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Series / The Electric Company (2009)

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"Feel the power, yo, and plug it in!"

From 2009 to 2011, The Electric Company (1971) received a Retool on PBS Kids (often referred to as The New Electric Company) that introduced a cohesive episode-to-episode plot while still retaining the sketch comedy elements. The new series was based on a group named after/for the show, consisting of four teenagers using the power of the "Word Ball" to protect the neighborhood from the Pranksters, a group of small mayhem-loving teenagers. (See the "Characters" link at the top of this page for tropes relating to each character.)



  • Aesop Amnesia: Expect the Pranksters to forget any lesson they learn by the start of the next episode. The Electric Company is guilty of this, too - no matter how many times it's proved you can't trust a Prankster, one of them will get suckered in again.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Skeleckians.
  • Amusing Alien: The Skeleckians, with all their bizarre customs.
  • Art Shift: The "Prankster Planet" segments feature animated versions of Jessica, Marcus, the Pranksters, and Paul the Gorilla.
  • The Artifact:
    • The soft-shoe phonetics routine ("Wuh! All! WALL!"), used with much less frequency.
  • Call-Back: Keith and Marcus have the same reaction to their first word balls.
  • The Cameo: Many celebrities pop up for a segment, including Jimmy Fallon and Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Francine can throw wordballs as her power, but they're purple.
  • Advertisement:
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The whole pilot, especially the pledge.
  • Continuity Reboot: Almost everything associated with the 1970s version has been thrown out the window, including the cast.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Just look at the logo.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Danny Rebus. He takes offense at a lot of things and retaliates harshly.
  • Evil Gloating: Lampshaded in "Prankster Holiday". Turns out that blurting out the evil plan is a really bad habit amongst the Pranksters.
  • Evil Is Petty: Very, very petty.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Pranksters. Special mention goes to Manny Spamboni.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Annie Scrambler causes Jessica to go through this trope in "The Potato Custom" by scrambling a Skeleckian sentence at the end of her Junior Ambassador speech to say something insulting. The Skeleckians are understandably not amused when Jessica says the sentence, not realizing it's been changed into an insult.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: The plot of "Scrambled Eggs" has Annie's uncle Sigmund trick Lisa into willingly getting hypnotized, claiming his station would cure someone's personal flaw (such as her clumsiness), but in reality, it was a scam to lure Lisa to the area so she and Annie would be hypnotized to switch brains with each other, and Annie would use Lisa's body to try and damage the latter's reputation among the town. Although Lisa is able to make Annie want to switch back by secretly following Annie who trying to slander Lisa's reputation via scrambling/changing words to cause trouble for people, only for Lisa to scramble/change the word to a positive term and improve her reputation among town, which angers Annie that nothing she did would ruin Lisa.
  • Grand Theft Me: Annie Scrambler stealing Lisa's body in "Scrambled Brains".
  • Halloween Episode: "Unmuffins".
  • Hiccup Hijinks: Jessica gets this in "Skeleckian Hiccups", where she keeps blurting the truth every time she hiccups.
  • Human Aliens: The Skeleckians have no distinguishing physical features unique to aliens (at first glance) and look exactly like humans. Their only distinguishing features are their signature necklaces and their ability to emit toast-scented steam from their ears.
  • I Can't Hear You: "Count Vacula's a little loud!" "What?! I can't hear you. Count Vacula's a little loud!" Bonus points because it had a mute button the whole time.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man:
    • The Electric Company, Francine and Lisa's friend Dax in the episode "Lost and Spaced".
    • And again in the episode "The Flube Whisperer", this time with Keith and Manny.
  • It Can't Get Any Worse: Used by Hector in "Trouble Afoot".
  • Jumped at the Call: Marcus can't wait to join the company.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Combined with Gosh Dang It to Heck! in the season three premiere.
  • Local Hangout: The Electric Diner is a rare example of one being used as home base.
  • Mad Scientist: Manuel "Manny" Spamboni is a teenage version.
  • Made of Explodium: "I'm special agent Jack Bowser. And this place is about to explode!"
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Hector → Keith → Marcus.
  • Meaningful Name: Annie Scrambler, Danny Rebus and Gilda Flip, who uses a flip phone. Annie Scrambler also sounds slightly like anagram.
  • Mythology Gag: "The Slide and Drop" music sequence is done in 1970s-style costumes reminiscent of the original series.
  • Ninja: Silent "E" is called "the ninja of the alphabet".
  • Once an Episode: There will be a song in the main storyline, or possibly a rap. Usually tied to the moral of the day.
  • Parental Abandonment/Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: None of these parents of all members of the Electric Company were seen except Lisa's mother and Keith’s father. Ruiz sibling’s and Marcus’ parents were never seen and mentioned, Lisa has a mother but her father was never seen, and Keith’s father was seen but not his mother.
  • Pet the Dog: Annie and Danny have occasionally done some good deeds (and are literally both dog lovers). Manny and Francine have done it only if personal gain is involved.
  • Photographic Memory: Hector's superpower, in a more literal sense. He can actually call up any image he remembers, then manipulate it.
  • Poke the Poodle: The Pranksters' deeds can only be considered evil in context. If PBS Kids took it any further than that, they'd be impressionable.
  • Put on a Bus: In the third season, Lisa is accepted into a science program that takes her away from the city. She still makes minor appearances, though.
  • Remake Cameo: June Angela had one, but did not say anything.
  • Retool: The third season, to an extent - new animated characters serve as "hosts" for the show, commenting on the plot and segueing to the segment breaks as well as their own shorts. The breaks are also much shorter and focus more on the practice of reading rather than reading basics (like letter sounds).
  • Science Fair: The premise of the episode "Lost and Spaced".
  • Showdown at High Noon: In the Mighty Knight episode Jessica and Manny have a parody of this even with a tumbleweed rolling between them.
  • Spiritual Successor: Given the show's timeslot and premise, it can be hard not to think of Ghostwriter if you grew up in the 1990s.
  • Status Quo Is God: At the end of the Unmuffin story, Danny and Manny eat the unbuns to go back to being pranksters. Jessica says they don't have to, but Danny says they do (with no further explanation).
  • Stopped Reading Too Soon: The lesson taught in one episode is to read words all the way through to prevent yourself from misunderstanding what's being said. The "Pets Home Alone" segment in that episode features the pets making guacamole from a written recipe. When the pet in charge of reading the recipe gets to the part mentioning tomatoes, he somehow stops reading it too soon and thinks Tom the cat is one of the ingredients.
  • Super-Speed Reading: Viewers at home are told to take their time reading, because a word or sentence might end differently than they expect.
  • The Teaser: Used to set up the conflict of the episode. One member of the company sees something going wrong and rallies the team with "HEY YOU GUYS!" This doubles as a Couch Gag.
  • Timeskip: Between seasons 2 and 3.
  • True Companions: The four main characters.
  • Tsundere: Annie on occasion; a villainous version.
  • Villain Song: There are many, trust us.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: The Electric Company has a code of conduct which forbids the misuse of the power of words, so, on principle, its members try not to lie.