A PBS TV show, devised by Children's Television Workshop as a next-step show for the first wave of Sesame Street viewers. Now that one knew one's alphabet, this show dug deeper into language - syllables, the silent "e", wordplay - using a similar format to Sesame Street, but oriented towards cartoons and sketch comedy, with characters like Fargo North, J. Arthur Crank, and cartoon superhero Letterman (narrated by Joan Rivers, with Gene Wilder as Letterman and Zero Mostel as his archenemy - it's a wonder David Letterman never made use of this stuff - and your Useless Yo La Tengo Fact of the Day: Georgia Hubley's parents were part of the production team, with Georgia handling some of the child voices; this is a really, really, long digression). The cast included Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, and Fame's Irene Cara.

We're gonna turn it on
We're gonna give you the power
We're gonna turn the dark of night into the brightest light in a whole new way...

There were lots of famous people on the Electric Company. Rita Moreno was the one that hollered "Hey you guys!" and Morgan Freeman was Easy Reader. Bill Cosby was in a sketch where he kept flubbing the line, "Superguy is a meatball." Also, the songs Silent E and L-Y were both performed by Tom Lehrer.

It's funny: there's a new TV commercial that spoofs the bit on Electric Company where two silhouettes spit out parts of words to one another, then the complete word. In the commercial, I remember that they keep saying "Boing," but I can't for the life of me remember what the commercial is for. The frightening thing is how specific the target demographic must be for this ad: you have to be of Electric Company-watching age. How slick is that?

I was pretty young when the show was on. It was several years after it ended before I got the joke in "Fargo North, Decoder."


I think that counting song is actually from Sesame Street. You can still find it there, sometimes.

In 1971, Children's Television Workshop (CTW) introduced a new show, "Electric Company", which would follow in the footsteps of its wildly successful "Sesame Street".

The hourly show was itself a solid success with kids and parents and reached 6.5 million kids regularly, both in school and at home. EC was planned to reinforce school-reading curricula, using the winning entertainment techniques on television-comic vignettes, animation, electronic effects and music. CTW also produced a variety of support materials, such as teaching guides, books, magazines and puzzles, for use in schools and day care centers.

EC went on to win several awards for outstanding children's programming and counted Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, Luis Avalos, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, and Lee Chamberlain as part of its cast. The show ran until 1981.

God, I miss this show...where else could you see a mute Spider-Man?

Hey you GUYS!!!

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