The eleventh episode of the educational series "Storylords"
Curated by Thomas Michalski
Total Runtime: 0:14:02
Produced in 1984 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Storylords aims to teach kids reading skills via fantasy and adventure. Part genuine attempt to entertain as well as educate, part low-budget disaster, and 100% completely bat-shit surreal, the program was shown to elementary school children, mainly 3rd graders, and still runs as part of instructional blocks on PBS. The story follows Norbert, a young boy enlisted by the Storylord Lexor and charged with travelling to the land of Mojuste to foil the sinister plots of the dark Storylord Thorzuul. To reach Mojuste, Norbie must climb atop the magic Bike-O-Tron, an exercise bike in his garage adorned with various bits and bobs (I mentioned it was low-budget, right?), pedal as fast as he can and recite the mysterious incantation, " Thunder and lightning/Trumpets and drums/Readers rejoice/A Storylord comes!". Once there, he must invariably remember back to something he learned in reading class in order to prevent Thorzuul, and his toady Milkbreath, from turning innocent civilians into stone statues.
Much loved by those who remember it as kids, Storylords nevertheless raised the ire of some conservative educators. Writing on the right-wing Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly complained about the shows departure from phonics-based reading education in favor of a "whole language" approach. Of course, one probably shouldn't take her too seriously, as she goes on to complain, "The story content of Storylords is filled with New Age characters, artifacts (e.g., a crystal ring with "powers"), and practices (visualization, communicating through the "powers" of the crystal, incantations, and the occult.)" Holy Camole!