Up until a few years ago, there was this huge hole in my memory. There was this Nike commercial on that played a very familiar sounding song. It has two heads saying B, OING, BOING over and over. I knew that looked very familiar, but damn it I couldn’t remember what show even though it was so familiar and I loved it so much. Edit: Here’s the commercial on YouTube
Since then, of course, I realized the show was none other than “The Electric Company.” It was a show produced by Childrens Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) in the 1970s that ran on PBS stations into the mid 1980s. The show’s primary goal was to teach kids who graduated from Sesame Street (another fine show from Sesame Workshop) how to read. The show used a series of comedy sketches, animation, and just plain silliness to get the point across. Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but the show had some star power, both current at the time (Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby), and “future” stars (Morgan Freeman), not to mention some state-of-the art animation technology (Scantimate, according to Wikipedia).
What amazes me is that up until the release of Electric Company on DVD, it was impossible to find any legitimate mechanism by which these old shows could be viewed. There were various sites on the Internet that hosted sound and video clips, there were some butchered episodes run on the Noggin network, and who knows what else.
Personally, I think this would be great for my son, which is getting closer to age 6 and is learning to read. I think even if he gets nothing out of it, he will enjoy the show because it was just a fun show to watch, even with the focus on fixing grammar.