Sesame Street Ep #406

New Gordon and Susan meet Sam.

New Gordon and Susan meet Sam.

–Grover has a cute little lecture scene in which he demonstrates “heavy” and “light”. For heavy, he tries to lift a barbell, which he struggles with in classic Grover style, panting and heaving all the way, and finally collapsing to the floor under its weight. Then, he attempts to show “light” by lifting a tiny yellow feather. And yet he can’t. In fact, it’s heavier than the barbell, because it won’t even budge. Why is this? Why, it’s because it actually ends up being the top feather attached to Big Bird’s head! And while one may wonder why the feather didn’t tug right out, disbelief-suspension is easy to do for such a sweet scene. Perhaps giant canaries’ feathers hold to their birds particularly well! Anyway, it’s a wonderful twist as well as being another case of Sesame Street‘s uncondescending humor. They trust the kids to get that most feathers are light and to get the humorous reason that this one is not without overexplaining the joke.

–The episode also features the debut of another Sesame Street character played by Jerry Nelson, albeit one who wouldn’t endure nearly as long as the Count, namely a huge robot named Sam (short for “Super Automatic Machine”). Sam basically looks like a much larger version of the robot character in Jim’s short film for AT&T, Robot, and has the similar attitude that machines are better than people, which he repeats numerous times upon first rolling on screen and meeting Susan and Gordon. He tells them that, unlike people, machines don’t make mistakes. Of course, just as with the previous robot, he then proceeds to make numerous mistakes such as getting caught in a freezing/repeating loop that requires the two of them to bang on him to snap him out of it, and then insisting that they’re on Mulberry Street. He finally goes off to chase a cement mixer who he was supposed to be meeting for lunch, Susan laughing to Gordon that he’s running after a complete stranger, since his cement mixer’s waiting for him on the actual Mulberry Street!

Part of the reason Sam apparently didn’t last long was the writers couldn’t come up with enough scenarios for him beyond his simply making mistakes and malfunctioning. He’s also so large, bulk, and decidedly non-cuddly that he entirely lacks the warmth that even Oscar could show at times. Ironically, his very roboticness is likely what kept him from being a beloved character. He may have been lacking in humanity by design but it also keeps him from being very embraceable. But it is nifty to see another iteration of Jim’s malfunctioning-robot-with-a-superiority-complex running theme appear again, however relatively briefly (he was phased out by 1977)!

–Next up, one of the all-time-Sesame-Street classic sketches, Guy Smiley hosting Here is Your Life, a parody of the show This Is Your Life, in which people would be reunited with important people from their lives after having to guess who each one is by listening to their off-stage voices. In Here is Your Life, the twist would be that Smiley would be staging the reunions for inanimate objects. In this first one, it’s an Oak Tree, and the various friends he brings back into his life are the old lady who planted him, Granny Fanny Nesselrode–who comes bearing a framed picture of the “adorable” acorn he once was–Cloud, who gave him water, and the Sun, who shone down on him, and in a darkly funny and extremely clever twist that you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else, a table and chair who were once trees that grew beside him! You can watch this classic clip below:



–And finally, one more classic scene, another installment of the adventures of Waiter Grover and his perpetually unhappy customer, Mr. Johnson!! Unlike the previous example, however, this time around, Mr. Johnson is entirely in the right and Grover in the wrong:



And so, Grover delivers Mr. Johnson soup but the man has a problem with it and keeps calling him back. Each time he does, Grover tries to anticipate what he’s going to say, rushing to solve the imagined issue without ever letting him get a word in edgewise as to what is actually the problem. And while we’re probably supposed to be seeing Mr. Johnson’s point-of-view, you can’t blame Grover for expecting Mr. Johnson to simply have a petty, meaningless complaint after the Alphabet Soup debacle last time!

As it turns out, however, this time around, the soup hasn’t gone cold, it isn’t too hot, and he didn’t forget to bring salt, pepper, or crackers. What he forgot to do was bring a spoon, which Mr. Johnson illustrates to him by asking him to try the soup. A frustrated Grover not-so-patiently replies, “All right, sir, the customer is always right,” at which point he realizes his error. Finally he brings him the coveted utensil, immediately afterwards telling him, “Next time, when you want the spoon, ask for it!” Ba dum dum sisss.

And come back tomorrow for some Season 4 highlights!


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