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What year did it all change for the worst?

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by JimmyGillentine, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. JimmyGillentine

    JimmyGillentine New Member

    Hello all..... I was wondering what year did Sesame Street change and they gave up over half of the show to Elmo?:)grouchy: :rolleyes: ) I tried to watch it the other day and couldn't stand the thing. I grew up in the 70's when the show was still fun and funny at the same time. But when did it go down hill?
    mupcollector1 likes this.
  2. superboober

    superboober Member

    I wouldn't quite say it went downhill over the course of a single year. The changes were a somewhat more gradual process to the Elmo-centric show of today. It seems to be a somewhat basic consensus that the last real "old school year," to term it, was 1989. Then there was a first transitional period up to about 1992 when many of the old clips were put out to pasture, and then a second transitional period that went on till roughly 1995 while they found their current indentity. Elmo rose to the top of the heap about the year after that. The final changes were solidified around 1998. I hope this is helpful to what you're asking.
  3. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Elmo's World was introduced in 1998, though Elmo had already been a major character before then. The format changed in 2002.
  4. JimmyGillentine

    JimmyGillentine New Member

    Thanks for the answers. I do understand the reasons behind what they did. Because of the popularity of the 'Tickle me Elmo' doll exsplosion in the early 90's was the main reason why the dreaded Elmo taken over happened. Elmo has become Sesame Workshop's main cash cow and they just played into it. But I guess the show has just lost something because of what they have done.
  5. JLG

    JLG Member

    Superboober: I disagree----despite Henson's death, I don't think much really changed at all after 1989. The only significant thing that changed in 1992, as far as I remember, was the theme music. I don't recall them retiring a lot of old material around that time, since there was still quite a lot of it floating around.

    It's possible that the tone of the Street segments themselves became a little more sanitized and toned-down during the 90s, moving toward where it's at now, but the other stuff they were showing was the same. Heck, as late as 1997, they were still playing some Kermit and Ernie/Bert clips from 1969. (I had never knowingly seen anything from the first year then, but in hindsight I recognize them) Right up until 1998, the format and much of the stuff they used was unchanged. What changed beginning with '98, besides Elmo's World, was a significant reduction in the number of featured Muppet characters (getting rid of a large "underclass" of secondaries like Roxie Marie and Betty Lou), a dramatic cutback in the amount of older stuff shown, and an overall narrower focus. And of course, in 2002 they finally overhauled the format, though recently they seem to be slowly creeping back towards it.

    I defintely think that any changes during most of the 90s were minor---1995 was still an "old" year, in my mind.
  6. GeeBee

    GeeBee New Member

    I really think it was a combination of Jim Henson's death and Northern Calloway's departure and eventual death that made 1989 the end of an era for Sesame Street.
  7. Cookie fan

    Cookie fan New Member

    Do you think that the passing of Joe Raposo contributed to the "decline" also; I admire his work on a lot of the songs he made for the show. I think he also passed in 1989.
    I am not sure when Sesame Street started making "sweetened" versions of animated clips but I never liked the idea of re-airing animated clips and putting an updated musical score in the background...I prefer the original clip as it is. I think that this also had a negative bearing on the show.
  8. SwedishChefCook

    SwedishChefCook New Member

    There's a few other things that changed in 1989. Those Classic Colored Barrells in Big Bird's nest area were taken out, also as of 1991 Richard Hunt's charachters no longer appeared on the show in any new material, due to Richard Hunt's illness that he passed away of in 1992.
  9. Cookie fan

    Cookie fan New Member

    Oh yeah, how could I have forgotten about Richard Hunt, his characters were so great. Gladys the Cow, Forgetful Jones, Don Music....and the list goes on. All the great masters have come and are going. I just wish they could have the same basic formula that has kept the show going for so many years.
  10. Taco Monster

    Taco Monster Member

    For me, the theme song change in 1992 signified the end of an era. That's also about the time that they started introducing obnoxious (IMHO) new characters like Zoe. Granted, I suppose the writing was on the wall when Henson and Raposo passed away, and the spirit of the show (along with a lot of the material) remained "classic" into the mid-90s. But as a kid (admittedly a slightly older kid than SS's target age), that theme song change seemed like a sign that things were changing for the worse, and in retrospect, I'd have to say that I was right. For the record, I stopped watching the show regularly around 1995, when I was 10.
  11. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    That was my experience as well as a slightly older kid. The theme song change was off-putting, and then in general the show became unwatchable. And I generally have no problem watching kid's shows.

    From my experience now, I see kids liking Elmo, but I'm not seeing a particular interest in Sesame Street the show.

    But you know, it is what it is. Television in general has been suffering the last few years. There are still plenty of ways to see Sesame Street the way it used to be. There's no reason kids can't watch the Old School DVD. Sure, they might be confused by some differences, but kids tend to accept these things very quickly.
  12. Big Bird Fan

    Big Bird Fan Member

    If we're talking about bad changes, I really feel the need to bring up that "around the corner" idea they had. I'm just grateful they realized how dumb it was and got rid of it. But that was four seasons too long.

    http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Around_the_Corner

    There's the link for anyone who wants it.
  13. Barry Lee

    Barry Lee Active Member

    In my opinion, everything was until, Elmo's World.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The 2002 format was the worst change as far as the show is concerned.

    I hate the opinion (though those are welcomed to it) that the show changed terribly in the 80's. I feel that's when the show really shince. Elmo was a smaller character, we still had Kermit in new segments, we had a lot of great independant animators getting a career out of it (Sally Cruikshank for one) and the great song parodies (to be far, some were from the 70's, but the 80's is when most of them showed up).

    But the #1 worst change I feel is not SW's fault. I guess you can tell what I'm thinking of.... the lessening appearances of Kermit. Other than Do the Rubber Duck, he hasn't appeared in a new episode, even in an older skit. Reruns of the Hurricane episode don't count. Heck, I was surprised they used "African Alphabet" for the opening of the Documentary.

    I mean, Elmo's World, JTE, Get up it's time to Play.... yeah... they suck, but no Kermit? That's what really ruins SS for me.
  15. JimmyGillentine

    JimmyGillentine New Member



    I couldn't agree with you more. In a way, I think Kermit was the Heart of the show. Or to be more precise, Jim Henson was. I wonder about something. When Henson passed, just how much involement did he have in the show? I think one of the things that has hurt SS is focusing so much attention on just one chareter. I wonder what Henson would think about everything that is going on with the show now?
  16. Daffyfan2003

    Daffyfan2003 Active Member

    Yeah. I don't think Henson's death would have had much to do with it, since at the time, Henson didn't do too much on the show considering Ernie and Kermit were only shown in inserts. Though I do wonder if the show would be like it is now if he were still around today. I sort of doubt it.
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Actually, I wouldn't say too much the fact Henson died, as the fact most of the people who shaped SS died pretty soon with in the time frame of each other. Joe Raposo and Jim died within months of each other. In fact, a Joe Raposo tribute aired with a second "in memory of," Jim Henson. Then Jon Stone, and Richard Hunt... years went by, Jeff Moss was lost too.

    Of course, some people also left the show. Frank did do occasional things, Chris Cerf left a few years ago, bringing a few others.
  18. JLG

    JLG Member

    Daffyfan2003: You're right about that. Even though I don't think Henson's death had much immediate impact on the show (apart from Ernie and Kermit's three-year absence except for old inserts), I do think the show would be different if he were still here today.

    I imagine that, had he lived, over the years he would have drifted further and further away from Sesame Street, spending less and less time on it, but always keeping tabs. He would probably be like Frank Oz was until recently, showing up for a few days a year to shoot a few new inserts.

    But mainly, I imagine he would have been very uncomfortable with the changes in format and tone starting in the late 90s. If he were alive and kicking, I don't think the changes would have been quite as acute. Henson was a very funny performer, and I don't think he would have had it in him to tone himself down to the degree that the Muppet material generally has done in recent years. I could be wrong about all of this, of course, but it's just difficult for me to imagine him limiting himself like that. Depending of course on how much latitude he and his crew were permitted with the cirricular material, I think the SS Muppet element would have retained a little more of its edge.

    (also, even though he was about to sell to Disney before he died, I'm sure he NEVER would have allowed the Muppet ownership to be broken up into pieces like it's been, with one result being Kermit moving off the Street for good. I don't know why his kids agreed to such a situation...)
  19. JLG

    JLG Member

    Drtooth: You brought up a point that probably too few of us have thought of: Jon Stone. From what I've read it seems that he, more than any other person, was responsible for the tone and overall feel of the show. I'm not sure but I think he finally left around 1995. It wasn't very long after that when things started changing noticeably.

    Raposo, Henson, Moss, and everybody else had huge roles, but Stone was the glue that held all the pieces together in a certain shape. When he left, the shape shifted. Put that together with new research that led to a format overhaul, and there you have it....Sesame Street 2.0!
  20. Taco Monster

    Taco Monster Member

    Maybe I have no room to talk because I'm a child of the 80's, but I absolutely agree. Sure, they may have made some unpopular decisions (i.e. making Snuffy visible to everyone), but the spirit and quality of the show was very much the same throughout that decade as it was in the 70's. Obviously as a kid, I made no distinction between the older and newer material, but now that I know more about the show, I can say that I find the 80's material to be every bit as enjoyable as the late 60s/70s material.

    Good catch there. Looking at some of these episode guides on Muppet Wiki, it does seem like that was just about the point where they really started sugar-coating everything.


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