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  3. Sesame Street Season 49
    Sesame Street's 49th season officially began Saturday November 17 on HBO. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

A Breakdown of the Series' Timeline

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by D'Snowth, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    I agree with you completely. Ernie looked pretty dopey, Bert was too angry-looking, the Anything Muppets weren't really...anything, and you needed sunglasses to look at bright orange Oscar. And don't even get me started on the ragtag, hick-like Big Bird. I wonder if he got involved with certain 1960s countercultural practices before SS? :eek:
    But what I really think put the ugliness over the top were the monsters. Think about Beautiful Day Monster, the Snerfs, Fuzzyface, and the pre-Cookie Monster, whom I shall now call "Floppyface" whenever referring to the original puppet. Not to mention there was also Scudge, Splurge, and Fred the Dragon! Yikes!
    Personally, I don't think the Muppets' look was really polished until around Season 5-6, once Snuffleupagus and the Count became regulars on the Street. Remember how Snuffy first looked? He was even more terrifying than the first Big Bird! The voice didn't help, either...he sounded like a stoned Eeyore. "Heeeeelllllloooooooo, Biiiiiiirrrrrddddd..." Thankfully Jerry kind of changed the voice, and then Marty Robinson took over. I really like Marty's voice better...it's more upbeat and versatile.

    On a different topic, was it really Caroll's decision to change the character, or did the writers do it? I know that the premise was a visit to a day-care center or something like that, and Caroll ended up performing the Bird as a six-year old instead of a goofy, dimwitted adult.
    LaniArianna likes this.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Don't forget though, Marty's Snuffy, at first, sounded very similar to Jerry's original Snuffy, kind of slow and soft, with a ho-hum tone to his voice. Then again, Marty also did the same with Telly, his Telly started out sounding similar to Brian Meehl's Telly; Marty's is a rare case of how he took on someone else's characters and eventually really made them his own. Like you said, Marty's Snuffy is a lot more upbeat and versatile, and likewise, his Telly is also far more expressive, and has a wider range of emotions that he taps into REALLY well, as opposed to his constant state of pouting about something.
    There were a couple of examples of Big Bird in a more childlike situation that made Caroll realize that Big Bird should be a kid instead of a bumpkin, not just him wanting to visit a daycare, but from what I recall, there was a scene where Big Bird was in the hallway of Gordon and Susan's apartment, and was hearing strange noises, scaring him into believing that there were monsters in the hallway... apparently, Caroll tapped into the emotion and feeling of the scene so well that after they finished taping, those in the studio applauded his performance, and it was here that he began to realize that having Big Bird be a kid would work better for the character, especially so kids watching can actually relate to him, and he approached the producers about the idea, and they decided to try it out and see how it would work... which, of course, it did.
    cjd874 likes this.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Those monsters were recycled from Ed Sullivan and other appearances. Compared to the other Muppets on the show at the time, they were more sophisticated. If you compare that with the monsters we've seen since the late 70's, they were more complex looking, but didn't have that right Sesame Street look. They were very much pre-Muppet Show type characters. Beautiful Day looked right at home with the likes of Sweetums and the Frackles.
    cjd874 likes this.
  4. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I suppose so. Ed Sullivan's show was geared toward young adult/mature audiences, if I'm not mistaken. The grown-ups would have reacted better to creatures like BDM and Fred the Dragon than a four-year old would have.
    Just think for a moment: if Jim reused more Sullivan characters on Sesame Street, how would that have turned out? Would that three-headed rock star monster have tested well with young viewers? (Probably not...)
    And in terms of being precursors to the Muppet Show Frackles, I think that they may have also been distant relatives of the SNL Gorch characters. If you look closely, Fred the Dragon has similar eyes to Ploobis and Wisss.
  5. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Another thing not mentioned in this thread is the fact that during the 1970s, it was common for the human cast to do voices, most notably in the Roosevelt Franklin segments, but also in many early Anything Muppet numbers. I wonder what it would have been like if the human cast provided as many Muppet voices (and I mean regular characters) as the Muppet performers.

    And on a similar note, in the early years, especially the first five seasons, it was common for performers to do multiple voices in the same sketches. Not just instances where a character would leave so their performer could bring in another character, or when a performer would perform two characters at once (as in one character on each hand), but instances where pre-recording was required. And this was more common in segments that only had recurring characters than for interactions between regular characters.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    That's true, I think I even did a thread about that sometime back.

    Two examples that come to my mind are Herry's Alphabet Secret, and The King's Problem. In the former, Jerry Nelson voices both Herry and Pamela, Frank Oz voices both Grover and Rosemary, and Jim Henson voices Fenwick, while in the latter, Jim voices the King and his lackey, Frank voices the Biggest Person in the Kingdom and the Smallest Person in the Kingdom, and Jerry voices both the Fastest Person in the Kingdom and the Smartest Person in the Kingdom.
  7. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    And yet even in the early years it wasn't often they had multiple major characters interacting. Maybe they already realized by then that the performance was as important as the voice, and didn't want other performers performing their characters wrong.

    In fact, it seems like in the first ten years it was very rare for Big Bird and Oscar to appear together, and then since the 1980s or 1990s it has become a little common for the two to interact.
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Another thing about the timeline is that from the 1980s until the very late 1990s, it was rare for Jim or Frank's characters to appear in street scenes, the usual exception being in a movie, special, or book. I noticed this even as a kid (one who not only didn't know they were puppets, but who didn't know they were performed by people who had become very busy with other projects by then). Of course most of Jim's characters except for Ernie and to a lesser extent Kermit seem like the kind who might be out-of-place in street scenes most of the time (can you imagine Bad Bart or Sinister Sam coming to the street for some reason?). I was amazed to see Ernie, Bert, and Cookie Monster at Luis and Maria's wedding (even though they didn't talk) as well as when I saw the Best Friends Blues clip.

    And then they started coming back to street scenes at the end of the 1990s, especially season 30. Actually that year while it was fairly common to see Ernie, Bert, Cookie, and Grover on the street, most of them were usually in non-speaking cameos. But then the next season it was common to see Ernie in street scenes again, and then the next Frank's characters were starting to appear on the street frequently, due to the substitute performers.

    I first remember hearing about Frank's characters having alternate performers in season 32 (though David Rudman and Eric Jacobson sometimes say that they just consider it filling in for him, I think I've performed them long enough and frequently enough to be considered their main performers now, especially since Frank hasn't performed Cookie or Bert in at least five years), but Muppet Wiki says that Eric started performing them in 1997. Muppet Wiki doesn't cite a source for that, so I don't know where 1997 comes from. Maybe they were just preparing to take over then, maybe Frank dubbed their voices a few times when they performed, maybe they were just performing them in non-speaking background appearances. I'd like to see an interview with Eric Jacobson where he clears up when he started performing them (he doesn't get interviewed much).

    I've read that Eric Jacobson performed Grover in the Ding-a-Long episode from season 30. I remember seeing that one and don't remember Grover getting any lines of his own, but others on Muppet Wiki say that he did (well, it's their video copies against my memory). In fact Cookie Monster did talk in some street scenes in the season 30 episode where Big Bird gets C is for Cookie stuck in his head. I wonder if Frank performed him there or if somebody else did.
  9. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I recall the Ding-a-long episode, and yes, I do recall Grover speaking in that episode, and remember how odd/different his voice sounded. It was just one line, however, when everybody was throwing out suggestions for a song to play for the ding-a-long.
    Jared DiCarlo likes this.
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Although I already did a detailed breakdown of the timeline, I'm going to redo it, more like a list and with things I didn't think to say at first.

    The Gold: 1969-1984
    Part 1: 1969-1970
    • There's less characters. Less humans, less recurring Muppets, and less performers.
    • Most weeks are sponsored by the same letters and numbers all week.
    • In addition to many original songs, it is common for cover versions of pop music to be included as well.
    • Many segments have some sort of connection to either the previous or next scene.
    • Many of the Muppets look a bit cruder and different compared to later (though I do like the first season look of many of the Muppets).
    • Gordon sort of serves as host.*
    • It's common for human cast members to provide voices of Muppets, most notably in the Roosevelt Franklin segments.*
    • It's common for performers to do multiple voices in the same segments, even if there are no recurring characters.*
    • The show includes human comedy duos.*
    *=indicates that this went on into part 2 and maybe 3.
    Part 2: 1970-1974
    • Jerry Nelson, Fran Brill, and Richard Hunt join the show, and as a result more Muppets are added, including The Count, Herry Monster, and Mr. Snuffleupagus.
    • More humans are added as well, most notably Luis, Maria, and David.
    • The number sponsors goes from up to 10 to up to 12, and the counting lessons go up from 10 to 20 (though 20 was taught a few times in the first season).
    Part 3: 1974-1979
    • Linda becomes a more prominent cast member and Olivia joins the show.
    • Richard Hunt becomes a much more prominent performer.
    • By the end of this time period, many of the main performers spend more time on The Muppet Show, and the need for new performers arises. Michael Earl and Brian Meehl both join in 1979.
    Part 4: 1979-1984
    • More performers join the show and we get a lot more characters.
    • The street scenes start to have more of a connecting plot.
    • The number sponsors no longer sponsor in order from 2-12.
    • Mr. Hooper dies at the end of this period.
    The Silver: 1984-1993
    • The show starts to have a lot more on-screen changes beyond character introductions, including Maria and Luis' relationship and marriage, Susan and Gordon adopting a kid, and Mr. Snuffleupagus being known as "real" to the adults.
    • Notable humans who join the show include Gina, Uncle Wally, and Mr. Handford.
    • Kevin Clash joins the show full-time and takes over as Elmo, who now becomes a main character.
    • In about the middle of all this, Joe Raposo, Jim Henson, Northern Calloway, and Richard Hunt all die, and the show starts to get a little different.
    The Bronze: 1993-1998
    • The show expands around the corner, and we meet such new characters as Ruthie and Celina.
    • Zoe is introduced, and Rosita, Baby Bear, and Benny all become more prominent.
    • Steve Whitmire finally performs on the show, taking over as Ernie.
    The Copper: 1998-2001
    • Around the Corner is dropped.
    • The last 15 minutes are now devoted to Elmo's World.
    • Elmo becomes the star of Sesame Street (with Big Bird becoming #2).
    • Alan joins the cast.
    • Ernie starts to become a major character in street scenes.
    • Big Bird and Frank Oz's characters start to have alternate performers.
    • The show starts having short bumpers introducing the next segments. Such bumpers include scenes with Ernie and Rubber Duckie, Zoe and her Zoemobile, Suzie Kabloozy and her cat Feff, and Big Bird and Snuffy on a vaudeville stage.
    What Comes After Copper Part 1: 2002-2007
    • The shows format is changed to a predictable format, putting the street story into one long uninterrupted segment and including various segments shown in every episode or every other episode, some longer than others.
    • Each part of the street slowly changes, until it no longer has the gritty look of the old set.
    • With the show having segments that have to be in every episode (and some being long), classic clips aren't shown as often.
    • Abby Cadabby is introduced.

    What Comes After Copper Part 2: 2008-2013
    • The show switches to HD.
    • Although full-frame segments are still shown, clips from before 1990 are no longer shown.
    • Murray starts to host the show.
    • In 2012, Elmo's World is finally dropped and replaced with Elmo the Musical.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  11. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Admittedly, sometimes, I like to pretend that the ATC era doesn't even exist.

    Hey, you can't look at me like that, many's a Muppet Freak here who like to pretend MFS, KSY, and MWoO don't exist.
  12. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    I've often wondered had Around the Corner survived into today's era, how much would it have an impact on today's show? Like would some of the locations had been changed? I'd imagine Finder's Keepers would've been renovated since Ruthie is no longer on the show; maybe it would've turned into the laundromat ran by Leela? And would the daycare center be turned into a veterinarian hospital to suit Gina? Also, with all the budget cuts, would it make the street just seem more vacant?

    Just something to think about...
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    ATC feels like a Sesame Street spinoff, or some bizarre parallel version of an American version of an international version of the original show. I actually quite liked it and some of the characters they had back then had potential. Then everything was unceremoniously dropped. Humphrey, Ingrid, and Benny stayed around for a while, and then completely disappeared. I really wish they'd take Kevin's departure as a sign to recast all his characters, starting with Benny and Baby Natasha.

    Plus, having Ruth Buzzi on the show was pretty fun.
    MikaelaMuppet likes this.
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Actually, yes, that's a very good way to put it, I think I can agree with you there, it really doesn't feel like the actual show itself, yet at the same time, it obviously IS the show.

    And after going back and looking again, the ATC area aside, something about the main street itself (from The Fix It Shop to Big Bird's nest area) seems off, but I can't quite place my finger on it... it COULD possibly be the fact that after 25 years, it was suddenly brightened up and cleaned up considerably, perhaps, but something still seems "off"...
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'd honestly hate to think that Around the Corner has turned into a massive bunch of shuttered stores that no one has bought (or leased) the storefronts of. Or worse... a ha;f building that was supposed to be condos until the company went bankrupt. Man, I HATE that. There's this one area that was supposed to be a series of condos and an Ikea... for years it was a vacant, ugly lot. They're actually doing something about it now.

    That would be terrible if that happened on Sesame St. Then again, if Starbucks and Urban Outfitters moved in, would Ernie and Bert still afford the rent at 123?

    It's confusing since it's disconnected yet sort of connected, and the whole Hotel bit seems to go against that whole inner city feel. Yet I'm loathed to say anything negative about it. I liked what I can remember of that scene.
  16. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I wonder if Ryan Dillion can easily do any Kevin Clash character or just Elmo (and those with Elmo-sounding voices, like Natasha). After watching the recent Home Lamb segment, it seems like Peter Linz (according to another post it was him) can do the Clifford voice well, though I don't think Sesame Street has many characters who sound like Clifford (well, there is Warren Wolf...). It seemed Kevin did that voice more for other Henson productions.
  17. DTF

    DTF Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't look at fictional unvierses as shows but as the universes themselves. In other words, I see a world just like ours except that these character and all that is associated with them live in it. That's easier to do with sitcoms obviously, but can be done here.

    So, here's how I see it.

    The pilot of anything need not be canon, though they gave a nice explanation of why Oscar went from orange to green. (And of course, he may have thought it'd be more grouchy too - you know, it's not easy being green. :) ) Looks, etc. of things can be explained (Danny not cleaning for a while was due to depression over his wife Pam's death on "FUll House") or ignored (the joke on the Cosby Show pilot, "Why do we have 4 kids?" "Because we didn't want 5" can be ignored, or we can bring the Count in to bump the numbers up one.)

    Having the Count bump the numbers up one makes a nice segueway to...

    The Magical Years. 1969-1983?

    Everything was so amazing - people could just appear on Sesame Street at any time. There was a sense, when I was growing up, that it was a fabulous place where numbers and letters danced and talked, all the monsters and humans got along so well, and I really don't remember much in the way of concrete street stories. That coudl be not recalling it well becasue of my youth (I was born right about when it debuted), but from what I've read on here there was a time when there weren't the specific street stories.

    I don't know when that era of specific stories began, but I place it in 1983 for a reason. Not knowing when ATC came in...

    The World Expands - 1983-1998? (or whenever ATC ended)

    The universe of these Muppets expanded to cover much more when Mr. Hooper died. It is unknown how the other Muppets dealt with his death (That would make a *very* interesting fanfic!), all I know is how big Bird learned of it. In the Magical years idea I have, however, it may have been their first experience with it.

    This jives nicely with the ATC being an addition to SS. Now, I don't remember anything of Around the Corner since I wasn't watching then, but I presume it was a way to show there was more than just this magical place, that there were a bunch of shops and such past it? That's what I'm basing this on.

    Suddenly, these Muppets and humans that also lived there found there were other things they could see. New characters appeared, Snuffy from somewhere, Rosita all the way from Mexico, and so on.

    Now, the ending of ATC has meant a new era, which comes with the block format.

    The Sesame Street Show - 1998-present

    You probably don't recall my comment a number of years back that SS has gone from being just a magical place to seeming like a choreographed show a la The Muppet Show. Elmo eventually became the star, then others were added. It's got a feel like the characters are just putting on the show and maybe do stuff in their spare times. Some of the street scenes are part of the show, some of them are independent, backstage.

    So, what of the shops around the corner? To quote one poster on here, DrTooth...

    I don't think you have to worry about it being run down and abandoned. Remember, in my mind, there is a separate universe here, and this is where, among other things, the theater exists where they put on the show, where all the celebrities come when they are supposed to interact, where the kids painted that crazy set of murals with the numbers we all love to hate, and so on. And, instead of a boarding house of The Muppet Show, or wherever they lived, we have 123 Sesame and the rest of the places on Sesame Street.

    "But wait," you might say. "If you're saying this has to be realistic in-universe, does one of the muppets own it all? but they're all young kids, right?"

    That's true, but we can all have our own theories. Bert and ernie as college students rooming together is one I like (though I still like to think they're brothers or at least cousins), and so on. Maybe one of you thnks Elmo's parents bought it and that's why they insisted he be the star. :)

    However, there really isn't anything in-universe to suggest any of them would own it, and besides, wouldn't a human have to own it?

    Actually, there is one, if you'll allow me to cross over universes for a second. And it's an idea that fits perfectly.

    See, there's a certain 6-year-old girl named Eloise who resided previously at the Plaza Hotel with her nanny, not far from Sesame Street, one whose mother is quite wealthy, it seems. I can easily see her deciding that her first foray into business would be buying up all the shops in the ATC area when things started to go bad with the economy, and transofrming it into a great playhouse where the Muppets can put on shows for the kids of the world. So, she builds this theater, has people helping her hire Muppets and such, and so on.

    Yes, it's quite a silly idea, and I'm sure others have different ideas in-universe for why things work the way they do. But, that's the fun of imagining things in-universe, using your imagination.
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I tend to think it makes more sense to say that those shops and hotels are still there, just no one visits them onscreen. Sort of like you only see Batman when there's a crime going down and he's forced to spring into action, and not when it's a relatively slow day that keeps him in the house as Bruce Wayne talking to Alfred.

    If there's one phase I think Sesame Street will never fully evolve from, it's the fact that the show has always been experimental and that nothing was ever permanent. Look at Elmo's World. On the show for over a decade.... about a decade and a half, and then one day they just decided to remove it. Which is what I think the older fans always tend to forget. To me, the worst ever thing that Sesame Street hath wrought was "Come on, it's time to play." Patronizing, repetitive games. Lost potential in recycling some Play with my Sesame footage. Just over all a mess that needn't have been. And the bright spot is that it only lasted a season. I don't know who got rid of it, if it was a writer's riot or it didn't test as well as they thought it did... but someone decided it sucked and it was pulled.
  19. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    It's kind of interesting that Big Bird's nest was, no matter how you look at it, set up in a construction site (which in the very earliest years doubled as a playground apparently), then ATC came along and his nest was pretty much in a tiny little vacant lot next to a gentrification survivor (123), then afterwards, it went back to being like a construction site, and now it's something like a vacant lot again, only bordered by back and side walls from other buildings.

    It's interesting, though, if anyone pays really close attention, there were actually remnents of ATC still in use after it was dismantled. The area had become something of a dead-end alley next to Big Bird's nest, but that large brick wall on the other side of the road that blocks off that end of the street are actually the side walls of both Furry Arms and Finder's Keepers put together, and likewise, at the very end in the corner, the shaftway portion of the Finder's Keepers facade, only repainted, and newspaper stuck in the window, to make it look as if it's an empty/abandoned storefront.
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'm just going to come out and say it here. I never understood why Big Bird's nest area has no roof. I mean, sure, he's supposed to be a bird that lives in a nest outside. But won't all his stuff get ruined when it rains? Only time we ever saw him put stuff away was that one time about the hurricane. And even then, you'd think, as important as a nest is, they'd build a darn roof first.
    cjd874 likes this.

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