“It’s the plumber! I’ve come to fix the sink!” – Plumber (talking to a parrot) in a classic animated bit on the original The Electric Company
Since the beginning, kids shows have been a staple of PBS programming. If you grew up watching them, you know full well how catchy the theme songs to most kids shows are. And these are theme songs that still resonate decades after you watched them as a kid. That’s why I put together MY TOP FIVE in the following category: Kids Show Theme Songs.
5. The Electric Company – “HEY, YOU GUYS!!!!” I’m talking about the 1970s version here (nothing against the newer one). It’s groovy and poppy and so energetic (befitting, of course, its source).
4. Wishbone – He’s the little dog with the big imagination and he’s got a great theme. What’s the story? The story is I’ll find myself singing this cute, catchy ditty without prompting.
3. Bill Nye The Science Guy – If you know that science rules, you’ve probably caught the Science Guy in action back in the 90s. That electropop theme almost seems like a dance remix of another theme, which is pretty cool. And though it hasn’t been necessary yet, I am ever ready to chant “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” at the drop of a hat. Continue reading
“Whenever there’s trouble, we’re there on the double” was the motto of what group of teen detectives seen on the PBS educational show 3-2-1 Contact? Continue reading
Late yesterday, I discovered the sad news that Gene Wilder had died. The beloved actor passed away Sunday in his Stamford, Connecticut home from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Like most, I remember Wilder as the titular eccentric chocolatier in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and from his exceptional roles in multiple Mel Brooks movies (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles). As a film buff, I even take note of his appearances in feature films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Little Prince. Plus, he was a perfect comedic partner for the late Richard Pryor in movies like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy, among others.
However – and the reason I’m mentioning him in a blog about public broadcasting – I will always fondly recall Gene Wilder as the voice of the heroic Letterman on the 1970s kids show The Electric Company. You remember: “Faster than a rolling O – Stronger than silent E – Able to leap capital T in a single bound! It’s a word, it’s a plan…it’s Letterman!” Yes, that Letterman! The wonderful animated “Adventures Of Letterman” wasn’t even an initial part of the show but debuted in season two. Moreover, Gene Wilder wasn’t even the sole voice of the character (apparently early installments used different voice actors) yet became singularly associated with Letterman by bestowing an affable, easy-going everyman demeanor on the hero.
Personally, I’m thankful for this oft-forgotten PBS connection. Gene Wilder was a fantastic talent and he will be sorely missed. But he leaves behind a tremendous legacy of film, television and more.
This week, a shot of a banner that graced our lobby late last year to promote some PBS Kids shows. I think it’s always important to remember that educational and children’s programming is so key to UNC-TV’s mission to “provide people of all ages with enriching, life-changing television.”
What was the name of Jennifer of the Jungle’s gorilla sidekick on The Electric Company? Continue reading
“HEY, YOU GUUUYYYYYSSS!!!!!!” – Millie the Helper (Rita Moreno), The Electric Company