Linda Simensky posted over on Cartoon Brew about the new version of The Electric Company. Okay, so I would really have to have my paranoia dialled up to da maxx to think it's propaganda for GE (but, hey, when a corporation with so much control is that obviously evil, it doesn't hurt to be vigilant). I'm not sure that the UK ever got The Electric Company. I spent a significant chunk of my childhood in other places, wandering like the Littlest Hobo or like The Hulk on the television show, so I did see it and it was the next step up from Sesame Street in terms of language.
A fantastic show that consisted of sketches and language. Some of the language concepts were quite advanced - things that aren't that easy to explain - and yet the show made them totally clear. And it was very funny too. Featured stars like Bill Cosby along with its own cast, that included a young Morgan Freeman.
A show that, again, illustrates something I see totally lacking over this side of the Atlantic.
So, what about this new Electric Company? They have their work cut out for them. For a start, living up to the nostalgia of the adults who grew up with the original will be next to impossible. There's nothing they can do about that. They just have to try to make the best show they can. But today's climate seems less receptive to the creativity and indeed risk-taking that seemed to prevail in the 70s in educational television. I'm hoping I'm wrong there though.
Watching clips and episode chunks over at the website here, yeah, it's nothing like the original show. It's all very hip-hop. I don't have a problem with that. I actually quite enjoyed the I/YOU beatbox guy. But the episode sections with the stories seem altogether more... typical. Normal. Like the usual children's live action fare with a bit of hip-hop Hi-5 thrown in. And it has the usual bad guy (or girl in this case). These are the sections that drive the show and, so far, I wouldn't be a fan.
But once it actually gets into the language sketches, I think it does rather well. I particularly enjoyed the large camp street guy on the YouTube type video. And the letter songs and some of the animation sequences are pretty strong. So it's not the 70s version but it's not the 70s any more.
It's an admirable endeavour and to make any judgements on some web clips would probably be unfair. If anything, I don't want to make any judgements because I want it to be good. I want it to come from the right place and really help teach children. I hope they do a good job with it and, if they do, I hope it does well.