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HTF DVD Review: Schoolhouse Rock!: Election Collection

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted September 28 2008 - 10:31 AM

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Schoolhouse Rock!
Election Collection






Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 1973-2003
US Rating: Not Rated - Rated G (Canada)
Film Length: 49 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: None



US Release Date: September 23th, 2008

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“I’m just a bill up on Capitol Hill”



Saturday mornings have always been a fertile ground for breeding childhood memories in us. For millions of Americans, nestled among serialized adventures for kids and popular cartoons wasSchoolhouse Rock!. Every generation has that special something that represents to them the start of the weekend; waking up to no school and countless possibilities for things to do. Part of that Saturday morning in the 1970’s for kids in the USA was a musical interlude that brought together animation and learning in a way that was fun, playful and crammed full of important information.

Schoolhouse Rock! originally ran from 1973to 1986 and brought into homes a genuinely entertaining musical excursion into matters of educational importance. This limited edition release of an Election Edition Schoolhouse Rock! brings us 14 songs broken into three critical areas pertinent to this years general election. First we have ‘The Campaign’. This section brings classic Schoolhouse Rock! songs like the bluesy and musically rich ‘Energy Blues’ – a zip through the discovery and consumption of fuel through the ages, up through coal, and strong hints at the concerns consumption rates have (and had). It also travels through the history of America with energetic, swift expanded jingles and more musically explorative pieces such as “No More Kings” and “The Great American Melting Pot”. And lastly (and of most particular interest to me, since my citizenship test is just around the corner) is the highlight section of this DVD; ‘How The Government Works”. Songs here might be instantly recognizable to many and include the unsurprisingly timely ‘Tyrannosaurus Debt’ and the occasionally parodied “I’m Just A Bill”.

Schoolhouse Rock! was originally conceived as a commercial advertising adventure by David McCall. It evolved into a record and then eventually a cartoon produced by McCall’s company with Tom Yohe’s animation designs. Sold to ABC, it ran for 13 years to 1986 then reappeared in 1992, though considerably less prolific. Finally it was cancelled by ABC in 2001. But in 2003, a 30th anniversary special was created for DVD and included a brand new song, “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote To College”, which is included in this ‘Election Collection’. In its run, Schoolhouse Rock! provided education songs on multiplication, grammar, science and of course, America.

You might ask why, beyond a little warmth gained from tapping into something from your youth; reminiscing about simpler times and recapturing a small dose of your past, this DVD should be added to your shopping cart. Well, for those who grew up with this in their lives, there is no doubt that this can do for your kids a little of what it did for you. We are evolving into a society that not only has our kids growing up faster, but increasingly more aware of the political machinations that spill into almost every aspect of our lives. Our civil responsibilities, fortitudes and experiences are in ever increasing ways coming under the scrutiny and spotlight of the national eye – so it is more important than ever, I feel, to be informed; armed with the what, who, when, where and why. That learning takes place, typically in school – for some at home from involved parents and from external sources that serve to add another voice of education. Nobody does it quite like Schoolhouse Rock! and certainly no-one does it in a more toe-tapping way.

Song List

1.No More Kings
2.Fireworks
3.Shot Heard Around The World
4.The Preamble
5.The Great American Melting Pot
6.Mother Necessity
7.Sufferin’ Till Suffrage
8.I’m Just A Bill
9.Three Ring Government
10.I’m Gonna Send Your Vote To College
11.Tyrannosaurus Debt
12.Tax Man Max
13.Walkin’ On Wall Street
14.Energy Blues






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Preserving its original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1, Walt Disney brings this collection of ‘election’ relevant learning songs to DVD with a faithful, if dusty presentation. The dirt and debris is present throughout, but is expected for a cartoon of this age that has not gone through expensive restoration. Some songs are noticeably older, and are a little muted in their colors. Others are newer and are really quite bright, with strong reds, cleaner whites and warm greens. Besides the quality attributable to its age, which must be taken into account when evaluating, Schoolhouse Rock! is certainly good enough to add to your collection.


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Although Schoolhouse Rock comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio track, the bulk of the action is in the center channel for the clear vocals and the front left and right channels. This isn’t a strong surround audio at all, but for this show, it fits. There are no noticeable crackles or hisses, but the audio isn’t crystal clear although you won’t find the imperfections distracting when the music gets into a full swing.



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2 Versions of ‘The Presidential Minute’ - Two versions of this quick song that are only very slightly different.

Sneak Peaks





Final Thoughts

This is not as comprehensive a release as the 2002 30th Anniversary Special, but the focus on the election this year and the accompanying ‘Election Tracking kit’ that come with this release (a map of the US with the electoral college counts for each state and stickers to track the winners as they come in on November 4th) make this a good purchase for parents with kids to help them better understand the process that has the nation captivated (as it seems to every four years). Still relevant, still fun and still worthy of spending the three minutes each song approximately runs for, Schoolhouse Rock! will be a trip down memory lane for some, a valuable learning tool for others and quite possibly both for everyone else.


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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   David Levine

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Posted September 28 2008 - 11:39 AM

I adore Schoolhouse Rock, but I can't fathom why anyone would buy this when (at least on Amazon) you can buy the complete collection for 1 dollar more.

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 02 2008 - 03:38 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Levine
I adore Schoolhouse Rock, but I can't fathom why anyone would buy this when (at least on Amazon) you can buy the complete collection for 1 dollar more.

Why, for the Election Tracking kit of course Posted Image
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted October 02 2008 - 10:19 PM

Are the songs actually in stereo on this? I know at least some of them were recorded in stereo- the last DVD release has them only in mono, if this one has real stereo mixes I might get it.
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#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted October 03 2008 - 01:53 AM

Neil,

Nice collection and review. Thanks. Posted Image

Do you know if Conjunction Junction is included (maybe as an unlisted subset of your song list)? I thought that this was part of the Schoolhouse Rock collection.

YouTube - Conjunction Junction

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   AnthonyC

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Posted October 03 2008 - 04:33 AM

These are election/political Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons. "Conjunction Junction" is on the complete collection David mentioned.

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Jim*F

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Posted October 03 2008 - 04:34 AM

"Conjunction Junction" is not on this new release, as it features only the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons that are related to presidential elections (the electoral college, history of the U.S., how government works, issues like taxes and energy, etc.).

The Schoolhouse Rock 2-DVD set released a few years ago (and still available) has all the cartoons.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 04 2008 - 01:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Skeen
Are the songs actually in stereo on this? I know at least some of them were recorded in stereo- the last DVD release has them only in mono, if this one has real stereo mixes I might get it.

Definitely not mono - not the best DD 5.1 but certainly not mono.
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 04 2008 - 01:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ockeghem
Neil,

Nice collection and review. Thanks. Posted Image

Do you know if Conjunction Junction is included (maybe as an unlisted subset of your song list)? I thought that this was part of the Schoolhouse Rock collection.

YouTube - Conjunction Junction

I wish it was. My first exposure to that song was a parody, but alas it is only available on the more complete and only slightly more expensive collection released a few years ago!!
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted October 04 2008 - 04:23 PM

Neil,

Thanks. And thanks to the others that responded as well. Posted Image





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