The Best of the Electric Company

Advisory warning: May cause out-of-body experiences. This esteemed program (and subject of this DVD, The Best of the Electric Company), conceived in 1971 as a Laugh-In version of Sesame Street, featured big stars (Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno), with-it up-and-comers (Morgan Freeman), and groovy bass lines. Amid the 20 episodes in this best-of collection, ”The Adventures of Letterman” (voiced by Gene Wilder), ”Fargo North, Decoder,” and songs like Tom Lehrer’s ”Silent E” will induce disorienting time travel, while the reading lessons and the Catskills-esque humor may move hands toward skip buttons. EXTRAS All we get is a karaoke version of ”Silent E,” a few out takes, and four lo-fi interviews. Though Moreno remembers the experience as ”such a hard job,” she clearly loved every minute of it. PBS pioneer Joan Ganz Cooney gives Richard Nixon credit for his national literacy push, while executive producer Sam Gibbon and head writer Tom Whedon detail the extensive research involved (such as eye movement studies to determine the optimum placement of subtitles) and their focus on incorporating ”black English.” Admirable stuff — but where are Freeman and the Cos?

The Best of the Electric Company
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