Sesame Street Ep #406

Bob, Ernie, Bert, and kids play a game.

Bob, Ernie, Bert, and kids play a game.

–The episode also contains a cute scene in which Bob, Bert, and Ernie play a game with a bunch of children. Bob asks everybody to come up with things that everybody does. Early answers include walking, talking, breathing, eating breakfast, and yawning, although amusingly, when Bert suggests “raising your eyebrows,” Ernie says that he can’t do that. Which is, of course–although he doesn’t say this–because he doesn’t have eyebrows, let alone ones as movable as Bert’s!

The real disparity occurs, however, when Ernie says, “Everybody loves to play in the tubby with their rubber duckies!” Which the others disagree with, particularly Bert who doesn’t only not own a rubber duckie, he doesn’t want one, he emphatically states. “Oh, Bert, how can you say that?” Ernie asks, in distress.

Next, Bert comes up with something that “everybody” loves to do: watch his very favorite show, The Wonderful World of Pigeons, to which Ernie responds disgustedly, “You know what, Bert? I hate that show! That’s a terrible show. That’s a dull show, Bert.” To which Bert amusingly responds, “That’s the most exciting show on TV! They have all the pigeons of the world! Gray ones…speckled ones…”

In addition to being yet another sketch that underlines the fact that different people have different tastes, I also think this might be the first time we learn of Bert’s all-abiding love for the birds that most people erm affectionately refer to as “rats with wings,” the city pigeon.

What I love about it is that, it would have been one thing to have made him a simple bird nerd, which would be enough to underline Bert’s “boringness,” but the fact that he’s an enthusiast of arguably the least interesting bird imaginable provides that extra stroke of genius that makes it such an indelible, unique character trait. Bert isn’t only boring. He’s aggressively boring, and yet he’s so thrilled by these boring things that you can’t help but love him. And that’s the funniest part: while the others might correct Ernie on not everyone loving rubber duckies as much as he does, it’s at least more understandable–practically everyone has a toy they love–versus Bert thinking he’s only one of millions of people who adore a show about which Ernie’s opinion sounds 100% correct.

It’s also a cute scene for witnessing just how enthralled children were with the Muppets. One boy becomes absolutely obsessed with Ernie’s nose and keeps poking at it, until Ernie finally ad-libs “Ouch!” and takes hold of his hand to distract him. Meanwhile, another little girl spends much of the scene touching Bert’s neck!

–Susan and Grover play “One of These Things…” with a car, a turtle, an elephant, and a cat, which may not seem particularly worth mentioning except the fact that Grover at first thinks that the reason the car is the thing that doesn’t belong is because it “doesn’t have fur,” at which point Susan clarifies that the turtle doesn’t have fur either. “The poor turtle!” Grover exclaims.


The Count intimidates Bert.

–Then we come to what may be the most significant aspect of the entire episode, the debut of one of the most popular, beloved, enduring characters in Sesame Street‘s vast, storied history, as well as arguably being Jerry Nelson’s most famous character: namely, Count von Count, or The Count, as he more commonly known!! In his first appearance, the Count is overall very similar to his later incarnation–which is unusual for the debut of any Muppet, all of whom tend to physically and emotionally change and evolve quite a bit over the course of their lives–but there is one key difference, which is that he’s more vampiric here than he will be later.

That isn’t to say that he’s full-on horrific or anything nearly so intense, but he does have qualities that more directly demonstrate the influence of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, on which he is based. For one, he enters and leaves by holding his cape up to his eyes, blocking his nose and mouth in the classic Universal Horror pose. Secondly, he has the ability to hold victims in his thrall. Here he stops Bert and later both Bert and Ernie dead in their tracks when they try to stop him from moving Ernie’s blocks. The only other difference is that Jerry Nelson doesn’t seem to have quite perfected the Count’s laugh quite yet. It’s more “mwaha!” sneery than his famous “A-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA”.

The scene basically goes like this: Ernie is so proud of a pyramid he’s built out of his blocks that he wants to go get his camera to take a picture of it, so he asks Bert to watch them and not let anyone move them, which his buddy gladly agrees to. A moment after he leaves, however, the Count arrives, determined to count Ernie’s blocks. He has trouble doing so without touching each one, however. As soon as he announces his intentions, Bert protests, but the Count freezes him and then proceeds to move each block one by one out of the pyramid shape in order to count them. And off he goes!

Ernie returns to find his pyramid ruined and gets upset with Bert for not protecting them. Which in and of itself is a great twist on the norm, since usually he’s the one who neglected something that Bert had asked him to watch. It’s fun to see Bert squirming with such guilt for the same reason Ernie usually is. But then the Count returns and decides to count them again. He freezes Bert and Ernie just as Bert’s about to protest again. This time, however, he places each block exactly how it originally was, thus reforming the pyramid. When he’s done, he asks Bert what he wanted to say, and Bert is finally able to scold him for moving Ernie’s blocks without permission, but he probably shouldn’t have bothered, since the Count misinterprets him, thinking he meant it was just this last time he shouldn’t have touched them…and so he counts them one final time, breaking up the pyramid exactly the way he had before!

Snuffy plays with the kids.

Snuffy plays with the kids.

–There’s also a surprising scene in which Snuffy arrives on Sesame Street, looking for Big Bird, but can’t find him and so instead decides to play “London Bridge is Falling Down” with a group of kids. Who can see him. Since this is the first time I’m seeing Sesame Street from this era, I’m not exactly sure whether this was a complete (inconsistent) anomaly or whether it was only adults who never saw Snuffy at this point. I’m 99.9% certain that when I was little, no one else saw him but Big Bird until his big unveiling. But, according to MuppetWiki, there were some occasions where he was spotted by kids and other Muppets. But I still vividly recall everyone being shocked he was real, including other Muppets, so that might be a bit of a continuity error. I’ll keep an eye for it when I finally get to that classic scene.


Pages: 1 2 3

« »