Friday, July 24, 2009

Walter Cronkite, the voice of Benjamin Franklin, has died

This is old news, now -- the media just got through its grieving process with days and days of retrospectives on Mr. Cronkite. Sure, we all know him as the voice of reason during the cold war, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK, and the Vietnam War, to name just a few of his many achievements. But no one, anywhere, honored him for one of his most recent achievements, as the voice of Ben Franklin on Liberty's Kids. Wait, I'm wrong, there was a NYT blog post about Mr. Cronkite's passing, and a commenter mentions this fact. No where else, though, says boo about it. We have lost a great voice of the cartoon world, folks, and no other cartoon blogs made mention of this fact! So, I guess it comes down to this lazy blogger of an oft-neglected cartoon blog to honor the man and the voice, of Benjamin Franklin.

Goodbye Mr. Cronkite, you brought this great sage from our earliest times as a nation to the forefront of what, inarguably, has to be one of the best shows about the American Revolution.

Got the image from DIC's Liberty's Kids archive

Jonny Quest

Our family has become the proud owners of many, many SMC box sets, the most prized of which is the complete Jonny Quest DVD set. My husband thinks of JQ as a "two-fisted kids' show," and to many of our age-peers it is one of the most popular. Our son is finally at the age where he really, really enjoys it, now, so the past week has been JQ central. I cannot get the theme song out of my head, though, as cool as it is.

As we went through the canon, however, I became acutely aware of how much a product of the cold-war sixties JQ really is, complete with ugly racial stereotypes. And Hadji, sigh -- how many kids of Eastern Indian origin ended up with the nickname "Hadji" in trying to fit in with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood? I know of at least one from my childhood. A "Hadji" was also a handball term, for when the handball would suddenly fly straight up in the air when it hit an uneven seam of the paved court.

Anyway, if you are thinking of introducing your child to this otherwise great show, be prepared to have many, many "teaching moments" about stereotypes and living in this crazy melting pot we call America.

Swiped the picture of the DVD set from Cartoon Secrets

Monday, March 16, 2009

Liberty's Kids on DVD

I've ranted on and off since starting this blog about all the good things about Liberty's Kids (it provides an entertaining and somewhat accurate story of the events and personalities surrounding the Revolutionary War) and all the bad things (its distribution has been miserly and dysfunctional at best). Awhile back on a post I did ("And Another Thing About Liberty's Kids"), some kind commenter said that Liberty's Kids would be coming out on DVD last October and the set would sell for around 60-dollars. This, after I ranted about it selling for $500.00 through some educational distribution site.

Anyhow, it's all good -- the fam just finished watching disc 1 of the Liberty's Kids 6-disc set, which is distributed by Shout! Factory. We're getting them from Netflix, just to see if it'll be worth buying the set. So far, so good -- there were 7 episodes on the first disc and they were all in order, a far cry from the doofy collections that came out in 2005, with only 3 random episodes on each ("The Boston Tea Party: The Movie," "Give Me Liberty," and "The First Fourth of July"). DJ is loving watching them all in order, and it seems like we might be getting the set, after all.

Okay, my only complaint, and it is a teeny-tiny complaint -- because, don't get me wrong, I am soooo, so happy that Liberty's Kids is finally in a boxed set put together by people who actually know what they're doing -- my only complaint, even after the joy and rapture of this event, is that I thought that maybe the episodes should have been kept intact, as they were shown on TV. Meaning, that the original fillers between the stories ("Continental Cartoons," "Ben Franklin's Newsbytes") should have been left as they were. As it stands now, they are lumped in their categories on the special features menu, and it is rather boring to watch them all at once because they fly by so quickly and have the same format. It was probably a decision that was made on whether or not to keep the story flow or the TV format, which had more of a variety-type appeal.

Anyway, that is a small, small complaint next to the major positive that is this collection, so...YAY!

Swiped the cover art pic for the new collection from Shout! Factory's site