I loved Schoolhouse Rock. My wife and I loved it so much that we bought the entire series on DVD before we had any kids. Now my son is asking to watch the DVDs before bed at night and I cannot hold back my joy in this simple fact. Here are some important things I learned watching it with my kids as an adults.
1. The animation wasn’t as good as I remember it. I remember it fondly, watching episodes of Schoolhouse Rock. They were old even when I was a kid, but I remember really enjoying them. Watching it now, the animation is a little grainier than I remember and much less crisp than modern animation. Even compared to some of its peers, late 70s and early 80s Looney Tunes, Fat Albert episodes, or Yogi Bear episodes had cleaner animation and colors which were more vibrant. Again, this doesn’t detract from the show. For me, it adds to the charm. And my kids do not appear to care one iota. It is just something I noticed which I did not remember.
2. The music still holds up. While the animation isn’t as good as I remember, some of the songs are even better than I remember them. And I am not only talking about classics like “I’m Just a Bill” that everyone remembers, I’m talking about the many many others we sometimes forget. We have greats about history like “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” which describes the beginning of the American Revolution:
Or an amazing introduction to explaining deficit spending and the national debt in “Tyrannosaurus Debt”
And of course, the grammar classic, “Unpack Your Adjectives”
There are so many other fun ones which my kids delighted in listening to and watching the cartoons. Every now and then I heard my 7 and 5 year olds sing along to some of them. They are catchy and teach useful facts about history, math, science, and grammar. I wish there were more modern things as useful as Schoolhouse Rock.
3. It is Owned by Disney. I should have known this already since I owned the DVDs since before my children were born, but Schoolhouse Rock was created by ABC. In 1995, the corporation which included ABC, ESPN, etc was purchased by Disney and merged into one super television giant. Once that happened, Schoolhouse Rock became a Disney owned product and Disney owned cartoon. Meaning? They can now market it to a new generation. They can make more of them (and they have, primarily with an eco-focus). They can release it on DVD (they did for its 30th anniversary, and you should buy it!). I’m oddly okay with that, as Disney has done a decent job stewarding other franchises I love (Star Wars, Marvel), but now realizing how they stewarded Schoolhouse Rock for the past 15-20 years is interesting. On the one hand, they’ve provided us with what we want – DVD versions of the originals and some additional content. On the other hand, seriously – make more of them.
So, my kids like Schoolhouse Rock. Your kids probably will to. So, check it out and pick up the DVDs. No, really.