Sesame St S5: Bert and Ernie, Etc.

And now we finally come to our last day of clips from Season 5, nearly all of this batch revolving around Sesame Street‘s own dynamic duo, Bert and Ernie.


The first is called “TV Repair,” and it’s actually a twist on a Season 1 sketch we watched, in which Bert and Ernie’s TV would display nothing but the letter A, until Bert encourages to Ernie to reach into the back of the set, where he pulls out a bunch of items that begin with “A” that somehow seem to have gotten stuck inside the set. Once everything’s out, the set seems fixed, until it starts blaring the letter “B” instead, but Ernie actually seems to like it, so they leave it. This later sketch is basically a straight-up remake, however instead of Ernie attempting to watch TV, it’s Bert, whose favorite show, The Wonderful World of Pigeons, has been interrupted by a droning letter “H”:



And, as you seen, as in the first sketch, Ernie is again the one removing the “H” items from the TV in order to fix it. However, this time around, it’s his idea, and Bert is actually completely perplexed as to how he’s accomplishing it, for instead of reaching in back of the TV, Ernie is magically reaching his hand through the TV screen, reminiscent of the chocolate bars sent via TV signal in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, yet another example of the world basically shifting to suit Ernie’s whims and leaving Bert completely confused. This time around, however, Ernie is helping Bert rather than pranking him. The sketch ends much the same way as the first, but this time with “I” repeating over and over, and just as Ernie fell in love with the “B” in the previous example, Bert falls for the “I” here. “I love it,” he cries. “It’s exciting…It’s unique!” Maybe Bert’s just a little more narcissistic than we realized.


Speaking of Bert and letters, Ernie uses one to punk rather than help him in “The Q Game”, a cute little sketch that basically revolves around the kid game concept of tricking another kid into saying something that sounds silly. Ernie tells Bert to alternate counting up with the letter Q. Ernie says, “1Q,” Bert “2Q,” and so on and so forth, until Bert lands on “10Q,” Ernie responds, “I didn’t hear you, Bert,” and Bert shouts, “10Q, 10Q, 10Q!” “You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome,” Ernie replies, laughing. A befuddled Bert replies, “I don’t get it”. So, in a way, Ernie emerges the victor here, but since Bert doesn’t seem to have gotten the joke, it’s at least not as bad for him as usual. He’s just more perplexed than anything else!


Ernie plays a much meaner trick on him in “Sharing a Banana”, in which he brings a banana home from the grocery store and proceeds to eat it in front of Bert, despite the fact that his friend wants one. And when Bert asks him, “What kind of friend are you?” for not offering him any, Ernie agrees that what he did was wrong and so he agrees to split it, proceeding to eat all of the inside of the banana and then handing Bert the peel. On the plus side, however, Ernie surprises Bert at the end by actually revealing he’d been teasing all along. He’d actually gotten another banana for Bert after all. On the minus side, Bert isn’t conscious to learn this, as he’s already fainted with frustration.


Ernie divides licorice.

Ernie divides licorice.

Ernie has similar trouble splitting food equitably in “Ernie and Bert Divide Licorice”, although in this one it’s not as clear whether he’s actually trying to drive Bert crazy or if he’s just being Ernie–in other words, generally well-meaning and good-natured but unintentionally thoughtless. In some ways, this time around, it’s a little sadder, though, as Bert is just so delighted when Ernie offers to share his licorice candy with him, saying, “Ernie, my buddy!” Aww.


The heart breaks a bit in anticipation of what Ernie then puts him through, taking out a piece of licorice, trying to divide it in two and then realizing that Bert’s half is longer and his is shorter, and so then proceeding to try to make them even…by nibbling some of Bert’s half. And then, of course, he nibbles off slightly too much so his piece is longer, so to be fair, he nibbles his own piece down but goes too far, and then Bert’s is longer, and so on and so forth.


We’ve seen similar sketches before, all basically adding up to the fact that in trying to “make things even,” Ernie’s actually eating everything himself. Ernie at least seems to have his heart in the right place, since he seems concerned about not having more than Bert himself, although of course by the very nature of how he’s making them even, he’s getting much more than Bert regardless!


He also drives Bert up a wall in “The Electric Fan”, in which Ernie comes in sweating from a hot day and turns on an electric fan to cool off, at first putting it on a low setting and disrupting Bert, who is trying to write a fan letter to Mr. Rogers (!!) (who would later visit Sesame Street himself, and Big Bird would then guest on his show) and then turning it up even higher, blowing away Bert’s paperwork all together. Finally, Bert yells at him to turn it off, eventually screaming at the top of his lungs about how “hot and bothered” he is. Luckily, Ernie has a perfect solution to Bert’s being so hot and bothered, and on the practically super-powered fan goes again, letting loose a torrent of wind that practically blows Bert into the next room!


Tough Eddie "threatens" Ernie.

Tough Eddie “threatens” Ernie.

But for nice counterbalance, we also have a scene in which Ernie actually sticks up for his old buddy, Bert! In “The Beach: Tough Eddie”, the eponymous Tough Eddie of the title, a big, rough, seemingly mean bully type, knocks over Bert’s sand castle while he sleeps. Ernie actually tries to stand up to him but then finds himself too intimidated to proceed when Tough Eddie tells him to inform his friend that he’s “got something for him” when he returns. Ernie wakes Bert up and warns him to hide, and he even holds his ground when Tough Eddie returns, until the guy finally threatens that “If he’s not here, then what I got to him, I’d better give to you!” Only then does Ernie pull Bert out from his hiding place, but by that point, could you blame him, really? The fact that he held out as bravely as he could for as long as he did is pretty commendable.


And so Bert finally braces for what Tough Eddie has for him….and it turns out to be an ice cream cone to apologize for what he did. And so finally, Bert has an unqualified win! And no, he doesn’t offer any to Ernie. (Good for him!) Ernie even tries to call Tough Eddie back to knock over his sand castle, as well!


Our last two sketches for Season 5 pair Ernie with other characters. The first is another Ernie/Cookie scene but one that doesn’t feature Cookie stealing cookies from him. In fact, it has Ernie willingly showering his monster friend with his most beloved treats! In the lovely “Hope”, Ernie illustrates this rather complex, abstract concept of “hope” to the audience by showing Cookie a bag and asking him what he would like to be in it. Naturally, his answer is a “cookie,” and Ernie explains how it’s crucial that Cookie doesn’t know for sure what’s inside the bag, or he wouldn’t hope, he would know. Which is interesting, because I’m not sure if I had ever considered quite how complicated a concept this might be to convey to a child.


King Ernie marvels at the Royal Smart Person's latest invention.

King Ernie marvels at the Royal Smart Person’s latest invention.

And the sketch ends on a lovely twist, as I’ve already indicated, because at first, Ernie shatters Cookie’s hopes by telling him that there isn’t a cookie in the bag, and then surprises him with the fact that there are actually 10 cookies in the bag! Which is also a nice message for the kids: the thing you hope for may not be what you end up getting, but what you end up getting might be even better!


Finally, we have an installment of “Caveman Days,” a series of sketches that would flashback to the (very) old days, with Ernie playing a caveman king. In this one, “Paper”, King Ernie has had it up to here with all of his mail being written on heavy rocks, as they tend to hurt his feet when they land on him, and so he summons the Royal Smart Person aka Sherlock Hemlock to come up with a solution. In response, the RSP invents paper, which is easy to write on and, most importantly, light. And when the king raises the one issue that might sink the concept, that the wind could easily blow it away (as Bert knows full well), the RSP suggests that he simply place a rock on it! Brilliant! Except said rock again lands on King Ernie’s foot, and he chases the RSP around the cave!


And that’s it for Season 5! Please come back next Tuesday for a look at the Julie Andrews 1973 TV special, Julie on Sesame Street!


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