They're going to turn it back on!
They're going to bring you more power!
Yep, today at 4pm UNC-TV airs "The Electric Company" relaunch. For the young'uns unfamiliar with the original, it was kind of the older kids' "Sesame Street," a show geared at helping kids to read. The original cast featured Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno (saw her again last night on "Law & Order: CI" as Goren's mother. She should have won an Emmy!), Morgan Freeman, and a young Irene Cara (She sang "Flashdance: What a Feeling," and was in "Fame.") In other words, it was loaded with talented award-winning people.
So what's the new show like? Well, for one, young people take the helm -- and do most of the teaching -- rather than adults. It's as if the kids from "Zoom" are in charge. (They updated that show too.)
Also, nowadays, if you say you're updating anything for kids, that's almost code for "add rap music." And so, the new "Electric Company" does. It felt a little like old people guessing what's hip, but I could be wrong. And it wasn't that bad. I thought the most effective and clever use was the rap battle between hard "g" and soft "g."
It also moves faster than the old show because kids' minds/attention spans move faster now, I'm told.
But it still has the same mix of approaches: animation, live action, skits. It still includes celebrities -- the episode I watched had Ne-Yo (who they should have asked to write and donate a new theme song), Jimmy Fallon, and rapper/my boyfriend Common.
As I watched I thought, I can totally see a child learning from this. It's engaging.
While I don't condone teaching a child to be a human beatbox (It's fine to for Doug E. Fresh and Blake Lewis to make a living out of, but I don't want my kid doing that all day at the house), I do think this new "Company" is worth the risk.
Today, they'll show 4 episodes of the half-hour series. It debuts on Jan. 23 in its regular slot at 5pm on UNC-TV. They will also stream full episodes at pbskidsgo.org/electriccompany.
And if you want to join a live chat Wednesday at 4pm with the executive producer go here.