Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sesame Street

Ah... the good old days... I remember when I could watch Sesame Street and not become annoyed beyond belief. Not just when I was a small little guy, but even as I grew older. Something happened though... Something went wrong along the way... It would be wrong to speculate (a crack epidemic? Invasion of the Muppet Snatchers? starting to take advice from a talking goldfish?) so let me just go through the current state of Sesame Street...

Act One - Street Scenes

These days, if you miss the opening few minutes of Sesame Street, you may miss your favorite characters. The initial section of the show normally involves some story or plot device and is often the only time you will see Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Grover, or even human actors such as Bob or Gordon. Don't blink, or you might miss them. I must have blinked many times before because today was the first time I saw Bob in over a decade!
Street Scenes used to be spread thoughout the show, interspersed with other things like videos, games, interviews, counting, etc. Now it is all together in one lump at the beginning of the show. I have no problem with this, even though it means there is little reason to watch the rest of the show after. Street Scenes is undoubtedly the best portion of the current show.

Act Two - Murray Has a Little Lamb

I have to admit that Murray Has a Little Lamb makes me smile. Perhaps it is the catchy theme song. Maybe it is the purple sheep. Maybe it is the fact that the lamb flies all over the place like a crazy dust bunny. Murray is not offensive to me and seems to have a pretty well defined purpose on the show. Going to different schools to learn different things is what a great focus for Murray and Ovejita (the lamb) to explore. This is my second favorite portion of the show.

Act Three - Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures

Here is where we start to go downhill. And fast. I have always been a fan of Bert and Ernie. From Ernie touching song about his Rubber Ducky to Bert's pigeon obsession, these close friends have always been a favorite of mine. With that being said, I am saddened to say that a regular section of the current Sesame Street, which is dedicated to Bert and Ernie, is just horrible.
To be fair, it is not the worst thing I have ever seen (we'll get to you soon, Elmo), but it is a horrible example of managing your assets. You see, Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures are claymation shorts. That is clay-animation! What are the producers thinking? You have Bert and Ernie on payroll. Two of the greatest Muppets of all time! And you don't have them star in their own adventures? Instead, you hire your 8 year old nephew to create Play-Doh figurines that look like Bert and Ernie? What is wrong with you? That is like having Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth, and Jim Brown working for you and then deciding that your company should play in an inter-mural soccer league! So while Bert and Ernie are busy chowing down at the catering cart, their clay doppelgangers get to go on all sorts of adventures. That is just wrong...

Act Four - Abby's Flying Fairy School

Seen on its own terms, Abby's Flying Fairy School doesn't seem to be too bad. However, the second we examine it, we start to get annoyed. First of all, this segment is CGI-animated. That makes almost half of Sesame Street animated in one form or another! And, just like Bert and Ernie, Abby is an actual Muppet! Why not let Abby be Abby? Why do we need to watch a cartoon version of Abby? Granted, Abby is not as beloved as Bert or Ernie, so we'll just move past that.
Second, the segment has all new characters. That's fine, each generation needs their own heroes, but let's think about one of these characters for a moment. His name is Niblet. Yes, Niblet. He is named after corn. But, don't let that fool you into thinking you know what he is like. Oh no, Niblet has nothing to do with corn. He isn't a walking stalk or a superhero who can "pop" when danger approaches... nope... Niblet is part gerbil / part unicorn! Um... what? Part gerbil and part unicorn? So this thing... named after corn... is half labratory test rodent and have imaginary animal? Huh? I think my brain just fell out.
Third, while the characters use logic, reasoning, and analysis to solve problems (all of which I find to be very impressive in a world where they could just use, you know, magic), they decided to create a word to illuminate this process. That word? "Twinklethink." "Twinklethink." Yes, "Twinklethink." Did they want to come up with the most inane and annoying word possible? Are they trying to make their viewers change the channel and watch Jerry Springer? I swear I saw my son trying to shove the remote control into his ear when they were "twinklethinking."
Now if they showed Abby's Freaky Floaty School every now and then, I wouldn't mind as much. But when you are subjected to "twinklethinking" every day, it is quite disturbing.

Act Five - Word on the Street

As discussed above, I have no issue with Murray. But who is his agent? He gets TWO segments on the show, but I haven't seen The Count in years? Can't SuperGrover handle this segment? Come on, Murray, stop hogging the spotlight.
This segment is pretty good, I must say. Except for one thing. Unfortunately it is a very big thing. The "Street" of Word on the Street is not Sesame Street!!!! It appears to be just some random city intersection where someone dropped Murray.
Remember when there used to be people on Sesame Street? Not just the residents and the Muppets, but all sorts of people would show up. There were children playing all the time. People used to ask how to get to Sesame Street. The location was almost its own character on the show. But now? Murray has to go somewhere else to get the Word on the Street? Murray is also not on Sesame Street during his Murray Had a Little Lamb segment, but that makes sense, since Sesame Street can not have 14,000 schools to visit.
All of this leads one to wonder... is Murray banned from Sesame Street? Did he do something bad and had to be shunned to outside the Street's boundaries? Too many questions for a vocabulary segment...

Act Six - Elmo's World

Check out my other blog posts to know exactly how I feel about Elmo. Everything about this segment is wrong. Elmo drives me crazier than any other character on Sesame Street. However, this segment is the only other segment (besides Street Scenes) where you may catch a glimpse of a more well-liked Muppet. But only if someone sends Elmo email about his annoying topic of the day.
You know what, it's late... I could be up all night talking about how Elmo must die. But instead, I will refer you back to my previous posts.

Overall, it has become a sad, sad day on Sesame Street. Old Muppet friends are hidden away to gather dust on their felt, while new levels of annoyance in characters (Elmo) and incompetence in management decisions (Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures and Abby's Flying Fairy School) run rampant. Where is the intrepid newspaper reporter Kermit to do a thorough investigation of the Street when we need him?

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