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1973: 'Schoolhouse Rock' Makes its Debut with 'My Hero, Zero'
January 6, 2017  | By TV WW
 
On this day in 1973, ABC premiered the first Schoolhouse Rock! short, "My Hero, Zero."

The animated shorts that taught basic math, grammar, science and social studies skills began with an observation by advertising executive David McCall, who noticed his son struggled with math fundamentals, but easily remembered rock music lyrics. McCall and his collaborators took the idea to ABC and its then-head of children's programming, Michael Eisner. Eisner liked the concept and in turn asked General Foods to sponsor the shorts.

The first season, Multiplication Rock (below), was made up of 11 math-related shorts that taught the concept of powers of 10 and multiplication by various numbers. Subsequent Schoolhouse Rock! shorts focused on grammar, science, American government, economics, computer technology and the environment.

Schoolhouse Rock!'s initial run lasted 12 years. New shorts were produced in later years, and released on television and/or on DVD. Schoolhouse Rock! also inspired a live stage musical, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, which remains a popular production with regional theater groups and school drama departments.

 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for under $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

This Day in TV History