30th Anniversary Edition!
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The Film(s) :
Back in the 1970's, TV was suddenly the new "nanny" for kids,
particularly on Saturday Mornings. It's around that time that parents
started worrying that too much Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo was going to
melt their children's brains or something, so a need to "educate" kids in
between cartoons was made common practice. Each network had their own
way of doing this, from Walter Cronkite's child-friendly "In the News" shorts on CBS, to NBC's "Betcha Don't Know!" science
trivia. However, it was ABC's toe-tapping Schoolhouse Rock
music videos that took kids' attentions by storm. Saturday
mornings were never the same...in a good way!
DVD collection includes all 46 songs, from the cult classic "I'm Just
a Bill" to the equally timeless "Conjunction Junction."
Granted, writing toe-tapping education songs is not an exact science,
leading to songs about "Tax Man Max" and "Tyrannosaurus
Debt" that aren't quite as memorable as, say, "Interplanet
Janet" (which is surprisingly fun to listen to, even to this very day).
This DVD set includes a whole second disc of extras (see below), though
disc one is more than enough to get you to give this set a look! Suffice
to say, any child who needs help in grade school scholastics should give these songs a look.
this Generation-X'er to add a personal anecdote, if I may. Even to this
child who loved reading, writing, and arithmetic, the 1970's was no picnic
when it came to local schooling. I would not be surprised at all to learn that
as many as half of my grade-school teachers were on
drugs. I remember my third grade teacher in 1976, passing out free "bicentennial" Constitution
booklets as if they were trading cards, with
never another mention of the Constitution in any classroom, for my entire
first 6 grades of schooling! If it wasn't for a homemaker mother who
always wanted to be a teacher --and my dad after work-- I'd be flipping
burgers and pancakes somewhere, and not a software developer with two
college degrees (thanks, mom and dad!).
I digress: Schoolhouse Rock also helped, and I thank them for that. I dare say that I
learned the preamble of the U.S. Constitution itself not from school,
though from Schoolhouse Rock. That may sound sad, because it is...though as much as it insults
1970's schooling, it's a major compliment to the impact these songs have
on child education. I cannot recommend this DVD more, to any parent whose
child wants to learn and have fun at the same time.
The DVD :
In addition to the original 46 songs, Disc One includes an all new
song titled, "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College." You can see
one or all of these songs, either in sequence, at random (there's a
"shuffle" feature), or one at a time by clicking on the title of
your choice. They are also divided by subject matter (grammar, science,
math, etc.). A "Top 10 Jukebox" of tops off this first disc's
Disc two --"Extra
Credit"-- includes many amusing features. A short video clip shows how Schoolhouse Rock won an
Emmy in 1976, with anecdotes from the creators of the songs, of how they
felt at the time. There's also a Nike commercial preserved on this disc,
which used "Three is a Magic Number" to promote their latest
sneaker style. Topping off this trip through nostalgia is a quartet of
classic Schoolhouse Rock songs, re-sung by modern artists. I may not have
liked these latter music videos much, though perhaps that's just because
I'm a stickler for keeping classics as-is, with no "remakes."
Not that new material isn't present on Disc
two, in addition to all the nostalgia. There's the long-lost song,
"The Weather Show" about the science of weather, plus a trio of
clips intended to promote computers, "Scooter Computer and Mr.
Chips." A behind the scenes featurette shows how they created one of
the more modern animated videos, While the original producers &
directors offer audio commentaries for the top ten most favorite
Schoolhouse Rock clips of all time.
Topping off the extras is a few amusing
additions. "Earn Your Diploma" is a quick quiz that tests kids
on how much they learned from disc one; get it right and see a short
animation of all the classic S.R. characters congratulating you, with a
surprise animated short added for good measure. An additional quiz tests
your knowledge of the order of lyrics for the most popular tunes,
congradulating you if you arrange them correctly. A "top 20
countdown" offers the chance to see the 20 best clips in random
order; a feature that oddly is not available on disc one though is nice to
see anyway. Lastly, the new film short "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to
College" is given the Dolby 5.1 treatment, which even if it doesn't
sound like a reason to buy this DVD set, having the original 46 tunes
preserved on Digital Video Discs is reason enough. The end result is a DVD
set that any Gen-Xer should want to check out right away.
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