Boy, do I feel
old when I say that the kids of today might not
appreciate what ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock" meant to my
"Schoolhouse Rock: Election Collection" is now available on DVD.
The ABC television network was my choice destination for entertainment when I was a kid. It had the hippest shows and the best Saturday morning cartoons. It's hard to believe in my family, but I used to wake up at 6:30 a.m. every Saturday morning to watch hours worth of cartoons and children's entertainment. Nowadays I value my sleep, and my parents who used to like sleeping in tell me that they wake up now before dawn. How times have changed.
Times have changed since those Saturday mornings. Kids now have a plethora of entertainment options to chose from. I don't know of any kid my daughter's age who says they wake up to watch Saturday morning cartoons. They can watch hundreds of hours of cartoons on cable, DirectTV/Dish Network, DVD, iPod and free television at any time they want.
I guess in my mind, those Saturday mornings were special to me. When I received "Schoolhouse Rock: Election Collection," I ripped open the case and popped the DVD into my Playstation 3. My daughter's eyes opened wide as I told her these cartoons were cool and I loved them as a kid. She was excited to see what Daddy was raving about.
She sat through one cartoon, and then left the room.
My giddy excitement was toned down. Now I know how my parents felt when they'd rave about "The Mickey Mouse Club" from their youth. One generation's nostalgia is another generation's boredom.
Well, I still think "Schoolhouse Rock" is cool. I can still sing "I'm Just A Bill" in my head, and sort of remember the lyrics to "Conjunction Junction." Though I didn't like all of the "Schoolhouse Rock" cartoons made in the 1970s, they were still a fun part of my Saturday morning. The songs were pretty catchy and simple to follow, while the mostly comical episodes gave me a chuckle. I don't remember if I learned about government as much as the producers probably intended, but I did come away with better understanding of how American government works. I'm sure there were scholars and teachers who frowned upon "Schoolhouse Rock" for making government and history palatable to a 7 year-old. But it did stick with kids of that generation, even if it was in song.
The "Election Collection" ties together the American themed shorts. These were especially fun to watch during the 1976 Bicentennial. I seem to recall that the whole country was wrapping itself in the American flag, and "Schoolhouse" made history and government fun.
It looks like the more recent "Schoolhouse Rock" episodes were added in this collection, because the animation is a bit more refined and I don't recognize them at all. It's great to see the classics like "Mother Necessity" and "Great American Melting Pot" gracing my screen. "I'm Just A Bill" is probably regarded as the most classic example of "Schoolhouse Rock." You just say the phrase and almost anyone from my generation can hum the tune.
The animation and drawing style was very limited. These were truly cartoons of their era. Very, very '70s. I'm not complaining. I have a special place in my heart for the goofy music and goofy styles of the day.
Which leads us to the question of will today's children enjoy this DVD? Depends on your child. My daughter watches almost any kid program with no problem, but she wasn't interested in "Schoolhouse Rock." I asked her why she didn't want to watch it with me. She said it was boring. Perhaps the idea of watching a cartoon and learning doesn't go to well for her. The animation, music and style of the shorts are dated. I can remember having to watch 16mm films from Encyclopedia Britannica in school. Many of those films were from the 1950s! So you can imagine the snickers from hip young 1980s kids over the styles and music of little Timmy learning about sequoias. I'm thinking that "Schoolhouse Rock" looks like a relic from Daddy's past to my daughter.
Okay, so my kid doesn't like what I liked as a kid. I can't and won't force her to like something I enjoyed as a kid. Maybe her friends would get a kick out of watching these in class. Then again, maybe not.
To watch these today is like stepping back to those Saturday mornings in my PJs in front of our elaborate 13-inch color TV (it may have been black-and-white). I still found myself liking certain "Schoolhouse Rock" episodes more than others. My adult mind admires how a small group of artists put these shorts together and had kids humming the lyrics at school on Monday morning. The child in me just had a good time watching "Schoolhouse Rock: Election Edition."
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © BHVE. All rights reserved.
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