The Electric Company (2009 TV series)
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|The Electric Company|
|Format||children pbs kids show,fun comedy|
Ashley Austin Morris
Carly Rose Sonenclar
|Country of origin||United States of America|
|No. of episodes||53.plus 13 cartoon episodes (list of episodes)|
|Running time||28 minutes|
|Original channel||PBS Kids GO! (2009-present)|
|Original run||January 19, 2009– March 28, 2011|
The Electric Company is an American children's educational series for young children aged 4–8 on PBS, derived from the 1971 series. The series premiered as a four-episode mini-marathon on PBS on January 19, 2009, then became a weekly series with an episode shown each Friday. On September 7, 2009, it became a daily series. Like the original, this version is produced by Sesame Workshop. The series is sometimes referred to as The New Electric Company to distinguish it from the 1970s series. It airs on PBS.
The new version has similar short animations, sketches, and music videos to those seen in the original show, but each episode also features a story line designed to teach four to five vocabulary words with a mix of hip-hop- or contemporary R&B-style music.
Each story revolves around the Electric Company, a group of teenage literacy heroes who battle a group of neighborhood vandals dubbed the Pranksters. The heroes' headquarters is the Electric Diner, where their friend Shock, a beat-boxing short-order cook, works, and also appears in short-form segments.
In the show's nod to the original series, each episode's opening has a Company member call to the others to assemble by yelling "Hey, you guys!!"—a line that (as yelled by Rita Moreno) led off the opening sequence of seasons two, five, and six. Other nods to the original series include appearances by Paul the Gorilla and updated versions of the soft-shoe silhouette segments in which words are sounded out.
The revival includes interactive Web elements and is promoted and extended via community-outreach projects. The first season consisted of 28 weekly episodes. An additional season of twelve more episodes began airing January 2010. A third season debuted February 7, 2011, and ended on March 28, 2011, with new Company member Marcus and new Prankster Gilda. A fourth season is going to air during 2013.
The Electric Company 
The Electric Company consists of two friends who are also friends of two siblings, a brother and a sister, who protect the neighborhood from the Pranksters. They all have the power to throw word balls, blue magical balls that create words on any surface. In season 3, a new character, Marcus Barnes, joined the company. In addition, each member has a special skill:
- Hector Ruiz: The oldest member and leader of the Electric Company. He has the power to replay any image that he sees, much like a video camera. Hector is very athletic and good at basketball. In Season 3, he owns and runs The Electric Diner (since it would go out of business if Mr. Watson didn't let him run the diner). Hector is always the one to go to if there is trouble and also has a strong rivalry with Manny since they were kids. Hector seems to be a good leader and he used to have a fear of beetles. Hector is the tallest. Hector is portrayed by Josh Segarra.
- Jessica Ruiz: Hector's little sister. She has a power similar to her brother's—she can replay any word or phrase that she hears, much like a tape recorder. Jessica is occasionally brash, especially when it comes to dealing with the Pranksters, particularly Manny. Jessica loves to rap, sing, and dance. She hosted a vocabulary segment at the beginning of each episode. She also looks after Marcus, as he's the youngest and newest member of the Electric Company. Jessica is portrayed by P-Star.
- Lisa Heffenbacher: A well-liked girl, who has the power to unscramble any anagrams that she finds. Lisa is very smart and is good at science. She has a strong, constant rivalry with Annie since Annie caused her so many problems, like saying one of her ancestors was a traitor and swapping her brains with her to make Lisa look bad. In the season 3 premiere, it is revealed in a hovering TV screen that she would no longer be around as much likely as she is traveling with a science program; however, Hector keeps her posted with anything happening in the neighborhood. She then was written off as she was never seen again, although Jenni Barber (the actress who plays her) did do a few educational commercials for The Electric Company during that season.
- Keith Watson: The second older member of the Electric Company, he can generate images in mid-air, which especially comes in handy when explaining difficult words. Keith is also able to magnify images. Keith is logical and level-headed and frequently creates solutions for dealing with the Pranksters' tricks. Keith appears in most episodes and is good at basketball, like Hector. Keith first discovered his power while playing "Horse" with Hector when saying he wanted an E as since and threw a wordball at the word. His father was the owner of The Electric Diner. Keith is taller than Jessica and Marcus. Keith also has an iPhone. He is portrayed by Ricky Smith.
- Marcus Barnes: The newest and youngest member of the Electric Company, who made his debut in Season 3. He first discovered his wordball power while playing baseball. He has math skills as his powers and uses them to effectively solve math problems. He likes many numbers, has good athletic abilities, and he always has a craving for waffles along with a love of pickles. Francine always mistakes his name for "Marty Farms" (he bought a ball that didn't even work from her twice, but got his $5 back). He is portrayed by Coy Stewart.
- Shock: A short-order cook at the Electric Diner, where the Company converges when trouble occurs. Shock rarely speaks directly, instead he beat-boxes and uses his hands to act out ideas. He appears in some segments with Jessica. He is played by Chris Sullivan.
- P.J. Watson: Keith's cousin, played by Kyle Massey (only shown season 2). He starred in Lisa's movie and got help from Lisa to write a paper from back home about an old western story in a refrigerator.
- Leo Watson: The proprietor of the Electric Diner and Keith's father. In Season 3, he opens up a new restaurant and passes the diner to as Hector becomes the owner. He is portrayed by L. Steven Taylor.
- The Great Calvero: The local magician who performs in the park. He is portrayed by Jason Antoon.
- Bandini: Calvero's brother, who was trapped in a painting, but The Electric gang got him out of the painting and reunited him with Calvero.
- Mario: Shock's best friend, who is a hip hop emcee who makes guest appearances alongside Shock in some musical segments. He is portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also contributes music to the show.
- Sabi or Sammy Spamboni: Manny's little brother, who was frozen by Manny many times but gave the Electric Company advice to how unfreeze Keith and he never got in trouble with his mother except Manny.[?]
- Paul the Gorilla: Paul was a recurring character on the original show and was brought back for the new series.
- Dax: A skeleckian who is sometimes getting the company tied up in his problems, such as getting shrunk and having a steering wheel stolen, and almost getting some cheese stolen by The Pranksters. He is a good friend of Lisa's.
- Polly Hashimoto: A Japanese American secretary and author of the public library. She appears in the episode called "One Smart Cookie".
- Charles A
- Emily: An Asian-American girl who is friends with Marcus Barnes. She is apparently dressed as George Washington.
The Heffenbacher Family 
The following family members only appear in "Revolutionary Doughnuts":
- Caroline: Lisa's mother. When asked, she reveals the family tree of the Heffenbachers and then explains to her daughter that Cordelia is a traitor.
- Mildred: Lisa's aunt. She generously allows her niece and her friends to find out about Cordelia.
- Cordelia Heffenbacher: Lisa's great-great-great-great-great-great aunt. She has been first mentioned by Annie Scrambler saying she was a traitor, but Lisa proves that Annie is wrong. Cordelia has distracted the British Redcoats by offering them doughnuts. She is also portrayed by Jenni Barber during the song.
The Pranksters 
The Pranksters are the Electric Company's enemies, and they never win. In the Prankster Cam segments, every one of the Pranksters explain about the letters with Manny talking about most of the punctuation and Annie talking about the apostrophe-S. They are also most likely to be vandals, especially towards the Electric Company, and some others' property.
- Francine Carruthers: The vandalistic leader of the Pranksters. She has the same power as the Electric Company—the ability to generate word balls, only hers are violet. Francine has a very high opinion of her own intelligence. Most of her plots involve making herself look good at the expense of the Company. In Season 3, she gets an assistant, named Gilda Flip. She usually calls Marcus "Marty Farms" and usually gets 100 to 200 presents for her birthday. She is portrayed by Ashley Austin Morris.
- Annie Scrambler: A girl who is frequently envious of the accomplishments of others. She has the power to scramble any word or sentence with a stomp of her foot which results in making new words, but sometimes she scrambles the existing words to create nonexistent ones. Annie is often jealous of the Electric Company's good luck and sometimes works with her uncle Sigmund (Mark Linn-Baker), a hypnotist, to get back at her rivals. She will work with the Electric Company if she has to, such as to help her uncle out in "Bananas". Annie and Francine almost never appear in the same episode. Annie is portrayed by Sandie Rosa.
- Danny Rebus: A suave, sophisticated Prankster. He can turn any sentence into a rebus puzzle. Most of his messages make fun of the Electric Company. Danny is very proud, yet with a touchy personality, easily being offended. He often charges the Electric Company with making him look bad, prompting vengeance. He has helped the Electric Company out on occasion, despite being a Prankster. He is also the most vandalistic member. He is portrayed by William Jackson Harper
- Manny Spamboni: The loudest of the Pranksters. He is the only member of the group that does not have any powers, but he is quite skilled in the art of robotics and mechanics. Manny is rude and crude, and uses his many gadgets to make trouble for the Electric Company. He is thought the world of by his mother who says he is her "little angel". He is portrayed by Dominic Colón.
- Gilda Flip: The newest member of the Pranksters and Francine's assistant and doesn't have any powers, just like Manny, although her only gadget is her Flip Phone. Instead, she has a natural talent for planning as well as a wide variety of other small talents. She is portrayed by Carly Rose Sonenclar.
- Sigmund Scrambler: Annie's uncle, who works as a hypnotist. He is slightly bumbling, but helps Annie in her pursuit of bothering the company. He is played by Mark Linn-Baker.
- Sandy Scrambler: Annie's aunt, who is a hypnotist like Sigmund Scrambler. She is played by Ana Gasteyer.
- Antigone Carruthers: Francine's mother, who is the CEO of the Antigone Carruthers Corporation. She is portrayed by Julie Halston and usually calls the Electric Company the Electricians.
- Mrs. Bebe Spamboni: Manny's mother. She's not that much of an ally. She thinks the world of Manny, like any mother whould be with her son. She is played by Andrea Burns.
- Zandy Rebus: Danny's dog, who gave the Electric Company a note in the episode "Pies for puppies."
Animated characters 
The Adventures of Captain Cluck 
- Captain Cluck (voiced by Isabella Palmieri) is a chicken-themed child superhero who has brown hair with high short curly pigtails, and wears a pink outfit with a matching mask and cape and also a star belt. She has the ability to correct things. In the "aprostophe-s" segment, passing ten minutes, she arranges a restaurant for all her chickens with separate plates to show whose corn belongs to.
- The Poultry Patrol are the chickens who belong to Captain Cluck. In one of the segments, they all have female names revealed with apostrophes and "s" at the end because they're hens. They are named Amy, Fay, Fran, Gin, Helen, Jan, Jen, Jean, Joan, June and Nan.
- The Lost Girl is an African American girl who only appears in the comma segment in which she is confused as she looks at her shopping list.
- Greg is a boy listening to music in headphones. He has been yelled at by his best friend.
Pets Home Alone 
- Donnie (voiced by Ray Magliozzi) is a yellow canary with green wings and a matching tail. Donnie likes to call all of his fur-covered friends, "Fuzzball" and plays with Nuggets' hamster ball to pretend to be an astronaut.
- Nuggets (voiced by Jeff Bennett) is a pink Hamster who appears in some live action backgrounds.
- Petunia (voiced by Oprah Winfrey) is a blue bulldog. She wears a pink bow on her head. She sits right next to the Green-Skinned Mummy from "Haunted House" in the live-action bench and she doesn't like taking baths.
- Tom (voiced by Rachael Lillis) is an orange kitten, he is very nice and shy and knows how to use a laptop and knows the website "NachosforPets.com" and he put himself in the nachos after Nuggets rushed through the word tomatoes for Tom.
In the Haunted House 
- Werewolf (voiced by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph) is a werewolf with brown fur. He lives in a haunted house with Bat and Mummy.
- The Brown Bat (voiced by Cree Summer) is the only flying monster. He lives in a haunted house with Werewolf and Mummy. Bat was once given a present by a monster which turned out to be a mini-version of the monster.
- Mummy (voiced by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph) is a green-skinned mummy who wears toilet paper. He has an Indian accent. He lives in a haunted house with Bat and Werewolf. Mummy's favorite dessert is pie. However, he discovered that peas aren't desserts, but a type of vegetable.
- Aunt Hilegard is a green-skinned witch with a turbo broomstick. She also has red goggles for her flight.
- The Three Red Gorillas (voiced by Jim Cummings, Tress MacNeille and Tim Curry): The Gorilla in the middle is female. They demonstrate things with words that start with "gr", "fl", or "dr"; have "oo", or "ink"; or end with "mb", "ing", or "ed".
- Special Agent Jack Bowser (voiced by Tyler Bunch) is a blue android dog who wears a black sweater with a white horizontal stripe on it and is trapped in the treats/things. As he tells us that something is about to explode, he utters, "I can't crack the code to get out! Help me read this." This sketch is a parody of the TV series 24 and in fact the sketch lasts 24 seconds.
- Music Man is a deep-voiced singer who appears in many segments. He is the only character from the first two seasons to appear in the third season since he appeared in "Wordball Games" fully animated in a different style of Flash animation and actually had spoken dialogue for the first time. He is portrayed by Reggie Watts.
- Pet Shop Owner: A wacky pet owner who owns many unusual pets, which causes his customers to leave. This segment was replaced with "Pets Home Alone".
- Josephine: An African American girl who wants to sell things to the people and the mummy who live in houses.
- Felix and Oscar: The animated version of The Odd Couple who appear in many segments. Felix is an elderly man wearing a green shirt who makes comments and Oscar is the dim-witted, lanky, and tall teen-aged boy who lives with Felix and has to live without most of his teeth, socks, or deodorant. Although their names aren't revealed, Felix was referred to as "Old Man" in one episode.
- The Two-Headed Long-Necked Monster: Completely female and skilled at skiing, they have light green skin. In addition to calling each other "dude", they often argue about the jacket they're wearing. One head with red eyes, lips and antennae wants it zipped while the other head with blue eyes, lips and antennae wants it unzipped. They both end up down the hill blaming each other and their purple hooded jacket loses its zipper.
- Wrack and Wreck: Green and blue robots who love watching TV and eating bolts as a snack.
- Ray and Fay: Blue monsters with horns on their heads. These names do rhyme. Ray tries to offer flowers to Fay who's sitting in a bench. She wears pigtails.
Prankster Planet 
An animated segment at the end of each episode starting 2012. Jessica and Marcus visit the Pranksters' space base, where the Pranksters have full power to build inventions to damage words. Now without powers, Jessica and Marcus have to use their wits to turn off the inventions. Although they overcome the obstacles, the Pranksters catch up to them and prevent them from reaching the switch. The viewer is then encouraged to play an online game, in which you test your wits as well. The segment focuses more on measurement(in various forms) than the rest of the show. The first series of segments features Manny Spamboni's Wordsuckeruppenator,which enables him to access all the words in the world. Multiple Pranksters appear to defend the off buttons. The second series of segments features Francine's Reverse-a-Ball machine, which reverses words. In this series, Francine watches Jessica and Marcus, along with a studio audience of Manny's robots. "Survey Time" is announced so the audience can vote on an obstacle for the duo, which is graphed. In the episodes alongside, words reverse,which is shown at the end.
The Celebrities who have appeared on the show include Pete Wentz, Samantha Bee, Ne-Yo, Mario, Sean Kingston, Marc Ecko, Jack McBrayer, Tiki Barber, Whoopi Goldberg, Kyle Massey, Common, Swizz Beatz, Good Charlotte, Jimmy Fallon, Dwight Howard, David Lee of the Golden State Warriors, Christopher Massey, Wyclef Jean and Doug E. Fresh. Besides his brief appearances in season one, Kyle Massey had a recurring role in season two as PJ, Keith's eccentric cousin.
Mark Linn-Baker appears occasionally as Annie's uncle Sigmund. Broadway actor-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda does occasional guest appearances and contributes music to the show. He also appears in a season-two episode as Mario, Shock’s friend.
Tommy Kail, the director of Miranda's In the Heights, is one of the musical directors with Bill Sherman and the actor-musician Chris Jackson, a star of the original Broadway production of that show. Members of the hip hop comedy troupe Freestyle Love Supreme (of which Miranda, Sherman, Jackson, and Sullivan are members) make sporadic appearances in the musical segments as well.
- The New Electric Company
From season 1 
- "We've Got Skills" - Hector Ruiz, Jessica Ruiz and Lisa Heffenbacher
- "The Power" - Keith Watson and Electric Company
- "100% Human" - Hector and Electric Company
- "Nature Lover" - Danny Rebus
- "The Musical Mission to Jupiter" - Electric Company, Francine Carruthers and Dax
- "We Are the Merry Pransker Band" - Annie Scrambler and Manny Spamboni (with Francine on the tuba)
- "The Limerick Rap" - Hector, Jessica, Manny and Mrs. Spamboni
- "Sigmund Scrambler's Habit-Breaking Hypnotism Tent Advertisement/The Last Note" - Annie, Lisa, Hector and Sigmund Scrambler
- "Keith's Birthday Song for Dad" - Keith and Electric Company
- "Follow Through" - Lisa
- "One Part You and One Part Me" - Lisa and Francine
- "Love" - Manny
- "Help Me Clear My Name" - Hector
- "The Cheese Song" - Lisa, Hector and Electric Company
- "The Danny Rebus Blues" - Danny
From season 2 
- "Sheriff Frank vs. Negative Apple" - Mario and Danny
- "Word Rap Battle"
- "Follow The Clues"
- "Don't Undo Undanny" - Danny and Jessica
- "Separate the Truth From the Lies" - Lisa
- "Compromise" - Electric Company and Pranksters
- "Down With the Skeleckians" - Jessica and Skeleckian crowd
- "Observe the Ape" - Sigmund, Natalie McNally, Lisa and Annie
- "Hey, Bluefoot (The Friendship Call)" - Manny and Electric Company
- "Good Friends Good as Gold" - Jessica, Jules and group
- "Great" - Lisa and Cordelia Heffenbacher
From season 3 
- "Wordball on His What?" - Hector, Jessica and Marcus Barnes
- "Gilda Breaking Records" - Gilda Flip and kids
- "Here Come the Animals Dressed As Monsters" - Hector, Jessica, Marcus, Keith and Shock
- "Appreciate a Zero" - Danny and Annie
- "Little Puppies" - Jessica and puppies
- "The Electric Company Doesn't Like You" - Danny and Manny
- "Take Back This Return-a-Ball" - Francine, Gilda, Hector, Keith, Jessica and chorus
- "Beatbox" - Doug E. Fresh and crowd
- "I Love My Power" - Manny and his robot
- "Add a Chicken" - Rob and chorus
- "Junior Assistant" - Francine, Hector and chorus
Critical reception 
The show received generally positive reviews from critics, and currently[when?] has a 74/100 score on metacritic.com, based on eight reviews. Newsday said "With a visual sensibility that mimics a video game, Web browser and iPhone, as well as a hearty online presence with a social-networking bent, the new Electric Company seems to deliver."
Entertainment Weekly said "Though the hip ’n’ urban vibe seems overly calculated, did studies show that eight-year-olds respond to beatboxing white dudes? And the cast is aggressively up with people. You gotta love new characters."
Reviews that cited negative aspects of the show compared it to the 1970s Electric Company.
- The New York Daily News said, "The only problem here is that once in a while the producers and cast get so enthusiastic about their production numbers [that] their words become almost unintelligible."
- The New York Times stated that although the new series is respectable, "it all feels a little corporate somehow" and "today’s children will certainly find it watchable and will have better language skills after spending time with it. They just aren’t likely to still be holding it in their hearts 35 years from now."
- The Los Angeles Times called the story aspects of the show "unnecessarily complicated and off the point," citing that the 1970s series "spent more time teaching, at no cost to entertainment".
- The Washington Post praised the new series but stated that it was reminded of Ghostwriter, not the 1970s Electric Company. "The original show—low concept, high energy—knew that words didn't have to have literal superpowers in order to be worthwhile and, occasionally, magical."
See also 
- B-Robo Kabutack
- Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack
- Heisei Kamen Rider Series
- Martha Speaks
- Sonny with a Chance
- Incredible Crew
-  Davis, Michael. “PBS Revives a Show That Shines a Light on Reading.” The New York Times, Vol. CLVII, No. 54,308, p. E2, 5/12/2008. Retrieved from NYTimes.com on May 12, 2008.
- ""The Electric Company" to return in 2009". Current.org. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- Netburn, Deborah (January 11, 2009). "The Electric Company". Los Angeles Times.
- Genzlinger, Neil (January 19, 2009). "Back From the '70s, Without the Zaniness". The New York Times.
- Zeitchik, Steven. "Entertainment - entertainment, movies, tv, music, celebrity, Hollywood - latimes.com - latimes.com". Calendarlive.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- Hesse, Monica (January 23, 2009). "'Electric' Is Rewired For the '00s". The Washington Post.
- Official Web Sitethe electric company game and videos
- The Electric Company at the Internet Movie Database
- Season one press kit
- Season two press kit
- Season three press kit
- four press kit
- Literacy Learning with The Electric Company