Sesame St S7 Clips

Kermit, Aladdin, and the Genie

Kermit, Aladdin, and the Genie

And now, moving on from the DVD, we have some clips I found on YouTube, starting with yet another Sesame Street News Flash, this one about Aladdin and His Lamp. The fun thing here is that, much as the above Don Music sketch drew humor from deliberately using the modern meaning of the word, “macaroni,” rather than the context people would have had when the song was written, this sketch reinterprets Aladdin’s magical lamp to not be the spout-shaped oil lamp we associate today with the Arabian Nights but instead a modern-day electrical lamp. When Kermit arrives on the scene, Aladdin–who tells Kermit to call him “Al,” foreshadowing a line from Disney’s Aladdin by nearly 20 years!–is complaining that his lamp won’t work. Kermit suggests he rub it, and, indeed, a genie does appear inside said desk lamp!


But, in this fractured version of the tale, the genie’s appearance isn’t what Aladdin was hoping for. He has not a single wish other than for his lamp to produce some light–for which the genie can provide no help. “I’m a genie, not an electrician. What do I know from lamps?” the grumpy genie complains. And so, instead, Aladdin has to turn to Kermit, who helps him every step of the way, first by suggesting he get a lightbulb and screw it into the top, which he does (the genie sighing in the background, “To think I could’ve worked for Ali Baba instead of this dingaling!”), then by telling him to plug the lamp into the electrical outlet, and finally to turn on the switch. As I’ve mentioned before, the scope of Sesame Street‘s lessons are truly impressive, here focusing on such a practical thing as the basics of how electricity works, rather than just simple letters, numbers, or words.


The sketch’s punchline occurs when the light is finally fixed, because it’s now too bright for the genie to sleep within the lamp, as he’d been doing before Al and Kermit bothered him, and so he disappears in a huff. But Al is fine with that, of course, because his lamp is finally in working order. Then, when Kermit turns to go, Al calls to him that he can’t leave yet: “You have to fix my magic toaster and my magic hot comb!” As I spoke of when we were at the “Humpty Dumpty” sketch, in some News Flashes, a traditional fairy tale goes off the rails around Kermit, while in others he accidentally causes the trouble himself. This one is an interesting case where the story goes a bit wonky but he actually manages to get it back on track, albeit a very different track than what was originally intended by the author.


And our next News Flash for today is Kermit’s exclusive interview with a certain famous wooden boy:



This is actually a fairly straightforward News Flash sketch. Kermit simply asks Pinocchio to demonstrate his special talent for growing and shrinking his nose via lying and then telling the truth, and he does. However, Pinocchio gets a little overzealous with the lying, because, after simply telling two lies to grow it a bit and two truths to shrink it, he decides he needs to show the audience how big his nose can really get, beginning with my favorite lie of his: that his name is Cinderella and he ate 3 dragons for breakfast! His nose grows so long that it ends up breaking the wall and shooting Kermit high up into the sky. Finally, Kermit begs him to stop and tell the truth, and his nose shrinks, leaving Kermit hanging in mid-air for a moment…and then plummeting down to the ground, Wile-E.-Coyote-style. It’s a fun little sketch, largely due to Kermit’s reactions, but it doesn’t have a truly ingenious twist, as some of the News Flashes do.


It’s also a bit disappointing that, in order to accomplish the nose growing out of the puppet, they basically plaster Pinocchio to the back wall, so that the prop nose can be pushed out from behind. Often, Jim Henson puppetry is so seamless that you don’t really think about the “strings,” so to speak, yet here the puppet goes from being mobile to being instantly so inert right before and during the nose-grow that it took me a bit out of it. I wished that they could have been slightly more clever with the cameras, zooming in on his face to hide everything behind it, then perhaps cutting to a side shot that obscured what was happening to the left of the puppet–something a bit more lifelike. Anyway, you will rarely see me complain about puppeteering from the Jim Henson Co., so enjoy the novelty while it lasts!


Old King Cole

Old King Cole

We end today on one final News Flash, Kermit’s expose of “Old King Cole“. Well, actually, he’s really just there to witness the events of the famous nursery rhyme and, unlike most News Flashes, that’s really all he does–watch from the sidelines. The story gets a little fractured, but really just a little, and that’s about it. It’s actually not at all a bad clip, filled with some fun little moments, but it’s also a bit drawn-out and doesn’t have a strong comedic conceit the way “Aladdin” and even “Pinocchio” does, by comparison. Basically, the King calls for his pipe but coughs on it, deciding it’s disgusting, so he calls for his bowl, but realizes that he has no use for an empty bowl, and then finally calls for his “Fiddlers three,” but instead the room fills up with people. Not only have the fiddlers arrived but an entire band. They all decide to jam, the king calling for his lute so he can join in. The end.


So there’s a bit of a running thread of things not working out quite as expected but it doesn’t really have a strong pay-off. At least the jam session is fun. Also, being a sucker for a good Muppet meta pun, I can’t help but love the part where the king calls for his pipe and orders his servant “to step on it!” and Kermit replies, “At this point, you might think we’d go for the cheap joke, but we’re not going to!” Good for you, Kermit. Good for you.


And that’s it for today, folks. Next time, I wrap up the season 7 coverage with one more batch of clips!

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