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SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK: ELECTION COLLECTION

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Bob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, Lynn Ahrens
Directors:  Various
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Walt Disney
Features:  New Song, Election Tracking Kit
Length:  49 Minutes
Release Date:  September 23, 2008

“I’m just a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill…”


Film ***1/2

Once upon a time it actually seemed to me that the presidential election was a once-every-four-year event, like the Olympics.  Now, it’s more like basketball in that it seems the election never goes off-season.  Whoever wins in November, the attention will turn almost immediately to who the next man or woman is going to be.

It can be exhausting, but we can’t do anything about it…so why not have a little fun with it?  The Schoolhouse Rock Election Collection intends to do just that.  This classic award-winning series was a staple of Saturday morning viewing in my youth; the songs were memorable, the simple animation zany and funny, and the lessons invaluable.

With Election Collection, the focus is naturally on government.  Classic tunes will remind you of everything you need to know, from the eternally catchy “The Preamble” to the inspiring “No More Kings” and “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, all about the birth of our great country.  “Three Ring Government” tells us all how our system is SUPPOSED to work, while the newer “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College” tackles the true way we elect presidents.

And of course, the inimitable “I’m Just a Bill”…all about how laws get passed.  It was always amazing to me how after a single viewing on Saturday morning while sugaring ourselves up with some toxic cereal, we’d be singing the songs for days afterwards…and while we were singing them, we were learning.  How positively clandestine!

Many of these tunes have held up well.  At least a couple seem amusing in modern contest.  “Energy” bemoans how we’re raping and pillaging our planet, but after a three decades of alarmism, here we still are.  Some things never go out of style.  And “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage” chronicles the movement for the women’s right to vote…could the creators of this tune have imagined that today we’d be on the eve of possibly sending the first ever woman to the White House?

There are fifteen shorts in all, some vintage, some newer, but all together make for a more fun lesson in civics and history than you probably had in school.  I always wished Schoolhouse Rock would never go away, but thanks to the modern magic of DVD, it doesn’t have to, and your children’s children can be singing along to “The Preamble” just as we once did.  And still worrying that we’re twenty years away from destroying the planet sixty years after the fact.  Some traditions never fade!

Video ***

These old animations have held up well, and compare fairly nicely with the newer ones.  The colors are clean, the lines are usually crisp, and the overall vintage feel is quite nice.

Audio **

You get some 5.1 remastering, although the songs don’t demand much of the technology.  Most of them are simply presented with a simple forward channel offering, which suits them just fine.

Features *

I’m not sure these count as extras, but there’s a new song called “Presidential Minute” with two surprise endings (after all, there are two possible outcomes in the election, right?) and a tracking kit, so you and your kids can follow along on the big night!

Summary:

Your kids may be too young to vote (unless you’re a member of ACORN), but that doesn’t mean you and them can’t have a wonderfully educational and musical good time with the Schoolhouse Rock Election Collection.  I’m Michael Jacobson, publisher of DVD Movie Central, and I approved this message.

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