Afterschool Series on PBS
to inspire post September 11 patriotism with the “revolutionary”
new kids’ show, Liberty’s Kids, a clever animated PBS series which
features a galaxy of movie stars reenacting leaders from American
history. Premiering September 2 (Labor Day), the 40-part series
then settles into its regular 30-minute afterschool slot, Monday
through Friday (check local listings for time). Additionally,
six new episodes will run in November, with the remaining nine
scheduled for early 2003. Through innovative story telling and
first-rate animation, Liberty’s Kids covers American history from
1773 to 1789, starting with The Boston Tea Party and ending with
the inauguration of America’s first President, George Washington.
Aimed at seven to 12-year-olds, the series focuses on key historical
incidents through the eyes of James Hiller (Chris Lundquist) and
Sarah Phillips (Reo Jones), two young apprentices working in Benjamin
Franklin’s (Walter Cronkite) Print Shop. Together, they prove
they can get the scoop for Franklin’s paper, as they meet revolutionary
superstars such as Patrick Henry (Michael Douglas); Paul Revere
(Sylvester Stallone); Thomas Jefferson (Ben Stiller), and Abigail
Adams (Annette Bening). Eight-year- old Henri (Kathleen Barr),
a French urchin befriended by Franklin, is the duo’s sidekick
and Moses (D. Kevin Williams), a slave who bought his freedom,
keeps an eye on all three.
Two pilots available to the press did a fine job of dramatizing
the whys, wherefores and reprisals of “The Boston Tea Party” and
the British Parliament’s “Intolerance Acts” in response to it.
Here, at Franklin’s request, Moses, James and Henri travel to
Boston to meet Sarah who has arrived from England on a tea-laden
ship under raid by the colonists. Fleeing, they hide in the house
of the African–American poet, Phillis Wheatley (Tina Dixon), where
Sarah first learns the horrors of slavery. Lesser-knowns of history
like Wheatley add value to the series. Each segment also features
three one-minute flash games and news segments, which further
reinforce the learning elements
of the show and lead to its website (www.pbskids.org/libertyskids).
Produced by DIC Entertainment in asso-ciation with Public Broadcasting
Systems, Liberty’s Kids’ research team included Stanford’s Professor
Jack Rakove and UCLA’s Dr. Gordon Berry. #
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