban America, and hip-hop beats form the foundation for much of today's pop music, across the board.
If you want to talk to the kids, as they say, rap is the language.

The only problem here is that once in a while the producers and cast get so enthusiastic about their production numbers, their words become almost unintelligible.

Since the songs all repeat the lyrics 25 times, which is a good strategy, the audience will probably get the idea. Still, at the age when you're learning the meaning and use of words, it's not a bad idea to make enunciation part of the package.

That minor point aside, "The Electric Company" still frames its lessons inside stories that are packed with little morals and lessons about life.

The actual Electric Company, for those who don't know the show, is a group of kids with special skills. They can, for instance, visualize a letter and make it appear on a surface.

In the opening episode, one of those skills is stolen by a mischievous rival group called the Pranksters. So Keith, the newest Electric Company member, must get it back.

As in the old days, the show tucks in a few references for grownups, like a glancing allusion to "24." But it keeps its eye on the ball, bouncing right along to that hip-hop beat.

("The Electric Company" celebrates its return today with four back-to-back new episodes, 3-5 p.m.)

Hmmm.....can't help but wonder what they'll try to "revamp & revitalize next"....perhaps "Zoom" or "Villa Allegre"? (Anyone remember THOSE???) (l0l)

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."

- Diogenes Laertius

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