Sesame Street Ep #115

Musically, it’s also surprisingly complex. As Jones explains, it’s “slow and sweet” but with a “deceptively complex, syncopated structure, at times requiring a bit of verbal gymnastics to make some of the longer phrases fit the music”. In many ways, it sounds almost improvised, as if Kermit is thinking out his thoughts on the subject while singing, like a sung monologue, and Jim would get more and more practiced at it as the years went on at playing to this idea as he performed it over and over again. The original version here also sounds a bit blusier and possibly a bit slower than it would later. It would go on to become an American standard. Frank Sinatra even did a cover in 1971!



After this unprecedented high point for the show, it comes down to Earth again for a street scene of Gordon showing kids a live turtle, two short cartoons about the letter “E,” and what is possibly the weirdest live-action film yet about a little boy whose magic glasses can help him see what’s making noises. So, for example, he hears a dog bark and growl, but can’t see it until he puts his glasses on and it appears. But it’s not clear why the dog was invisible in the first place in this otherwise realistic city setting, so it’s kind of a strange sequence.


But it’s followed up with a fantastic one in which Ernie is once again about to eat cookies that Cookie Monster then steals. The thing that makes this one great is the physical comedy. Cookie at first cleverly plants one of those “magic” glasses to one side of Ernie, and as he goes to examine it, Cookie steals a cookie. And when Ernie hears the crunching and turns, Cookie ducks to Ernie’s other side, stealing another cookie while he’s looking that way, each time getting very close to Ernie but always staying just out of sight and reach, thanks to some beautifully deft puppetry and comic timing.


In the end, Ernie turns the glasses on Cookie just in time to see him and realizes they’re magic after all! Even though it’s actually just that he got lucky that time to catch him in the act. However, the cookies have already been eaten. “If that’s the sort of thing these glasses help me see, I’d just as soon not have them!” he despairs. “Oh,” Cookie responds and does him a solid by eating them for him, as well.


Ernie, his magic glasses, and Cookie Monster

Ernie, his magic glasses, and Cookie Monster


We then cut to one final, hellishly boring Gordon-tries-to-teach-kids stuff segment with a plane skywriting letters, and then we return for yet another Ernie sketch! This time, he’s interacting with a postman, who like Bert and Cookie before him, are played by Frank Oz. And this set-up is actually very Bert and Ernie, with Ernie driving the other guy a bit crazy, but it wouldn’t have worked with Bert, as it requires the other guy to not know Ernie and to, well, be a postman.


The guy is trying to find an apartment and asks Ernie if he can point him in the right direction. He needs to deliver a package to Ms. Mary Ann Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Naturally, he spells out the whole name, Ernie responds by spelling out the whole name, and then he responds again in kind, saying the entire thing every time he refers to her, and it strikes the perfect balance of being annoying and funny. I almost wanted to be annoyed to hear the entire alphabet again, but it was played so perfectly that the repetition ended up making me laugh.


Eventually, Ernie tells him that she lives a few blocks over, just above Harold 12345678910. They’re both teachers, he explains. Mary Ann Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz is a spelling teacher. “Aha!” the postman deduces. If Mary Ann Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz is a spelling teacher, then Harold 12345678910 has to be an arithmetic teacher. “Nope,” Ernie responds. “He’s a music teacher…He teaches a lot of great musical numbers.” Cue Ernie laughter and the disgruntled postman saying he’d best be off on his way. “Yeah, do that. It’s important,” Ernie replies. “How do you know?” the postman asks. “It’s from me,” Ernie answers. “Figures,” says the postman.


Ernie points the postman in the right direction.

Ernie points the postman in the right direction.


And then the episode basically just ends. No sign-off from Gordon or Susan or any of the humans, just a cut to a very slow rendition of the theme music with some kids playing in the street, and the letter and number sponsors listed off screen. It’s a bit jarring, but I like to think that they decided to bring the episode full circle by making its ending just as dull and lifeless as its opening! Again, this is a strange one. In some ways, I can see why they chose to include it amongst the 24 classic episodes on Netflix and iTunes, due to “Bein’ Green” and Cookie Monster’s early evolution. On the other hand, so much of this one is just so dull, and both “Bein’ Green” and I’m sure the Ernie sketches would’ve been repeated in other episodes, so it seems a shame that out of thousands of episodes to choose from that this ended up one of the only 2 dozen made accessible. Oh, well!


Tomorrow, my review of the next episode of The Muppets, and the day after, I watch the at-least numerically fitting episode 123 of Sesame Street!


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