Category Archives: Sesame Street

Toy WTF: How is this Cookie Monster?

I saw this Kid K’Nex at the toy store the other day.

I know it’s blue. I know its head looks a little like Cookie Monster, but I have a hard time accepting this as an adequate representation of him. His body just looks bizarre.

What did poor Cookie do to deserve this?

Apparently the same thing that Ernie and Bert did.

There was an Elmo and Big Bird too, but they didn’t disturb me as much for some reason.

Send your Toy WTFs to creativekidsplay@gmail.com for publication on this blog.

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The Elmo’s World Takeover

When Elmo first struck it big and was hanging out on Rosie O’Donnell’s show, I really liked him, but these days I just wish I could see a little less of him.

Remember when Elmo was just a cute and cuddly muppet that sometimes participated in “Sesame Street” skits? Not so much anymore. Now at least 1/3 of each show is dedicated to Elmo.

That’s right, “Elmo’s World” now takes up approximately 20 minutes of the 60 minute show. I timed the live action plot segment of the show and it was only 15 minutes. “Elmo’s World” takes up more of “Sesame Street’s” time than the plot. That’s just wrong.

Elmo’s role on “Sesame Street” isn’t just restricted to “Elmo’s World”. He often plays an integral part of the plot and makes frequent appearances in the muppet comedy/educational skits. Instead of “Sesame Street” these days the whole show should just become “Elmo’s World”. The other major characters rarely get the chance to shine when Elmo is almost always on the screen.

I know Elmo is adorable and his merchandise sells like mad, but this is definitely a case of too much of a good thing. I don’t understand why “Elmo’s World” needs to take up 1/3 of the show. Twenty minutes is nearly long enough for it to be its own independent show separate from “Sesame Street”. If Elmo needs more screen time (and I really don’t think he does), make “Elmo’s World” its own independent show.

I know I’m not the only one who feels that Elmo gets far too much screen time. In fact, Elmo’s Wikipedia page makes reference to Elmo being called “The Little Red Menace” by Sesame Street traditionalists.

What’s worse is that it seems like “Elmo’s World” paved the way for the heavily segmented show “Sesame Street” is playing today. I think it was a gateway drug for “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” and “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures”. The show was so much better before they started dividing it up into big chunks like this. It’s lost itself along the way. If more of the show is devoted to “Elmo’s World” than the plot, how on earth are kids supposed to care about any of the characters? They barely see them.

For now, we’ll just do most of our “Sesame Street” watching in the form of “Play with Me Sesame” on Sprout, where Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert and Prairie Dawn still rule the show in those old school skits we adore.

(How on earth could Elmo ever compete with greatness like that? Exactly. He can’t.)

And that concludes “Sesame Street” week. Regular Kids Play stuff returns Monday.

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Muppet Swap

One of the things that makes me saddest about “Sesame Street” lately is that a lot of characters have had their roles taken over by new characters. Take Kermit, for instance. Kermit used to make pretty regular apperances on “Sesame Street”, but now, as far as I’ve seen, he’s completely disappeared. The other day when I was watching Prairie Dawn did a Muppet News Flash instead of Kermit. Why on earth would anyone take over Kermit’s job as reporter? He does such a great job!

Murray also seems to have taken over Kermit’s role as a reporter. Murray is one of the few new muppets I actually like, but I’d still rather have more Kermit and less Murray. In “Word on the Street”, Murray interviews people about the meaning of words, then throughout “Sesame Street”, Murray introduces what’s coming up next.

Even though Snuffy is technically still around, for some reason they’ve created a new elephant character. Horatio the elephant is the most annoying and strangest looking muppet I’ve ever seen. I hate him the most of all the muppets. I had trouble finding a video to illustrate my justified hatred and that makes me hate him even more. Horatio shows up at about 3:20.

Why, “Sesame Street”, why?

And of course, there is the ultimate muppet swap. Grover is still around, if just barely, but Elmo has taken over most of his roles in “Sesame Street” skits. Elmo’s personality is a lot like Grover’s, only Elmo is more annoying and red and Grover is funnier and blue. Here’s what I mean by Elmo taking over Grover’s role. Grover used to play an antagonist to Kermit.

Here’s Elmo playing Grover’s role as Kermit’s antagonist.

Yes, Kermit is no longer on (as far as I’ve seen), but I feel like this shows how Elmo slowly moved in to outplace Grover. Grover is still around, but his role has been minimized. It really is a shame because Grover is much more funny than Elmo. He has great physical comedy.

As with all my other posts this week, I don’t understand why “Sesame Street” tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. “Sesame Street” was great with the old characters and I think today’s kids would like those old chracters as much as we did. When we play classic “Sesame Street” clips on youtube for my daughter, she asks for the ones with Grover and Kermit over and over again. Why not keep wonderful skits like these alive on “Sesame Street” today instead of overfilling the time with new characters and animated segments that aren’t nearly as funny and, in my opinion, not as educational either?

Stay tuned tomorrow when I wrap up “Sesame Street” week with my thoughts on “Elmo’s World”.

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Taking away the simplistic

When I was growing up, I thought the muppets were real, and I think this is what has made “Sesame Street” work for the past 40 years. They are furry, cuddly and cute. Even though they are basically overdressed pieces of upholstery strapped to people’s hands, the muppets seem to have souls, and eternally youthful souls at that. Big Bird will be 6 forever, and that helped me understand where he was coming from when I was a little kid. 

The realness of the muppets is so important to “Sesame Street” that it baffles me as they decided to turn muppets into animated figures for two of its major segments. When “Sesame Street” turned Ernie and Bert into clay, they might as well have turned them into stone. They just aren’t real enough when they are clay. If that weren’t bad enough, Abby Cadabby has been turned into a computer animated series within the show in “Abby’s Flying Fairy School”.

I don’t know who decided to turn Abby into computer animation, but I think it was a horrible idea. If I wanted to see a sketch with Abby in it (and I don’t, really. I don’t like Abby as much as some of the old school muppets.), I want to see her in her real fur, as a muppet performed by a puppeteer.

I don’t understand the need to try to “improve” this classic show with technology. I feel like directors and producers are overly impressed by computer animation and throw it in wherever they can just to show how cool and current they are. They’re like “Look everyone! We can make a computer animated Abby Cadabby that looks just like REAL Abby Cadabby. Isn’t it neat?”

Sure it’s neat, but you know what else looks just like real Abby Cadabby, is more fun to watch and (I’m pretty sure) costs way less to operate? Real Abby Cadabby. There is no need to prove that there’s technology to make a computer likeness of a muppet.

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Why did Ernie and Bert turn into clay?

The first time I saw “Ernie and Bert’s Great Adventures” I was amused. Ernie and Bert as claymation? Cute. Little did I realize, the claymation Bert and Ernie is a regular thing, and in fact, it seems to have replaced many of the puppet Bert and Ernie skits.

(Don’t even get me started on the possible meaning of Ernie and Bert riding in bed together. Or with the fact that when Bert says “That’s kicky” it sounds like “That’s kinky”.)

An occasional claymation Bert and Ernie would be fun, but I have a real problem with it being a regular thing. It seems to be a built-in segment to the show these days and that time could have been spent on funny muppet skits or the live-action plot line. I love claymation, but I don’t love Bert and Ernie in claymation. While they technically still have their odd couple banter, it just doesn’t have the same effect in claymation as it does in muppet form.

See? Now that’s perfection. Why mess with perfection?

I’d rather see more of these old school skits than claymation any day. If “Sesame Street” wants to have a claymation segment, I say they use characters unique to the claymation skit itself– not bastardizations of muppets we usually see in live-action skits.

And really? Ernie and Bert start their great adventures in bed together? Really? Of all the muppets to start a voyage in a bed together, “Sesame Street” chose Ernie and Bert? Interesting choice. That’s all I’m saying.

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Remembering Sunnier Days

When I had my daughter, I really looked forward to watching “Sesame Street” with her, but the truth is now that she’s old enough we hardly ever watch it. “Sesame Street” just isn’t what it used to be.

Maybe I’m remembering things wrong, but when I was a kid “Sesame Street” had an episode-long “real people” plot line that was broken up by educational “commercials” about letters, numbers and Spanish, as well as short comedy skits with muppets. I would sit through counting “commercials” like these just to get to the live action plot line that ran throughout the show.

Classic pinball action.

The baker falling down is one of my favorite “Sesame Street” memories.

And we can’t talk about “Sesame Street” number “commercials” without including “Ladybug Picnic”.

These days, all of the live action plot line happens at the very beginning of “Sesame Street”. The learning “commercials” are few and far between and usually incorporated in one of “Sesame Street”‘s heavily regimented schedule. Instead of an episode-long plot line with commercials, now there’s a short plot at the beginning, “Ernie and Bert’s Great Adventure’s” in claymation, “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” in computer animation, “Murray Has a Little Lamb” and “Elmo’s World”.

There are still learning “commercials”, but they are usually integrated and explained into a segment such as “Elmo’s World” or “Murray Has a Little Lamb”. They are usually clustered together into one part of the show instead of spread throughout.

I’m sure there’s some heavily researched reason “Sesame Street” changed its format, but I liked it better the old way. With the “commercials” clustered together, I’m less likely to watch them. Honestly, I’m less likely to watch most of the show. I used to stay tuned just to see what happened next in the live action plot line. Now that segment ends within minutes of the beginning of the show. I have no motivation to continue watching or to sit through the “commercials”, especially since I don’t like many of the other segments (I’ll be ranting about the other segments for the remainder of the week).

I miss old “Sesame Street”. I wish it would go back to how it was during my childhood. Despite this, I know I should just learn to love “Sesame Street” as it is now since my kids still enjoy it. In fact, in 25+ years, my daughters will probably be whining that “Sesame Street” isn’t as good as it is NOW. At least, they will be whining about it if I can ever get over myself enough to turn the show on.

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Weird Sesame Street Video

My daughters love this video. I agree it’s a catchy tune, but the every time I watch it I’m torn between being amused and disturbed. Perhaps I am disturbingly amused?

Ok, so Ernie’s naked in the bathtub, which is ok. Questionable, but ok. He’s singing, and it’s all cute, but then suddenly all the other “Sesame Street” characters are peeking in on him through the door and window. A little bit creepy, right? I mean, they sound great in the chorus, but should they really be spying on Ernie taking a bath?

Perhaps I would let the peeping tom stuff slide, but it doesn’t end there!!! The muppets start popping out of the water in the bathtub. Ew! What are they doing in there with Ernie?! How is this appropriate but Katy Perry in a low-cut top is not?!

Seriously, if this isn’t a “Sesame Street” orgy, I don’t know what is!

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Bizarre Book Illustrations: Bert and Ernie do “Wizard of Oz”

In honor of Purple Day, Bert and Ernie are showing their spirit and pride.

This illustration is from the “Sesame Street” book “Best Friends”. I don’t think the illustrators intended it to be a gay pride drawing, but I’m not sure what other conclusion to come to from a “Wizard of Oz”-themed drawing where Ernie is dressed like Dorothy to oil up Bert.

I’m all for the depiction of gay characters on “Sesame Street”. I just wish Ernie and Bert would show their pride out in the open and come out of the closet. I can’t think of a better message of acceptance to show to kids than “Sesame Street” embracing an openly gay Ernie and Bert.

All that said, this illustration strikes me as odd and accidental and made me laugh at the illustrators for what they probably unintentionally implied.

What bizarre illustrations have you found in your child’s book? Share them on this blog by sending them to creativekidsplay@gmail.com.

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Kids Play: That’s you, Daddy!

A while back, I shared with you the multitude of characters my daughter says I allegedly look like. Today it’s my husband’s turn to share in the fun.

I think my husband is a perfectly lovely man, but my daughter apparently thinks otherwise.

It only took a couple youtube viewings of “Hakuna Matata” for her to decide Daddy and Pumba were the same person. I don’t know if it’s Pumba’s love of burping or eating bugs that made her decide this. Perhaps it’s his skin and hair color?

Every time she sees Cookie Monster, she yells “There’s Daddy! Daddy Cookie Monster!”

Daddy is also this giant Mr. Potato Head.

But she makes up for all these unintended insults by saying Paul Rudd is her Daddy.

Or maybe she just knows something we don’t.

If Paul Rudd really IS her Daddy, I wish I could remember that night!

Who do you allegedly look like? Send your funny toy stories and pictures to creativekidsplay@gmail.com for publication on this blog.

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