Friday, July 17, 2009

"I'll take my heart into battle/Give that freedom bell a rattle!"

Today marks the passing of another celebrity - legendary journalist Walter Cronkite. Being young'uns, my siblings and I know him better as the voice of Benjamin Franklin in the animated TV show Liberty's Kids. We just bought the entire series on DVD - nerd party!

LK is a surprisingly good PBS production dramatizing major events of the Revolutionary War. We see Independence unfold through the eyes of Franklin and his print shop assistants- Moses, a free black man; James, an apprentice; Sarah, a British ex-pat girl ; and Henri, a mischievous French orphan. The newspaper business conveniently takes the spunky but often whiny kids around the colonies and back.

Just watched the Williamsburg episode, which was pretty well done. On an errand for a new printing press, the group attempts to rescue Moses' brother Cato from slavery. Cato instead tries for freedom by anwering Governor Dunmore's call for slave soldiers. There's still time to hear Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech at St. John's Church in Richmond. James and Henri even partake in the fine tradition of colonial wall jumping!

My one beef with LK is its' often self-righteous modernity. Any mention of the South must contain ardent denunciations of OMG SLAVERY. Did you know slavery is evil? Just in case, we'll say it a dozen more times and assure you that Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were more enlightened than bad old Virginia. James' passion for up-to-the-minute headlines also borders on laughable. He has the attitude of a frantic Twitterer releasing self-important news blasts to the world.

Oh yeah, and then there are the celebrity guest voices. Ben Stiller as Thomas Jefferson? Sylvester Stallone as Paul Revere? We nerd haven't stopped laughing about it.

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