One of the most popular TV shows for American and Canadian children
Remembering The Classic Children’s Education Animated Musical Series Schoolhouse Rock!
Every child remembers the best types of school days: movie days. And every teacher remembers showing an educational film series that was also entertaining: “SchoolHouse Rock!” This week marks the loveable videos’ 45th anniversary. During this week in 1973, David McCall of Madison Avenue ad agency McCaffrey and McCall had an idea that ABC accepted and then made into an animated short. McCall realized that his son was having trouble remembering academic facts, but easily remembered the lyrics to pop songs. He put two and two together and came up with songs accompanied by animations. The program aired Saturday mornings and taught grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. McCall pitched the idea to ABC because it was his agency’s biggest ad client. The series ran from 1973 to 1985, then again from 1993 to 1999, and finally went straight to DVD in 2009. “SchoolHouse Rock!”‘s very first song, “Three is a Magic Number,” aired on January 6, 1973, during the Saturday morning children’s programming on the television network ABC. The animated musical series was quite popular at the time, although for a certain audience any familiarity with them likely stems from parodies or homages produced by a generation of people who grew up with the cartoons. Remember that episode of The Simpsons with the song “Amendment To Be” from that cartoon that replaces Itchy and Scratchy briefly? It’s like that, basically. Or more recently when Jimmy Kimmel parodied “I’m Just A Bill” turning it into “I’m Just A Lie” for his show “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. But more than just a nostalgic touchstone of a bygone era, Schoolhouse Rock! highlighted concepts that have remained true and relevant for decades, with many of them continuing to function as imperative instructionals under our current political climate. Don’t forget, as we were reminded before each episode: “Knowledge is power!”
Watch Schoolhouse Rock!: 3 Is A Magic Number first aired on January 6, 1973
Watch Schoolhouse Rock!: America – I’m Just a Bill Music Video
By Ken Warren, 2018
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