The Electric Company - Sketches


  • "The Adventures of Letterman": Premiering during season two, "Letterman" featured the work of animators John and Faith Hubley. The title character (a flying superhero in a varsity sweater and a football helmet) foiled the Spell Binder, an evil magician who made mischief by changing words into new words. It featured the voices of Zero Mostel, Joan Rivers (the narrator) and Gene Wilder. In his book The TV Arab, Jack Shaheen criticized the portrayal of the evil Spell Binder as a negative racial stereotype.
  • "Five Seconds": Halfway through the show, viewers were challenged to read a word within a five- or ten-second time limit. From 1973 to 1975, in a spoof of Mission: Impossible the word would self-destruct in a Scanimate animation sequence after the time expired. From 1975 to 1977, the viewers had to read the word before a cast member (or a group of children) did.
  • "Giggles, Goggles": Two friends (usually Rita Moreno and Judy Graubart) riding a tandem bicycle or something similar conversed, when one of them would misuse a word. Several similar words were humorously misused until they returned to the original word.
  • "Here's Cooking at You": A send-up of Julia Child's cooking shows, with Judy Graubart playing Julia Grown-Up
  • "Jennifer of the Jungle": A Borscht Belt-style parody of George of the Jungle, with Jennifer (Judy Graubart) and Paul the Gorilla (Jim Boyd)
  • "The Last Word": Shown at the end of season-one episodes, a dimly-lit incandescent bulb with a pull-chain switch was shown hanging; the voice of Ken Roberts would gravely state, "And now, the last word." A single word would appear (usually one that had been featured earlier in the episode). An unseen cast member would read the word aloud, reach his/her arm into the shot, and turn the light off by tugging the pull chain.
  • "Love of Chair": A spoof of Love of Life, Ken Roberts (who was also the announcer for Life) read a Dick and Jane-style story about a boy (Skip Hinnant) sitting on a chair and doing simple things, concluding by asking questions in a dramatic tone followed by "For the answer to these and other questions, tune in tomorrow for 'Love Of Chair'".
  • "Mad Scientist": Monster parody with an evil scientist (Morgan Freeman) and his assistant Igor (Luis Avalos), who tried to read words associated with their experiments
  • "Monolith": Animated short, set in outer space and used to introduce segments involving a phonic. A large, rectangular pillar of rock (reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey) collapsed to the strains of Also sprach Zarathustra after being disturbed by an astronaut or extraterrestrial. The letters of the phonic appeared from the clearing dust, with a deistic voice pronouncing it.
  • "Pedro's Plant Place": Featured Luis Avalos as a garden-shop proprietor who incorporated words into his planting tips, accompanied by the plant-language-speaking guard plant Maurice (Jim Boyd).
  • "Phyllis and the Pharaohs": A 1950s-style doo-wop group, with Rita Moreno singing lead and the male adult cast on backup.
  • "Road Runner": New cartoons featuring the Looney Tunes character and his pursuer, Wile E. Coyote, produced and directed by Chuck Jones, which reinforced reading skills with words on signs encountered by the characters; used occasional sound and verbal effects.
  • "Sign Sing-Along": Often the last sketch on a Friday, these films featured signs with words accompanied by a sing-along song. They were sung once through; viewers supplied the lyrics the second time, while a trumpet-and bassoon-duo played the melody.
  • "The Six-Dollar and Thirty-Nine-Cent Man": Spoof of The Six Million Dollar Man in seasons five and six, with Jim Boyd as Steve Awesome, Luis Avalos as Awesome's boss Oscar and Hattie Winston as the General; the other adult cast members played villains.
  • "Slow Reader": Animated or live-action shorts in which a slow reader was given a message to read by a delivery man. Each message had advice that he needed to follow, but because of his inability to sound out the words he often wound up in trouble.
  • "Soft-Shoe Silhouettes": Two people in silhouette, one making the initial sound of a word and the other the rest of the word; the two then said the word in unison. The soft-shoe music composed by Joe Raposo.
  • "Spidey Super Stories": Short pieces debuting during season four and featuring Spider-Man (Danny Seagren) foiling petty criminals. Spidey was never seen out of costume as his alter ego, Peter Parker, and he spoke in speech balloons for the audience to read. A spin-off comic book, Spidey Super Stories, was produced by Marvel Comics from 1974 to 1981.
  • "Vaudeville Revue": Skits and songs presented in variety-show style on stage, with music fanfare and canned applause; also called "The Stage".
  • "A Very Short Book": Sometimes the last sketch, it featured a nursery rhyme or story read by a cast member who turned the pages of a book with moving pictures. The stories usually had a humorous ending, different from the original.
  • "Vi's Diner": Lee Chamberlin played the proprietor of a diner where customers read simple menus to place their orders.
  • "Wild Guess": Game-show spoof (similar to You Bet Your Life) with announcer Ken Kane (Bill Cosby) and host Bess West (Rita Moreno), in which the contestant would guess the day's secret word. When the word was not guessed, West would give three clues as to what the word was.

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Famous quotes containing the word sketches:

    Monday’s child is fair in face,
    Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
    Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
    Thursday’s child has far to go,
    Friday’s child is loving and giving,
    Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
    And a child that is born on a Christmas day,
    Is fair and wise, good and gay.
    Anonymous. Quoted in Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire, vol. 2, ed. Anna E.K.S. Bray (1838)

    Giles Lacey: I say, old boy, I’m trying to find exactly what your wife does do.
    Maxim de Winter: She sketches a little.
    Giles Lacey: Sketches. Oh not this modern stuff, I hope. You know, portrait of a lamp shade upside down to represent a soul in torment.
    Robert E. Sherwood (1896–1955)

    Turning one’s novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
    Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977)