- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
or anyone who came of age in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the words “Schoolhouse Rock” are an instant recipe for nostalgia, strong enough to prompt otherwise mature grown men to break out singing tunes such as “Three Is a Magic Number,” “I’m Just a Bill” or “Beans and Rice.” For years, the “Schoolhouse Rock” animated shorts popped up between ABC’s Saturday morning cartoons, offering brief musical lessons on everything from math to civics. Now that anyone with cable has access to cartoons 24 hours a day, that particular Saturday morning tradition has gone the way of the dodo, but thanks to Disney’s gift for mining nostalgia, the “Schoolhouse” classics have crossed over to the DVD market. The “Special Anniversary Edition,” collection, released in 2002, offers the entire lineup on a pair of specially priced discs.
How specially priced? Funny you should ask, because you can get your hands on the “Special Anniversary Edition” for just under $15 at Amazon – one dollar more than the new “Election Collection.” Did we mention that, in addition to having a gift for mining nostalgia, Disney also has a knack for squeezing a few extra bucks out of repackaged leftovers?
Thankfully, even if its reasons for being are somewhat suspect, the contents of this set remain unimpeachable. Drawn mostly from the series’ ‘70s heyday, with a smattering of newer shorts thrown in, “Election Collection” does exactly what the title promises, bundling up pretty much any government-related number in “Schoolhouse Rock” history. (Just what constitutes “government-related” is sort of wide-ranging – the DVD includes “Energy Blues” and the painfully contemporary “Walkin’ On Wall Street” – but that’s nothing to complain about.) If you enjoyed “Schoolhouse Rock” while it was on, you’ll almost certainly find yourself grinning at some point while watching this DVD, both because of the songs you remember (“I’m Just a Bill”) and the ones you’d all but forgotten (“No More Kings”).
If you’ve already purchased the “Special Anniversary Edition,” you can at least be thankful that there’s nothing here you don’t already own. Disney hasn’t added any must-have extras to “Election Collection” (aside from “Presidential Minute,” which is billed as “new to DVD,” but was actually included as an Easter egg extra in the “Special Anniversary Edition”). Nothing animated, anyway; the set does come with a nifty “Track the Votes” map and stickers for the junior political junkies in your life to use on Election Day.
Ultimately, the set’s contents outweigh the somewhat crass motives behind its release, if only barely. Even if there is really no conceivable reason to purchase this instead of the “Special Anniversary Edition,” it still makes for a solidly entertaining lesson in junior-level civics, and we can really never have too many of those, can we?