by Amy K. Bredemeyer
This will be part of a series I'll do on Mondays for a while: Long-Running Television Shows. For the purposes of this blog, I will be ignoring Soap Operas and Meet The Press -type shows.
It seems appropriate that I'll start off with Sesame Street. This show is about to hit the 40-year mark, and holds the record for longest-running children's program on American television. The name recognition is unbelievable, it is shown in 120 countries, and has won over 100 Emmy awards. As one of the 77-million or so adults who watched Sesame Street as a child, I can vouch for its ability to maintain an audience. Combining live action sequences with puppets and animation, the short segments are designed for preschoolers' short attention spans.
It always bothered me that their "letter and number of the day" did not go in sequential order. One day it could be "H" and "13" but the next it would be "V" and "9." But, it did increase letter and sound recognition, as well as basic math skills. They taught me how to properly cross the street, shapes such as pentagons, how an elephant bathes in dust, and daily words in ASL (a major feat, as Linda was the first deaf actress to appear as a regular on a television show) and Spanish. "Special" episodes that come to mind include Mr. Hooper's death, Snuffy becoming more than Big Bird's imaginary friend, Slimey going to the moon, and the more-recent "hurricane week" episodes and the grease fire designed to help children deal with the tragedy of 9/11.
Gordon and Susan, Maria and Luis, Miles and Gabriella. Molly the mail lady, Mr. Hooper, Linda. Just a few of the more memorable (to me) "real" people in the show. Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Snuffy, Oscar, Slimey, Elmo, Telly, Roosevelt Franklin, the Dinglehoppers... the list of muppets is endless. I mean, The Count, Grover, Guy Smiley, the Twiddlebugs, Cookie Monster, the two-headed monster, baby Natasha, Herry Monster, Prairie Dawn, Barkley, they just keep coming to me.
Big Bird in Japan, Big Bird in China, Follow that Bird, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, specials with princesses, the Boston Pops, and several celebrities... tons of Sesame Street expanders that came on during Primetime or even on the big screen. Follow that Bird was a scary special for me, because I felt like I could get kidnapped just as easily. I have always loved Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and look forward to watching the DVD with my future children.
Anyway, Celebrate Sesame Street!