A long time ago, children's television was fresh and innovative, thanks in large part to Children's Television Workshop (now called Sesame Workshop). Today, children's television, is condescending and artificial, including, sadly, many shows produced by the once innovative Sesame Workshop. What happened?
Well, I could write pages on this stuff, but I won't bore you. Basically, here are my thoughts in a nutshell: Basically, children's television was hit with a double whammy some time ago: the death of genius composer Joe Raposo in 1989 and, even more importantly, the death of Jim Henson in 1990. Once Jim died, it seemed as if everyone in children's television said to themselves, "Now that we don't have to compete with Jim and his crew, we don't have to work as hard." Then along came Barney in 1992, and children's television was destroyed. This was followed by a bunch of greedy for-profit companies far more interested in parting young parents from their hard-earned dollars than in whether children are actually learning, jumping in on the kiddie TV bandwagon, and children's television has yet to recover.
Exacerbating this situation is the fact that Children's Television Workshop, rather than continuing to develop innovative and fresh shows after the success of Barney, decided that they were going to make their shows just like all the other new kiddie TV shows: syrupy, artificial, and condescending. What were (are) they thinking? Then they make a bad situation worse by dragging their feet for years on releasing their classic television shows on DVD, despite begging and pleading from millions of fans. And what happens when someone tries to create a site honoring such great shows and maybe puts up a picture or a small video? SW hits them with "cease and desist" orders. What a way to run a railroad.
Well, I'm hopeful that CTW/SW is finally starting to wake up, and this collection is hopefully the first of many classic CTW shows to be released on DVD. For those of you unfamiliar with The Electric Company (and probably anyone under 25 is), The Electric Company was a program designed for post-Sesame Street students (approximately ages 6-10) in order to get them to read. The show placed a heavy emphasis on phonics, and used comedy, music, and animation to encourage students to read. As was a trademark of CTW shows before Henson's death, the show was designed to appeal to adults as well as children.
This set contains 20 episodes. There are some nice extras, like introductions of each episode by Rita Moreno, short but sweet interviews with Rita Moreno, June Angela (one of the Short Circus children on the show throughout its entire run), some great bloopers (REAL ones, not fake ones like on other classic shows, where they claim things like a number off center on a house is a "blooper"), and some of the writers.
It would have been nice if audio commentary was included as well as some interviews with some cast members who have seemed to disapper after the show ended. (I'm particularly interested in the whereabouts of Jimmy Boyd and Skip Hinnant.) The episodes are completely intact as well, from the opening show numbers to the original copyright messages to the classic 1971 PBS bumper with the creepy Moog theme. (If you've never seen or heard the theme to this logo before, prepare yourself. It's a bit scary.)
Also, when you produce 780 episodes of a show, almost all of them brilliant, some beloved stuff is going to be left out. Shout Factory and SW did a good job in selecting episodes, and there is very little repetition, but some favorite skits are left out, such as the "TION" song (tion-tion-tion-tion) Tom Lehrer's "LY" song (although "Silent E" and "I Like to Sneeze" are both included), and my favorite Electric Company song of all time, "Molly Lick a Lolly". Hopefully these classic skits will be released on future collections.
One of the previous reviewers mentioned that he/she was an educator. I am one as well. I just recently got transferred to an elementary school after working in a middle school for several years. I have been telling everyone at my school that as soon as this collection came out, I was going to show it to the kids to see how they reacted. I wasn't sure how the kids would react. First of all, I work in an urban school district, with a large population of poor children who have a lot of problems both inside and outside of the classroom. Could a show over 30 years old really hold their attention? Well, I showed my first episode to the kids today. They LOVED it, and they were absolutely mesmerized. Some of the biggest problem children in the school sat SILENTLY as they watched Spider Man battle The Spoiler and Paul the Gorilla accidentally blow up an Electric Company sign. This would have NEVER happened with any of the sissy children's TV shows on today.
As I said in my title, this is an ESSENTIAL purchase for both children and adults. Adults will relieve some great memories and still find both the comedy and music enjoyable. Children will love this show because there hasn't been anything like it on TV in a long time, and the sissy stuff of today is garbage compared to this show. Hopefully the people running CTW/SW will pull their heads out of the sand and start releasing all of their classic shows on DVD: 70s Sesame Street, Villa Allegre, and more volumes of the Electric Company. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, Shout Factory and Sesame Workshop, we NEED these shows on DVD! Please don't delay any longer! Get these shows out ASAP! Thanks for reading.