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ABC to air ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ primetime special

Schoolhouse Rock from ABC
Schoolhouse Rock from ABC
ABC/Schoolhouse Rock

It has been 40 years since a certain Saturday morning cartoon woke viewers up with catchy tunes – and maybe an educational lesson or two. And now, ABC’s retro series “Schoolhouse Rock” is coming back to TV for a primetime special.

On Friday, Entertainment Weekly revealed that the Emmy winning educational jam session will return to the small screen on Sept. 7 for a special hosted by “Grey’s Anatomy” star Chandra Wilson. The special will feature interviews with the creators and writers of the show, and will include all of the series greatest hits, like “I’m Just a Bill,” “Conjunction Junction,” “Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here,” and more, in an effort to choose the top “Schoolhouse Rock” song of all time.

Back in the day, then-ABC exec Michael Eisner gave “Schoolhouse Rock” the green light for its 1973 debut, and the kiddie educational series went on to become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. "Schoolhouse Rock" premiered on Jan. 13, 1973, and ran on ABC until 1985. The series was later revived in 1993, with old and new episodes, until it went off the air in 1999.

The man behind the show’s iconic soundtrack was jazz pianist and vocalist Bob Dorough, who was approached in 1971 by a New York advertising exec whose sons could not multiply. After setting the multiplication tables to music with the song "Three's a Magic Number,” the musician knew he had a hit, according to CNN.

Last year, Dorough, who is now 90, said he still performs and still gets requests from adults to sing some of the “Schoolhouse Rock” bits when they recognize his voice. "I am not surprised at all [that the videos still resonate]," Dorough told CNN. "However, what surprised me most was the impact of network television, which kicked in years later, after we'd been on air at ABC-TV. Thirteen years, plus a second round, helped us to reach literally thousands, in a rather broad age spectrum."

The “Schoolhouse Rock Special” will air Sunday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. on ABC.