Liberty's Kids: Est. 1776 (2002–2003)
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I would often leave the TV going in the next room and kept hearing this melodramatic violin music and crescendo in a cartoon for a commercial bumper, then accompanied by a half-hip hop ending credits. I became intrigued and ended up watching the show (as well as having Walter Cronkite doing Ben Franklin, the one that finally got me was Dustin Hoffman) Whether the show has historical accuracy is one major facet. That the show is so obviously slanted American, I don't focus on this aspect.
What I do note is the pretentiousness in the main characters of the youths, happily engaging in friendship with the slaves (hard to refer to them as such in the program).
I just watched the episode with the declaration of independence coming about and the one African-American fellow kept boldly and steadfastly insisting on freedom for slaves. The cartoon literally seemed to want to end on an upbeat note, but uh, guys, freedom ain't coming about for any slaves anytime in these peoples lives.
So until the, GOD BLESS America! The whole program TRYING to deal with this and not wanting to say 'but for now, you're still a slave' is like a SNL skit.
The episode was further compounded by the two kids, the redhead girl and the blonde guy (same Hollywood imaging they always have. Check out the hair color reversals from Johan and Peewee who used to be on the Smurfs), WANTING to report on the goings on but being told they weren't allowed. And Im going to really get a kick out of watching this show now and when someone is talking, seeing one of these kids off to the side writing on a little notepad.
They're "reporting!" It was funny when the guards kept removing the kids from the doors and windows and the kid says "those guys take their jobs too seriously!" All I could think was these waifs were taking the idea of reporting the events too seriously.
In the 70s, we were given Schoolhouse Rock, with America Rock, and a generation or two to this day cannot recite the pre-amble without singing it. I took a daily grade as a zero in school for not reciting the pre-amble simply because I can't. I must sing it.
A few scant years before, there was US of ARchie, a show I did enjoy, which runs very similar to liberty Kids here.
These are all at least an introduction, yes, inaccurate, but they can be an introduction.
They also meet important colonial figures like George Washington through John Adams (voiced by Billy Crystal). The show has other celebrity voices like Woopi Goldberg through Dustin Hoffman.
This is the best show on PBS since "Square One TV/Mathnet" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
I give it 10 out of 10.
Having said all that PBS is taking some risks here with this show. It actually shows the Americans in a good light which what I know about PBS is unusual. I'm sure this as far as they would go, because they would never dare show a cartoon series of the Mexican-American war, Custers last stand, the Alamo, the gold rush or even W.W.II in such a noble way without creating outrage from disgruntled Spanish-speaking Americans, native Americans as well Asian Americans(not to mention law suits).
It seems that we Brits are still fair game in the eyes of PBS. If PBS want's to continue receiving vast amount of cash from it's sponsors and pledge money from willing viewers keep an eye out for "civil war kids" and "slavery kids" some time in the future
The story is about Sarah, a Loyalist girl from England, James, a colonial journalist working for Ben Franklin, Henri, a little French orphan, and Moses, a freed African who works at the print shop. Together they live and experience the American Revolution firsthand.
However there is one thing I wish this show had done, which was show a little more of what it was like to be a loyalist in America during and post war. Sure there were a few loyalists here and there, but it would have been more interesting if they had shown a little more of the struggles that loyalist families had at that time and how families were torn apart do to the war. That aside, it's still a great history show for kids.
Long story short, this is one of my favorite shows from when I was a kid, and there should be a lot more like this on television today. Particularly shows that can get kids interested and excited about history.
Firstly, the war was fought as a direct result of a treaty that the British made on behalf of the colonists with the various Native American tribes that allied with the French during the Seven Years' War. The Proclamation of 1763 recognised native claims to land west of Appalachia, which many colonists chose to ignore. Instead, they preferred to encroach upon native lands and murder the rightful owners, then protested when British common law made objection. The Stamp Act and the Sugar Act were, granted, more immediate causes, but the discontent over taxes fed off of the prior discontent over the Proclamation.
The war was a rebellion, and as most rebellions are, the WAI was messy. It caused a great deal of suffering among many colonial communities, more so among those still loyal to the Crown, and even more so among the Native Americans that found themselves being dragged in. (A notable player in the Northern War was the Mohawk nation of the Haudenosaunee led by Joseph Brant, but Brant seemed not to warrant mention, being a Native American.) Nor were the tens of thousands of colonists that were driven from their homes either by force or by circumstance to Canada, to Britain and to the West Indies throughout the war (and after). The representative of the Loyalists on the show was an elderly English lady of means, perpetuating the stereotype that the Loyalists were on the whole reactionary, well-off, and 'out of touch'.
More disturbing to my mind has already been touched on by a previous reviewer - it doesn't help kids understand the motivations and the mindsets of the British, preferring instead to make them the Empire of Star Wars: wanton, callous and cruel (in the historical school of Mel Gibson, naturally. It's always a simple battle between 'us' - the 'good guys', and 'them' - the inscrutable, inhuman 'bad guys'). Come on, folks, give kids some credit for intelligence. They understand more than they let on - they can understand a few moral complexities, such as there certainly were during the War of American Independence. Shows such as 'GhostWriter' and 'Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood', that taught social responsibility and, yes, critical ethical thinking, are far more valuable than this pap. Come on, public television, show some class!
I feel strongly that this show was actually harmful to young people - it made virtues out of xenophobia and nationalism. Not only that, but it was bad history too.
I hope it never appears in re-runs or on home video. American kids deserve better than this simplistic and hurtful rubbish.
Love this show. Felt like Dic Kids Network stopped airing this on here because of Sabrina's Secret Life. They should've kept this show. It ended too early.
And they better make this a movie. I'm gonna get them to, cause I'm gonna bring back Dic and they're gonna help me make a movie.
They probably won't, though, with the majority of people forgetting this series. It's one of those "come and go" shows. If they get put into the "show hole" then I'm gonna die of this.
This was way better than a lot of Dic shows (considerably way better than The Littles) that aired. Also I'm gonna reboot this show. It deserves to be resurrected.
This cartoon has all star voice actors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Micheal York and Dustin Hoffman.
However, just being a kid show, some elements, AKA blood and death, are toned down for viewers of young ages, however some "Higher than Barney average" language, themes like religion and slavery, and that time period related views on females, may make you think about showing this to your 8 year old.
The fact is that the messages the show gives off and the stereotypes contained therein are reprehensible, and represent the very worst bigotry possible; the americans characterised are portrayed as either old and wise (franklin) or young and well-intentioned (most of the rest of the regular cast), and all of them are good, intelligent, ethical people. The british in the show (one of whom is played by Michael York, a highly talented thespian educated at oxford, fallen to such depths as 'dark planet' and this, a Patrick Stewart of poor fortune with a streak of Pearce Brosnan) are portrayed to the greatest extent possible as mean-spirited, callous, and capable of dreadful things.
The fact is, *regardless* of whether such stereotypes are true or not, such portrayal is *not* appropriate in this day in age, especially given the 'special relationship' now endured by the United States and the United Kingdom. It would be possible to make a more mindlessly anti-english, pro-american show, but this hasn't been put together mindlessly: the intention of the show is quite deliberate, and it is - as stated - to slip messages like these quietly into the supplicatory, nurturing television watching of young next-generation americans, the messages of which they will blithely and unthinkingly assimilate as parts of their own ideology.