Sesame Street Ep #406

Grover and Big Bird demonstrate the end of the alphabet.

Grover and Big Bird demonstrate the end of the alphabet.

Today, we come to November 24th, 1972, the date of the 4th season premiere of Sesame Street (available on the Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1 DVD set). I’ve gone over many times before how Sesame Street in these early years didn’t have much of/any story structure holding the episodes together and given this, although I’ve done more thorough step-by-step recaps of entire episodes up to now, I feel that until I reach more cohesive episodes, it’s not really worth it for me to take the time to go over every single thing that happens in them. I think we’ve all more than gotten the point!

 

So instead, I’m just going to hit on the episode’s moments of genuine significance and/or any bits that stood out as being particularly interesting to me, especially since, in some ways, this seems to be the least structured episode I’ve seen yet, lacking even a single thread holding together a small handful of sketches:

 

–While the opening theme song is the same as ever, this episode features a new accompanying sequence which doesn’t only focus on city children, as the previous one did, but also has some scenes of kids in the country, which better underlines one of the series’ philosophies that Sesame Street is really supposed to exist anywhere, not in a particular place, despite its Manhattan trappings. Although inner city youth were in some ways their main focus, they wanted the show and its lessons to be just as accessible to kids in rural areas, and this goes a long way towards welcoming them, as well, by acknowledging them and their differing circumstances.

–The episode then opens with a street scene in which numerous people from Sesame Street introduce the alphabet by each holding up a letter and saying their name. For example, “B” is for Bob, “C” is for Cookie, “D” is for David, etc. When we get to “G,” we meet yet another new Gordon, now played by Hal Miller, who would remain on the show for only 2 years until the show finally settled on its longest-running, best-known Gordon, Roscoe Orman. Then, when we get to the end of the alphabet, with “G” already having been used by Gordon, Grover holds up a “Y” for you because “you visit Sesame Street everyday!”, while Big Bird has a Z for… “You know,” he says, “I don’t think there’s anybody on Sesame Street whose name begins with Z! Oh, well, can’t have everything!”

Ernie and Cookie sing "Dee Dee Dee".

Ernie and Cookie sing “Dee Dee Dee”.

–This episode features what I believe is the debut of a cartoon I remember very well, in which a construction worker is showing a man a new “d” building that he and his fellow builders are in the process of constructing. Although it’s still only scaffolding with no walls yet, they already have numerous “d” things on each floor. There’s a floor for dolls and a floor for dogs, a floor for diamonds and a floor for drums. Ducks and dinosaurs also have their own floors. But there’s one “d” word that they seem to have forgotten, the man says. “Down!”

–Ernie and Cookie share a delightful little ditty about the letter “d” called “Dee Dee Dee,” in which Ernie sings that eponymous phrase while proceeding to list a variety of “d” words, each of which Cookie frantically attempts to demonstrate as Ernie continues along his list, creating comedy gold as Cookie’s googly eyes spin around and around whie he reaches for numerous props, “draw a daisy” being probably the funniest part, as Cookie does indeed frantically draw a daisy on a writing pad…and then has to do it again when the verse repeats! It’s reminiscent of one of the Grover-exhausts-himself-while-trying-to-do-a-demonstration sketches, however Cookie never collapses at the end. He just gets very, very frazzled.

–Speaking of Cookie, we also get a spin on the sort of sketch we’ve seen numerous times from both Cookie and Ernie, in which they make two different things look the same by eating them until they match. This time around, it’s Cookie and Mr. Hooper. Hooper has a plate full of cookies and wants Cookie to help him make the other plate look the same. He even has a bag of cookies from which Cookie can create the piles of new cookies just like the one on the first plate.

Naturally, however, Cookie thinks the best way to make them look the same is to eat all of the cookies, which he does, first by devouring the entire bag and then by eating everything on the first plate. I’ve said this before, but come on, Mr. Hooper, you should know better. I also like how Cookie starts off with the bag first so there’s no chance that Hooper might try to make him fill the plates up again afterwards. Smart move, Cookie.

Cookie helps Mr. Hooper.

Cookie helps Mr. Hooper.

–We also get a Simon Soundman sketch in which he sings a song about how he was walking with his WOOF! when he found a MEOW! stuck at the top of a tree, so he found a BRRRRINGGGG!! and dialed up his friend, who suggested he get an AIRPLANE ENGINE NOISE! to fly up there to rescue the little guy, until finally a FIRE TRUCK BELL! came along, and one of the firemen used a ladder to rescue the MEOW! Like “Would You Like to Buy an O?” before it did for Lefty and Ernie–using a song to recreate the otherwise familiar rhythms of a typical Lefty/Ernie sketch–it’s basically Simon Soundman: The Musical, and so, of course, I love it.

–In another scene, two couples count the number of people in each of their groups. Susan and Gordon count 1, 2, and then Maria and David, 1, 2, because, yes, at this point, Maria and David are a couple rather than Maria and Luis…Meanwhile, Luis is only able to form a couple through split screen magic that creates 2 Luises. Poor guy. Sniffle.

 

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