For those of us not alive in the ’70s, here’s what “The Electric Company” was all about
In an award season that is facing several heavy topics head on, the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards might just be remembered as the most endearing and entertaining award show of the year. Without a doubt, the most heartwarming part of the evening was watching lifelong friends Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno interact during the presentation of the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award.
Moreno, a Hollywood legend and EGOT member, presented Freeman with the honor during the evening’s ceremony to acknowledge his incredible work, and took the opportunity to share a few adorable anecdotes from their early days.
The pair of distinguished actors met back in the 70’s on the set of The Electric Company, an educational and musical children’s television show. While the series has a cult-like following gained through the generation of kids who originally watched, those of us who weren’t alive during those far-out times might not get it. Here’s what you need to know about 70’s series The Electric Company.
1The Electrical Company was a variety show full of colorful players
Think of an SNL-like series especially designed to teach little kid the wonders of reading and that’s kind of what you get with The Electric Company. Each episode featured comedy skits played out by the cast members — including Moreno and Freeman— and had recurring characters like Count Dracula, Easy Reader, Pandora the Brat, and Spider-Man (yes, THAT Spider-Man) easily becoming fan favorites.
2It was produced by Sesame Workshop
If the educational-meets-entertaining vibe seems familiar, that’s for a good reason! At the time, the organization that produced The Electric Company was called The Children’s Company, but you probably know them by another name: Sesame Workshop. That’s right, the production team that brought us Elmo and Oscar the Grouch fine tuned it’s approach to children’s television through developing The Electric Company.
3Music was a big part of it
Music helps us learn new things so it’s only natural that it had a huge role to play in this series. The Electric Company featured a five-member band, called The Short Circus, whose songs encouraged reading comprehension. While the bands members rotated through the years, the most famous member is someone pretty familiar. Denise Nickerson — better know as Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory— was a member of the band.
4Celebrities loved to stop by
Like so many other popular TV program, celebrities in the 70’s just loved to stop by The Electric Company for a guest appearance. Famous faces such as Carol Burnett, Diane Keaton, Dean Martin, and even Sesame Street icon Big Bird stopped by the set and joined in.
5It’s been revived and you can still watch it!
The original Electric Company lasted 6 seasons, but was revived once more in the late 2000’s. Instead of comedy skits, the cast of characters were presented as literacy heroes who fought against poor reading skills. The new series only lasted 3 seasons, but all you wordsmiths out there can still view it online at PBS.com and interact with the immersive website!
The Electric Company may have powered down but thanks to Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman’s shout out, it my just get a new surge in popularity.