School’s back in session
By Terri Wiebold
This month we go retro with our pop culture, and for good reason – everything old is new again. The award-winning animated musical and educational series Schoolhouse Rock! was released on Disney+ last month, sharing the magic with a whole new generation.
Admit it – you are singing, “I’m just a bill, yes, I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill …” right now in your head. The catchy tunes and whimsical animation of Schoolhouse Rock! have been the subject of nostalgia and satire for generations, even being parodied on “The Simpsons,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Saturday Night Live” television programs.
The concept originally came about in the early ‘70s when the president of an advertising agency noticed his son was struggling with learning multiplication tables and yet had no trouble memorizing the words to songs. The marriage of educational lyrics and simple artwork yielded filler content that ran between children’s shows on TV. It later morphed into a series that ran during Saturday morning cartoons, ultimately spanning seven seasons, producing 64 episodes and earning four Emmy awards and a Grammy nomination.
The School House Rock! original run lasted from 1973 to 1984 and was later revived with both old and new episodes airing from 1993 to 1996. Episodes comprised of Multiplication Rock, Grammar Rock, America Rock, Science Rock, Computer Rock and Money Rock. In 2002, the team reunited again to produce two new America Rock segments, and in 2009, yet another reunion produced Earth Rock, teaching a new generation about biodiversity, recycling, solar energy and more.
As we reflect on our nation’s birthday and independence this month, the third season of Schoolhouse Rock! seems most apropos. America Rock classics like “No More Kings,” “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” “Preamble” and “Fireworks” are reminiscent of our history, now available to a new generation of viewers who are our future.