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Ranking Sesame Street Recurring Segments

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by Drtooth, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Of course, I am referring to recurring segments on the show (modern era ones, at any rate) and not recurring sketches. I.E. Elmo's World is a recurring segment, Waiter Grover is a recurring sketch. The parts of the show that are separate from the rest of the show, and ones that were going to be recurring or at least semi-recurring parts of the show. Designated segments for older skits (Monster Time, Ernie and Bert's designated segments) are exempt, as are the Letter and the Number of the day intros (since each is a sub-genre in and of itself)...

    So without any further to do:

    1) Bert and Ernie's great Adventures: This one gets high marks for taking characters out of their normal situations but keeping their personalities and characteristics in tact (more or less)... plus I find it novel that the segment is entirely in Clay stop motion. Unlike other segments down on my list, it comes across as a fun little segment without having to bookend too much educational value into it (other than morals and problem solving). And most of the segments are much better than some of the more recent Ernie and Bert puppet segments.

    2) Murray had a Little Lamb (and Word on the Street- I'm counting them both as one): This is what I'm talking about... Muppets going out into the real world, interacting with people AND getting messy. Whereas Cookie Monster is given fake, painted rice cakes for cookies (as oils damage the puppet), Murray has used watercolors, clay, and even actual dough in a cooking segment. Murray plays off as well with humans (kids and adults) as he does with his lamb, Ovejita. The only real weakness this segment has is the overuse of reruns.

    3) Global Grover: Just a hair under Murray, Grover's intros and outros of around the world footage (new, old, and from actual co-productions) make this segment a lot more fun that it needed to be. While the segments are fine on their own, Grover's classic style of humor is the most memorable bit. One segment didn't even have a film, and used a Waiter Grover skit to teach Russian cuisine.

    4) Abby's Flying Fairy School: I never thought I'd enjoy the segment this much. Another example of taking a character out of the context of a show and placing them in their own little adventure in problem solving. Nice twists and references to fairy tales, and snappy writing/ Not to mention the great characters like Blogg and Nibblet. While the segment is very good, 2 things detract from its strengths... the constant repeats (not really the segment's fault) and the length... the theme song is longer than most other segment themes and the segment with Spot, while clever, drags on too long.

    5) Trash Gordon: Clever little segment featuring Oscar, Slimey and Gordon. Too bad it was only used as a show ending, because it had so much potential to be more than that. Plus, I'm sure even the adults had trouble figuring out what it was a parody of.

    6) Journey to Ernie: this one loses a LOT of points for it's original concept, basically just trying to be Blue's Clues and nothing more... sure, the use of older films was a nice touch, but it felt repetitive and useless as a segment. However, it earns points for turning the segment around completely in the next season, even giving a daily appearance to the Twoheaded Monster. Add to the fact the concept was switched up a little (Ernie searches for Big Bird in one segment, Bert substitutes for Ernie in another)... while it still had the nagging air of copying Nick Jr., it came into it's own, making plotlines more complex (and giving them plotlines period). And the B museum segment with a cameo from Bob was too cool to ignore.

    7) Celebrity Word of the Day. Varies from celebrity to celebrity, so I can't even really place it that low. While a lot of comedians and comedic actors know what to do with the segment, some other celebs basically felt they were on a Baby show to wave at their children, while others didn't even get the point at all. Adding muppet helpers to the segment made it work much better, though.

    8) Sesame Street Dinner Theater: This deceivingly low grade shouldn't fool you. I really liked most of the segments. Omelet, Prince of Denmark and Pear were wonderfully funny... but others fell flat. The segment was very hit or miss, and often were just song parodies instead of something more substantial.

    9) Hero Guy: Don't get me wrong, I think Baby Bear is a very underrated character (especially when used with Telly) and I love Muppet cartoonists/Artists like baby Bear, Big Bird and Elliot Shag... but it really seems this segment was just here, and it really feels like a flat execution of something that could have been a little more enjoyable. Plus, it was VERY repetitive.

    10) Ernie's Show and Tell: I don't know whether I should have added this or not, but... I like those fun little Muppet Moments where the muppets goof around with the kids. Too bad this one isn't one of them. While I do think Ernie gives it a nice sweet feel to the segment, somehow if it were Grover or someone else they'd at least add some more playful humor to the segment. It's cute, but it gets boring.

    11) Monster Clubhouse: Oh, it's fine... if you don't pay attention to the fact that it's extremely repetitive, way too frantic, feels like it's part of another show, and how it comes off more idiotic than goofy. But some of the characters were great. I really think Mel and Narf should have been used a lot more outside of the segment. But when you even reuse the same jokes over and over, it just doesn't work.

    12) Elmo's World: You'd think this would be in last place, but I got 2 more I think are worse. Basically this is something that said "Hey! Elmo toys for sale! Buy some!" and the educational content of talking about one random subject... well, I don't really think that gels well. And it totally feels like something for kids too young to watch Sesame Street. Seems like the writers and puppeteers at least try to bring some humor to the segment, and the cartoon parts are actually quite enjoyable. But the segment as a whole feels like another show for a different audience, and the most repetitive of the bunch.

    13) Veggie/Fruit songs: thankfully they only made this daily for one season. While some of them were not terrible (especially ones sung by Jerry Nelson) these were not just unfunny or entertaining, but just seemed to be there to push the healthy agenda over and over, as if we weren;t already bludgeoned over the head with it.

    And last, but certainly least:

    14) Time to Play: Really... REALLY... who thought kids would love to see the same 2 films about kids slowly putting patterns together? I hope they were the FIRST to get laid off.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    1. Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures: In all honesty, I like them, I really do, but like most people, it just seems strange that they HAVE to be claymation, instead of traditional Muppets; but then again, there's so many limitations to puppetry that can be obliterated through animation.

    2. Murray... as I've said before, if we're going to have a character on the show as an unofficial host, then at least give the hosting duties to a character with more seniority; it's good that Joey seems to have a stable and staple character now, but the current overexposure while he's still relatively newer to the street is a bit of an overkill. Like when Steve Carell was suddenly in every single new movie coming out as the leading man. Murray Had a Little Lamb is okay though...

    3. Global Grover... aw, I miss Global Grover, I love Grover... who DOESN'T love Grover (besides Kermit and Mr. Johnson)? When the show's format changed, I believe Global Grover was probably one of my favorite newest additions.

    4. Abby's Flying Fairy School is really interesting, it's quite a feat to see how they made sure the characters LOOKED like puppets, but are completely animated, and I like the banter that goes on between the resourceful Abby, the hyper Blogg and the insecure Gone Again. Truth be told, I'd like to see actual puppets of Blogg and Gone Again on the street with Abby sometime.

    5. Trash Gordon, I agree, it had potential, but with it being reduced to a show closer, there's really not much to rank on... I think it probably could've done fairly well if it was more of a series of recurring sketches like Waiter Grover and such.

    6. Journey to Ernie... I'll be the odd one out (again), I liked Journey to Ernie, but I later realized I liked it better when they put Big Bird in larger environments and really such for clues as to Ernie's whereabouts, as opposed to the first season of bits they did where in each segment, Big Bird was taken to three different scenes to look for the box Ernie was hiding in.

    7. Celebrity Word of the Day? Eh... not sure on that one at the moment.

    8. Sesame Street Dinner Theater... sorry, I don't consider that one a recurring segment... more of a recurring sketch.

    9. Hero Guy? Again... more of a recurring sketch.

    10. Ernie's Show and Tell? Once again, more of a recurring sketch.

    11. Monster Clubhouse originated as a recurring sketch, then they shortened it down, and changed the names of the two girl monsters, and made it a recurring segment for Season 33, afterwards, it was pretty much phased out, and Mel became a background monster, Narf became a "reject" Muppet and sent to another country to be a part of the cast of an international co-production, Phoebe was reused as Zoe's ballerina friend in one episode before she became a reject as well. Monster Clubhouse was amusing and pretty entertaining, but as Drtooth pointed out, it could get zany and repetitive at times, but at the time it turned out that research showed that children were growing accustomed to repetitiveness.

    12. Okay, I'll admit I actually enjoyed Elmo's World to begin with... I think that segment was at it's strongest from the time they introduced it in late 1998, through about 2000 or so... afterwards, it pretty much fell flat because by then, everything about SST became so Elmo-driven that EW lost all its appeal, in my opinion.

    13. I didn't think much of those songs to tell you the truth.

    14. Yes, I agree, when they did that Time to Play thing for what was it... Season 37? Annoying as Elmo!
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Truth be told, there are a lot of semantics about what makes a sketch/what makes a segment that even I got confused with. There are a few other things I was going to list, but I thought about them and considered them sketches.

    However, I consider those three as "almost segments." A Segment is a regular or semi-regular titled series of sketches with a common thesis or curriculum in mind, and executed in a consistent fashion. Plus, the segments are meant to be shown on a basis of every episode, every other episode, or several times in a season, consistently. So to tell you the truth, even I find that definition confusing.

    I actually wondered if I wanted to consider Dinner Theater or Ernie's Show and tell as segments or recurring skits... Hero Guy I didn't think needed any debate (they clearly meant to make that a recurring segment, but it didn't catch on and became more irregular)... but they do have the mentality of being segment oriented... so, I'm going to consider them sketches that turned into segments and vice versa. Still, I'm confused myself.

    I actually caught one on SW's website in a playlist, and I think the main problem is that it's too zany to be organized and too organized to be zany. If every episode had different gags, it would have sort of worked. But it seems they're trying to go in a rigid schedule of Song/furry feeling (or shape) of the day/the same character going to the wrong clubhouse/nap time/chased by an elephant/goodbye song and trying to get the same sort of zaniness that only being spontaneous could bring. In other words, if you watch one segment, it (sort of) works and it feels funny, but when you see all the rest, it gets tedious no matter how loud and wacky they behave. I liken it to hearing a comedian tell a good joke, and laughing... and then seeing the same comedian tell the same exact joke with the same punchline and set up, but wording it differently.

    That said, Mel and Narf deserved to be characters outside of the clubhouse. They were much better than the segment they were trapped in. And I give nothing but credit to giving Mel the Henson Monster Gibberish speech pattern.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Ernie's Show and Tell debuted in season 30, a few years before the format change. I'm pretty sure it wasn't in nearly every episode when it debuted (unlike Elmo's World), and after the season 33 format change while it did appear from time to time it never did become a daily/semi-daily segment. It sometimes followed Journey to Ernie, but I think the opening was dropped when it did. Does not count.

    Here's how I rank them:

    1. Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures: I agree with just about everything Drtooth said. I give it a five out of five.

    2. Super Grover 2.0: I've only seen the first one, but it seems like a worthy follow-up to the classic Super Grover sketches. Five out of five.

    3. Global Grover: Not as good as Super Grover or Waiter Grover, but still has its moments. Four out of five.

    4. Trash Gordon: Very good recurring segment. But there is something I've never quite figured out: I know some segments were repeated, and each one ended with Gordon announcing the sponsors... Were the same sponsor pairings used every time one was shown again, or were Gordon's line spossibly dubbed (sesamestreet.org doesn't edit out Gordon announcing the sponsors)? Five out of five.

    5. Elmo' World: I liked this segment more when it premiered. Then again, it took me awhile to feel like Elmo was being overexposed. I really like the Mr. Noodle segments, the "yes/no" question segments, just about anything with other familiar characters, and the closing song. Three out of four.

    6. Journey to Ernie: I admit that I prefer the original format (since it did allow for other skits to be shown, without having to wait too long for this one to end). The later format was good as well. I give the original format four out of five, and the later one three and a half out of five.

    7. Murray Has a Little Lamb: The song and clues segments are good, the school parts not. Four out of five (versions without the clues game get two out of five).

    8. What's the Word on the Street?: While I do like Murray, and I often like seeing characters on location, for some reason I don't really like seeing Murray out in the real world so much (actually I haven't cared much for Sesame Street Muppets on location in the last few years). I was never bothered by Traveling Matt appearing in real-world locations most of the time, or any of the movies or specials being shot on location, but here I just don't care much. Four out of five.

    9. The Word of the Day: I don't really care for the celebrity "Word of the Day" explanations, with few exceptions (Adam Sandler). They are better when a familiar character is invovled. I don't think The Best of Elmo 2 needed to have so many of them. Two stars.

    10. Hero Guy: I like the theme song, and Baby Bear (though I like him a lot less now than I did in the 1990s), but it's otherwise not that great. Two stars.

    11. Monster Clubhouse: Narf and Mel are the only really good monsters here, but I don't think these monsters look muppety enough (I know, I really like the Jim Henson Hour characters who don't look too Muppety, but they have much cooler looks). These segments could have really used appearances by more familiar characters like Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Herry. These monsters are a bit like Murray, in that they are/were rarely seen outside of these segments, but the problem is that there's four of them. One star out of five.

    12. Abby's Flying Fairy School: These segments aren't too bad. Blaag and Gonnegan really should be made into puppets and used outside of these segments. But not really something I want to watch all the time. Three out of five.

    13. This is the Game Today: One out of five, and let's leave it at that.
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    This is the Game today was a terrible idea. Just... everything else has a point. Everything had a reason to be added. This is the Game Today seemed like it was from another show, it only had a few segments, and they all talked really really down to kids, and it was just... ugh. The opening was stylish, though.

    Super Grover 2.0 I love, but they really REALLY should have made more than 6 episodes. And we've seen only 3 of them this year, possibly meaning we won't see the next 3 until next season. Same problems I have with Abby and Murray. They make less than a season's worth of footage, and feel the need to use it for multiple seasons. Only 13 Abbys in 60+ episodes? Do you WANT kids to change the channel? Thankfully SG2.0 alternates... but 6 for 2+ seasons leaves much to be desired. And much too much to rerun.
  6. DTF

    DTF Member

    Trying out my new DSL and thought I'd come to one of my irregular places to visit.

    I see SS and Elmo like a team - baseball or football - that relies on one thing all the time. Just like a team's going to catch on when you runt he ball 872 straight times, even if you've got Jim Brown, they rely on Elmo so much it's boring. And, Elmo can be very good in spots. He's like Harmon Kilebrew, who never made a successful bunt in 22 years and had a poor average even for the depressed offense, yet made the Hall of Fame with 573 home runs pre-steroids, when that meant a *lot*, includign monster ones, and who had very good defense. but, you wont' win a pennant with 9 Kilebrews, or pitchers who only throw fastballs.

    That said, here's how I see the segments, with ratings the way I picture them.

    1) Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures: This is a very good and creative one. If this were a pennant race, they'd probably win. It matches the comedic style of the old E&B with some clever spots. they might not be the originals, but like a team moving from its old home into more of a cookie-cutter stadium, they've still got a lot of charm, even if it's not the old puppets..

    2) Abby's Flying Fairy School: despite the repetition, this one tries to add the humor like B&EGA while having clever plots. If this were a pennant race, it would be the Red Sox of old. They *look* like puppets, they're in a neat situation that kids can relate to (I mean, if they had the imagination to wonder what fairy schools were like), and I think I'd put it at the top if not for the repetition - jsut like those old red Sox often relied just a bit muchon one dimention, offense. It has clever characters, too. Yeah, Abby's a bit too perfect, but I've said before I see her as the child who is great at school but wild at home, and those Sox certainly have had some great hitters themselves. I wonder how a fairy would playt he Green monster. (SS's baseball team would *have* to have a Green Monster (37-foot high wall) in its ballpark, even if the Sox are the Yankees' rivals.)

    3) Global Grover: You know, like a great player on a mediocre team, Grover can carry a skit like this in a way that Elmo...can't. Grover is the five-tooled player a la Willie Mays in the way he emotes and the chemistry with almost anyone. Elmo is Harmon Kilebrew. Or, at best, Reggie Jackson. (Who did hit .300 1 year and played good defense earl in his career, but is mostly iknown for slugging.) Grover's presence can make up for a film in a way Elmo can't.

    4) Murray had a Little Lamb: Like AFFS, very good with an energetic new monster that should be a star in the league...er, ont he Street for quite a while. Although...has he ever been used in a Street Scene? he's suffering a bit from overexposure right now, but at least he hasn't reitred and unretired 387 times like a certain NFL quarterback. :rolleyes: (I must admit to being a Packer fan when i say this.) This is Murray's best spot. the school films and a few little things take this down from 2-3 for me, but I can't see how people put it 2nd. It does get out into the street and have a muppet and human interacting.

    5) Trash Gordon: I'm only 41, and I could tell it was a Flash Gordon parody. (I think it was, anyway. the name made it seem like it.) If this were a team, it'd be one which can get real clsoe because of a few stars, but the injury bug hits all too often. Because this one really wans't on for very long,a nd when it was, only a couple minutes. It had the potential for more, like was originally said.

    6) Hero Guy:Call me crazy, but this wasn't as bad as people have made it out to be. It shows someone using their imagination, and interacting with a drawing had the potential for some really good comedy and interesting things...which were sometimes achieved. However, while Baby Bear could carry a segment so far, they missed out on so much. Imagine if other muppets had been in there on a regular basis. Imagine if it wasn't just his Superhero pal he imagined. Imagine if they used this instead of some of the poorer segments to teach things like near and far, up and down, numbers, letters. All we're left with, like Indians fans (like me) often have been is a lot of promise, a lot of "we're 2-3 players away," and the imagination. Imagine if they'd used this like they could. It had real potential.

    7) Sesame Street Theater: very hit or miss. If this was a team, it would have bunches of streaks of 5-8 wins and losses, and end up at .500.

    8) Celebrity Word of the Day. Like the above. If I had to put Muray's Word ont eh Street anywhere, I'd put it...eh, around here. Not quite long enough for me to see it as a segment, but some do.

    9) Journey to Ernie: It was so repetitive early, I just sort of tuned it out the few times I saw it later. Maybe it got better; it sounds like it did. But, it had too big of a hill to climb compared to the others. The changes did keep it out of the basement, though.

    10) Elmo's World: Remember I compared Elmo to Reggie Jackson? He was SS's Mr. October - he got them huge sales, and so they turned to him for everything. However, he's not multidimensional enough to carry a skit by himself, and while his interactions with Mr. noodle are funny, I just can't see this higher than 10th. Still, Mr. Noodle's goofiness, the idea of the imagination, and some clever ideas keep it fromt he basement. Remember how Johnny Carson used to say a joke or a theme of jokes is only funny the first 3-4 times it's told, though? Well, like the hidden ball trick or asking if a birthday cake can do something, it's only funny 3-4 times.

    You know what Elmo's World should be? if they're going to have a world inside his imagination, it should be like I said Hero Guy could ahve been. Use more characters. (Like Berta nd tGrover in the season 35 opener, which was all Elmo.)Yes, he gets e-mail or such from other SS characters, butthat needs to increase. Use EW to do different thigns once in a while - like spin the number of letter of the day off so that the entire EW segment is about that. (*That would have the added benefit of removing the mural - give us an EW all about the number 17. I mean, it can't be any worsEe than the 2837th mural! :grouchy::))

    They could even ask a baby for that one. (Can we count up to 17? Oh, ha, ha, there's ten fingers, 5 little piggies on one foot,a nd one, two more little piggies on the other. That adds up to 17!)

    When you have someone write so much about a segment that they sound like a columnist telling you what all is wrong witha team, you know it's well below .500. But, they've got SS's Reggie, and that keeps fans coming.

    11) Monster Clubhouse: I think I know what theyw anted to dow hen they built this team. they wanted to give kids something really zany, like the old time Muppet jokesters. They tried too hard, though. Sometimes, you've just got to let it come naturally.

    12) Ernie's Show and Tell: Never saw it, I don't think, but it sounds pretty repetitive and not that interesting. Or even zany.

    13) Veggie/Fruit songs: Just...no, put 1-2 of the best in a street scene or 2 ("American Fruitstand was a winner) but the way they did this was not good. And, you know, I think this is a last place team that did actually trae its only good players to the American Fruitstand Tomatoes for a player to be named later and a bucket of baseballs.

    14) Time to Play: Like #13, these guys should be in AAA. Or AA...or, wait? Maybe this is why this team was so bad. These kids were playing...but it was a local tee-ball team in the National League.
  7. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    My personal Top 5 segments (I'd include more but I ran out of space):
    1. Bert and Ernie's Great Adventure: Characters who've had great chemistry since Episode 1, done in a claymation style Henson would probably love, solving problems in a surreal situation. It feels like the 70s all over again... A+.
    2. Global Grover: A high-strung but friendly monster teaching about world cultures and getting into old-fashioned Muppet mischief at the end... Gotta love this! A+.
    3. Ernie's Show and Tell: These days, how often do you see a Muppet (other than Murray or Elmo) interact with real kids on their level, talking about the kids' real interests instead of a ready-made lesson? Sesame Workshop should've kept this one alive. A.
    4. Super Grover 2.0: Even though his costume's changed and he solves only scientific problems now...Super Grover 2.0 keeps his old misguided helpfulness and intelligent sense of humor. Pretty decent for a new segment; I'd give it an A.
    5. I can't believe no one thought of Rosita's old Spanish Word of the Day. This is how Sesame Street used to teach new words in any language: a good show-and-tell context, plenty of humor, and a memorable character tie these lessons together. The word choices were pretty random, but part of a normal American kid's experience anyway; I give this one an A-.
  8. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    You've seen my Top 5 list; now here are my Bottom 5, least favorite recurring segments.

    1. Trash Gordon: Gordon's in-joke identity might have been as funny as Super Grover, if they'd (a) tied his adventures to the street story or (b) not made the Things of the Day sound like afterthoughts. (Using the letter and number to solve his problems on each weird planet might have worked...) Besides, the Flash Gordon reference is equally unfamiliar to preschoolers and their parents nowadays. I give this a D.
    2. Journey to Ernie: It was meant to teach patterns and problem-solving skills, but didn't do either very well. The classic clips (with and without Ernie) were a nice bonus in the old version, but the hiding places never varied... the new version dropped the classic clips, but at least varied the hiding place (and sometimes the characters who played). Except for the "Letter B Museum" segment (which gets a C+ on its own), Journey to Ernie rates a D on my report card.
    3. Monster Clubhouse: Other posters have already given my impression of this one: too chaotic to teach much, too structured to keep kids interested. (Besides, there's that S-T-U-P-I-D theme, S-O-N-G song....) A D- only because some segments are even worse.
    4. Dinner Theater: "Pear" was about the only watchable parody in this series; the rest were preachy and unfunny, especially when they listed specific nutrients in a food. (Couldn't the writers have explained what all those vitamins and minerals did, instead of just naming them? That might've been more child-friendly in my opinion.) On its own, "Pear" rates a C+; but the other segments get a D-, saved only by a few in-jokes aimed at the parents.
    5. It's Time to Play: A patronizing mixture of exercises, pattern-guessing, and "One of These Things" that looks as if it belonged on some other show. This rates a definite F; whoever greenlighted this for Season 37 must have been desperate for a new segment!
  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I honestly find Dinner Theater a wasted concept. I actually gotta admit, I like how they always used the same characters... pretty much linking it to a cheaper theater that only has stock actors (there are so many of them, but I have no examples)... but it seems that they could have gone MUCH farther with those parodies instead of singing a song roughly in tune with a specific song. I found Man of LaMuncha very bland... I liked Omelet, actually... but other than that specific one and Pear, there was so much ground that COULD have been covered.

    As for JTE, it was a jaded attempt to be Blue's Clues. Let's leave it at that. I feel they improved the segment the next season, but it still felt very artificial... especially with the Flash animated backdrops. I DID love how they managed to get the Two headed monster in every episode... but it really would have been a better segment if it was A) Shorter and B) like the shapes and Letter B museum they had MORE characters interact with Big Bird en route to Ernie.

    Personally, I really enjoyed Trash Gordon... it was a clever way to deal with the letter and number sponsors, sure... much better than Murray being redubbed saying the EXACT same lines with just the number letter, and sometimes location changed. I wanted to like the Gina version, actually... it was cute, but it just wasn't as connectible. I agree TG could have been much more as a segment all its own, not just a show closing. But hey, Oscar in every episode at the end... can't argue with that.

    And Time to Play is garbage. It seemed like something from Teletubbies... F? heh... I give it a G or maybe an H.

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