What’s My Line, Etc.

Kermit sings "Bein' Green".

Kermit sings “Bein’ Green”.

This clip then begins to wrap up with a possibly strange moment of coincidence in which Soupy Sales poses a question about “Bein’ Green” (calling Joe Raposo a genius, and it’s lovely to hear him mention him by name) and Kermit responds by singing his signature song, a performance that’s just as magical as ever, and it’s extremely cool, again, to see Jim’s level of comfort when performing Kermit, secure in the knowledge that all eyes are on the frog as he sings. What I’m wondering is whether this question–immediately followed through with the score starting up for Kermit to sing along to–indicates that the game was rigged or if it’s simply a coincidence that he asked this question right before this performance was set to go.


To be fair, “Bein’ Green” was such a phenomenon at this point that it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they simply decided to take the opportunity to use the segue that Sales unwittingly provided, but something about it still feels slightly staged. One can also think back and question why he was so positive that he was right about Jim, but then again, not only were the Muppets very famous by this point, they were arguably the most likely contender for puppets on TV as soon as Arlene Francis asked that question, and furthermore, as he mentioned, he’d worked with them before.


But anyway, let’s move on to the Cookie Monster PSA, which is a short, sweet little interaction between Cookie and an off-screen announcer. Cookie is sitting at an outside table, preparing for a meal that the reporter is sure will be cookies, but, no, Cookie protests, “No monster can eat only cookies and be healthy!” Cookie has an opening course of meat and fish for “protein and strength,” then a plate of vegetables for “vitamins,” then some fruit for “energy,” and milk for “good bones and teeth”. Throughout this entire time, a huge truck is approaching silently in the distance, which Cookie and the man ignore. Finally, it’s time for dessert, and the smug announcer is sure he knows what it’ll be. But no, instead, it’s…a whistle! Cookie explains that it’s for strong lungs. Oh, and for…Cookie blows the whistle and the truck dumps practically all of the cookies in the world on top of our joyful monster–the punchline of course being he thinks good nutrition means having small portions of healthy food to “balance out” the mountains of cookies he’s about to consume.


Crank and Oscar sing on "The Electric Company".

Crank and Oscar sing on “The Electric Company”.

But remember around 2005 when the press caught wind of the fact that Cookie would now be treating cookies as a “sometimes food,” acting as if he were never interested in being healthy before then, and people starting talking about how Sesame Street was making Cookie too “PC,” yadda yadda yadda? Well, if anyone brings that up to you again, point them towards this PSA, which was shot 30 years earlier!


Our third clip is an appearance by Oscar the Grouch on The Electric Company on January 15, 1975. As I’ve explained before, The Electric Company was another, much-shorter-lived Children’s Television Workshop production whose aim was to teach slightly-older children about concepts that were a little above Sesame Street‘s general M.O. Here, rather than focusing on the first letter of the word “grouch” or how it’s spelled, as Sesame Street might, they instead focus on the middle letters of the word “grouch,” namely the “ow” sound made by the “ou”. As with Sesame Street, this is handled quite subtly in a song shared between Oscar and a grouchy human character, Crank–who in this segment reveals that his mentor all of these years, the one who taught him how to be so cranky, was indeed Oscar. And so Crank sings an ode to his teacher, and each time the word “grouch,” comes up the song emphasizes the sound, and the “ou” in the word on the screen flickers to indicate that’s the noise they’re making.


The song and scene are filled with lots of cute lines, such as when Crank calls Oscar his “favorite dude in the whole world of rude” and when Oscar sings that “I will always be first when the worst comes to worst!” As the song proceeds, Oscar also teaches Crank the finer points of scowling, and by the end has told him how terrible his song is right before asking for a copy, since, naturally, that was a Grouch compliment. You can watch it here.


And, finally, we have another TV commercial! It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten one, since Jim was doing less and less of them by the mid-70s, as so much money was coming in from Sesame Street by this point:



As you see, this one was for an orange soda called Mirinda, which was distributed by PepsiCo, and it hearkens back to the old days of Henson commercials in how it has two characters in a struggle surrounding a product, the difference being that rather than fighting over its quality, here one character is simply outwitting the other one so he can take it for himself. And as with the old commercials, it’s short, sweet, and to the point. A strong man at the circus has his own nice, refreshing Mirinda when a huge monster–appropriately and rather directly called the Mirinda Craver–asks him if he can have it. The man tells him he can, if he can lift a 1,000 pound dumbbell. The Mirinda Craver asks him how that’s done, and, as the guy lifts it in order to demonstrate it to him, the Craver steals and drinks his Mirinda while the guy’s hands are occupied! The Mirinda Craver is probably most notable for the mechanisms that not only move his eyes in circles but, you might also notice, even move his hair around as he drinks.


And that’s all for now. Come back next time for my coverage of the second Muppet Show pilot, which Jim subtly subtitled Sex and Violence!


Pages: 1 2

« »