Celebrating four decades with 5 things about Sesame Street

by DaniGirl on November 10, 2009 · 9 comments

in 5 things, Life, the Universe and Everything

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the debut of Sesame Street. I love Sesame Street madly and deeply, and have since I was a preschooler. I may have mentioned that once or two dozen times before.

You know who else loves Sesame Street? My kids. Of all the children’s programming we have on DVD and tape, everything from Blues Clues to Looney Tunes to Pingu to Thomas the Tank Engine to the Schoolhouse Rocks series, the two things that Lucas wants to watch are the Muppet Show and “Bird.” Big Bird, that is. We have two old skool Sesame Street DVD collections comprising six disks of 1970s Sesame bliss, and they’re in nearly constant rotation at our place.

In honour of the best children’s program on television, here’s five things about Sesame Street.

  1. The same puppeteer, 75-year-old Carroll Spinney, has been playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since Day 1. (Have you ever seen the very first episode, where Big Bird’s head is pointy and Oscar is orange? It’s very, um, disquieting.)
  2. In 2005, Cookie Monster went on a health kick and changed his iconic anthem from “C is for Cookie” to “A cookie is a sometimes food.” I think of this, together with the introduction of the inexplicably appealing but unbearably grating Elmo, as the show’s nadir in my own estimation. (Lucas, on the other hand, worships Elmo even though he doesn’t appear in the early episodes we watch on DVD. I saw a four-foot Elmo in the window of Mrs Tiggy Winkles and thought it would make a fun Christmas gift, until I choked on the $179 (!!!) price tag.)
  3. In its first season, the show won a Peabody Award, a Grammy and three Emmys, and Big Bird appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Sesame Street now holds the Guiness Record for most Emmy Awards, with an impressive 122. (Do the math — that’s an average of three each year for 40 years!)
  4. The guest star on Sesame Street’s first episode was James Earl Jones, long before he was the voice of either Darth Vader or CNN, reciting a very solemn alphabet directly into the camera. Apparently, the show receives more requests for guest-star spots than they can accomodate each season. Here’s the full list of celebrity appearances. And check out this terrific compilation by Musicradar.com of the 11 greatest Sesame Street guest songs — I think my inner indie fan loves the Feist and REM ones the best.
  5. The Old School DVD collections carry a disclaimer that says “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.” I’m still perplexed by this. Is it the Ladybugs at the Ladybug Picnic discussing fire insurance? Is it the trippy, psychedelic animations? Is it the obvious Snuffleupagus-ism? Hell, I’d rather have the boys watching vintage Sesame Street than (insert name of any show produced by Nickleodeon or Disney here) any day.

And one bonus item: have you been watching the Sesame Street doodles on Google? If you’ve missed them, the Huffington Post has a slide show with all seven of them. The one with The Count is my favourite, I think.

(Hat tip to Shannon Proudfoot and her fun articles in the Ottawa Citizen this weekend, from which I filched some of the content for this post!)

Happy birthday, Sesame Street. 40 rocks!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 liz November 10, 2009 at 10:31 am

Love the Count one. I actually like them all except the Elmo one, which is boring.

One of my favorite guest appearances was Susan Sarandon reprising a scene in RHPS.

2 Carly November 10, 2009 at 10:42 am

I heart Sesame Street.

WVW: conceive 40

3 Valerie November 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Love the Feist one. Better than the original. 🙂 I didn’t realize Google was doing that, since I have a toolbar rather than going to the home page – very cute.

4 Don C November 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Great pieces from @danigirl http://bit.ly/3Kcdlt and @sproudfoot http://bit.ly/3VKEZH, marking Sesame Street's 40th!

5 Trista November 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

I totally agree aout Sesame Street – some of the best tv-watching memories of my childhood. We are getting vintage SS and the Muppet Show for our daughter, so that when she is old enough to want to watch tv for longer than two minutes (thankfully she’s not there yet), we’ll have things on hand we’re comfortable with her watching and that won’t make us mental. Because you can only take so much Four Square and Wonderpets.
The Cookie Monster health kick was really controversial – I remember my friends and I expressing our outrage. I mean, he’s the COOKIE monster – how can cookies be an occassional food for a COOKIE monster??

6 Valerie November 11, 2009 at 9:26 am
7 DaniGirl November 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Fun, Valerie — thanks!!

8 Barbara November 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm

We’ve been immersing ourselves in Sesame Street lately. Someone in my house will be reading the 40 Years of Sunny Days dvd with a (free) Google doodle t-shirt from Sesame Workshop’s store. The shirt will fit Reid but the dvd will work for me (Ken might not agree, though ;+)

9 embem30 November 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm

My thought when I watched the old Sesame Street DVDs was that the disclaimer might have something to do with the segment that shows kids playing in what looks like a construction yard. (I think it’s in the first episode.) I’m not sure who thought that that would be a good idea.

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