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Sesame Street Old School DVD's: Not For Kids

Discussion in 'Sesame Merchandise' started by Brooklyn, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    I thought the Sesame Street: Old School DVDs that are currently out was worth a post here. The below disclaimer is heard at the beginning of the dvd:

    "Welcome to Sesame Street Nostalgia. I am Bob, your host, and I want you to know that these early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not meet the needs of today's pre-school child."

    The main concerns, which will be interesting to chat here about, are the lessons are different -- things that were acceptable in the early 70s are not anymore. Cookie Monster smoking a pipe (for Monsterpiece Theater), Big Bird and other characters look different, some of the human actors have changed, according to TVSquad.com:

    A spokesman for Sesame Workshop says that the reason for the disclaimer is that many of the things the kids do in the old show, like playing in a dump, wouldn't fly with today's oh-so-careful world. And she also said that kids might be confused by all of the changes that have happened in the show in the past 30-40 years, such as characters looking different.

    What do you think? :p :(

  2. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well personally I thought that disclaimer was completely unfounded and unnecessarily put down the classic episodes. There seems to be a general conspiracy in today's society to erase everything that came before and claim it's for the best.

    Unfortunately I would imagine there are still kids in the country who are forced to play in dumps. They don't have the luxury of worrying about being PC and safe. Are they no longer fit to be represented?

    A lot of sources complain that SS no longer targets toward the inner city, and I think there is some truth to that. I noticed this interesting portion of Muppet Wiki's description of the Divorce episode:

    "In fact, in 1990, executive producer Dulcy Singer initially vetoed it. Singer was concerned with tackling more complex social matters, but also wanted to primarily emphasize issues affecting lower socio-economic groups, returning to the show's original target audience of inner city and financially disadvantaged families. She opposed the idea, claiming that "Divorce is a middle-class thing," instead preferring a story illustrating a single-parent family, with the child born out of wedlock with an absent father."

    I don't mind that they tried doing a divorce episode, but I agree with Dulcy Singer, and I wish they had tackled the child born out of wedlock/absent father issue in the inner city.

    And kids that age do not go around obsessing about how "dated" things look. And if they are confused, they ask their parents. Kids should be encouraged to ask questions, not have confusing things hidden from them like they can't handle it. Adults don't always seem to have a realistic view of the way children actually think.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well, the Monsterpiece theater segments popped up in the 80's. And he only had a pipe (which did not have smoke coming out from it) in a couple of them.

    Couldn't agree more, but I think the message applies to parents that never watched SS themselves, who are just using it to entertain a child who is too young to watch TV anyway. I think most, if not all, of the footage can meet with a preschoolers needs. Some things may need explaination, sure. But if the kid is old enough to understand that these are older episodes, they'll work nicely. But then again, there would be a bunch of kids asking where Elmo is.

    The fact is, this DVD set wasn't meant for Grown ups, so much as to finally cater to the older fans of the show who have been tape trading and Youtubing the older episodes to wain nostalgic. I think that the disclaimer should have been, "this set was intended for classic SS fans. Current SS fans may not be interrested." or something to that extent. Plus I give them credit for saying:

    note.... "may not meet the needs" not "definately won't meet the needs." As I said, current Elmo-centric kids may not enjoy it, but that's not speaking for everyone. As we all recall, current episodes without Elmo's World met with bad reception with most of the audience. But that's because they were expecting it. If a child is willing to approach it with an open mind, it could be even more entertaining than the current show.

    But, between you and me? I think SW did that as a disclaimer so they won't have a review on Amazon that says:

    "I recently purchased Sesame Old School for my one year old. He did not want to watch it, and would rather explore the world around him. So I'll give this a bad review, and not put my parenting into question" Like so many first time parents write.
  4. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Personally I think that's semantics, they might as well have said "definitely won't." However they chose to say it, it was a put down. And maybe you're right and maybe they meant Elmo fans wouldn't like it. Well then, they should say that, and not claim it's all about educational needs. It's about popularity.

    And a lot of kids today don't enjoy learning about English and History in school, but we don't tell them "Oh ok, if you don't want to, we won't force you." We try to help them understand why it is so important. Adults need to teach, not just let the kids have free rein on everything and hope for the best.

    For years experts have complained that Sesame Street put entertaiment over education. And even SS writers admitted that they put entertainment before education when creating skits. The idea being that entertainment would lead to education. For my part, I understood what Sesame Street was trying to do, and never had a problem with it. Until very recently.

    Just because a show has been around for years and has had a good reputation of education and entertainment, does not mean they are always correct. In this case, I feel they are doing more damage than good.

    Lol, you know I'm glad that person wrote that review. Sesame Street is great, but your kid needs to explore his/her world, not the TV screen. :)
  5. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    Not only did Cookie Monster have a pipe, he ATE it. Even if he wasn't smoking it, in the parents/media's eye -- it is the same thing. Also, Cookie has changed his eating habits a bit. He craves veggies more, and doesn't have an overeating problem anymore. Life is perfect.


    An old USA TODAY story:
    Cookie Monster: 'Me eat less cookies'
    By Chelsea J. Carter, AP National Writer
    NEW YORK — Something must be wrong in the land of Muppets. First PBS announced that Sesame Street would kick off its 35th season this week with a multiyear story arc about healthy habits. No problem there; childhood obesity rates are soaring. Then I learned of changes that turned my Sesame Street world upside-down.

    My beloved blue, furry monster — who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" — is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song —A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food, where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.

    "Sacrilege!" I cried. "That's akin to Oscar the Grouch being nice and clean." (Co-workers gave me strange looks. But I didn't care.)

    Being a journalist, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I investigated why Sesame Street gave Cookie Monster a health makeover.

    The answer would lead me into a world where television producers worked with health experts and politicians, a place where Cookie Monster does care about his health, and by association, the health of children.

    The first place I headed was the Internet. On the Sesame Street Web site, little had changed. There was Cookie Monster, in all his blue furriness. He was holding a plate of cookies. He was chomping on a cookie. He still looked the same. But as we all know, looks can be deceiving.

    So I searched the site for news on Cookie Monster and up popped a press release about the show's Healthy Habits for Life emphasis. Buried near the bottom was a one-sentence mention about Cookie Monster eating fewer cookies.

    But what did that mean? Scarfing one plateful instead of two?

    I picked up the telephone. "What's going on with Cookie Monster?" I asked the Sesame Street press office. "Why are you doing this?"
    They sent me to Dr. Rosemarie T. Truglio, the show's vice president of research and education.

    She said the show changes every year, focusing not just on teaching numbers and letters but also emotional and physical health. With the rise in childhood obesity, Truglio said Sesame Street is concentrating on the need to teach children about healthy foods and physical activity.
    This season, each episode opens with a "health tip" about nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest.

    Truglio said Sesame Street also will introduce new characters, such as talking eggplants and carrots, and offer parodies, such as "American Fruit Stand." Even guest stars will address healthy activities, such as Alicia Keys talking and singing about the importance of physical activity.
    Even politicians have gotten into the act, filming public service announcements with Sesame Street residents. In one taping, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist taught Elmo to exercise — jumping up and down. In another, Sen. Hillary Clinton and the small red monster discuss the various textures and tastes of foods.

    But what about their position on Cookiegate?

    "Even Cookie Monster is learning to control his cookie cravings," Frist told me by e-mail. "His sage advice opened our eyes to the simple joys of a tasty cookie and now reminds us that moderation is the key to healthy living."
    Cookie Monster was not available for comment. (I'm hoping he hasn't gone too Hollywood.)

    "We are not putting him on a diet," said his spokesman, Truglio. "And we would never take the position of no sugar. We're teaching him moderation."
    The furry one also plans to try different kinds of cookies (read: healthier cookies) rather than his just staple, chocolate chip.

    But will he still scarf his food? Yes, plus the occasional object, Truglio said.
    But isn't that unhealthy? Her reply: He's still Cookie Monster.
    Cookie Monster appears to be happy with the new "sometimes food" song, because at the end he warbles: "Is sometimes now?"
    "Yes," he's told.

    So there it is. Cookie Monster still gobbles cookies, he's just a healthier version of his old self. His eyes are still googly, his fur is still scruffy and he's still messy.

    Even Sesame Street recognizes that we all need guilty pleasures.
  6. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Lol, that's a cute article. Actually though, Cookie Monster preached about healthy eating even in the 1970s. So that's actually not a new idea. But I find modern media sometimes does not do their homework. Once again, there's this thing about ignore the past and pretending it never happened.
  7. redBoobergurl

    redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    What I think is interesting is that they continue to show old episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (may Fred Rogers RIP), at least they do on my PBS affiliate but not old SS. Just a thought.
  8. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    You do realise that was sarcasm. That's why children's Tv is trash nowadays. They just want something to dump their kids down in front of.

    But other than that, the only thing I really can say is that younger children who love Elmo are pretty much the only reason I can think of why this wasn't a set intended for younger consumption. But as always, we have to say, while the current series has good intnetions, I don't think we'll see good results.

    I think that they worded it in a very pompous and confusing way, the ststement, anyway. It may not meet educational needs could have been replaced by "we don't know if modern kids will like watching an older show." Though I still think it was intended to be given to more casual fans and first time parents/viewers.
  9. Brooklyn

    Brooklyn Well-Known Member

    Since this has been getting some interesting feedback. Let's talk about what parts of the show no longer exist in the modern SS. Some obvious ones:

    * No Mr. Hooper
    * Snuffleupagus only seen by Big Bird
    * Gordon...with hair.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    really? mine hasn't ran Mr. Rogers since a year after he died. And even then, it took his death for them to rerun it on a regular basis.

    Anyway, I feel that someone at SW has some bad information or something reguarding kids and classic SS. I could get into the mindlessness of the contradictory reports and research. it really is a too many cooks spoiling the broth situation. The educators and child psychologists that once helped to shape the series are now helping to misshapen it.

    But I do say a lot of older clips wouldn't phase kids one bit. Heck, they use (and still use) an Ernie and Bert segment from the 70's (the one where Bert tries to teach Bernice to play checkers). I mean, a lot of stuff from the mid to late 70's can be reused. I mean, nothing too dated (cough cough Disco), but certain Cookie, Grover, and Ernie/Bert segments sure can fit the bill. And that goes the same for 80's stuff.

    As I said, only thing that keeps younger SS viewers from enjoying classic SS is the lack of Elmo, and the pointless structure (that they're thankfully moving away from now) they Frankenstined together.
  11. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, I'm glad they eventually made Snuffy "visible" to everyone else. I find it very upsetting when the grown ups keep teasing and ignoring him about it. It's one thing when a child makes up fun stories. It's another when a child is telling the truth and the parental figures refuse to believe him/her.

    Now, I don't know if their fears weren't really founded. The idea that kids will think their parents won't believe them about child abuse just because the SS adults don't believe Big Bird. Kids do have lives outside of TV and they know if their parents will or will not listen to them. But I still say Sesame Street did a good thing by encouraging honesty and believing a child. (Of course later on the '80s it was coming out that some child abuse cases were being fabricated. The world is a complicated place!)
  12. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict Well-Known Member

    True though they don't show episodes made prior to 1979.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That, and comedically, you can only do so many jokes about how the adults just missed him. Though, call me crazy, Didn't Snuffy come out and play with some of the kids in one of the episodes in Old School volume 1?

    I also don't like the idea that the adults didn't see him. From what I read, a lot of it was gut wrenching. The part where Snuffy and Big Bird cry (and the performers inside the puppetsuits were as well) is one excellent example. I mean, Big Bird is a sweet, loveable little kid of a character. This sort of thing works on the principle of Wile E Coyote and Dastardly and Muttley cartoons. Except, you don't root for the villain because the hero is annoying... you root for Big Bird to get his vindication. And after a while, you can just feel the character's pain. it's not enjoyable, but depressing.

    You know, I never really caught the Mr. Rogers reruns back when they reran it. I can't even remember what year they brought it back. They bumped it down to one day a week, and pretty much all but got rid of it until Fred's passing. then they felt they had to bring it back, but only for a year. I saw pretty current ones when I got around to seeing it. I think they had the one where he was on the PBS Mr. Roger's website. though I could have seen a couple older ones.

    On that subject, EW or not, I'm sure that you could show kids some episodes of SS from the 80's, early 90's, and they won't be too jarred. But that's just personal belief.
  14. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Yeah the '80s and '90s would blend pretty well. Some of the '70s would stand out a lot. Though again, if I was a kid, I wouldn't have a heart attack just because someone was wearing bell bottoms or just because Oscar was a different color (he obviously changed colors once, and the kids didn't stop watching).
  15. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict Well-Known Member

    What do you mean when Mr. Rogers was brought back.

    It never left the air.
  16. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well it depends on where you are. Mr. Roger has been off my PBS station for a couple years and still isn't on.
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah. And Reading Rainbow was delegated to 6 Am on Sunday mornings in my area. Then... well... gone. I said it before. PBS is making strides with better programming like Curious George and Word Girl (I feel the best thing Squigglevision/Soup to Nuts has done...I wish I got an internship at that studio, since it's somewhere in MA), but it still has clunkers like Barney, Teletubbies, and a new show, Super Why, which really isn't beneficial by any means. Talk about down talking to kids. it makes EW look like the Algonquin round table.
  18. MrsPepper

    MrsPepper Well-Known Member

    I'm sure some of the segments made back then are great and would still fly today, especially the stuff with the puppets. But I've watched the whole volume 1 DVD and I wouldn't think it has much place on modern tv. SS was sort of designed as an experiment to help kids learn. Over time they learned what was effective and what wasn't (like how in the first episode a bunch of skits appear more than once in the same ep.). Plus alot of the videos with the kids are dated (or no longer seen as a good idea, like the skit of the kids playing in a construction yard on the Old School vol 1 set), and some of the instructional ones like how bread is made, factories, etc. use old technology, so it makes more sense to use modern ones.

    Showing old Mr Rogers episodes is a bit different. When I was young I wondered why he looked a bit different sometimes (older vs newer episodes) but his show consists of stories and the Land of Make Believe. That isn't something that's going to change over time quite like SS.
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There's the balance. I feel a lot of stuff could work, but I do feel quite a bit of the older skits just won't work. I mean, yeah. Playing in construction sites, films of old technology in factories. But a lot of the smaller segments could still work. I mean, I don't expect to see large nose pink and orange sweater Ernie and hook nosed ultra grouchy thin head bert to make an appearance currently. I mean, they did use Pinball Number Count twice in Season 32.

    I mean, the closest things that they have to the current SS would be something like 80's and 90's full episodes. But as for skits and filler, there's a great deal of stuff, mid 70's-late 90's that wouldn't cause any problems whatsoever.

    I mean, I don't see something like Jazz numbers making it. pinball Number count, sure. But something about Jazz numbers just wouldn't work, be it the imagery or the music. It would frighten kids like crazy, IMO.

    But there is no reason why quite a few letter, number and Muppet (especially) segments couldn't work. We've seen quite a few classic Ernie/Bert skits form, even the late 70's (as I said before). We've seen Cavemen Days used at least once. I could kind of see the point of older characters not on the show may being a little jarring. But I would stifel to say "confusing." If anything, these skits could serve as introductions to the characters.
  20. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict Well-Known Member

    Now come on those old number skits aren't goonna frighten kids.

    Think you're over-reacting.

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