I don’t remember enjoying The Electric Company that much as a child, perhaps because I already knew how to read by the time I started watching that show. I was only allowed half an hour of TV a day, and I always picked 3-2-1 Contact (in-your-head sing-along time: CONTACT. Is the REASON. Is the ANSWER. Why everything happens.) . Singing the 321 Contact song now makes me realize how lamely simplistic those lyrics are, but didn’t it have a great opening sequence? Water drops falling in slow motion and stuff?

But 3-2-1 Contact is not available on DVD, and Electric Company is. I have to say it’s pretty good the second time around. Bill Cosby actually smoking cigars and talking sort of drunkenly. Somebody else writing a list of insults on a chalkboard for the TV audience to sound out. A few dresses that fall into the mini-mini-mini category– children’s television could never get away with it these days. Best of all is Morgan Freeman, who looks about 20 years old and 120 pounds in the first season episodes from 1971.

He has two characters that are especially cool. One is Easy Reader, who asks to borrow a book of matches even though he don’t smoke. Because if he got a itch, he scratches. He reads the matchbook aloud. Then he sings and dances in a cool-cat manner:

“Easy Reader, that’s my name. Uhn, Uhn, Uhn (insert head twitch and shoulder shrug here). Readin’ words, that’s my game. Uhn, Uhn, Uhn.”

His other character is a radio disc jockey where he is even more, um, psychedelic, if you will. He lets you listen to songs about punctuation that are “righteous and outta sighteous.”

Finally, a fun take-home activity for you: Talking Electric Company. For every word, you say the first sound, then the second sound, then the whole word together. Like so:

Ih. tss. It’s. Fruh. iday. Friday. Make sure you prounounce each part with verve. To really mix it up you can do it with another person and have them invent the last half of the word.

Electric Company DVD