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Abby's Flying Fairy School

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by MollyArriba, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. MollyArriba

    MollyArriba Member

    There's something in me that just wants it to go away! It's like when Bert and Ernie went all stopmotion; I love stopmotion, but it just isn't needed.

    That's sort of how I feel about Abby's Flying Fairy School. Lately I haven't seen an episode that doesn't have it. It feels as permanent as Elmo's World. All it really does it make me miss Zoe.
  2. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Any problems I have with Abby's School are the same problems I have with the block format, trying to turn Sesame Street into a programming block, rather than a TV show. Mainly, the fact it has to be on every episode instead of alternating with the Ernie and Bert claymation adventures or something. Plus, they have about 8 episodes to fill out 26 episodes in a season. There's not enough for them to run it daily.

    But as for the segment itself, other than the fact it's clearly a show of its own. It at least has an engaging plot, unlike Elmo's World (which we all know was just filler. I mean, "Let's talk to a Baby?" What the heck is that?)

    But the one thing that bugs me... Abby is prone to messing up her magic spells on Sesame Street. However, in the cartoon series, she rarely causes any mistakes that set the course of action, usually done by Gonnigan and Blogg. I'd love to see her make huge mistakes, but it seems she can do no wrong and her magic actually works in the fairy dimension. Eh, I guess it's like He-Man... Orko's powers are amazing on Trolla and on Eternia all they can do is mildly annoy Man-At-Arms.
  3. MollyArriba

    MollyArriba Member

    Elmo's World actually grew on my after a while. There are still bits of it I can't stand, but for the most part it's okay.

    I think my main problem with Abby's Flying Fairy School is that it's computer generated. It doesn't need to be; they could have Abby flying around in live action, but they decided not to. CG is an art and I respect it, but part of my agrees with you that AFFS could be a show all on it's own, and I think it should be.

    And is it just me, or has Abby become more prominent than Zoe?
  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I see no difference between CGI Abby and Cel animated Muppet Babies. All and all, it's just an animated version of Muppets that doesn't take away from the originals. If Sesame Workshop were to replace ALL the Muppets with CGI animation, then I'd agree. But I know that they'd think that was a travesty to Jim.

    Besides... Abby was promoted as coming from a different world than the rest of Sesame Street. Who's to say that it isn't CGI in her dimension?

    Though I will say this. It would be MUCH better if it was in another Sesame Street related half hour programming block, separate from the main show. Too bad we'd never get one.
  5. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    You know...I've been wondering about something. Even though the segment is in its own little world, I can't help but think that someday we might see Blogg and Gonnigan in Muppet form. They are obviously Muppets, given their design (Niblet not so much...Mrs. Sparklenose, sorta), but I could see them winding up on the street in 3D form. They would make beautiful puppets. Maybe they would take a field trip to Sesame Street or something. I dunno. It would be fun to see Blogg hanging out with Oscar (they'd get along, given Blogg's interest in things that stink), or Telly with Gonnigan.

    We won't see Mumford for a while...but with the misfired magic in those CGI Abby segments, it would be easy for Maria to wind up talking like a duck. It would be a nice, "hidden gem" and a tribute to Jerry if it happened again.
    Phillip likes this.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I really want to see them make Muppet versions of those characters and have them interact with the Sesame Street bunch. I love their designs, and they'd look just amazing in Muppet form. Plus, it makes the segment a lot less disconnected to the show if they can freely interact with the rest of the cast.
  7. DannyRWW

    DannyRWW Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking for awhile it would be nivce to see them as Muppets. Its a shame because they are excellent muppet designs and I think really strong unique characters. They wouldn't have to show up all the time but it would be fun to see Abby introduce her fairy friends to sesame street.
  8. MollyArriba

    MollyArriba Member

    I agree with all three of you. They looks like Muppets, so let them be Muppets! :D
  9. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    That'll probably never happen anytime soon; they'd be quite pricey to make.
  10. PoisonBadNews

    PoisonBadNews New Member

    Initially I really liked Abby, the fact that she was very emphatically a fairy and not just a humanoid little girl or monster was a bit odd, but Rosita started out as a bat and Telly was a homeless television addict, so I assumed it was just "early character development weirdness" and that once her personality and voice were more established they'd cut it out with her wand cellphone and "poofing".

    The wand-phone bit in particular irked me, as I felt it would make three year olds start demanding their own smartphones even moreso than they would already, and it consistently depicted Abby as getting into a mess of trouble through pure carelessness on her part, and then calling her mother who would instantly bail her out. This is obviously not bad advice for Sesame Street's target demographic, but remember that these lessons stick with kids long past the years when they view the shoe religiously.

    As for the Flying Fairy School bits, I very much agree with much of the sentiment expressed ITT. I'd have much, much rather seen it as a standalone Muppets sketch akin to Bert and Ernie or Grover vs Mr Johnson, and I don't like the idea of taking an existing puppet character and rendering it as CGI. Especially when it's in such a way that it's meant to look like an animated version of its felt, fur, and fleece counterpart, rather than conceiving it as an animated reimagining of the character ala Muppet Babies. It makes me worried that in twenty years they'll have completely replaced the SS Muppets with CGI. Even if they're visually indistinguishable, look at the Star Wars prequels if you want evidence that a human voice actor can't act convincingly against a CG character they can't see in a blank green room.

    Lastly, I don't like that the concept seems to be trying to cash in on both the revolting Disney Princess craze and (an extremely dumbed down version of) Harry Potter. The female Muppet characters on SS and elsewhere were always borderline revolutionary in how unconventional they were. Miss Piggy, Red Fraggle, Janice, Prairie Dawn, etc were all bold and independent, without being stereotypically tomboyish. Having a sparkly pink fairy princess who solves problems by calling mommy just feels like it belongs in a different universe.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Again, I don't see how Muppet Babies and Abby's Flying School are any different. AFFS is about as likely to usher in the CGI replacement of Muppets as Muppet Babies and Little Muppet Monsters ushering in and replacing the Muppets with Japanese outsourced animated characters (or Fraggle Rock's Korean outsourced animation).

    Abby still appears in regular Muppet form on the show, her segment is isolated from the rest of the program, like the Ernie and Bert clay animations. My only problem is, these segments were designed for international programming blocks that don't have the traditional hour long Sesame Street, but they use them in the actual American Show because they spent a fortune making them so they're darn well using them, and we'd complain if we didn't get to see them while Europe did. There was a huge clusterfudge when the Ernie and Bert Claymation segments were announced. The consensus wasn't happy it would be a Europe only segment, but we got it anyway.

    My only complaint is that Abby and the other segments would be prime for a Sesame Street Spinoff block of segmented programming, like the international versions get, all while leaving the regular show in tact. That and the fact they made Abby an every episode thing when they have to repeat segments quite a bit due to budget problems.
  12. PoisonBadNews

    PoisonBadNews New Member

    Muppet Babies featured reimagined (and obviously much younger) versions of the characters. Whether it was because of the limits of 80's cell animation or a deliberate aesthetic choice or both, they weren't drawn in a way to make them reminiscent of puppets. They were just run of the mill anthropomorphic cartoon animals (or humanoids, or abstracts). A person who was somehow familiar with the Muppet aesthetic but somehow not familiar with the adult versions of the Muppet Babies would probably not have assumed there was any relation.

    Contrast that with Abby's Flying Fairy School, and Abby herself is an extremely literal translation from puppet to CG, the only real differences are those you'd expect from the animated version not requiring a human puppeteer. Her face is fuzzy, her arms are "floppy and soggy" and seemingly without bones or joints, just like a hand rod puppet's.

    As for why this presents a much more legitimate potential to replace actual Muppet segments than Muppet Babies ever did, that's fairly obvious. Animation from the 1980's looked like drawings brought to life. Even if they'd stuck with existing Muppet characters and used their performers as voice actors, it would have been a completely different feel and concept. Photorealistic hand drawn animation is just not practical, and doing Roger Rabbit style human interaction with it was even less so.

    This is no longer the case now that the art of CGI has been getting both more convincing and less expensive for the last 24-ish years. There will be a point in the not too distant future when a computer animated Muppets character will be extremely difficult to distinguish from the real thing, and obviously a CG character can be made to interact with human actors in a green screen. Now tell me, if it reaches the point where you can replace Elmo, Abby, Big Bird, and Oscar with CG versions, do it for less money, and no longer have to find creative ways around the inherent restrictions of a puppet, am I really insane for thinking that the producers will go ahead and make the switch? Add to that the very real potential of public funding declining more or even disappearing, and competition from commercial television continuing to force SS to race to the bottom. Children, like adults, can and do take the time to appreciate quality educational viewing that puts substance over style, and exists primarily to educate and enrich rather than to sell merchandise. But when that has to compete against for-profit schlock that will give the viewer anything they want if it means more ad and merch revenue, it tends to only end one way. Shows on TLC, History, NatGeo, et al that are about Honey Booboo Child, ancient aliens, bigfoot, and tattoo artists have driven brilliant programming like Carl Sagan's Cosmos into extinction. A gradeschooler given the choice of a freshly picked Grannie Smith apple and ice cold raw milk, or else Pepsi and pixie sticks, will all too often choose the latter. The public's [lack of] taste will, in many if not most cases, act as a market pressure to dumb everything down, and intelligent and well made alternatives have traditionally been found primarily in niches where they don't have to compete. Adult live action television was beyond dead until HBO and Showtime, who didn't have to worry about pleasing advertisers, were able to show that people would still watch a good show if it's on. NPR, though not without its own problems, is still infinitely better than the Howard Stern, Don Imus, and Rush Limbaugh variety of offerings on commercial talk radio. Sesame Street was always able to be more daring, more creative, and talk down to kids less because they were working on a fixed budget and didn't have to write every episode with the goal of selling lead-coated made in China toys and neon corn syrup snacks to kids.

    If ever an episode of Sesame Street airs where the characters we grew up with exist only in a computer, that will be an absolute tragedy. Even if the animation looks lifelike, having actors and performers unable to actually see the characters and environment with which they're interacting kills any sense of realism. Again, look at the spectacular backdrops and incredible alien/robot characters in the Star Wars prequels, and contrast that with the dull, wooden, lifeless acting. Even with the best actor in the world you're going to see a marked difference between one who can actually see and touch his giant furry monster costar, and one who's saying the lines to Lycra-clad stuntman with tennis balls on his arms and legs.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    A couple things...

    Sesame Street selling merchandise is the furthest thing from new there is. Difference being, SW takes their share of the profits and puts it back into the show. It was always like that, even in the 70's.

    Secondly, expecting Sesame Street to be the exact same show it was since 1969 is like tuning in Saturday Night Live to see the Coneheads. Sesame Street has been on 43 years. The show was always in a state of change. If it wasn't, we'd only have Ernie, Bert, and Big Bird and Oscar and all the comedic inserts would be done by lame sitcomy human acting. If anything is to blame for Sesame Street being not like you remember it, it's drastic and dramatic changes in other kids programming. Why no one ever stops to blame Barney and Blues Clues for ruining kid's television, I'll never know. Sesame Street started out with no real competition and only Mr. Rogers and Ding Dong School to go off of. Today we have entire networks devoted to preschool programming. We should be lucky SS is even on and not replaced by an inferior series that would fall out of fashion within 2 years.

    And finally... and I can't stress this enough... To say that Sesame Street is going to become all CGI because of one separate segment is paranoia and nothing more. If SW was going to flip the show to an all CGI format, they'd've done it by now. They understand the importance of keeping the main characters as puppets and the Jim Henson legacy. After all, it was the Muppets that made the show memorable, and I don't think the show would have lasted even 5 years without them. The only CGI in the main show would be supplemental effects like talking boulders and Velvet the curtain.

    Oh... and one other thing. The AFFS segment does cost quite a bit of money. That's why there's only 8 episodes of it a season. I think we're pretty much safe from that happening.
  14. MollyArriba

    MollyArriba Member

    It's different because on Muppet Babies they pretty much NEVER used puppets. It wasn't a mix of the two mediums. It was strictly animation.

    On Sesame Street they use puppets almost entirely, or at least they used to. I remember seeing a few Bert and Ernie moments in stop-motion (oddest, most unwelcome thing I've ever seen, and I LOVE stop-motion), and now CGI. And, like BadPoison said, these CGI characters look just like Puppets. What's the point?

    Again, if AFFS was it's own show, only related to SS because Abby shows up in puppet form there now and then, it'd be perfect.
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    But we seem to forget Little Muppet Monsters and Dog City. Of course, Jim didn't like LMM and Dog City did the mixed medium much better.

    Also... well, this is old information, but there was a time 10 years ago when there were rumblings that a new Muppet Babies series was going to happen, but it was going to be CGI. We had the whole panic attack about that, about the Muppets being replaced by CGI... 10 years ago again for a project that didn't happen... until we rationalized it would be a separate thing, and it's really no different than making a separate animated thing.

    They can, but it is very expensive. Like I said, why do you think they show the same ones over and over? They can only afford 13 episodes for 2 seasons. We're talking about Sesame Workshop... the same one that reused incidental mouse Zoe's puppet (or as it is known, homunculus Zoe) from Abby in Wonderland for a full season. CGI does get cheaper, but not if its high quality. This might not be Pixar, but it's far from the wonky PS2 cutscene quality of something like Zula Patrol. I'm impressed that they look sort of like puppets, and they have the fur texturing and puppet like mouth movements, but it still looks like a cartoon to me. While Sesame Street does dabble with some CGI characters (incidentals, mostly for home video), they have yet to replace... well... successfully replace any characters with it. There was that small period where they had CGI Twiddlebug shorts, but those proved to be unsuccessful... and we went through the same panic attack before.

    But if Sesame Street really did want a cost cutting replacement measure, they'd go full out for flash. Cyberchase switched to flash, Arthur's switching to flash... and they use so many motion tweens that the movement of arms and legs is overly fluid when everything else isn't... and characters don't do rotation, and there's libraries of expression... it doesn't fit, especially Arthur.

    And even if it wasn't a money issue, SW knows there'd be crap to pay if they dumped the Muppets for CGI replicons. There was a series of sound-a-like book and tapes that never happened. I think they know about the quality of the characters and the legacy of Henson than to just dump the Muppets like that. They even have an arrangement from Disney to even call them Muppets. Even JHC doesn't have that. The physical Muppets aren't going anywhere.
  16. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    I don't mind Abby's Flying Fairy School being in CGI for this reason - the show's now broken into essentially 4 shows: The street scenes, AFFS, SG/E&B/MHALL, and ETM/EW. They're all different shows with their own style. That's what helps differentiate them and makes them unique.
    Drtooth likes this.
  17. SuperGzilla12

    SuperGzilla12 Active Member

    Okay, from my avatar, you can probably see why I'd like to respond... :p

    Sesame Street obviously doesn't work for EVERY child - No children's show does, because every child learns differently.

    I think I've been watching more Sesame later in life more than I ever did as a child.

    Barney is the show I've loved since I was very young, and never gave up. It's much more gentle and focused than Sesame ever was, and as somebody with Asperger's Syndrome, I certainly benefited from that quite a bit. The fact that songs were repeated constantly in multiple episodes of the series made the environment familiar to me, which made it easier for me to pick up on the educational messages. And in relation to music, the use of traditional songs and tunes made it easier for parents (and other adults watching with children) to enhance the educational experience by following along, therefore further encouraging the child to join in.

    Sesame is a brilliant show, but I always felt that it could be really harsh (almost aggressive) at times. For example, I remember having a video tape of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (Which is now one of my favourite Christmas specials), and that the scene where Maria was kind of (f0r lack of a better term) telling Oscar off made me rather uncomfortable.

    As I said, no children's show works for every child, and I feel that the fact that there's so much variety in the market helps turn television into a valuable educational tool for children. The alternate option from the few that existed back in the day, after all, was violent programming.

    Obviously, though, there is a lot of poorly made material out there - I'm not at all fond of Dora the Explorer, for example, because of the loud and lifeless tone of the characters' speech. (If you actually watch Barney, you'll realize that his tone is very human - He's not a lifeless robot, just a jolly guy who loves children)

    Parents certainly need to be cautious, but I often find that Sesame fans don't really give the competition any real chance.
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    You do bring up some good points, and I can usually sympathize someone who likes something everyone else hates (I actually liked Jar Jar).

    But the thing is, Barney is welcome to his own kind of show... Someone at SW decided they needed to absorb the competition, and the show went on a wild spree of trying to be like every little thing that came after it. Dora and Blue as well as Barney. On the other hand, I didn't always hate Barney (I actually kinda liked him), but the show became very tiresome to sit through (as I had a sister who was a toddler at the time), annoying to be within earshot of, and overall, the flaws became very obvious. The cheap sounding music, the public domain tunes. It has it's fan base of very young children and it's welcome to it, it's just not on par with what Sesame Street accomplished. SS was a trailblazer when the only other kid's edutainment was Ding Dong School, Captain Kangaroo, and Mr. Rogers. And if you look at the first seasons of Sesame Street, you can see where that influence comes from. A few seasons later, it shook that stuff off and was able to hold its own. I really don't see the comparison between the two.

    Barney was meant for the younger set that couldn't get into Sesame Street. We can agree to that. But SS didn't really need to compete with the series as a result, but it was a matter of remaining relevant. And that can be said for any of the even worse preschool programs today. SS has to take what they did and make it in their own image. Kinda stinks they have to.
  19. SuperGzilla12

    SuperGzilla12 Active Member

    Okay. I think I have a slightly better understanding of what you were talking about.

    Although, in all fairness to the purple guy, Sesame has recently had a similar affect on Barney. Since Sesame has re-gained it's popularity over Barney, the latest five seasons of Barney & Friends (Seasons 10-14) have tried to appeal to those children at the Sesame level that otherwise wouldn't be watching with less traditional music, and more pop-based stuff, and with subject matter that wouldn't have been approprite to Barney before - The change hasen't worked in his favour for the most part, either.

    Also, the flaws of Barney that you brought up are really a matter of opinion. Personally, a lot of the time, I feel that Sesame Street tries too hard to appeal to an adult audience, to the point where it takes away from what's being said to the kids because they can't understand it. Everything in Barney's world - The music, the humour, the atmosphere - is at the level of the young child, and thus, they don't miss anything at all. (I know the people at Sesame Workshop do this to encourage parents to watch along, but really, it's commom knowledge that they should be watching TV with their kids anyway)
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Indeed Sesame Street is intended for both parents and children. It's skewed more towards trying to get parents more involved in the show with celebrities and parodies as of late, but it was always the intention. Most PBS shows are shockingly well done and have a massive adult fanbase because of their sharp writing. Mostly because these writers know what a pain in the neck that saccharine sweet shows are when they have or have to watch small children. That's why a certain show made for little girls is (almost unfortunately) popular with adult men. Barney, on the other hand is welcome to his younger child base because anyone over the age of 4 can't stand him. Sort of like how my favorite TV Barney (Stintson) described why kids of a certain age who watched Return of the Jedi loved the Ewoks, but everyone over that age hated them. That's why, so far, Sesame Street has enjoyed a larger nostalgic adult fanbase than the dinosuar has.

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