Sesame St S3: Songs, Etc.

Today, we’re looking at a bunch of mostly musical highlights from Sesame Street‘s third season, with a few other clips thrown in for good measure. As usual, I found the first batch of clips here on the Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1 DVD set, beginning with one of the most iconic songs in the entire run of the show, Cookie Monster’s classic “C is for Cookie,” which like Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie,” entered the pop culture zeitgeist, appearing on over 25 separate Sesame Street albums. What’s so wonderful about it is that, on one level, it teaches a very simple concept, which is right there in the title, but like Ernie’s song, it’s also a character-defining and character-driven number. We love Cookie and his cookie obsession which makes the song specific and memorable in a way that a purely educational number wouldn’t be. Joe Raposo’s deliberately simplistic lyrics and tune perfectly capture Cookie’s speech patterns and personality:



Next, we have one of those classic short cartoon musical numbers that would play over and over again when I was a kid, this one being the beloved (and very catchy) “Ladybugs’ Picnic,” a folksy little ditty about 12 ladybugs picnicking together, playing games, jumping rope, telling knock-knock jokes, roasting marshmallows, and discussing fire insurance (a reference to the classic British nursery rhyme, “Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,/Your house is on fire and your children are gone…”), and a cute example of how Sesame Street could make a straightforward lesson about counting more fun via whimsy and imagination. The kids may not even notice the constant repetition of the numbers throughout the song and the show because they’re having so much fun with the songs and comedy:



Then, switching tracks for a moment, we have a clip of another pair of recurring Muppets who debuted this season, namely the Martians or the “Yip Yips,” known as such due to their “yip yip yip yip” manner of speaking. What’s great about them is that, being aliens, they don’t speak English but communicate through a series of babbles and rudimentary Earth words that they’ve picked up along the way. Here, they’re standing outside the window of a farmhouse when a phone rings, and the two of them try to figure out what it is, attempting to respond to it in various ways, such as mooing and meowing at it, not unlike how the earlier, less intelligent Big Bird tried to figure out what Little Bird was. Probably the coolest thing about the Martians is how their mouths are so large and floppy that the lower half can actually raise up and cover their faces when they’re scared:



And then we have another non-musical sketch starring The Amazing Mumford (played by Jerry Nelson), an enthusiastic but not always particularly precise magician whose magic usually worked, but not always the way he’d predicted (speaking of which, the fact that the band Mumford & Sons isn’t named for this guy is heartbreaking). And much like Kermit, Herbert Birdsfoot, and Mr. Johnson, he’d often be beset upon by a similarly enthusiastic Grover, who just wanted to help but often ended up causing trouble. In this case, however, he actually doesn’t. The trouble is caused by Mumford’s magic going only slightly awry:



As you can see above, Mumford is trying to practice his make-a-rabbit-appear-out-a-hat trick and Grover asks if he can watch. “Mumfy” (as Grover calls him) reluctantly agrees and yet repeatedly fails to accomplish what he set out to do. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that magic is happening, just not quite as intended. Every time he says his signature phrase, “A la peanut butter sandwiches!”, Grover gains a different rabbit feature–the first time long bunny ears, the second time whiskers, and the third bunny buck teeth and cottontail, the best part being that neither Mumford nor Grover seem to notice that this has happened.


He leaves thinking he’s failed and Grover sighs, sorry that Mumfy didn’t achieve his goal…and then proceeds to bounce away, implying the magic is so good that it’s basically transformed Grover into a bunny so thoroughly that he doesn’t even notice there’s anything odd about it. It’s just his perfectly natural current state! I also love that this is another sketch without overt educational value. It’s mostly just silly fun, albeit silly fun that allows children to put together what happened for themselves and be in on the joke, which itself has its own sort of educational value.


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