Remember that dynamic TV show? Aimed at elementary school kids who had graduated from Sesame Street, The Electric Company (as in the light bulb going on in someones head) sought to generate interest in reading through a hip, humorous array of skits, songs and (for the time) advanced electronic visuals. (See http://tvparty.com/lostelec.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Electric_Company
for some history and background) Richard Nixon actually had a role in its founding, directing early 70s federal money at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to promote U.S. literacy.
The result was deep on talent, both on screen and off. Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and Mel Brooks were among the regulars. Tom Lehrer wrote some of the songs. In total, 780 episodes aired from 1971-77, with reruns continuing until 1985. A 2006 retrospective DVD of greatest moments was an unexpected commercial success no doubt bought by parents who remembered seeing the show themselves way back when with a second one rushed out shortly thereafter.
Now the word is that a new version of The Electric Company targeting low-income children will be getting its power from the Sesame (successor to the Childrens Television) Workshop. Its release scheduled for spring 2009.
I have only one suggestion. From what I can tell doing a little research, aside from numerous puns and a singing chorus called the Short Circus, the show really didnt have much to do with electricity itself. (Cosby, interestingly, drew from his experiences on the show while earning his Ph.D in education.) The new version which will reportedly touch on areas such as community outreach, natural foods, and ecology should further do its part to promote understanding of, and curiosity about, the sciences.
And of course they should stick with the original theme song. Some might call them sappy, but those lyrics by Joe Raposo (who also composed much of the Sesame Street music) dont just spark waves of nostalgia, they actually still inspire:
Were gonna turn it on.
Were gonna bring you the power
Were gonna light up the dark of night like the brightest day in a whole new way
Were gonna turn it on, were gonna bring you the power
Its coming down the lines, strong as they can be
Through the courtesy, of The Electric Company
The Electric Company. The Electric Company!
The it in question is of course literacy, but I also see the cumulative ability to read, write, think, create, explore, and all that good stuff — with later versions (see http://home.triad.rr.com/electriccompany/categories.htm) additionally featuring lines such as:
Were gonna open the book,And read every word that we see.Were gonna get us the power to learn about anything,And the powers gonna get us free.Powers gonna get us free.
and in its final (coincidentally post-Watergate?) years:
Movin out in a new way…Were gonna tell you the truest word that you ever heard anybody say.
Whatever the case, maybe NEMA should print some T-shirts. (Were gonna bring you the power!) But in the mean time, after all these years, what about Naomi?