Sesame St S6: Bert and Ernie #2

"Ice Cream Soda"

“Ice Cream Soda”

“Ice Cream Soda” is another “Ernie-starts-out-meaning-well-but-gets-a-bit-thoughtless” sketches, albeit ending with him finally doing right by Bert. Ernie is watching Hooper’s store for him while he’s out and surprises Bert with a glass of his favorite drink–unflavored soda water. Before he lets him drink it, however, he does the old Ernie move of trying it for him first to make sure it’s all right. After a quick sip, however, he decides it’s too bland to allow him to drink and so, to Bert’s dismay, he adds strawberry syrup, and then a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream, which is perfect for Ernie but not for Bert who screams that he hates ice cream sodas!


Ernie then decides to do him another favor and drink it for him, which unfortunately doesn’t solve the question of how Bert will quench his thirst, but thankfully Ernie has an idea: he’ll just get Bert a glass of unflavored soda water! So while Ernie puts him through the wringer a bit, he at least ends on the right side of history, honoring Bert’s lousy taste.


And finally, our last Bert and Ernie sketch of Season 6. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find video of this one but some lovely person put it an audio recording taped off of TV on YouTube. “Ernie and Bert’s Separate Ways” is about a massive fight between our dynamic duo over–as per usual–food. Ernie and Bert are both squabbling over a cookie which Ernie ends up eating, leading to both of them deciding they’re going to move out at once. Ernie wants to go out West and become a cowboy, while Bert fancies moving to the North Pole to study fish (never change, Bert). Luckily, however, Maria is there to help sort things out and, through the efficacious use of a large dollop of reverse psychology, she imagines a future for each of them, in which they grow old, bearded, and utterly alone, never having seen one another again. It kind of feels like the Sesame Street version of Brokeback Mountain but weepier.


"Which Hat Size Will Fit?"

“Which Hat Size Will Fit?”

Finally, once the gravity of never seeing each other again sinks in, the two apologize to one another. Finally, Bert admits that maybe it was Ernie’s cookie after all, and Ernie reasserts that he knows that it was. How? He ate Bert’s cookie earlier that morning! They’re both so emotionally drained, however, that this doesn’t send Bert into a frenzy. They go back home together, happy to be friends and to have made up. I really like this one, because there’s something rather lovely and melancholy about it. Maria gives Bert and Ernie some tough love, and it really gives them perspective as to their friendship being more important than a cookie. At the same time, there’s some nice, completely-in-character humor woven in, regarding some selfish behavior on Ernie’s part that’s still forgiven by the end because that’s what friends do. And he does at least feel genuinely sorry for what he did, and, perhaps most impressively, told the truth despite the potential for setting Bert off again.


And now there are still 4 final clips I found for Sesame Street season 6 in which Ernie appears but Bert doesn’t. The first is a very quick one with Cookie Monster called “Which Hat Will Fit?”. Ernie has bought Bert a hat and has three boxes–small, medium, and large–and needs Cookie’s help figuring out which one it will fit in. Even though common sense would dictate that it should go in the medium-sized one, as it’s neither too big nor too small for the hat, Cookie insists that it should be the small one. Ernie protests that it won’t fit, and Cookie tells him he’ll make it fit, and he does…by devouring the rim of the hat, as Ernie watches on in horror!


Again, a nice twist on how we’d expect an educational sketch to go, as the simple answer of putting the hat in the appropriately-sized box is rejected for the more complex concept of changing the size of the object itself, and another example of Ernie being placed in the Bert position when dealing with Cookie Monster, arguably the only character living on Sesame Street more selfish and food-obsessed than Ernie can be.


"Everybody's Different"

“Everybody’s Different”

Then we have “Everybody’s Different”, which is largely a direct remake of a sketch we’ve seen numerous times before–on Sesame StreetThe Muppets on PuppetsThe Dick Cavett Show, and The Flip Wilson Show–in which a number of featureless Anything Muppets are given various costume and make-up pieces to turn them into distinct figures. This time, though, instead of the typical Anything Muppets, they are 4 bouncy balls, 3 of whom are a mother, father, and son, and the 4th of whom is the postman, and Ernie is the one applying the various features so they can tell each other apart.


As with the previous iteration of this sketch on Sesame Street, in which Gordon helped another family sort itself out, it’s a bit problematic viewed from today’s lens, as it can be taken to imply that people are visually defined by specific gendered features, not allowing for variance in taste, let alone people who don’t conform to gender norms at all. However, particularly for its time period, it clearly has good intentions and is meant to teach about how people’s differences are a good thing as they help us distinguish them from one another, even if it maybe as the unintended side effect of potentially implying that all of each group look the same. 


"Robin Hood's Merry Men Audition"

“Robin Hood’s Merry Men Audition”

Next, another fun little Ernie/Count von Count sketch, “The Count Hires Ernie to Answer the Phone”, which seems like a relatively simple job, however as it turns out, it isn’t so much. While ostensibly the Count wants Ernie to answer his phone so that he won’t be distracted from the importance business of counting, the issue is that, whenever the phone starts to ring, the Count begins to count the rings and, in his veritable fugue state, keeps attempting to stop Ernie from picking it up and ruining his lovely counting. A quick and very funny sketch that reminds us just how much of an unhealthy compulsion the Count’s affliction truly can be.


And we finish up with “Robin Hood’s Merry Men Audition”, another favorite of mine, in which Ernie takes on the role of Robin Hood, auditioning new merry men to join his band. Unfortunately, however, each of the applicants is wrong in some way. The first is too sad to be merry, and the second too angry. The third is the dreaded Harvey Kneeslapper, who certainly seems merry enough from the outset, but ends up being such a nuisance with his terrible jokes and infernal giggling that Robin Hood starts to wonder if maybe he should alter his group to one for sad or angry men instead! 


And there we have it, season 6 all done and dusted! The next post will be a look at a few assorted clips of other footage, including Jim’s appearance on the TV panel game show, What’s My Line? 


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