November 19, 2007

NYT: The Street Is No Place For Children

sesame_street_old_school.jpgTo the eye-rolling amusement of the parents who grew up on the stuff, NY Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan writes about the ironic warning label on the just-released Volume 2 of Sesame Street: Old School:

These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.
Unless those needs involve pipe smoking, banging his head against the piano when he's frustrated, whipping up cookiestorms at the table, getting mocked incessantly because of your imaginary friend, being an unmitigated grouch, and embracing his life in the dingy "slum" with cheerful resignation.

Ah, good times. I'd teach the kid to pour a sippy cup out for Roosevelt Franklin, but it'd make a mess.

Sweeping The Clouds Away [nyt]
Buy Sesame Street: Old School Vol. 1 (1969-1974) and Vol. 2 (1974-1979) [amazon]
Or just watch them on YouTube, except for breastfeeding, it's all there by now, I'm sure.

[note: The actual contents of Vol. 1, retyped from the liner notes by Amazon-shopping dad Brian, are after the jump. If you have a link to the actual contents of Vol. 2, please add it below; I can't find one.]

Vol. 1:

Taken from the liner notes. Please excuse typos or ommisions.

Disc 1
Season 1 Episode 1 Originally aired Nov 10, 1969
Animals wash off with Bert and Ernie; Henson #3; Meeting Oscar; Gordan Dresses Anything Muppets; Jazz #2; Wanda the Witch; Kermit Walking W; Picture Hanging Buddies; Beginnings

Bonus tracks (called Bonus Trash in pamphlet)
Bein' Green; Rubber Duckie; Counting with James Earl Jones; ABC-DEF-GHI; I Love Trash; Alphabet with Jackie Robinson; Batman Crosses the Street; Swinging Baboon; Big Bird Meets Little Bird; Alphabet with Lou Rawls; I've got two; Alphabet Soup; Original Sales Pitch; The Itty-Bitty Nitty-Gritty Kiddie Show; Season 1 Credit Crawl

Disc 2
Season 2 Episode 131 Originally aired Nov 9, 1970
Henson Dollhouse; Everybody Makes Mistakes; Alphabet with Bill Cosby; Exit Animation; Noisy Bedroom with Bert and Ernie; Carol Burnett's Nose; What's my Part? With Guy Smiley; Whistle a Happy Tune; The Case of the Missing Sandwich

Season 3 Episode 276 Nov 8, 1971
Welcome to Sesame Street; Oscar's traveling Can; Grover's Restaurant; Big Bird meets Snuffleupagus; Great Cookie Thief; Sorting Song; People in Your Neighborhood; Short and Long Ladders; Ernie Counts Sheep

Extra Cookies
Season 2; King of Eight; Over, Under, Around and Through; Superman; Astronaut Drawing; Counting with Listen My Brother; I love being a Pig; Season 2 Credit Crawl
Season 3: C is for Cookie; Ladybug Picnic; Martians Telephone; Amazing Mumford Magic Trick; Alligator King; J Friends; A Special Day with Bert and Ernie, "I Am Somebody" with Jesse Jackson; Would you Like to buy an `O'; I in the Sky; My Favorite Letter P; My Martian Beauty; Mad Painter; Season 3 Credit Crawl

Disc 3
Season 4 Episode 406 Originally aired Nov 27, 1972
Sesame Street Alphabet; Alphabet with Ernie and Cookie Monster; Simon's Song; Jon Interview; Count Counts Ernie's Blocks; Heaney and Light with Grover; Here is Your Life, Oak Tree; Enter and Exit; Grover's Restaurant

Season 5 Episode 536 Originally aired Nov 19, 1973
Fat Cat; Kermit and Joey Do the Alphabet; At the Movies; Bird on me; How do you Do?; Chin Ups with Grover; Beat the Time; Hand clapping Number; Doing the Pigeon

More Paper Clips!
Season 4 Kermit's News with Rapunzel; Bread, Milk, and Butter; Lost Paper Clips with Bert and Jon-Jon; Witches Cooperate; Song of the Count; Bert's Bust; First and Last with Beetle Bailey; Season 4 Credit Crawl
Season 5; At the Movies with Bert and Ernie; Nasty Dan with Johnny Cash; Prairie Dawn's School Pageant; Twiddlebugs go to the Zoo; Jazz Alphabet; Hamburger Bun Factory; Madrigal Alphabet; 3 Wishes with Bob and Cookie; Telephone Booth with Super Grover; Season 5 Credit Crawl


it's a sad world we live in, where a glimpse of 'ghetto' is somehow worse than the insanely upbeat, idiot shrieking of Elmo, the world's dumbest puppet.

I remember SS from the early 70's, and yes, sometimes things didn't end like a disney fairy-tale. Sometimes things were a bit sad. BUT, these things taught you a life lesson, or at least gave you a picture of life outside the 'burbs (my childhood). Today, we insulate people too much from the little knocks they need to gain some perspective, empathy, and sympathy.

When Teufelkind is 3 (next year, as he doesn't watch tv yet) we'll be getting these and watching them together.

IF people watched tv with their kids, instead of using it as a robot babysitter, perhaps some of these 'small tragedies' might not be so bad to see. After all, it's not like all of America is exactly living well!?!

Speaking of Classic Sesame Street and Roosevelt Franklin, you can get your hands on the entire album "The Year of Roosevelt Franklin" from the link on this site. It is unreal.

The kernel that made Sesame Street is still there, but the show's producers are showing the accumulated weight of two decades' of parental deficiencies. Anyone who truly, honestly believes there will be a statistical uptick in child abductions because their child watched a scene where a teacher shows his student around their shared neighborhood should speak to someone about their overwhelming anxieties. I, for one, would fight to live in an urban world where only the diagnosed would assume a teacher's a child molester and that I'm a horrible parent because the kid stopped at the teacher's apartment so his wife could give her cookies and milk.

The only people I can understand would feel this way would be those who haven't truly taken primary ownership of their child's upbringing and education.

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