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What would Jim have thought of today's SST?

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by SSLFan, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    Well, this has been a thought lingering in my mind for awhile now, and I'd thought I'd ask. It's been almost 20 years since Mr. Henson passed, and looking back on all those years since, do you think he would be pleased with the results of how Sesame Street has turned out? He would probably be happy, like the rest of us, that the show has still been on the air as long as it has, but do you think he would be pleased with how the show has evolved?

    Here are some things to think about:

    • 2002 Format Change
    • Elmo's increase in popularity/Tickle Me Elmo (Honestly, did Mr. Henson see potential in the character and knew, at some point, he would become this "megastar"?)
    • Elmo's World
    • The "Around the Corner" era
    • Frank Oz not performing regulary anymore
    • Changes to the theme song
    • The additions of Rosita, Zoe, and later Abby
    • Season 40 Format Change
    • Elmo Overtaking Big Bird as lead, Elmo Overtaking Grover as "cute" monster
    • "Cookie Monster is the veggie monster" controversy
    • The use of CGI in recent seasons
    • *(Other events?)
    Please note this thread is not meant to stir debate or anything, it's just a simple question. I'd hope to hear your responses. Thanks.
    :batty::grouchy::super:
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, Jim knew the show was constantly an experiment when he joined, so I think he would probably, more or less, see the events as of late as nothing more than progress.

    I do believe however that if he were still alive, that Frank probably would still be very active with the show, as one of the perks of the job was doing Ernie and Bert together, and he and Jim both have said that most of the time, they don't even follow the script, except for the punchlines, otherwise, they usually ad-lib the entire bits.

    As for the CGI overkill, don't forget that Jim was very interested in animation as well... I'm sure if he had the opportunity, he would've created some CGI bits for the show himself.
  3. DrmaticEmphasis

    DrmaticEmphasis New Member

    I think Jim Henson would have been very happy about the CGI, as he was fascinated by computers and utilized computers alot in his own productions. (as much as he could considering the time period).

    From what I know, very few people, especially those involved in the creative aspects, were happy with the addition of Zoe. Not because she wasnt a good character, but because she was fully designed as a product and launched by a marketing team. Supposedly the entire Sesame Workshop was pretty peeved about that one. Abby was apparently concieved far more traditionally.

    I think that Jim Henson was an increadibly foward thinker, and things like "Elmos World", "Around the Corner", and the format changes have been done to try to stay up with the times and compete in a market that has gotten 100x more competitive. While some things have worked and some things havent, Im sure he would have appreciated the need for all of it.
  4. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    I don't think anyone could have quite anticipated how much of an impact Elmo would have (the tickle me phenom - the show becoming essentially "The Elmo Show"), i think Jim knew Kevin/Elmo would become rather big. Kevin really rose through the Muppeteer ranks very quickly compared to most and was frequently involved with a lot of the major projects from about 1985 on. Even though it wasn't anything like present day, Elmo was featured quite a bit in merchandise and such once Kevin took him on and he pretty much was a major player at that point. So yeah, Jim saw the spark - one just never knows how much of a burst or dud a firecracker will make until it's ignited.
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Speaking of what Jim would have thought, sometimes I wonder what Jon Stone would've thought...

    After all, it was his idea to make the setting of the show an inner city street, having been inspired by seeing a commercial shot in the middle of Harlem, and wanting the set to look as realistic as possible, going so far as to the have the stoop of 123 made of cement, as opposed to wood, which would've been cheaper (and the more common way to do it on a television set). The street DID look rather realistic through-out the 70s and 80s, but by 1993 or so, it keep getting brighter and more cheerful, and nowadays, it doesn't look like an inner city street, it looks more like a street in a smalltown community or so.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Didn't Jim at one point say "It's bigger than both of us?"

    Somehow I'd think he'd feel mixed about the character's popularity... it's a good thing on the one hand, bringing attention and income into the show, but I think there could be an issue of how the character is used and portrayed. I'd think he'd want the character to be a little less flat, and used in a more clever quality way, vs. the quantity of the character's appearances.

    And I do think he'd understand that the show is experimental and that it's in a perpetual state of flux to keep the momentum going.

    However, I would have LOVED to hear him react to the nonsensical parental ramblings, the contradictory research, and above all the insanity of the statements about how older episodes aren't for little kids because they're different from the current methods of child rearing. I mean, a lot of his older SS sketches are uniquely his brand of cartoonish humor... things getting eaten, things blowing up in a comedic, non-threatening fashion... A lot of stuff that's alien to current kid's programming in certain cases.
  7. JLG

    JLG Member

    Good question.

    My feeling is that if Henson had been around all this time, Sesame Street's tone would not have changed as much as it has. Yes, it still would have changed---the audience shift, Elmo's World, the set changes, the de-urbanizing, the updated format, etc.---but I have a difficult time imagining Henson watering down his brand of quirky, oddball humor. Maybe he would have if forced to, but somehow I have trouble picturing that. His humor was very sassy and sarcastic, and relied on personality clashing and conflict. I think he would have been frustrated if compelled to fit into the current environment, where the tone is much softer and the humor is more generic.
    So my feeling is that with him still around and his brand of humor still coloring the Muppets, the show's tone wouldn't have changed quite as much.**

    I also think that his involvement with the show at this point would be miniscule---probably similar to Frank Oz's coming in for four days a year throughout much of the 90s. Perhaps those two would have been coordinating their schedules so that they would have come in together every season. Ah, well. It's nice to think about, isn't it?

    **Of course, the person whose absence has likely made more difference than anyone's is Jon Stone. Almost the minute he left, the tone changed.
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    That's exactly what I was saying - he wanted it to be an inner city street, and look as realistic as possible, insisting that the steps of the stoop made of cement as opposed to wood (which would've been more economical)...

    While the set does look realistic today, NOT in an inner city/Harlem-like sense as I've also mentioned. More like a cute little street in a small-town community or something.
  9. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member


    I mentioned this before when someone derailed the thread with nonsense... nut the truth of the matter is SS has been gentrified. You know what I mean... SS wasn't a filthy ghetto, but it wasn't an upperclass street either. One of those places where an actual worker's paycheck (i.e. Gordon's teacher salary- which we all know is unreasonably meager) could actually live without taking 5 more jobs. Affordable housing that isn't a shanty. You look at it now, and SS looks like it was bought up by real estate investors and everyone has to move out... I keep saying, I'm surprised Hoopers isn't a Starbucks and the Fix it Shop isn't wither a Kinkos or one of those little boutiques that sell designer everything.
  10. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Very true and excellent observation. I've actually been doing a lot of thinking lately about just that - that Sesame's most devastating loss...more than that of Henson's...was that of Stone's. The whole subject is definately at the top of my short list of topics for Muppet Freak Blog is my life gets back to where i can get back to maintaining it.
  11. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member


    There is an unpublished collection of Jon Stone's memoirs that was referenced in "Street Gang". Man, would I love to read that! I know he wasn't too crazy about the "Around the Corner" idea.

    Convincing John
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The 40 Years book says that he DID like the Furry Arms Hotel, and that he was often seen riding his bike through out the Around the Corner area of the studio from time to time.
  13. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    No kidding? (Shrug) I thought either it was him or another long-time SS veteran that didn't like the idea in Street Gang. I'll have to look that up again.:search:

    Convincing John
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I got to read that book. I was hoping to get it for Christmas, but I don't think anyone saw it. And I'd rather own it than check it out of the library. But wasn't Around the Corner basically an attempt to stay fresh when a lumbering lavender dinosaur costume was taking all the publicity (which started the long decent that kid's shows had since)? I wonder if Jim would have liked any of that, but I can't so much see anything I think he'd really object to.
  15. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    It was indeed Jon Stone who objected to the idea (and the many other changes) going on to the show. But as Snowth pointed out, he must've liked the Furry Arms.

    I have to get the 40th anniversary book though, lol.
  16. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    From page 207, as quoted by Joey...

    "Out of all the stuff we did, Jon Stone loved the Furry Arms. The best thing about around-the-corner, I remember, was that Jon would ride his bike there, because it was so far around; he would take a bike from the control room all the way around the corner. I loved it. I miss Jon."
  17. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    One thing that Jim probably woudn't like, in spite of his creating so many puppet mascots for commercials before: Sesame Street needing to depend on corporate sponsors and spend four minutes of each show crediting them with custom-made ads. If he hadn't died, he probably would've insisted: "If a few seconds during a musical credit crawl was good enough for the Ford Foundation, it should be good enough for those banks and food businesses."


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