Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Electric Company

The Electric Company

Spring 2011 Television
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Producer: Sesame Workshop
Rating: TV Y

If you grew up in the 1970's, you no doubt recall the battle cry, "Hey you guuuuuuuys!" from the popular PBS program The Electric Company, which ran from 1971 to 1977. The Electric Company is back, sizzling with more high-voltage energy than ever as it introduces a whole new generation of elementary-aged kids to phonics and reading skills.

The program is powered by an extremely talented cast that helps strikes the perfect balance between educational content and engaging urban vibe. The Electric Company incorporates a range of musical styles, eye-catching graffiti-inspired graphics, and references to all the 21st-century gadgetry kids love-and it uses smart storylines with credible plots to seamlessly weave the phonics lessons into larger messages about character, esteem, teamwork, and responsibility.

Each story is plotted like a sitcom. Instead of commercial breaks, kids are treated to short and well-produced interstitials that reinforce the academic content. The motion graphics are great, the content is fun, and kids will happily digest the academics while tapping their toes to the catchy tunes.

Too many educational-entertainment hybrids feel like a thinly disguised classroom lesson, but not The Electric Company. It's so well-paced and cleverly constructed that it reminds us how useful a tool television can be in helping our kids learn-and it sets the high water mark for what quality kids programming should look like.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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