With roots in the Motown Sound, Broadway and "The Carol Burnett Show", The Electric Company became a cultural phenomenon in the 70s as the wildly popular educational television show with big laughs and an even bigger message
teaching children basic reading and grammar skills, with the emphasis on fun. Now, even MORE of your favorite episodes are all here in true nostalgic glory, for the first time ever on The Best Of The Electric Company - Volume 2 4-DVD Set!
An impressive cast (such as Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and many others) embodied characters and enlivened skits the whole world knows and loves: Easy Reader, Fargo North Decoder, Jennifer of the Jungle, J. Arthur Crank, Paul The Gorilla, The Adventures of Letterman, Love of Chair, The Short Circus, Spider-Man, and much more!
Each episode was an explosion of creativity. From 1971-1977, The Electric Company
made learning to read not just fun, but downright hip
. Designed more as a complement than an alternative to Sesame Street
, that means skits, animated segments, musical interludes, and funky fashions--always a plus. (Dig those fringed jackets and snakeskin stretch pants.) The cast includes Emmy winner Bill Cosby, Oscar winner Rita Moreno, Fame
star Irene Cara (a member of the Short Circus), and a skinny beanpole named Morgan Freeman, who would pick up his own Academy Award a few decades later. In this 20-episode set, cast members Judy Graubart, Luis Avalos, Skip Hinnant, Jim Boyd, and Hattie Winston provide introductions. In addition, pop-ups dispense fun facts, like the show's original title: The Reading Program
. As in the first four-disc collection, episodes appear out of sequence, but work fine as stand-alones--although it would be nice to have all of them available at some point. Musical highlights include Freeman's hobo lament "Shoo Shoo Sunshine" (episode 12), Short Circus funk jam "Knock Knock Rock" (35A), and let's not forget that "empowering" theme: "We're gonna turn it on / we're gonna bring you the power!"
Watch carefully or you'll miss quick-as-a wink cameos from the likes of I Dream of Jeannies Barbara Eden (150), Bonanzas Lorne Green (223), and All in the Familys Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton (166). Other notables to contribute their talents include Tom Lehrer, author of the "Silent E" song, Mel Brooks, voice behind "Blond-Haired Cartoon Man," and Producers pals Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel, voices behind The Adventures of Letterman (with Joan Rivers as narrator and Mostel as the evil Spell Binder). The Electric Company set its sights on children aged 7-10, but there's plenty of fast-paced fun here for younger kids and adults, too. --Kathleen C. Fennessy