Sesame Street Ep #796

Professor Grover and Maria's head.

Professor Grover and Maria’s head.

Next up, there’s a very funny Professor Grover scene, in which our furry blue monster, decked out in a graduation cap and gown, decides to teach us about the human head, using a rather impatient Maria as a demonstration, although, in her defense, he does seem to have her trapped in a box with just her head sticking out, and, at the start of the scene, even it is covered with a cloth! “I never felt so silly in all my life,” she grumbles. Grover proceeds to show us the “long, stringy stuff” covering her head which some people, he claims, “think is spaghetti,” annoying her in the process. But no, he assures us, it is, in fact, hair. This makes her happier, but then, Grover being Grover, he accidentally stumbles and calls it “spaghetti” again, before pointing out the “two sticky-out things that look like handles” on each side of her head. These, he tells us, are called “head handles,” and they’re used for lifting the head, which he attempts to do, by pulling them and nearly wrenching off her head in the process. Finally, he corrects himself, getting the right word, but, of course, as soon as he begins to introduce the forehead, he’s forgotten the word for “hair” again!


On the plus side, he has no problem remembering the eyes and their function, but he seems to stumble again when it comes to the nose, asserting that “there is great confusion when it comes to this part of the body. I wonder how many people think that that is a belly button.” Luckily, he instantly course-corrects, parroting Maria’s “Nobody!” and then landing on the word, “nose”. He ends triumphantly on the mouth, which he remembers can talk and sing and whistle. Maria whispers to him that he seems to have forgotten one thing, however. He asks what she means, and she gives him a little kiss. “Aw, Maria,” he says, blushing. And that’s the reason this sketch works in a way the Snuffy ones in this era don’t anymore. Maria’s a little short with Grover at the start of the sketch but more in a slightly curmudgeonly, teasing way than an outright angry one, and you can see by the end that she’s already forgiven him for this whole humiliating situation, with an extremely sweet, loving gesture.


My favorite sketch of the episode, however, isn’t that one but yet another Sesame Street Newsflash, naturally starring Kermit the Frog, this time centering on the world-famous Mother Goose nursery rhyme about one Mr. Humpty Dumpty and a spill he took from a great height that ended with him shattered in pieces, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men desperately trying to reattach his scattered bits in order to restore him to his original form:



Before getting an exclusive with one of the king’s horses, Kermit comes across a cow, who tries to justify her being there by neighing, until Kermit shoos her away. Come on, Kermit, if the cow wants to help, why not let her? Meanwhile, the horse he talks to supplies us with a steady stream of egg gags, calling Humpty Dumpty a “tough egg…not what you’d call hard-boiled.” As I’ve mentioned before, Jim Henson was a huge fan of puns, so I can imagine he got a real kick out of all of these.


And speaking of kick, or rather push, this sketch is also notable for being one of the rare instances where Kermit’s presence in the fairy tale or nursery rhyme doesn’t only alter the outcome but does so in an entirely negative way, at least for the protagonist of said story! Usually, the tale goes wrong around Kermit, and he’s left to either marvel at or deal with the outcome. This time, he messes it up himself, for, despite the old refrain that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again, here, they do! Luckily for them, it isn’t so difficult, because he’s only in three pieces. However, while interviewing Humpty post-resurrection–in a great little satire on TV journalists, Kermit asks one of those classic, pointless reporter questions, “How does it feel to be back?”–Kermit gets a little overzealous in congratulating him, slapping him a little too hard on the back and accidentally knocking him off the wall, where, from the sound of it, he has likely shattered into far more pieces than before! Oops! In the Muppet canon, it’s so unusual for Kermit to be the one causing chaos that this is a pretty amazing novelty to behold which also makes a sly comment on how the very presence of a reporter can alter a story.


"The Numerical Correspondence Song"

“The Numerical Correspondence Song”

Other notable parts of the episode are a celebrity appearance by folk singer Judy Collins, singing one of her hits, “The Fisherman Song,” to a group of Anything Muppets dressed as…you guessed it…fishermen, Herry Monster and John-John demonstrating the difference between “loud” and “soft,” Bert and a little girl named Ingrid counting backwards from 10 to 1, and finally, the “Numerical Correspondence Song,” a song with a simple message about adding from 1 to 5 but which distinguishes itself by being a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta parody, the main tune a riff on The Pirates of Penzance‘s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” with small excursions into the nursery rhymes “Sing a Song of Sixpence” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. This really fun number also includes another general operatic reference in the form of a female Valkyrie, as well as a specific Gilbert & Sullivan one in the form of a blue, round admiral, who would actually later appear as part of a Muppet duo version of Gilbert and Sullivan themselves (although the first time he appeared, he was called Gilbert, and the second time he referred to himself as Sullivan!).


And that’s about it for this episode. I didn’t find nearly as much footage for this season as for most of the previous ones, so we’ll just have one or two more posts on Season 7 after this, before we return to yet another Julie Andrews special!


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