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In the early 1970s, the Archies were very popular in cartoon form and the Bicentennial was approaching. The producers of the Archie show decided to create a spin-off in which the gang re-enacted various key moments in American history through fantasy (things like the invention of the telephone, women being allowed to vote, the Underground Railroad)adding their own stylings to each moment. The intention was noble enough but the end result was awful. This cartoon stripped the Archies of their music and comedy. They came across as little different than characters you might see in an educational short shown at a local school. I can still recall the opening which featured a parade in which Jughead (playing the drum) marched along with Archie (holding the flag) and Reggie (playing the flute) while fireworks went off. Needless to say, kiddie viewers stayed away in droves and the cartoon soon found itself playing on Sunday mornings instead. Fortunately, the producers soon saw the error of their ways and returned the Archies to their proper time period. The message: that Saturday morning cartoons and educational content do not go hand in hand, as any five year old will tell you.
I found the US of Archie to be one of my very favorite programs. It
coincidentally explored just those very historical episodes in the 3rd
or 4th grade which we were studying.
And instead of the characters becoming flat or stock, I though it showed the, "serious side," of these kids which they must have had in order to be so well-adjusted. It also showed them in learning situations which helped me, a 9 year old with no car in a town with no soda shops, to relate better to the characters.
I felt that the characters as a whole were -enriched- by showing this serious side.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I guess it is all the age you are at when you watch the shows. I did
think there was something different with US of Archie. Even now, typing
that title looks corny.
But some episodes stand out to me, they did then and still do, such as Francis Scott Key (which I believe is on the recent release of Archie shows on DVD) and Susan B. Anthony.
When Archie went into reruns, the bulk of the Archie shows, Funhouse, US of, would all be shown en masse.
Even as a kid when I watched after school, I thought the beginning was hokey and over-dramatic.
IN watching these episodes now in the DVD collection, I am startled by how utterly stripped to the bone these Archie shows all are. STock music, voices, animation thru and thru.
Still, no harm was done.
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