Sesame St S7 Clips

Grover makes it snow at Kermit's.

Grover makes it snow at Kermit’s.

Today, I continue my look at Sesame Street‘s seventh season with the assorted clips that appeared as bonus features on the Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2 DVD set, a few of which I don’t have much to say about, so I’ll just breeze through those first. Two are two of the classic pinball machine counting animations, which you are guaranted to remember if you watched this era of the show (you can check one out here). Another features Buffy Sainte-Marie–a Canadian First Nations woman who appeared numerous times on the show in this era–singing “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” and in yet another, Bob plays a musical game of “Follow the Leader” with a group of children, some of whom have Down syndrome. This is a lovely segment, because Bob never points out these kids’ disorder but treats them exactly as the others, and they respond to the game just as the others do.


Naturally, the clips I loved the most from this batch, however, are the Muppet segments. In the first, “Kermit and the Weather Salesman“, we discover that Grover has taken on yet another identity of sorts. In addition to Professor Grover, Super Grover, Waiter Grover, etc., now he’s also Traveling Salesman Grover, and, in this sketch, whose door should he knock upon but that of one Mr. Kermit the Frog? Kermit amusingly answers with faux-heightened (and grammatically questionable) English: “Hark, I wonder whom that can be knocking upon my door!” And when he discovers our lovable blue monster standing there, he tells him he had no clue he was a salesman. “Got to do something to pay the cookie bill,” Grover responds, proving he isn’t the only monster on Sesame Street with a hankering for crunchy, chocolate chip treats.


Upon entering, Grover reveals that the merchandise he is trying to unload on his customers is an amazing weather machine, which can produce snow, wind, or rain inside your house for the very low price of $1 for the first option, and apparently only 5o cents for the second. He demonstrates all three for Kermit but never gets around to telling the number value for the third, as Kermit is too busy freaking out while the room is first covered in snow, then assaulated by strong winds, and then rained upon. Hilariously, Kermit gets so upset that he responds in slangy English the polar opposite of how he began the sketch: “I want you to get out and stop wreckin’ mah place!”


And then we have the punchline. Grover apparently can’t stop the rain from falling, but he can sell Kermit an umbrella…for only $7! Kermit bargains him down to a nickel, which he happily takes, elated to have finally made his first sale ever. It’s another one of those great instances of a Sesame scene where the educational value is subtly woven into the fabric of the sketch–presumably, it’s in the demonstration of the various sorts of weather–but takes a backseat to the comedy (and, here, the fantasy) of the scene.


Don Music writes "Yankee Doodle".

Don Music writes “Yankee Doodle”.

Next up, another Kermit scene but now he’s in his reporter guise, doing another investigative piece on the emotionally hyperbolic composer, Don Music, who, this time, is trying to put the finishing touhes on his latest creation, “Yankee Doodle Dandy“. He’s desperately trying to find a rhyme for “pony,” i.e. “Yankee Doodle went to town/Riding on a pony/Stuck a feather in his cap/And called it–” What?! Being unable to think of anything, he toys with changing “pony” to “kitty” and making the last line, “called it very pretty,” but he despairs upon remembering that people don’t ride kitties to town. Kermit suggests, “Macaroni,” which Don temporarily likes…until declaring that ridiculous. Kermit agrees, “I’ve always thought that myself,” a cute little meta reference to the fact that this is actually an old song.


The humor of the scene comes from the fact that most people today no longer know the context for “macaroni,” which is that, back in the 1700s, “Macaroni” was French for a highly fashionable, foppish wig. The song was written by Brits who were mocking the yokels in America for trying to imitate high fashion but doing it incorrectly. The idea that all Yankee Doodle did was stick a feather in his cap and foolishly think that that was Macaroni was the point of the song. Americans ended up liking the song so much, however, that they basically claimed it as their own; eventually, its origins as a satire about Americans was totally lost, along with the meaning of “macaroni,” and now we just think this weirdo decided to name his horse after pasta.


But, of course, particularly to a kid, this provides a wealth of comedy, since the original lyrics themselves sound so funny to our ears. And so here, Kermit tries to solve the “problem” a literal way by altering the line to “put fat spaghetti in his hat and called it ‘macaroni,'” which, as usual, Don is fine with, before freaking out all over again, because “WHO IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD PUT FAT SPAGHETTI IN HIS HAT?!” And so Kermit suggests changing “hat” to “pot,” which would be fine except why would he put fat spaghetti in a pot while riding a pony?! And when Kermit explains that he’s cooking for the pony, Don screams that he wouldn’t be doing that while riding the pony. Finally, Kermit suggests that maybe Yankee Doodle wasn’t riding into town at all. Maybe he was at home, and with that, Don has his Eureka! moment: “Yankee Doodle stayed at home, cooking for his pony, put fat spaghetti in a pot, and called it ‘macaroni’! Yankee Doodle, stir it up, let it gently simmer. Add the pepper and the salt, and that’s your pony’s dinner!”


The scene ends on what would have been a pretty esoteric joke to a kid and is even pretty abstract to an adult. Don asks Kermit what he thinks of the song, and Kermit says, gesturing to a bust of Shakespeare sitting on Don’s piano, “Not the kind of music that old Willy Shakespeare used to write.” While Shakespeare actually did write a few select songs for a few of his plays, he, of course, was primarily known for being a playwright and poet, so the fact that Don Music has his bust atop his piano, rather than that of a famous composer, as is the norm, adds another little layer of silliness to the scene, as does Kermit’s line.


Cavemen Grover and Biff try to pull a rock uphill.

Cavemen Grover and Biff try to pull a rock uphill.

Next, we have two cute Grover scenes. In the first, “Away From,” Marshal Grover rides once again…or at least tries to. After leaving an Old West tavern, he attempts to jump up on his ol’ horse Fred’s back, but each time, Fred moves away from him so that he lands on the ground, to the laughter of his friends inside the bar. Marshal Grover begs with him to stop embarrassing him, but Fred explains that Grover hurts his back when he jumps on it, and so a compassionate Grover profusely apologizes, promising to never do so again, then asking him to roll over so he can jump onto his “tummy”. “It’s times like these I wish I was a cow,” Fred sighs.


Then, in the even-funnier “Grover Invents the Wheel,” we’re treated to an ancient scene in which caveman version of Grover and Biff attempt to pull a round rock up a hill but encounter difficulty. Biff asks Grover to invent something to help him move the rock. First, he invents the square, but that doesn’t work, and then the triangle, which proves just as unhelpful. Finally, he invents the circle and everything would be great…except for the fact that the rope breaks, thus the wheels behind the rock make it all the more easier for it to roll down the hill and run over Grover. “Next time, I will invent the band-aid,” he cries.


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