Friday, November 6, 2015

On The Air: Sesame Street (1969)

There is but one children's program that is PBS' signature, and it's been on the air well before PBS took on its current identity.

Sesame Street launched all the way back in 1969, the same season that gave us another enduring icon in Scooby-Doo. To my knowledge, I am not sure if Scooby or anyone else from Hanna-Barbera appeared as guests (in short animated quickies) on the show, although the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) did business with H-B's biggest rival at the time, Filmation, and you've seen the fruits of those labors here in the Archives in the past with short pieces featuring Superman, Batman & Robin, and Jughead Jones.

Sesame Street is where Kermit the Frog went national, after debuting on a regional program, Sam & Friends, some years earlier. You could say that the syndicated Muppet Show is technically a spin-off, since Kermit was front and center there, but then, his creator, the late Jim Henson, had bigger plans for Kermit in the first place. We were also introduced to BFFs Bert & Ernie, the latter of whom became famous for his ode to his "Rubber Duckie". We met Oscar the Grouch, the other green Muppet, who lived inside a trash can, and The Count, a vampire who loves counting just about anything. There's Big Bird, who represents the curious child in all of us. And let's not forget the most recent icon to emerge on the Street, Elmo.

But, there is a human cast, too. Bob McGrath has been with Sesame Street seemingly forever, although I'm not sure if he's still a regular after all these years. The human portion of the cast has changed as time passes, as inevitably it must. Who hasn't learned their alphabet or how to count from watching Sesame Street.

One of my favorites from my youth was the hyperactive game show host, Guy Smiley, who should've found a home with Kermit's troupe, but nope. Haven't looked in on the Street in soooooo long.....!

Let's take a step back in time, when Kermit was posited as a reporter, checking on a long forgotten nursery rhyme.......

It used to be you could set your watch by Sesame Street. Locally, it had aired twice daily for years at 9 am & 4 pm (ET), but WMHT has changed the times over the years, and Street now airs just in the morning, I think, as PBS has more kids shows coming down the track on an annual basis.

By the way, when the show started, PBS was known by another name. National Educational Television (NET), which was changed to PBS sometime in the early 70's.

Rating: A.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

"Haven't looked in on the Street in soooooo long.....!"
And you probably wouldn't want to. Elmo is highly annoying and has taken over much of the show. My youngest daughter drives me crazy listening to him and would gladly watch him for hours on end if we let her.
I was too young for the NET/PBS name change to bother me or even to register with me, but the Children's Television Workshop changing its name to the Sesame Workshop bothered me a bit because CTW was a big part of my childhood. Although if I didn't have kids at the age where they want to watch Sesame Street, I probably wouldn't have noticed or cared.

hobbyfan said...

Has Kermit also continued with Sesame Street despite his "other commitments"?

I once had an album of Sesame Street music that included Oscar's "I Love Trash" and Ernie's "Rubber Duckie", released by Columbia way back in the 70's. Long since gone, as it got warped after a while. Had I held on to it and not played it so much, it'd probably fetch me a pretty nice piece of cheddar today.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

I think I've only seen Kermit on the newer shows in the form of classic segments recycled from the '70s, but I can't be sure. My only exposure to modern-day Sesame Street is though DVD collections since we don't have cable and the TV the kids usually watch has no antenna to pick up the OTA PBS stations. So what's on the DVD and what's on the air may be different, and we're definitely at least a few years out-of-date by now.

I too had a Sesame Street album like the one you described, and I also played it into the ground. I'm pretty sure this is the one, and if so it's only going for $8.99 (or B.O.) so you didn't lose out on much:

The front and back seem familiar, but I have no recollection of the inside artwork. I probably shrieked in horror when I saw it, closed the album and never looked inside again, throwing up a mental block for good measure.

hobbyfan said...

I'm going to check the Wikipedia page to see how many albums were in fact released.