The Electric Company's Greatest Hits & Bits
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When The Electric Company made its television debut in October 1971, it was instantly clear that it would fulfill its mission of helping struggling and reluctant readers. With a cast that broke new ground in its diversity, clever writing, innovative direction and an original visual and musical style, the show was so effective that by the end of its first season, nearly a quarter of all U.S. grade schools were using The Electric Company in the classroom. Generations of young people learned to read from the series, making it one of the most important and enduring shows in television history. The Electric Company's Greatest Hits & Bits is a clip-filled celebration featuring many of the series' most popular segments (with Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and the multi-talented Electric Company cast), and includes new interviews with cast members Jim Boyd, Judy Graubart, Skip Hinnant, Tom Lehrer, Rita Moreno and Joan Rivers, as well as with series creator Joan Ganz Cooney.
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Top customer reviews
For the most part, "The Electric Company's Greatest Hits and Bits" is an enjoyable documentary. At the time it debuted in October 1971 it was a groundbreaking show with a fully integrated cast teaching children how to read using comedy and music. It's always fun to watch a show as an adult that you loved as a kid and catch some of the references you missed back then. Easy Reader was of course based on Easy Rider but it was interesting to hear Skip Hinnant say that he stole largely from "Get Smart" when doing Fargo North, Decoder; Jim Boyd saying J. Arthur Crank was based on Ralph Cramden; and Rita Moreno saying "Hey you guys" came from Abbott and Costello. There are plenty of clips from the show including animated ones such as "The Adventures of Letterman" and several based on Tom Lehrer's delightful songs including "Silent E" and "-ly". The live action skits include "I'm in love with a giant" and "The Super is eating his supper" which is fun to watch just to see the cast trying to keep a straight face as water pours down on them.
Since this is a documentary and not full episodes of "The Electric Company" adults will probably enjoy this DVD more than children. It does have quite a bit of praise for Morgan Freeman, currently the most famous of the then unknown actors, but it stops just short of going overboard on the praise. While it was nice to see Hinnant, Boyd, and Graubart, I hope other actors from the show such as Luis Avalos, Hattie Winston, and Lee Chamberlain show up in interviews on future DVDs. For some reason the show focuses solely on the adult members of the cast, with no mention at all of the Short Circus and the child actors, a bit surprising since Irene Cara was a member of the Short Circus for awhile.
"The Electric Company's Greatest Bits and Hits" is good nostalgic fun.