Dustin Hoffman, Sylvester Stallone, Billy Crystal & more stars as "Liberty" returns @ 28 July 2013 10:07 PM
What a cast: Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin. plus Billy Crystal (John Adams), Annette Bening (Abigail Adams), Dustin Hoffman (Benedict Arnold), Sylvester Stallone (Paul Revere), Liam Neeson (John Paul Jones), Michael Douglas (Patrick Henry), Ben Stiller (Thomas Jefferson), General H. Norman Schwarzkopf (George Rogers Clark), Whoopi Goldberg (Deborah Samson), Warren Buffet (James Madison), Michael York (Admiral Lord Howe), Kayla Hinkle (Sybil Luddington), Aaron Carter (Joseph Plumb Martin), Arnold Schwartzenegger (Baron Von Steuben), Maria Shriver (Peggy Shippen), Yolanda King (Elizabeth Freeman), Mario Kreutzberger (Governor Galvez) and Charles Shaughnessy (Various Voices)

An ambitious, 40-episode animated series created for PBS, I would hope that "Liberty's Kids" might have been utilized by some teachers to augment their American history curriculum. (Not to replace, mind you, but augment.) When I was a kid, history was kind of dry, but this series is a great way to bring what is really a very exciting story to a level that kids understand, are compelled by (my kids saw every one when they were young) and avoids being too stilted.

Young people are the fictional lead characters who thread us through real events throughout the Revolutionary War Period. It's not the first time cartoon watchers have seen this narrative technique. Archie comics have been doing it for decades and of course, CBS broadcast their final Filmation Archie series, "The U.S. of Archie," with the conceit that Archie and his friends somehow had ancestors during every crucial period in American history. Then there's "This is America, Charlie Brown," which didn't even explain how the Peanuts characters materialized in these historic settings.

"Liberty's Kids" doesn't star familiar cartoon characters. Instead, it stars a very impressive roster of celebrity guest voices. The combination of acting styles sometimes clash a bit, between the voice actors specific kind of style, the somewhat naturalistic approach of certain star voices and the rather surprising casting of others.

To their credit, the stars do give their all. But once I discovered Billy Crystal was voicing John Adams, I had the same challenges Phil Harris fans had when watching "The Jungle Book." The personality is just too ingrained in my head. Sorry to single him out, as Crystal has proven quite capable of drama before and he does not phone in John Adams here. But he's very distinctive, especially now that Mike Wazowski has appeared in two hit movies. Even though Ben Stiller has also voiced the lead in the Madagascar movies, his voice is not as unmistakable as Crystal.

And it's not like Walter Cronkite isn't unmistakable too. Cronkite was not an actor, but he was a master of presenting words and you would not expect him to be anyone but himself in the role of Ben Franklin, who is the only continuing adult character in the series.

DIC's animation is very much the slick TV type you might see in an upscale direct-to-DVD movie, with elaborate execution in some places and limited movement in others. The writing is uniformly solid, scripted by such primetime veterans as Bill Dial ("WKRP in Cincinnati") and Marc Zicree ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"). The best moments are not necessarily the "big" historical ones, but rather the lesser known, realistic details, such as a scene in which James, the young reporter, assumes that tar and feathering is a laugh fest until he is told how horrifyingly painful it is.

This is a very affordable reissue of the complete series. It should be noted that it, contains the dramatic content of the episodes without the interstitials that replaced commercial breaks on PBS. An earlier set did include them as separate bonus features. They do not advance the narrative but if you want them, you may want to seek out the earlier release.

Episode 1
September 2, 2002
The Boston Tea Party

Episode 2
September 3, 2002
Intolerable Acts

Episode 3
September 4, 2002
United We Stand

Episode 4
September 5, 2002
Liberty or Death

Episode 5
September 6, 2002
Midnight Ride

Episode 6
September 9, 2002
The Shot Heard Round the World

Episode 7
September 10, 2002
Green Mountain Boys

Episode 8
September 11, 2002
The Second Continental Congress

Episode 9
September 12, 2002
Bunker Hill

Episode 10
September 13, 2002
Postmaster General Franklin

Episode 11
September 16, 2002
Washington Takes Command

Episode 12
September 17, 2002
Common Sense

Episode 13
September 18, 2002
The First Fourth of July

Episode 14
September 19, 2002
New York, New York

Episode 15
September 20, 2002
The Turtle

Episode 16
September 23, 2002
One Life to Lose

Episode 17
September 24, 2002
Captain Molly

Episode 18
September 25, 2002
American Crisis

Episode 19
September 26, 2002
Across the Delaware

Episode 20
September 27, 2002
An American in Paris

Episode 21
September 30, 2002
Sybil Lundington

Episode 22
October 1, 2002
Lafayette Arrives

Episode 23
October 2, 2002
The Hessians are Coming

Episode 24
October 3, 2002
Valley Forge

Episode 25
October 4, 2002
Allies at Last

Episode 26
November 4, 2002
Honor and Compromise

Episode 27
November 5, 2002
The New Frontier

Episode 28
November 6, 2002
Not Yet Begun to Fight

Episode 29
November 7, 2002
The Great Galvez

Episode 30
November 8, 2002
In Praise of Ben

Episode 31
November 11, 2002

Episode 32
January 20, 2003
Benedict Arnold

Episode 33
January 21, 2003
Conflict in the South

Episode 34
January 22, 2003
Deborah Samson - Soldier of the Revolution

Episode 35
January 23, 2003
James Armistead

Episode 36
January 24, 2003

Episode 37
January 25, 2003
Born Free and Equal

Episode 38
March 4, 2003
The Man Who Wouldn't Be King

Episode 39
April 2, 2003
Going Home

Episode 40
April 3, 2003
We the People
News powered by CuteNews - http://cutephp.com