Monday, March 8, 2010

40 Years Of Sunny Days: Part Two

Part 2 is here! Yay! You have no idea how difficult it was for me not to pop that disc into my DVD player and watch it before I snarked it, but no. I waited. I waited for you. Just remember that. Anyway, the time has come, the walrus said, to see what the nineties and noughties had in store for the gang on Sesame Street.

Even though the last half of the disc doesn't really fit into the whole childhood nostalgia theme of the blog, I'm going to recap it anyway. Because it's Sesame Street. And surely that demands some sort of respect.

Seasons 21-25
Monsterpiece Theatre time again! Today's instalment is The King And I, which Alistair Cookie explains to us, is about a king and the letter I. Grover is the king, and the letter I is the letter I. King Grover's pick-up lines include, "Oh, you lower-case letter I. You are so cute, with your little dot." Then they dance. I have a vague recollection of this one as well, which I love.

It's Alphaquest time! Oh, Alphaquest! "Doorways up and down the hall, wonder what's behind the door." That song! Those doors! The little girl picks the R door today, and she goes down a road past lots of things that start with R. It's so nineties and fabulous.

Grover sings a song called "There's a Monster in the Mirror." One guess who the monster is. Grover's not scared or anything, because he sings, "Woppa-woppa-woppa and a doodly-doo." Just remember that woppa-woppa-woppa is a monster song. That might come in handy the next time you see a monster. Shit could save your life.

Elmo is playing the piano and singing his song to Big Bird and Snuffy. Younger Sesame Street viewers might know it as the Elmo's World theme. Basically, there are a lot of la-la-las in the lyrics, and Big Bird says to Snuffy, "To think he wrote this alone!" Heh. Snarky Big Bird rules.

Grover is a waiter at a restaurant. A nondescript Muppet man orders poached eggs on toast, and Grover gets him poached corn. He then gives him a history of corn, and explains that since corn kernels are used to feed chickens, technically poached corn is the second-best thing to poached eggs. He even brings out a chicken to assist in the explanation. Unfortunately, the chicken eats the man's food. Like seriously, Grover, what did you think was going to happen?

Next up is Cecile, the orange claymation ball with lips! She's singing 'I'm Gonna Get To You' and changing her shape to suit the lyrics. God, Cecile was so awesome.

A man is walking down the street (not Sesame) in a top hat and a tuxedo. It's so windy outside that he has to hold onto a lamp post to keep from blowing away. I've always remembered that one, because my mind immediately goes back to it whenever I'm outside and it's windy. Especially if I see a lamp post.

Olivia is singing, "La-di-da-di-dum, what's the name of that song?" Bob joins her. Now Gordon and Susan! And Telly Monster! And Luis and Maria! I feel their pain, too. Don't you hate it when you can't remember the name of a song, or even the key lyrics? The best part of the song is that we get our first glimpse of Prairie Dawn, who was totally my favourite growing up. After all, she had blonde hair like me, she played the piano, like I attempted to do on my toddler keyboard, and she was pink, which was (and still is my favourite colour.) Prairie Dawn actually inspired me to take up the piano, my friends. And I did it for nine long years, thanks entirely to a Muppet.

(Some sad news: I read that the woman who played Olivia died recently. She joins a long list of deceased people who made my adolescent years what they were. I always hate to see things like that.)

Next comes a sketch about Cleopatra, played by some opera singer whose name I don't recall. She sings C is for Cookie for some reason. Because I know whenever I think of cookies, I automatically think of Cleopatra. (Although, didn't she used to bathe in milk? Is that the connection?) Cookie Monster comes in at the end, and eats one of the cookie pyramids. Good to know that cookies are still an always food.

That's the end of this season block, but I'd just like to mention that I remembered ALL of these segments. Clearly these were my key Sesame Street years.

Seasons 26-30
A bunch of street dancers come by and sing "Keep Pride Alive." Oh, and they rap. It's a children's rap. There's, like, one white kid who's trying to bring da funk, but remember that old adage that white boys can't dance? It's so, so true. It probably wasn't a great idea to use the nerdiest-looking kid in the history of the world, though. He looks like Steph's friend Duckie from Full House.

There are a bunch of ballerinas doing Swan Lake. Big Bird comes to dance with them, because he's a bird too. Then there's a ballerina in a wheelchair, for some reason. I guess it's supposed to teach the whole 'acceptance' thing, but it seems a little random.

Introduction to Zoe. She's proud that she can spell her name. (I'm thinking this is from the Keep Pride Alive episode.) Zoe was relatively new when I was in the Sesame-Street-is-a-baby's-show stage, so I don't feel like I have any real connection to her.

A couple of awesome nineties kids sing "B is for Bubble" to the tune of "Three Blind Mice." In a round. That's how talented these kids are. I remember this one too, so I guess I wasn't as over Sesame Street as I thought I was. In my defence, I had a younger brother.

In this segment, Zoe is a princess, and Telly Monster and Elmo both want to be her playmate prince. So who else could solve this problem but...The Spin Doctors! They sing that one song they were famous for that wasn't 'Pocket Full Of Kryptonite'. (Do regular people know that song, or is it just people who were as obsessed with Beethoven's 2nd as I was?) I honestly don't recall this sketch, but it's so absolutely terrific, I have to link it for you. Seriously. I watched it three times. The lead singer was something else, wasn't he? The ye-oldey jacket is a nice touch. Then Telly Monster's like "Princess Zoe, who were those guys?" which is probably what anyone who watched it after 1997 said as well.

Oh heck, it's the creepy dogs with human hands! Those guys were someone's bad acid trip gone wrong. Today, one of the dogs is dressed up as an old lady, going to market to buy a fat pig from the other dog. *Shudder* I don't know why people thought kids were going to like that.

Big Bird is on the roof with Tony Bennett, who sings 'Slimey to the Moon'. I remember when Slimey went to the moon! Of all the famous Muppets they could've chosen, they let Slimey go to the moon? I guess probably because if it all goes to a terrible Challenger-type place, they don't have to worry about Big Bird being all emo about it like with Mr. Hooper.

Patti LaBelle sings the alphabet. Then all the Muppets come in and join her. (Including Prairie Dawn, yippee!) This must have been a logistical nightmare for the poor Muppeteers all lying on top of each other to get all those Muppets in the one shot. There's actually a behind-the-scenes bonus feature on this DVD that I'm really looking forward to, just to see how those Muppeteers can do shit like that.

Seasons 31-35
Before I get started, is anyone else realising that these season blocks are getting shorter and shorter? I guess the highlights are thinning out as the show's getting on.

Elmo jams with the Goo-Goo Dolls. Fuck me, this is getting weirder and weirder. Elmo is proud (again with the pride!) that he reached the highest shelf and found his sunglasses. Okay, there is no reason why the Goo-Goo Dolls should ever have been on Sesame Street. They're like a Nickelback warm-up act. At least the Spin Doctors were entertaining. Excuse me while I go back and watch that segment again.

Next, Vanessa Williams, Nathan Lane, Rosemary Clooney, Maya Angelou, Noah Wyle, Garth Brooks Gloria Estefan, Fran Drescher, Liam Neeson, REM, Conan O'Brien and that wisecracking black guy from Con Air sing the Carpenters' 'Sing A Song'. It's kinda like 'Put Down The Ducky', only not about a ducky. God, so many things to say. Firstly, lol @ Conan. (That's how the cool kids talk, yes?) Secondly, Vanessa Williams has not aged a day. That woman gives Botox a good name. Thirdly, Liam Neeson is there with his children, which makes me a little sad because it reminds me that their mother Natasha Richardson died just last year. Also, I've since turned on the trivia track option, and it turns out that this song was released as a single that actually made it to the Top 40, just like 'Put Down The Ducky.'

Elmo is chillin' out with Robert DeNiro. Elmo gets all the fucking luck. Do you know what I would do to even be in the same room as DeNiro? I would do filthy, filthy things. I would tear Elmo limb for limb and wear his corpse as a scarf, for one. Mr. DeNiro (as he should be known) is teaching Elmo how to act like a dog using method acting. He actually turns into a Muppet dog thanks to some choice editing. He says, "I could imagine I'm a New York taxi driver, or a boxer, or a cabbage." Elmo's like, "Do the cabbage!" Goddammit Elmo, Sir Robert DeNiro just gave you an in to ask him to do his Travis Bickle IN PERSON, and you go for the cabbage? IT'S ROBERT DENIRO!!! Elmo spends the rest of the sketch teaching Lord DeNiro how to do the Elmo laugh, which seems like such a waste. If I was bossing around King DeNiro for the day, I'd get him to do a little Goodfellas and then top it off with some more Taxi Driver.

Sesame Street is cleaning up after a hurricane. Big Bird's nest is totally trashed. I think this was right after Hurricane Katrina, and they were trying to teach the kids about natural disasters. I wonder how that went. Big Bird cries again. Jeez, producers, why does all the bad shit happen to Big Bird. He's the one who was so grieved by Mr. Hooper's death, and now Hurricane Not-Katrina wrecks his home? Why can't Elmo get the short stick every once in a while? He's asking for it; he made DeNiro be a cabbage!

Elmo's World is next, which marks the downfall of Sesame Street in my opinion. I know everyone thinks Elmo's so cute and whatever (and I think my opinion of him was just established in the Robert DeNiro sketch), but no one Muppet should ever be the star of Sesame Street. It's a collaborative effort. No way should Elmo get his own show-within-a-show, especially not one as pointless and stupid as Elmo's World.

A paper hippopotamus sings a song called "There's A Bird On Me." He feels like they're just using him as free public transport. God, Sesame Street got shit after I stopped watching.

More fucking Elmo! Why don't they just change it to Elmo Street?! Grover comes past, and Elmo tells him that he's made up a new way of walking. Grover helps him improve it with arm movements. Then Zoe comes along, and suggests that they need to say "Whoah!" with each step, which is by far the dumbest improvement yet. Then guess who comes along? Guess. Just guess. Give up? It's Destiny's Child! Destiny's Child, aka Beyonce and Those Two Girls Who Aren't Beyonce, But I Think One Of Them Had A Couple Of Hits And Now Does Stuff With David Guetta. (Now you know why they went with Destiny's Child.) They sing "New Way To Walk," which I actually remember the Oinker Sisters singing at one point in my era of Sesame Street. We of course know that since then, Beyonce has developed yet another way to walk.

Put a ring on it, Grover.

There's a small fire in Hooper's Store. Only the grease caught fire and nothing else was damaged, (I have a funny Home Ec story along those lines that I'll tell you later), which is fortunate because I don't think Big Bird could've handled it if a fire had destroyed poor dead Mr. Hooper's only legacy. We'd have seen some birdie suicide for sure. Some guy named Alan (who I suppose is the chef at Hooper's now) apologises to the fire brigade for bringing them down to Sesame Street for nothing, but the chief tells him that it's better to be safe than sorry. Apparently these guys are from the actual FDNY, which is very thorough of the producers. I love that Elmo seems a little bit scared of the chief, and not just because I like seeing Elmo terrified. Adults in uniform are scary. Elmo says he doesn't want to go back into Hooper's Store ever again, and another firefighter named Bill comes up to Elmo and explains all the pieces of his uniform so he won't be scared anymore. It's so cute. Fireman Bill, I'd slide down your pole anyday. (Oh God, did I just make a sex reference in a Sesame Street post? I feel dirty.)

Some guy I don't know called Miles sings a funky alphabet song with the monsters. Apparently he's played by Donald Faison's younger brother. As in, Donald Faison from Clueless! Just when you think the nineties element of this post is all but over, I pull a rabbit out of my hat. Miles doesn't look much like his awesome older brother, but he sure sounds like him. I could totally imagine doing a little "Guy Love" every now and then, possibly outside Bert and Ernie's window.

A CGI dude named Traction Jackson goes around the world in a wheelchair. He makes being disabled look enviable, and I'm not really sure what to think of that.

Hey, it's the Count again! According to the trivia track, the Count has two girlfriends -- Countess Dahling Von Dahling and Countess Von Backwards. Who knew the Count was such a horndog? In this sketch, the Count is chillin' on the couch in his bat pyjamas, getting ready to watch Six Feet Under. It's actually just a shot of the bottom half of a dinner table, and you can see the feet of three monsters as they sit down for dinner. Lol. That's a Monsterpiece Theatre joke if I ever saw one. Count excitedly says, "And here come the feet!" which means that the Count has two girlfriends and a foot fetish. Officially my new favourite character. Sorry, Cookie Monster.

Seasons 36-40
Elmo and Alicia Keys are jamming together. This was big entertainment news when it happened, because there actually was a time when Alicia Keys was popular. She sings "Dancing" to the tune of "Falling." Ironically, there is a serious lack of dancing in this clip. They're just sitting and playing the piano. Then they kiss, which is slightly odd, but okay.

Oh, no. The moment we've been dreading. Cookie Monster comes up to a dinner table and deliberates whether to eat the cookie or the fruit. Hoots the owl comes up to him and sings "Cookie is a Sometimes Food." Dude. No. Uncool. I fucking hate this. It's a bloody oatmeal cookie as well, and still he's not allowed to eat the goddamn cookie? (He eats it anyway. Cookie Monster just gave The Man a big "Fuck you." Go Cookie Monster!) I mean, I just don't understand how you can have a Cookie Monster who doesn't eat cookies. That's like having Big Bird occasionally not being a bird, or Oscar the Grouch being really happy.

Oscar is really happy. (Oh no! The apocalypse!) Actually, he's happy because there's nobody around to bother him...and then Abby the fairy shows up. She and her fairy godmother just moved into the Street, and she wants someone to play with. Oscar's like, "Fuck off, little girl." Abby turns to the camera and says, "He's grouchy." Well yeah, Abby. He's a Grouch. I'm really not liking what I know of Abby.

Cookie Monster is sitting in front of a bowl of fruit, ready to eat it because that's what he does now. Suddenly we get a newsbreak, and Matt Lauer steps into the frame. Cookie Monster says, "Where'd this guy come from?" and he speaks for everyone watching not under five years old who understands how stupid this is. Matt Lauer thinks that Cookie Monster not eating cookies is newsworthy, really? The best part of the whole thing is that there are a handful of Muppets in the background with signs, like, "Marry Me, Mindi" and "I Heart Cookies." Cookie Monster says that he likes fruit, and Matt Lauer turns to the camera and announces that the Cookie Monster doesn't like cookies anymore. Cookie Monster goes, "No, no, no! You media people blow story waaay out of proportion!" Hee! I love the Cookie Monster so much...until he chooses the fruit over a cookie Matt Lauer inexplicably has in his pocket.

The next sketch is something called Law & Order: Special Letters Unit. They even have the L&O-style titles, the chung-chung sound effect and Muppets that looks like Stabler and Benson. Apparently the letter M is missing, and the team goes out to find it. Stabler comes back with a cow. Stabler apparently doesn't quite grasp what they're doing here. That grey-haired guy with the glasses come back with a duck. (Nay, a mallard, which starts with M.) The team all return with no luck, and the letter M comes in wearing a fake moustache. Chung-chung! Letter M's like, "You know that chung-chung thing can really get on one's nerves. Enough chung-chunging!" The sound effects guy chung-chungs until the fade-out.

Gina the blonde woman has adopted a baby named Marco, because who doesn't love a happy adoption story? If Brangelina has taught us anything, it's that. Rosita the Spanish Muppet is teaching the two of them some Spanish, so I guess Luis has become redundant. Poor Luis. The trivia track tells me that Gina once had a guest spot on Law & Order, which, after the whole Special Letters Unit thing, makes me laugh. Chung-chung, Gina. Chung. Chung.

Leslie Feist (who's famous because her song was on an iPod ad) is singing her 1-2-3-4 song, and she's lip-synching, which disappoints me so. They never used to lip-synch in my day. Fail, Leslie Feist. Go back to the iPod ads where you belong.

Telly Monster does a parody of Indiana Jones called Texas Telly. Chris the black guy who I suppose replaced David, is there too. They run from a giant boulder, which comes to life and asks why they're running away from him. Chris says, "Basically, we don't wanna get smooshed by a giant boulder." Chris, you awesome. I hate all the new people on principle, but I like Chris. I actually watched an episode of Sesame Street a couple of months ago, and Chris was the guy who told us that Sesame Street was brought to us by the letter T. (Oh, and the letter T sang a little ditty to the tune of 'Hey There Delilah, which is irrelevant, but I thought it was awesome.) Anyway, Texas Telly finds the triangle of destiny thing he's been looking for, and Chris goes away somewhere, which sucks.

Dude, it's David Beckham, and he's here today to teach us the word 'persistent'. Oh, that's so cool. Fucking Elmo comes along and asks him to play soccer with him. Beckham's response, "Not right now, Elmo, I'm in the middle of something." Hee! David Beckham, I don't care what you do from here on in, you'll always be on my hit list 'cause you pwn'd Elmo. Becks shows us some soccer skillz while Elmo pesters him, and Becks tells him to piss off again. Then eventually Becks rewards Elmo's "persistence" by playing soccer with him. Hear that, kids? If things don't go your way, simply annoy. Annoy like the wind, and David Beckham will play soccer with you! (And then fuck your mom, probably.)

Gasp! It's the letter T song I was telling you about! Oh, holy God, I can't believe they put it on the DVD! (Actually, I can. It was the legal definition of 'awesome'.) Thanks to the sometimes-brilliant trivia track, I now know that lead singer of the Plain White T's (who, ironically, sang the original 'Hey There Delilah") actually sings this version as well. Seriously, you need to see it. I'm embedding it for you. Warning, you will not be able to get "ohhh, I'm the letter T!" out of your head for the rest of the day.

Neil Patrick Harris is singing about shoes while wearing wings and ribbons. So...are we sure he's gay? NPH uses magic to fuck around with everyone's shoes. Gordon doesn't seem happy about it. Seriously, though, I love Neil Patrick Harris. He can do no wrong in my eyes.

Bert and Ernie are now claymation? What the what?! They have adventures in Antarctica or whatever, but I couldn't care less because they're CLAYMATION! You can't make Bert and Ernie claymation! Just when I started standing up for new-skool Sesame Street with Chris and that whole letter T song, too. Anyway, Bert sits on a penguin egg and hatches it. Sorry, Bert. Simpsons did it. And you're in claymation, so you're dead to me.

Abby the Fairy's back. She, Zoe an Rosita sing about the seasons. I'm sorry, but I just don't care about any of these people.

The Muppets are doing a parody of those iPod ads where all the shadow people are dancing with white iPods. It's actually pretty cool, but way too short.

Elmo is on the computer, and Chris comes by and the two of them plug I'd link that for you, but it's such a shameless plug, I don't want to. I didn't buy a DVD to watch ads, Sesame Street. Chris, you're better than this.

And that's it. That's forty years of Sesame Street, whittled down into a 2-disc DVD for my viewing (and your reading) pleasure. I think we can safely say that we got the better end of the deal than the kids today. (Bert and Ernie in claymation! Cookies are a sometimes food!) Hope you enjoyed this trip down Sesame Street as much as I did. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to head over to iTunes and download the Spin Doctors' entire back catalogue.


  1. NPH is the man, for real.

    I don't remember any of this, but I'm not too broken up about it. Claymation Bert and Ernie? Cookie Monster eating fruit? An overabundance of Elmo? Yuck.

  2. WOW! I think I need to get these videos! I loved Sesame Street!

    Ally @

  3. Oh, man that two princes thing was AWESOME!

    I've actually seen that Bobby DeNiro thing on youtube. It's hilariously weird.

  4. That is certainly a comprehensive look at a very familiar street.

    Great blog!!!!

  5. Oh and I hated the dogs with human hands. William Wegman's Weimerners (sp)? The dogs are cute but the fact that they have human hands? So wrong. Glad someone else agrees.

  6. Shannon -- the last half hour was seriously like watching a trainwreck. (Except for the Letter T song.) Hopefully by the time I sqeeze out a few puppies, the execs awesome-ify it again.

    Ally -- you most certainly do. It should be compulsory viewing.

    Sadako -- I literally jumped on iTunes right away, and it turns out that the Spin Doctors sang practically every awesome nineties song I didn't know the name of. And yes, Dogs with Hands (as I call them) were creepy.

    Copyboy -- thanks for visiting!