Best $30 bucks I ever spent last week. Who'da thunk it.
We were at Big Box Cost Club, walking through the video aisle, and made one of those roll the dice impulse buys and picked up the DVD box set of The Electric Company.
For the uninitiated, this was the PBS show that took the next step on reading after Sesame Street. It came out in the early 70's and pretty much stayed there through its existence. This was the show for those of us who got bored with Big Bird and couldn't figure out what the hell "ZOOM" was all about (I still can't, so if anyone can enlighten me please do).
For those of us of a certain age, this brings back memories both sentimental yet bizarre. Probably best put by my lovely bride (who is not quite of a certain age) upon seeing the first few moments of one of the episodes on the DVD....
"What kind of halluncinogens were the writers of this show on when they created this?"
Yes, it was a bit random, a bit psychedelic. The idea of two two purple silhouettes facing each other singing "ch...ap....chap" does seem like something that may have come out of an extended peyote session. And some of the jokes did go over our heads. I think I was driving to the post office about 5 years ago when it finally hit me..."Fargo North, Decoder.....Dakoter....Dakota....NOW I get it! Damn, that's funny."
It's interesting to watch it now, realizing the talent that was there. Probably good I didn't realize that Gene Wilder was Letterman....or more accurately, probably better I didn't become a Mel Brooks fan until I outgrew the show. I don't think my young psyche could have handled that the man who was faster than a rolling O and stronger than silent E would also be responsible on film for "Springtime for Hitler."
(Don't get me wrong--I think the man is a comical genius.)
It's interesting to re-experience the show now, in this era of 10 second attention spans, standardized testing, no-child-left-behind, evil purple dinosaurs and a president who thinks Mensa is something on a Chinese take out menu--and watch it still work on my 4-year old son.
He absolutely loves this show, in all its polyester cheesy glory. I watch him sit there sounding out the words with the show, gradually learning how to put together words and phrases into sentences. Not that I think this is a replacement for reading to a child--in fact, we read to him every day. But I think he's starting to connect the dots--an exciting prospect, given that he starts kindergarten in a few months.
What's old is new again. Quality and substance always wins over flash. And Easy Reader wins Oscars now. You gotta love it.