Reading Rainbow 2.0 (& every single episode of Reading Rainbow available on YouTube)
June 21, 2012 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Reading Rainbow is back (includes video interview with LeVar Burton, ~4.5 min.) - "rebooted as an app for tablet computers" (Android? yes, soon); reviews from Gizmodo & Engadget. Here's a recent convention Q&A with Burton where he announces the app (video, relevant part starts at 3:30). But if this announcement is simply making you nostalgic for the television show, all 155 episodes of Reading Rainbow are available here on YouTube (neatly sorted into playlists by season, or you can just start here for every single episode in order). (previously: LeVar Burton goes behind the scenes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in a Reading Rainbow episode - Reading Rainbow ends its 26-year run)
posted by flex (53 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Set phasers to LOVE ME.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:35 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


All I wanted was a picture. You can't disappoint a picture.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


LeVar must hate being forever typecast by his RR experience.
posted by fairmettle at 8:48 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Don't miss Patrick Stewart reading on Reading Rainbow!
posted by DarlingBri at 8:51 AM on June 21, 2012


LeVar must hate being forever typecast by his RR experience.

I don't think he is. I think he's transcended it a bit, while being known more for his Star Trek role.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Set phasers to LOVE ME.

You can't disappoint a picture!
posted by Talez at 8:55 AM on June 21, 2012


I think this is probably due to increased interest in the show sparked by Jimmy Fallon's Doors cover of the theme song.
posted by Naberius at 8:55 AM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


That wooshing sound was the noise of fairmettle's joke sailing harmlessly through the air above SpacemanStix's head, never coming within three feet of striking him.
posted by Scientist at 8:58 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nice! I guess I won't need that dubious cable in the classroom login anymore.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2012


I don't think he is. I think he's transcended it a bit, while being known more for his Star Trek role.

To this day, I am surprised when I see his irises.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:17 AM on June 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wasn't there also talk at some point of Levar starting a book TV show for adults?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2012


More fish for Kunte!
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering the reading level of many Americans, RR could conceivably be an book show for adults.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


But you don't have to take my word for it!
posted by xedrik at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't have children, but I have an iPad. Reading Rainbow meant so much to me growing up, that I immediately subscribed for 6 months to help support this. I hope that it grows and more kids are brought to the joy of reading like I was when I was 6.
posted by inturnaround at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


LeVar must hate being forever typecast by his RR experience.

I never got this impression. On the contrary, he always came across as really getting into his work with Reading Rainbow, and being proud of it. (And rightly so!)
posted by xedrik at 9:30 AM on June 21, 2012


LeVar must hate being forever typecast by his RR experience.

Almost the opposite. He's always given me the impression that acting and directing are work that he enjoys - but that education, helping kids love to read, is his great passion and purpose.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:33 AM on June 21, 2012


More fish for Kunte.
posted by mightygodking at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2012


C'mon guys, fairmettle might have been joking.

And I'm being ironic in my use of the word might.

Let's use some teamwork here.
posted by inturnaround at 9:38 AM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's so obviously emotionally invested in this, and passionate about it, it really shows.

From the Engadget review: Host LeVar Burton was clearly emotional when he hit the stage, dabbing tears before discussing the two-year journey that culminates today with the release of the Reading Rainbow iPad App... Burton told us that he was genuinely surprised with the public outcry that followed the show's cancellation. Kids have grown up with it for more than a quarter-century, and as such, there are some fairly strong emotional bonds at play here. According to Burton, maintaining the elements that made the show so magical was the most difficult aspect of the 18 months the team invested in the creation of the app.

And from the Gizmodo review: But this isn't just any product pitch—which is good, because Burton lacks all the unctuousness of a salesman or marketing player. He just... cares. His enthusiasm for an app designed to encourage little kids to read is almost overwhelming. How many people care about anything this much?... Kids like those two mesmerized by an app are an inevitability—and if we can make them mesmerized by a book instead of a game, we have to take the chance. We must. Burton is emphatic. "Ed[ucational] tech!" Burton grunts, pounding his palm with his fist. It's imperative to him that we get kids using these everywhere-screens to become readers, writers, and thinkers, before they become something else. "We've already lost an entire generation of children. Maybe two," he laments. This one, for whom touch screens are a given, should be different. It must be different, and you can see in LeVar Burton's almost crazed eyes that the dude really, really, really wants kids to read more.
posted by flex at 9:40 AM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Did RR ever do an episode about irony? Because fairmettle's comment is a pretty classic example.
posted by muddgirl at 9:40 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved Burton's appearance on Community, mostly because I'm convinced that LeVar Burton would treat a freaked-out-to-the-point-of-catatonia fan precisely the way he treated Troy: With respect, kindness and patience. If Levar Burton isn't almost exactly the way he portrayed himself on Reading Rainbow, I'd be amazed. Really great human being.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


LeVar Burton has Roots, Star Trek: TNG, and Reading Rainbow. That's an awesome career, especially considering how wildly different each project was (and is).
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also if I had a kid and an iPad I would totally subscribe to this app - it's what, $1 more expensive per month than Netflix?
posted by muddgirl at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2012


Mr. Excellent: "I loved Burton's appearance on Community"

Anything that makes Donald Glover cry is wonderful in my book.

That looks awful out of context, so I should explain that Donald Glover crying is pretty much the golden ratio of hilarious and adorable.
posted by schmod at 9:51 AM on June 21, 2012


Rushing to find a YouTube downloader script now. I made the mistake of trying to watch Night Court online, only to have the uploads yanked for copyright infringement shortly thereafter. (I also bought the DVDs I could, of course, but most Night Court seasons aren't out on DVD, and the Reading Rainbow situation is even worse).
posted by roystgnr at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw LeVar Burton at the Comic Expo in Calgary just this past April. He was in a panel with Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton, and at one point he led the whole (huge!) audience in singing the Reading Rainbow theme. If I hadn't already adored the guy, that would have done it right there.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a kid I was addicted to Reading Rainbow - it was part of the holy trilogy of "my" TV shows, along with Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

I did not know until I was well into my teens that he'd also been in Roots. This was a family conspiracy: if I'd seen my beloved Mister Reading Rainbow (who read books to me and therefore could do no wrong, ever) being beaten, in shackles, I would have raised so much hell the police would probably have come out to investigate.
posted by cmyk at 10:12 AM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait, is RR where he did the interview with Rickie Lee Jones that The Orb sampled for "Little Fluffy Clouds"?
posted by the sobsister at 10:17 AM on June 21, 2012


This is cool. Mrs Mcable is mentioned by name by LeVar Burton on one episode for a children's book she illustrated. We'll be looking for that one.
posted by Mcable at 10:34 AM on June 21, 2012


Wait, is RR where he did the interview with Rickie Lee Jones that The Orb sampled for "Little Fluffy Clouds"?


OMG that was Rickie Lee Jones? woah. The more you know...
posted by Theta States at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2012


Wait, is RR where he did the interview with Rickie Lee Jones that The Orb sampled for "Little Fluffy Clouds"?

No, apparently. Urban legend. Although it is Rickie Lee Jones.

From Wikipedia on Little Fluffy Clouds: "Little Fluffy Clouds" is centred on clips from an interview with Rickie Lee Jones in which she recalls picturesque images of her childhood. Critics and fans sometimes attribute the odd nasal tonality of Jones' voice to drug use, though Jones later claimed that it was the result of a heavy cold. The samples are widely believed to have come from a conversation between Jones and LeVar Burton on the children's television programme Reading Rainbow, but in fact originated from an interview disc that was issued with some promotional boxed copies of her album Flying Cowboys. The interview was not actually conducted by Burton at all.
posted by Naberius at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2012


RUN DMC!

This episode is amazing: music videos from Lionel Richie, Sting, Tears for Fears, El DeBarge, Run DMC and then a story from Pete Seeger.
posted by lily_bart at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Naberius,

Thanks for that info. I always thought it sounded like Burton asking the question, but that may have been cognitive consistency having its way.
posted by the sobsister at 11:17 AM on June 21, 2012


At the last installment of my NYC variety show, I had Broadway star Loni Ackerman as one of our guests to talk about her stint as Grizabella in "CATS" back in the 1980's. When she arrived that night she had a VHS copy of her appearance on Reading Rainbow, in which she gave a tutorial on how she applied her cat makeup and got into character.

We played the tape. It was truly amazing to feel the energy run through the room as people's memories of that specific episode were triggered and suddenly the audience became downright worshipful. She told us that of all the gigs she's ever had (and this is a woman who was one of the first actresses to play Evita, and was later asked to understudy for Patti LuPone), the RR episode is the one that other people get the most excited about to this day, especially people her kids' age and younger.

I hadn't thought about the show for years and years until that happened, but looking back it was basically the only outlet for me to hear about new books and learn about other places. It was amazing to make contact with someone who'd benefited from the show from the other side.
posted by hermitosis at 12:06 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Earlier this year, LeVar Burton was rear-ended by a police cruiser during a routine traffic stop. Unlike what usually happens, the resulting TMZ interview is actually a joy to watch, and not just for LeVar's Reading Rainbow t-shirt.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:24 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I pinged him on Twitter with a link to this thread. Maybe he'll pop in and become one of Mefi's Own.

I am not sure that I could watch Roots *now* - when they whump Geordi on TNG I get uncomfortable. You Do Not Do That To Mister Reading Rainbow! What's next, lighting Big Bird on fire?
posted by cmyk at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2012


I have neither a kid nor an iPad but this news makes me more likely to want both.

On a very weirdly related derail, my TiVo recorded the ST:TNG episode "Family" last night, and I watched it all from start-to-finish (because it is even better than I remembered and I may have teared up MULTIPLE times), and there was a point where Riker was filling out a duty roster on one of the tablets they used and after he finished it, he ordered a blue-uniform-wearing-red-shirt to "Take this to Engineering."

And I couldn't believe that every time that happened back in the day we didn't say "Why can't the pads talk to each other?" because here we are in real life and Geordi is selling a pad that does more than we imagined the 24th Century would be capable of.

(Or maybe the Enterprise-D's WiFi had been borked by the Borg.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:35 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Okay, Levar Burton isn't selling iPads, but you get my meaning.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:35 PM on June 21, 2012


My mom had me do RR style book reports during the summers. I am so thankful that was during the age of the Apple iic. My kids aren't so lucky. Youtube...here they come.
posted by psylosyren at 12:39 PM on June 21, 2012


That VentureBeat interview is dizzyingly edited, but it's clear that LeVar really believes in what he's doing. It's not just something he's lent his name to, it's not just a money-grab.

I do worry that it might be slightly ahead of its time, though; tablet computing isn't quite ubiquitous, and we almost certainly haven't reached a stable iteration. The subscription model might mean there just isn't the financial support to keep on keeping on.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:39 PM on June 21, 2012


Blame my English upbringing, but I always used to think that this program had something to do with the town in Berkshire.
posted by Flashman at 2:25 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


SpacemanStix: "LeVar must hate being forever typecast by his RR experience.

I don't think he is. I think he's transcended it a bit, while being known more for his Star Trek role.
"

Yeah when I flashed on the first video frame still image I mentally expected pure white eyes for a quick second and then realized - oh yeah - he's got irises and pupils and shit.
posted by symbioid at 5:58 PM on June 21, 2012


inturnaround: "C'mon guys, fairmettle might have been joking.

And I'm being ironic in my use of the word might.

Let's use some teamwork here.
"

Oh god oh god oh god, yes... Team work. team work... Amazing how these all come flooding back.
posted by symbioid at 6:00 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


May I recommend my all-time favorite episode of Reading Rainbow? It was the second episode from the first series featuring one of the best books ever, 'Miss Nelson Is Back'. It originally aired in 1983, but my local PBS showed it every year for Levar's birthday in February! I still get so excited thinking about how much I loved this episode!
posted by Mael Oui at 7:51 PM on June 21, 2012


IIIIIIIII, cannnnnnn go anywheeeeeere!

My dad watched a lot of TNG when I was a kid. The first time he pointed out to me that Geordi was the guy from Reading Rainbow, my mind was blown. (Although I have to admit, I was young enough to be confused about why he could see on the other show.)
posted by Night_owl at 1:04 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Why can't the pads talk to each other?"

Probably the same reason people had to walk to the transporter room.

Also, now I have a real thing to legitimately and actively incorporate technology into my daily life with my three year old. She's already better than me at the "mean bird game", and every time I need to work when I get home she lugs her leapfrog laptop out of the closet and sits next to me on the couch asking me if mine makes pig noises too.

Which, I guess was the point of his "we've already lost a generation, possibly two" comment.

And since I'm already rambling, does anybody know if most of the books highlighted on the show are still available in print? Being able to watch an episode together and then have her read the actual book might just make me a decent parent after all.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:31 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I started buying OOP kids books online last year. There's a bustling market for those much-loved classics.
posted by Theta States at 6:59 AM on June 22, 2012


Levar was on Fallon the other night and they showed his Morrison version of the theme song. Levar loved it. He mentioned that practically his entire family are educators and he is immensely proud of his ability to carry on that tradition via RR.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


LeVar Burton is this generation's Fred Rogers. (BYDHTTMYFI)
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:07 AM on June 23, 2012


Weren't they, for 'my' generation, contemporaneous? Mr. Roger's neighborhood ran from 1968-2001. Reading Rainbow ran from 1983-2006. I suppose there's a quarter-generation that grew up post-MR and during-RR.
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I definitely see them both as part of my childhood.
posted by Night_owl at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2012


Reading Rainbow: Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on June 28, 2012


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