Sesame Street Ep #536

Snuffy follows the leader.

Snuffy follows the leader.

–There’s also a cute little bit in which Luis is trapped in a brick room and can’t find a way out, until an exit sign lowers from the heavens, he attaches it to one of the walls and is suddenly able to magically push the bricks under it out of the way in the form of a hidden door! This is another one that I remembered vividly and was fun to revisit, though this time I noticed something I didn’t as a child: that the “brick” walls to the left and right shake suspiciously while he’s opening the “door”. Aww, early 70s PBS sets!

–We also have a pretty long street scene in which Big Bird calls all of the adults out on the fact that, last week, none of them were available to play “Follow the Leader” with him and had told him they’d do it this week, and he’s come to collect. He would, however, like to wait until Mr. Snuffleupagus arrives, at which point they all devolve into an irritated chorus about how his best friend isn’t real. Even Maria is particularly snide about it. Et tu, Maria? And while it is kind of funny from an adult perspective to see how much they really don’t feel like playing with him, I have to say it also feels a little harsh? And when you add on their utter impatience at his wanting to wait for Snuffy, they don’t come across looking too well. Even if Snuffy were imaginary, wouldn’t playing along be more encouraging to a kid?

But anyway, they finally agree and play, and wouldn’t you know it, Snuffy eventually arrives, although none of them, including Big Bird, ever see him. But there are some cute near-misses when Snuffy’s trunk nearly brushes Maria and another moment where they would have seen each other…if, that is, Leader David’s order wasn’t for everyone to close their eyes! I also really like a particular moment where Big Bird’s tail brushes Susan’s face, and she instinctively and warmly laughs, “Big Bird!” because you could tell it was an entirely off-the-cuff, unplanned moment that here shows how real these characters were to the adults as well.

–This also happens in this episode:

 

 

Although, to be fair, I’m pretty sure it was a law that the Harlem Globetrotters appear on every kids’ show in the 70s at some point.

–I also really enjoyed a cute comedy sketch in which David plays a man who has been alone on a tiny desert island in the middle of the ocean for 10 years and Maria plays a genie who pops out of a bottle that he discovers washed on shore, and then proceeds to rub. After spending hundreds of years in there, she’s eager to get home, but he stops her, asking her about the 3 wishes he’s pretty sure he’s entitled to. And she begrudgingly agrees to wait for a moment. For his first wish, he wishes for a boat, and she tells him that won’t be a problem…but instead poof!s up a fur coat. Even though it was her mistake, that apparently still counts for a wish, however–which is pretty unfair, if you ask me, but anyway–and so he wishes for a boat again and this time gets a…goat! A real-live one, too, not just a Muppet.

Finally he very slowly and clearly explains to her that she’s misunderstood due to the fact that these words rhyme, and finally she gets it. “A boat!” she says, and gives him one…a tiny toy one that fits in his hand. As she heads off to Baghdad, he calls out, “Genie, don’t leave me!” and she responds in the New Yawkiest accent imaginable the line that makes the entire sketch worth it: “Honey, it ain’t Jeannie, it’s Mabel!” I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I laughed at that cheesy line. Sigh.

–Up to this point, I’ve gotten a chance to watch Kermit, Cookie, Ernie, and the Count’s signature songs, and now, finally, it’s Bert’s turn with his number, “Doin’ the Pigeon”:

 

 

Unfortunately, this clip on the official channel doesn’t contain the entire scene and features a new opening. The original version doesn’t open with an announcer but rather Bert showing footage he supposedly shot of pigeons frolicking in Asbury Park, and just that bit alone is a veritable masterpiece of quintessential Bertness. He just gets so excited at these ridiculously boring, ratty birds that it’s absolutely adorable. “I love pigeons more than anything else in this world,” he beams. “Other than oatmeal,” he adds. Of course, Bert, of course. At another point, he insists that “pigeons are unusually intelligent birds,” and brags, “Look at the balance!” Until admitting, “Well, he kind of fell…” “See the one with the feathers?! He’s Bernie.” Aww, he named a pigeon after a portmanteau of his and Ernie’s names! I wonder if he realizes.

That preamble, of course, then leads into the immortal Pigeon dance which is notable for being the first time–as far as I know–that we are afforded the opportunity to see his entire body, head to toe. And, as with the other characters’ signature songs, it’s notable for being fun and character-driven rather than specifically educational. Sesame Street wasn’t just about teaching which is one of the main reasons it’s so entertaining. There didn’t have to be a lesson crammed into everything.

–And, last but not least, another classic Bert and Ernie scene, in which Ernie has Bert hold still while an unseen marker traces Bert’s face in order to make a picture of him:

 

 

I love the conceit that Bert can apparently feel the marker on his face and even can’t move his mouth once it’s drawn over it, as if its lines have sealed it shut! And I also love that it’s the rare sketch where Ernie puts Bert through a few uncomfortable minutes but ends up surprising him with something that actually makes him happy. Aww, see, he does care!

Next week: more highlights from Season 5!

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