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  4. Sesame Street Season 49
    Sesame Street's 49th season officially began Saturday November 17 on HBO. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

Why people dislike modern Sesame Street

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by D'Snowth, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    So many people are always complaining about how SST isn't the same anymore, and that it's not as good today as it was when they grew up with it: a lot of people cite because of the constant "modernization" of the sets, characters, show and educational content, etc, but yesterday, after reading the synopsis for this season's new episodes, something has donned on me...

    I think perhaps one reason, not addressed enough, as to why people dislike modern SST, is the excessive fantasy aspect of the show. In the old days, the Muppets mostly added the touch of fantasy to the show simply by inhabiting the street: Big Bird, Oscar, Ernie and Bert, and the presense of others like Cookie Monster, Grover, and even Elmo, etc. Even though obviously small furry and fleecey beings don't co-exist with us IRL, but to us, it did seem realistic to see them live and play among the residents of the street. Again, that was basically the fantasy of the show then.

    Today, however, like Gordon said 41 years ago has been taken to a new level... anything and everything DOES happen on the street these days, and maybe a little too much. At any given moment, something outrageous and off-the-wall can and will happen on the street at the drop of a hat, not just with Muppets, but even with humans: it may appeal to kids today I'm sure, but perhaps grown-ups are seeing this, and feel it's just simply TOO unrealistic, even for our favorite street.

    Again, that's just my thinking. :smirk:
    RavingMuppet likes this.
  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I hadn't thought about that as a reason to dislike the show. Then again, it gets me wondering: If Abby was on the show in the old days, would Big Bird have asked her to magically made the adults see Snuffy? Would Abby have used her magic to bring Big Bird back to Sesame Street in FTB? Would she have attempted to use magic to bring Mr. Hooper back to life (was she in the "When Families Grieve" special?), only to learn that magic can't be used to bring back the dead? Would her magic have been used as an explanation as to why Gordon and/or Mr. Handford's appearances changed (not to mention Oscar changing from orange to green)?

    But I feel it's more than just that. Many fans complain about Elmo "taking over" the show. There's also the fact that Murray Monster hosts the show despite rarely appearing with other familiar characters. And there are less episodes per season, and it seems every season since season 36 focused heavily on one curriculum goal. And in the past few seasons it seems the main classic characters aren't used as much as they used to. And of course they don't show any "classic-era" inserts anymore.
  3. mrfinch

    mrfinch Member

    I think there are multiple reasons, but let's face the big one: the Henson crew is gone. Some of the current Muppet puppeteers are still involved, but until the late 1970s Sesame Street was the primary creative outlet for Jim Henson and company. That influence lasted for a longtime after, but it has thinned out. Add that to age and keeping up with the Joneses, and you've got a watered-down Sesame Street. It would be more remarkable if the show *remained* as vibrant as it was for the first two decades.
  4. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    The loss of writer Jon Stone is also a big contributor.
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Let's be honest... Jim was involved in Sesame Street, sure... but not as involved as us Henson fans like to think. Let's not forget the multiple passings on in the 90's that lost many other people like Joe Raposo and Jon Stone... not to mention others just leaving the show.

    Here's what I don't like:

    • The Block Format. Man, I LOVE Murray and I think having a character out of the cramped studio in the real world would have done Jim proud! But when all is said and done, it just doesn't work... it turns Sesame Street from a show to multiple shows that are barely connected... and they reuse SOOOO much of that. The letter and number intros are one thing, but there's so much time blown talking about what segment's on next.
    • Too much to cover in so little time, and so many initiatives are forced down everyone's throats in multiple episodes with similar structured... the nature initiative and the overused guessing game content for one.
    • 26 episodes a season? Run to spread out for 6 months? THANK you PBS!
    • Budgetary concerns beyond their control leading to multiple reuse of segments, smaller numbers of employees on site, and just adding a disparaging atmosphere to every episode.
    • On that subject there was NO WAY that Abby's Flying Fairy School should have been a daily segment if they didn't even have enough segments for a season WITHOUT multiple reruns.
    • They're making strides now, but seriously... hire some bright young indie animators to commission new segments for you. That foot mural one is EMBARASING! Those kids gotta be out of college by now.
    • STOP bowing down to pressure groups, mkay? You didn't back down when you had a diversified cast, you didn't back down when Buffy breast fed, you especially didn't back down from giving Mr. Hooper a decent posthumous sendoff/wake... but someone sees a G rated amount of cleavage or calls you a liberal brainwashing faction and THEN you get all "Sowwy sir!"
    • Seriously... get rid of Elmo's world. Replace it with another Elmo-centric segment, I don't care... but it's 10 year old dead weight that DOESN'T even have new segments anymore.
    • And above all, I NEVER liked the bullhonkey that they need to give kids structure. Once they started moving away from it, they got pulled back into it.

    Now, I could be like EVERYONE else and blame it all on Elmo... but there are things just beyond their control... Yes, watering the show down because of the very same garbage kiddy shows I always talk about is the BIGGEST factor. Remember, SS came out of a time when the only other kid's shows were Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo. To be fair, once the show started up, we got multiple clones... and we've had them well into the 90's But they all manged to copy SS, not have SS copy THEM. This... THIS is all Barney's fault. And I don't mean Stintson.
  6. Daffyfan4ever

    Daffyfan4ever Well-Known Member

    Those are good thoughts, but I doubt it. If these problems could have been solved by magic, those stories show wouldn't really have had much of a plot. After all, Mumford was around back then and you didn't see him doing tricks like that.
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That's a little too ghoulish for them to ever consider.

    And I agree, Mumford was around then, and it seems they never bothered considering that with him around either.

    But back to the subject, I'm disliking multiple reusals of single footage in a season. Now, this isn't a snappy little cartoon or segment under 30 seconds used through multiple parts of the episode like a commercial, I'm talking the longer 5 minute segments, and even some of the 3 minute parody/celebrity segments.

    Seeing the same Super Grover 2.0's is one thing, but there was NO EXCUSE for seeing Will I Am AND TruMud twice. I know they've got some annoying budget problems (again THANKS PBS! Thanks for diverting funds to outbid BBC America on terrible British Cops shows you never even get to see because you have to run pledge month every other week to pay for them), but the massive reusing of footage in a single, short 26 episode season is a cry for help. It almost seems they spend more time on the international film pilots (Munchin Impossible, etc.) than they do on their own show. Seriously, we need to go out en masse and buy 2 of every t-shirt, personal budgets permitting. I SUUUURE hope Hasbro has some nice stuff.
  8. Canadian Fan

    Canadian Fan Well-Known Member

    I decided to watch an episode one day when nothing else was on. I couldn't get over the changes, now the street story is only in the beginning instead of throughout the show. I liked Murray Monster in the real world (although I would like to see him interact with some other muppets occasionally). Elmo's World is just plain weird. I thought Bert & Ernie's claymation sketches were cool, same with Abby's Flying Fairy School. I haven't seen Super Grover 2.0.

    Why aren't there more classic characters interacting with Abby, Zoe, and Rosita. Personally, I'd love to see more Bert and Ernie in their puppet form and interacting with Abby (though I'm not sure it's possible with Steve's schedule, but it was great to see Ernie in two songs in season 41). I think they should bring back The Amazing Mumford just so he could interact with Abby (it could be funny).
  9. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Well-Known Member

    i agree with those who dislike the repetition of long and/or useless segments. but i don't think they do it for a budget thing--it's not like they don't have 40 years of stuff they could run...they just choose repeating new segments ad nauseum because they think new equals hip. they're wrong. new equals trendy. hipness is from quality, which transcends passing fads. they'd make a much better show if they mixed the best older segments with their new ones, and they'd also be able to stretch new content out over more episodes per season.

    the biggest thing i dislike about today's sesame street is that they don't seem to write for characters any more. telly gets some decent roles since he has a champion on the writing team, and occasionally there's a nice story line for someone else, like the wing in a sling episode. but most of the stories are so divorced from the characters that you could just plug in any muppet into any plot. and the human cast members, with the possible exception of Chris, never do anything any more except sit in the background and offer occasional advice, to the point that their presence is kind of awkward. if you ask a kid who's only been watching for the past 3 years to describe the personalities of elmo, zoe, rosita, maria, luis and baby bear, i bet he wouldn't be able to tell much difference beyond age & fur color. all the characters have been built and nuanced over many episodes, which is a luxury most tv/movie/book writers don't have. it's a shame that they're not using that to their advantage, because they could make much more compelling and memorable plots if they focused on how their complex and well-defined characters would react in a situation rather than coming up with contrived situations with one-shot celebrity/AM/fairy tale characters and inserting elmo or any old muppet into the scene.
  10. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    I couldn't agree more. I know it's something that us fans have complained about year after year, but within the past two seasons, this REALLY has been the case here. The same 4-5 muppets are used for almost every street scene, there's just no character diversity anymore. It seems as if the writers find comfort in writing for the same few characters and are afraid to take chances and branch out of their comfort zone and discover other possibilties when writing for other characters. Of course this also can be a budget issue, thus why we see all these Elmo/Abby etc. centered stories. Still, this whole situation is quite sad IMHO.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Let's just say they painted themselves into a real corner with the format. It isn't just to be "hip" or anything, it's because they want to make the show segmented so they can use the segments here and overseas. The overseas markets are starting to want to walk away from co-productions and move on to dubbed segments making up a show (like Sesamegade or whatever it is in Denmark with Elmo hosting).

    So it isn't just a budget thing, it's a doubt budget, make ever part of the buffalo useful, why didn't more people buy Elmo Live, budget thing.

    My main problem is that they've painted themselves into such a corner with reruns and 26 episode seasons they can't even alternate the segments. THAT's what they need. They've alternated Super Grover 2.0 with Murray and Ernie and Bert... why not alternate Abby in that mix too, and add a well deserved extra 10 minutes of random stuff to the show? SS NEEDS an overhaul after this season so we don't get stuck with so much reused footage reused that soon.

    I swear, back when they had to make painful layoffs, they let go a LOT of people who put episode by episode segments together, leaving the burden on a smaller group. And we all know what happens when you work on a TV show with deadlines....

    As for the writing, I don't think there IS even a place for character development and personality anymore. They spend so much time trying to teach hundreds of little factoids about something, they have to make lousy guessing game episodes that run 3 or 4 a season. Again, that's the initiative problem. But, when an episode flows organically and turns into an actual story (like Grouch Mother's Day), the characters are free to actually ACT like characters.
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, nobody seems to see it that way; it's the common misconception with just about everything, especially the media, that new = hip, and therefore, hip = trendy.

    And Drtooth, you seem to have crossed signals regarding PBS; coming from someone who has connections with PBS, it's not them who are FORCING SW to reduce the show to 26 episodes a season and whatnot, this all stems from BOTH viewer support from pledges and such, AND funding from the government. We all know that Conservatives and Republicans have been wanting to ax PBS for decades, meanwhile, the Conservatives and Republicans civilians always make sure that their propaganda and such overshadow the reasoning from their Liberal, Democratic "opponents" (as I've said many times befores: if you're Liberal in this country, you have no voice).

    And it's not just SST that's being affected by this, it effects all the other kids programming, that the elephant people claim brainwash kids into accepting ways-of-life that they feel otherwise shouldn't be accepted *cough* the lesbian episode of Postcards from Buster *cough*. That's why there AREN'T pledge drives for children's programming anymore (believe, if there were, I'd still be at my local PBS doing Steve in the afternoon every March and August): these radical groups formed by Conservatives have dealt a devastated blow to viewer support for the PBS Kids shows, and as such, they can't rake in as much finances as they require at the pledge drives because they keep losing viewer support and funding.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that's a reason, but even our supposedly liberal PBS stations don't have that anymore, either. They even stopped showing Postcards from Buster before anyone else and they're THE PRODUCTION COMPANY (WGBH). It wasn't even worth it, because Postcards from Buster was a bore.

    PBS is hurting all over. All the pledge drives now have programming that appeals to seniors so they can give them their social security check... and all the money you KNOW is going to outbidding BBC America on crappy current British crime drams. Jeez at LEAST give us Monty Python or Mr. Bean or something REMOTELY enjoyable for us Britcom geeks.

    This also causes the other PBS kids shows to be rerun at ridiculous levels too.
  14. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Well-Known Member

    good point--block formatting was originally for international tv, and the workshop is focusing so much on bringing Sesame Street to the third world even in their publicity and funding campaigns, that they're beginning to ignore their original u.s. audience.

    of course, the u.s. audience is beginning to ignore television, and the internet is becoming a better place to watch tv--cheaper, greater diversity of content, you can watch when you want, no commercials...(not to mention more interactive potential for educational shows...) and Sesame Street's magazine format segments are PERFECT for this--that's why they go viral on youtube. it's like Sesame Street was 40 years ahead of its time developing content for a format that didn't even exist yet. except instead of using it, they've swtiched to block formatting, which is only good for tv. and when they try to put something from the new formatting on youtube, it's a fail--just look at the comments under "There's an App for That". people ***** and moan about how awful it is for sesame street to be encouraging kids to think the latest most expensive tech gadgets are cool. that's of course the opposite message of the episode, but SW took their own darned song out of context and it isn't intended to stand alone like magazine format clips are.

    and while we're on the topic of their use of new trying-too-hard-to-be-trendy material only...the workshop's outlook & the way they're treating their own content & production is exactly the opposite of what that episode's message is. Sesame Street's metaphorical old pogo stick still does the important job better than its new flashy one does. yet another case of Sesame Street writers needing to watch more Sesame Street.
  15. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Um, actually, you get commercials on the internet now.

    Hulu brings you "limited commercial 'inter-options'", even though their commercial interruptions have been increasing as of late; and also, certain YouTube videos will force you to sit through a commercial or two before you can actually watch the video you were wanting to see.
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think their international reach, especially in some cases, is very important. But these longer, bigger segments that go to fill out an international children's programming block (ironically, like what the show is trying to be) are what's the most important right now. It's cost cutting, to be sure, but it's also what the foreign companies want. I guess without the letter and number focus, things are more culturally ambiguous? But let's say we didn't get to see them and they were foreign production only stuff. Remember that we were complaining we wouldn't see Ernie and Bert's Great Adventures, then came the decision (either connected or disconnected to those comments) to integrate them into the American show?

    My problem is, these are actually pretty good. MUCH better than the plotless Elmo's World, which is just Elmo mugging the camera for 15 minutes. But Abby should have never been daily, nor should Murray had a Little lamb. It seems mainly in contrast to the fact they have to cut new episodes with reruns and it ruins the "structure," but 13 episodes used in 70 episodes? And that's in a field of heavy reruns as well. That's just going to make more kids switch the channels at once to the competition they're fighting against.

    Everyone's ignoring television actually... all over the world. It's killing everything in every country. But all I can say is, with what happened to the Katy Perry segment, that's all I can say about putting stuff on the internet. People LOVE making dub comments online. They stumble onto things after watching bum fights or the latest "heartwarming" story of someone who they'd cast out of society that has a hidden talent and they're turned into valuable members of society who we'll forget when the next one comes across. Everything is OUT of context. But make no mistake, the only reason that matters is because silly comments lead to silly actions. other than that, it's all the cable issue. Since everyone has better access to it, PBS has become irrelevant. Not just for kid's programming, either.

    I'm sorry, but there's no doubt there's pressure from higher ups that the writers are under. I can't say the writing is bad, or anything...but there's a real air of too many cooks. I'm sure they have to follow guidelines about having to write guessing game episodes. But when they're actually free to WRITE an episode they want to write, the talent shows. Remember... they have to follow curricula and initiatives that are STRONGLY enforced by upper management.

    UGh! Tell me about it. Sitting through one or 2 for a half hour show isn't bad, but a minute long commercial before a 2 minute or less YT vid? Bull... Bull bull bull!
  17. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Doesn't SW make money from their YouTube channel? I read that they can make around $5000 for a video with 1 million views. They also get a lot of money from channel views and subscriber numbers.
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I wonder how much they actually get to keep. Some of it clearly goes to writers, and I'm guessing some residuals and rights for celebrities. But it is a pretty good money maker. But there always needs to be more revenue. PBS probably gives them little, they have like 5 sponsors already> I really hope that when the Hasbro license starts up, we get some good stuff. Already, I see Play Doh sets. I hope they have something for older fans somewhere. I'm not talking Four Horsemen type stuff, just some little cheap collectibles would be nice.
  19. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    There's got to be a way they can juggle all of this stuff around so kids won't get bored with the same AFFS for the 127th time.

    the Super Grover 2.0 segments are brilliant, as was the Grouch's Mother's Day and other Oscar stories. Caroll Spinney still does amazing work. So does Marty Robinson. I loved, loved LOVED where Telly and Oscar did the segment on the letter B. It was classic Telly and Oscar: a wonderful, short educational segment that could have easily been shot back in 1988. They still test these shows before airing, right? Well, if clips like that still work after all these years, why not do more bits like that?

    Look how well "I Love My Hair" was received. It was a 2 minute song about pride. The song featuring Will.i.am also had positive feedback. They've done many wonderful songs about pride in the past. Songs by Kingston Livingston III, Grover and Roosevelt Franklin come to mind. These type of bits prove that Elmo doesn't have to be onscreen ALL the time in order for kids to get something out of the show.

    If it has to do with budget...then those clips couldn't have cost much compared to the more elaborate things they've done with CGI, right? Just look at the backgrounds for one thing...the street, a blank limbo set and a blank white background. Heavily repeated gerbilcorn antics don't compare in content and quality to these short little gems--the best type of thing Sesame Street has done for ages. With old school Sesame Street, if you didn't like a clip, it would go away shortly. Nowadays, when AFFS or Elmo's World comes on, a kid could go away, eat lunch, come back and not have missed a thing.

    I've said it before and I'll say it now. Elmo's World has always had minimal (at best) educational content. It talks down to kids, being a clone of Blues Clues from the beginning (do kids even like Blues Clues anymore?)

    I realize the whole "kids feel empowered by being able to do something that Mr. Noodle can't do" concept. I got news for them. There was someone else who played the role ten times better for thirty years. Someone who was a fully-formed three dimensional character kids could relate to----->:wisdom:

    Buddy and Jim were abandoned because the segments went on forever and they didn't work. Mr. Noodle is basically the same thing only he doesn't talk and there are voiceover kids yelling at him the whole time. The "Secret Drawings" sketches narrated by Gary Owens did it better, quicker and got the point across without dragging it out.

    I think it makes more sense to have a young Muppet not know what to do and the kids (onscreen) or an adult (like Gordon) help out if needed. Mr. Noodle, clown though he is, isn't an effective teacher as the humans on the street or a Muppet with a 3D personality.

    To have 15 minutes on one topic? Uh, even little kids know what all the Elmo's World topics are: teeth, hats, feet, books.

    Kids are drawn to Elmo for the same reason they rush to the window to see a fire truck race by. Elmo is bright red, he's loud and you can't help but see him because he draws a lot of attention to himself. The same principles apply to the fire truck.

    Still, part of Sesame Street's charm is that it takes time to show several segments about familiar and unfamiliar things to the average kid. I thought the "segments filmed out in the real world" were really interesting. I loved learning about different cultures when I was little. I grew up in Iowa in a "middle of nowhere" town. This was one of my favorite (non-street/Muppet/animated) bits when I was little. I was intrigued by those exotic trees that were obviously real. Plus, the fruit I saw usually in cartoons was harvested, peeled and opened.

    My hometown had virtually zero diversity--it was all white, mostly senior citizens with less energy than these two:sleep::boo: and nothing but corn, corn, corn as far as the eye can see. This clip from Family Guy could just as easily apply to where I grew up in Iowa.

    I learned first from Sesame Street that there were other people in the world that had different skin colors and spoke different languages. Kids today growing up in areas like I did can still learn about diversity from Sesame Street, which is a wonderful thing.

    Sonia Manzano once said in an interview that "People from the Midwest come up to me and say 'you were the first Puerto Rican I ever saw'. How can that be?" Well, it is true in some cases. If I ever met her, I could honestly say the same thing.

    Instead of shoving brocoli down kids throats or having Elmo sing one word to the tune of "Jingle Bells" every day, Sesame Street should expand the minds of kids even more. Kids are just beginning their journey in life and Sesame Street should do just what Rowlf and Kermit wanted it to do: open up new worlds to the kids.

    Convincing John
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The worst part is, they're completely and utterly stuck with Elmo's World. They tried to do away with it a few seasons ago, but kids where apparently whining that Elmo wasn't on. They conditioned kids to want something, and they've painted themselves into a corner. I love how it was the only way to get Kermit back on the show in a cameo (hopefully the use on the Silly Storytime DVD is starting to loosen them up), but they haven't had a single new EW all season long. I still think if they replace it with Elmo's Backyard, they could dump the thing.

    I really like Abby and all, but we all can agree a daily segment was a mistake and they were no where NEAR able to do that. I wonder if they could only afford 13 segments, and hoped that by the next season 13 more would have been ready. These things should ALL alternate.

    They shouldn't half to choose between muppet segments and outside filmed segments (I feel that's been the case the last few years) because of the ever shrinking time in between segments.

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