The Almost Painless Guide to the Branches of Government

Article excerpt

The almost painless guide to the branches of government. United Learning, 1998, three 20-minute VHS videos, color, closed-captioned, upper elementary/junior high/high school, $89.95 each.

The three programs making up this short series collectively cover a basal body of information essential to an understanding of the government of the United States, and as such would be a beneficial addition to almost any school library collection. The programs -- one each on the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the federal government -- contain a fair amount of overlapping information and can be used individually or together as desired. They present the purposes and functions of each branch, their constitutional basis and authority, some history of each, and the ways in which they have both changed and remained the same over the years. Key points are reviewed at the end. The programs comprise historical images and documents, archival film, screen text, simple animation and location footage all tied together by the humorously bantering voice-over narration of two unseen hosts, Harlan Hogan (who also wrote the programs) and Marie Burke. …