Before I watched X-Men, before I watched Scooby-Doo, there were shows on my television like Sesame Street, Electric Company, and so forth. The purpose of these shows was to entertain & educate. There was also a range of 3 minute shorts that ran during Saturday morning cartoons on ABC that served a similar purpose. They were collectively called Schoolhouse Rock. From talking about Adjectives to Multiplication to our good ole Government, they helped to inform as well as entertain. In preparation for the 2008 election, Disney decided to come out with a compilation of fourteen Schoolhouse Rock shorts about everything from the Preamble to the Electoral College.
It’s a long long wait while I’m sitting in committee. But I know I’ll be a law someday, at least I hope and I pray that I will. But today I am still just a bill. That is probably the most famous short in all of Schoolhouse Rock. The “I’m Just a Bill” song. Three minutes of goodness about how government lawmakers decide whether or not to make a tiny piece of paper’s dreams come true. There is another short about Tax Man Max who tells you that Tax is that familiar melody, sinful and true. He isn’t whistling Dixie. He speaks the truth I tell ya. Did you also know that You Gotta be Cool when you’re walking on Wall Street? Buy low, sell high, take a piece of the pie.
Fourteen shorts and forty five minutes later you have taken a trip down memory lane. Schoolhouse Rock has history, a sense of right and wrong and a good dose of fun. It’s informative but at the same time you don’t feel like you has been in government or history class for an hour. I love the shorts and watching most of them made me wish that current edutainment was more like that and less like watching the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers do math problems.
My only problem was that there is an excellent 2-disc collection of 50+ shorts that include all of these (except Presidential Minute) and a host of extras. It also goes for roughly the same price. So Election Collection is more or less an attempt at grabbing a few parent’s or kid’s attention to buy something they might have missed the first time. The sad thing is that it has probably worked.
The film is presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen. This is one area that the collection doesn’t do too well in. Most of these shorts have not held up well in the video and artifacting department. In fact, it might make you feel old watching it if it wasn’t just so catchy and quirky. Color is okay, but chances are you aren’t watching this for the video display.
The disc’s track is in Dolby Digital 5.1 English. The sound is an improvement over the video but not by much. Don’t expect any surround effects from the audio as it stays in the center channel the entire length of the program. Honestly, if somebody didn’t tell you it was 5.1, you wouldn’t have noticed. It’s adequate but that’s about it.
- Automatic Trailers: Disney, Schoolhouse Rock: Earth, Sleeping Beauty, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, High School Musical 2, Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish, High School Musical (the game), Hannah Montana (the game), Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian & Disney Movie Rewards.
- Presidential Minute Version 1 & Version 2 1:00 (each): The two new shorts that go over the act of voting. There are differences between the two but both are equally good and worth a watch.
- Election Tracking Kit: Inside the dvd case, you get a map of the United States, 50 blue stickers & 50 red stickers. You can guess what to do with them (bird cage liner not included).
Schoolhouse Rock!: Election Collection is an exercise in learning about life, history and our government. The songs are short but provide plenty of information and delight. It’s catchy tunes like Just a Bill or Suffering til Suffrage that make us tap our feet. The election tracking kit may even be a guide into figuring out how the electoral college works. Okay, maybe we’ll just have a lot of red and blue stickers on a U.S. Map. Anyhow, if the price is cheap ($10 or under) you can buy this for your child and hopefully teach them a thing or two. Actually we could all learn a thing or two from Tyrannosaurus Debt. We really can’t afford the billions that it’s costing us to pay its room and board. Recommended.
1. Energy Blues
2. Tax Man Max
3. Walkin’ on Wall Street
4. Tyrannosaurus Debt
5. I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College
1. No More Kings
2. The Shot Heard Round the World
4. Mother Necessity
5. The Great American Melting Pot
How Government Works
1. The Preamble
2. Three-Ring Government
3. I’m Just a Bill
4. Sufferin’ Til Suffrage
- DvdVerdict.com – “Though its audience is probably limited thanks to the existence of the exhaustive and affordable 30th Anniversary set, Election Collection is a great way to introduce your kids to a classic series at just the right time.”
- HomeTheaterForum.com – “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.”