10.01.2009

the new electric company

How do I say this? How do I express my reaction to PBS’s new version of 'The Electric Company'? How do I state it without sounding like a… bigot?

Well, I’ll just say it. I hate it. Well, not all of it. There’s a 30 second bit with Jimmy Fallon singing the praises of the letter ‘H’ in the style of the Ramones. And there might be one or two other aspects or features of the show of which I don’t have much of a problem.

So, what is it about the show that bothers me?

What I hate about the show is that it’s all (or almost all) Hip Hop. I don’t particularly care for the art form. I do like a few songs, but the art form doesn’t speak to me. I don’t like the fashion. I don’t like the walking style, the hunched shoulders, the arm movements, the hand gestures. I don’t like the low angle camera showing the actors performing down to the audience. I don’t like the graffiti lifestyle that is on display in the show. It’s so urban, so New York City.

Am I sounding like a bigot? Or am I just showing my age and squareness?

The original cast was certainly diverse. They were hip to the fashion of the day. I miss the Marvel Comics connection (remember Spider-Man’s involvement?) and the fact that the cast was mostly made up of adults. This new cast is awfully young, not that that is a big deal. It’s just that the adult cast seemed more like teachers to the kids on the show. Very groovy, cool, hip teachers, ya dig? The adults on the new show seem less consequential.

I went to the YouTube and watched a few clips of the old show. It certainly seems more charming to me, but then again that could just be my age talking. I’m sure today’s kids are plenty entertained by the new show. I know my son is.

One thing about the old show that you absolutely won’t see in the new show, Bill Cosby smoking a cigar! A friend of mine rented a few of the old episodes recently and told me about Bill Cosby smoking on the show. Ah, the 70s, those were the days.

The new show’s “bad” characters are very cartoonish. That may be because of the fact that the show is written for kids. Cartoonish bad guys aren’t as threatening and besides they always get foiled in the end.

There are two characters I am particularly annoyed with: Manny, the very cartoonish and foppish bad boy, and Shock, the human beatbox. Manny is sooo cartoonish and over-the-top that he makes me feel violent. Not only that, but he has the trimmed, shaped eyebrows. I HATE THAT! Men just look foolish with shaped eyebrows. I have nothing against trimming the bushy, horse hairs that appear as men age.(I admit it, I do it.) But the perfectly formed, tapered, angular eyebrows of these metrosexuals are just wrong, wrong, wrong!

And Shock is one of those human beatbox guys. He’s very good at it. I'll give him that, but I just don’t like human beatboxes. He doesn’t seem to be shaping his eyebrows though. That's him on the left beatboxing away next to the always available Whoopi Goldberg. The other fellow is Hector and he's rapping to Shock's beat. I think Whoopi thinks she's in a low budget production of 'Cats'.

In my area, the local PBS station schedules 'The Electric Company' at 5:30pm, right after a kids’ show I really enjoy, 'Fetch with Ruff Ruffman'. The thing is, when I get home there’s usually only a few minutes left of the show I like, then I have to find something to do while my son enjoys 'The Electric Company', the show I hate.

It could be worse. He could be watching 'Dora the Explorer'.

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