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Don’t. Look. Now. Your. Hair. Is. Blue.

By June 28, 2006thoughts

Dutch just posted a humongous list of YouTube videos he lets Juniper watch. Needless to say, it’s an amazing list filled with interesting creative stuff.

One of the videos is an old Electric Company piece where kids sing along to New York City signage, pinpointing specific words to create a perfectly surrealist (if not actually surreal) song. I can’t figure out how to embed a YouTube video in my blog, so you’ll just have to click on the link.

Update: I figured out how to embed. Here’s the video:

Months ago, when it was first released, I bought the boxed set of The Electric Company on dvd. I have such vivid memories of that show, none of which are tainted by any previous adult re-viewing (like Sesame Street is subject to). I can still conjure up my fear of Rita Moreno’s “Hey You Guys!” and also of the tower that crumbles to the tune of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I can still hear husky Joan Rivers narrating Letterman — “able to leap capital T in a single bound!” And I can still groove out to Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader, all hippied out, strutting around NYC, reading menus in restaurants but not ordering anything.

This is the stuff of legend, in my mind. I loved that show.

The good news is that it totally stands the test of time. It’s a little lo-fi on the production end, but the creativity, the humor, the writing, the acting, it’s all still perfect, and even relevant. Really, it freaked me out a little to watch it the first time. It was so exactly how I remembered it, I almost couldn’t sit still. All the filler music, all the sets, even some of the more collective-consciousness memories like the two silhouette profiles mouthing parts of words (BUH … LOG … BLOG.) were amazing to see again. In fact, I could sit and watch the entire 4 dvds, straight through, and, I think, never get tired of them despite their having been created with a slightly younger target audience in mind. (You know they say 37 is the new 6!)

What I didn’t realize when I was watching the show as a 6 year old was that the whole purpose of the show is to teach kids how to read. Did you know this? I did not know this. Apparently, in the wake of the success of Sesame Street (pre Elmo, mind you), Childrens Television Workshop was offered a grant with the challenge of creating a tv show that could teach kids to read. This is so explicit and obvious when you watch the show as an adult, but I was blissfully unaware of of this when I was a kid. Mission accomplished, I suppose. If kids knew they were being taught to read, you can be sure they’d no sooner choose to watch The Electric Company than eat squash casserole at a birthday party.

Of course you know what I’m about to tell you next. Zoe and Lucy? Not interested in The Electric Company. We watched a few together and then they’d had enough. Now if I suggest it, they shoot it down with no consideration. So I searched the episode listings for skits that might interest them. A spoof of Cinderella here, Jack and the Beanstalk there. It worked, but not convincingly. If given the choice between Electric Company and a Richard Scarry cartoon they’ve seen 100 times, they’d quickly choose the latter. Alas, I guess I’ll have to get Bob to watch it with me after we put the kids to bed one night. Kinda like we watch Lost, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Sopranos, et al, on dvd.


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jen M says:

    i’ll watch it with you any time…….

  • Susie says:

    If it’s any consolation my boys don’t really like Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, or the Rudolph Christmas special. They are addicted to the Boomerang channel from Cartoon Network which plays all “old” cartoons like Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo. Somehow vintage cartoon violence seems less harmful than modern cartoon violence. That’s what I’m hopin anyway cause it’s helping me get through the summer!

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