Monday, February 27, 2006

Can you remind me how to get to Sesame Street again?

One of the added bonuses of having Liam around is getting to re-explore the landscape of children’s television. I’ve written before about my appreciation of Jack’s Big Music Show (which, again, is brilliant, though I wish they’d make more episodes already), but the show I may be having the most fun with is Sesame Street. The Street is a little different then you may remember – it’s very segmented now, seeming more like a collection of smaller “shows” than a particularly unified program – but the same comic sensibility that always made it watchable for viewers past the target audience remains.

Like the best Warner Brothers cartoons, there was always a lot of humor that zoomed right over the kids’ heads and aimed straight for the parents. That’s still there, thankfully, but it’s a little different now. Now, Sesame Street is being written by people who likely grew up watching Sesame Street – and it shows. Now the sly pop cultural references buried within the script in order to keep the parents and grandparents entertained often include fondly remembered bits of Street lore. One episode dealt with a neighborhood-wide karaoke night, and the songs the characters sang included the likes of “New Way to Walk,” “The Ladybugs’ Picnic,” and the long-lost “The People in Your Neighborhood,” which of course was sung by good ol’ Bob McGrath. (because, honestly, who else could?) And just the other day, hardcore porridge addict Baby Bear said that he was unable to help with whatever the hell it was that Telly Monster needed help with because he was on his way to Hooper’s Store for Mama Bear to pick up… wait for it… “a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.” (“I remembered, I remembered!”) Sheer nostalgic bliss.

There’ve been a lot of changes over the years around the block containing the brownstone at 123 Sesame Street – the Fix It Shop is now the Mail It Shop, Luis & Maria and Gordon & Susan’s kids are teenagers now, Gina is a veterinarian, Grover is a seasoned world traveler, and Elmo appears to rule the roost with an iron, furry fist – but there’s enough familiarity still there to make it seem as if very little time has passed since you were still firmly within the target demographic.

But if only they’d bring back the Noo Nee Noo Nee Noo typewriter. And maybe Billy Joe Jive, Super Crime Fighting Ace.

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