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Insider question: confused on segment numbering

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by dwmckim, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Okay let me preface this by saying i'm a total "script geek" - i love to collect scripts of Henson/Muppet shows (and other fave shows as well). I have yet to acquire any Sesame scripts though so i was overjoyed to see Louise Gikow's 40th anniversary book include a healthy number of script pages!

    But one thing has me scratching my head in total bewilderement. Throughout the book, passages from bits are identified as "Segment #(x)-(x)" and i'm confused as to what the numbers mean. I'm guessing the first number is the season number and the second number reflects how many inserts were taped within that season and which number they're up to (since it gets pretty high - above the number of episodes).

    But here's what i don't understand. On pages 46 and 47 there's a mini-transcript of the "Ernie and Bert: Rain" insert on pg. 46 - and a mini-transcript of "Bert's Nap" on pg. 47 ... and BOTH are identified as "Segment #0001-0286 despite being two totally seperate sketches. So my initial thought upon seeing that is maybe the "286" refers to a single taping session (taped on the same day) - but waitaminnit - unless there was a "redo" of "Bert's Nap" they couldn't have been taped at the same time since "Bert's Nap" was a season one sketch and it's obvious from the puppets used that "Rain" was taped for season two! I'm concluding that both of these being labeled "0001-0286" is a typo/oversight that slipped into the final printing of the book?

    At any rate - how DOES that numbering indeed work?
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    As with most television shows, those are usually production codes that are used as part of an easy access system... suppose they were going to do a clip show of a TV series, it would be easier for them to identify something specifically by its production code rather than by a title, or by a description.

    Also, it helps keep things in order, as often times, television networks have a tendancy to air episodes of a show out of order, so the production codes help you keep things in order by identification as well.
  3. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Thanks for trying to help, Snowth, but that really isn't the route i was going down with my question. Like i said, i'm into script collecting so i'm well aware of production codes and their function (most scripts will have at least one production code on each page) I'm not looking for a general discription of "gee what are these funny looking numbers for" but rather a detailed description of what this particular numbering system means: i.e. what the first number in the set stands for and what the second number signifies. That's why i labeled this thread an insider question since only someone who's been involved in some way with SST would be able to provide a specific answer on how their internal numbering works as opposed to offering speculation.

    Based on the in-book evidence alone, i can't make any sense out of them unless there was a typo/oversight (which i strongly suspect) on the whole pg. 46-47 issue mentioned above.

    So either someone might offer an informed answer that will (hopefully) make sense while at the same time confirming if there was a mistake labelling one of the two insert segments on pages 46/47? Because if that wasn't a typo, i can't come up with a logical explanation why two E&B sketches recorded in *seperate seasons* would have the same number?
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    That's basically it. That's how they work... what they specify could any number of things, but that's how they basically work.
  5. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Oh dear, i seem to have wandered into an Abbott & Costello routine.

    The question is not "gee what does this shiny little number do" but rather "what is the internal logic behind the numbering system" - HOW ARE THEY CATALOGUED? What do the numbers WITHIN the code specify as opposed to the general purpose of the code? Next contestant, please.

    (Edited to add: Okay, i see your last post was added while i was still in the process of re-writing my last reply to try to explain myself more clearly. But still, can we leave the rest of the answer to an insider please?)
  6. Hilleyb

    Hilleyb New Member

    Hi guys,

    I too assumed that the codes meant season-sketch. Based on the (very) few sources I've seen, my next guess is that the second number represents the tape reel it would be recorded on. It isn't too far-fetched to imagine them cutting costs by using remaining space on an old reel from Season 1.

    Reels could be outside-produced films, "wild" insert reels, or completed episodes which segments could be copied from. Hence, many of the segments listed in an episode script are identified by what original episode tape (VT = "Video Tape") they could be found on. For an example, check the episode 1257 draft on Telly's Muppet Wiki discussion page. (Since it's a draft, it doesn't have the usual reel details you would find, however.)

    A final script would include all the segment locations needed for editors to "build" the episode.

    Most of what I've learned I figured out from an old Electric Company script I have seen, although that show didn't seem to use the same season-number notation. I've seen many Square One TV rundowns (not scripts) which have a similar system but are certainly not in production order. My guess is they numbered the scripts themselves on that show.
  7. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I think I've figured it out. There are a few instances in the book where there are "mini-scripts" featuring codes, and it appears that the first two numbers are meant to refer to season (most of them match the season numbers that are known or sourced elsewhere). So maybe for "Bert's Nap" it was a misprint and that "01" was meant to be a "02".

    Of course I wish they used those codes every time a sketch was quoted or scripted. There are a few times when quotes or mini-scripts are provided but then they just list an episode number (usually ones known to Muppet Wiki; I'd be okay if they were the first episode appearances, and maybe they are).
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I wonder if I may have been wrong on my theory about the first two numbers representing a season, or if I saw a misprint or what. But in that same book, there are scans from the script for Maria and Luis' wedding episode. Included in the script is a list of segments, plus those kinds of numbers next to them. That episode is from season 19, but one of the sketches listed ("Little Things") has a number by it that begins with 20. So either that was a misprint, or I was wrong, or maybe they started producing segments intended for season 20 and suddenly chose to broadcast it early (would it be far-fetched for them to produce a segment intended for the next broadcast season before the current production season is even finished?).


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