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Aug 102016

Sesame Street – Put Down the Duckie is a feature I remember well long before it was released on DVD. Back in 1988, it was advertised as The Sesame Street Special and premiered on Prime Time. When I first heard about it, I couldn’t wait to see it, despite the fact that the network had a telethon that ran through some of the time slot. Don’t you just hate that?

The special starts with Gladys Knight and the Pips performing the extended version of the Sesame Street theme, then Phil Donohue interviewing the people on the street. Of course everyone wants to speak. It was enough for Phil Donohue to take off. I remember Phil Donohue having a popular talk show back in the day but never understood it.

From here on out, this feature is all songs and segments from previous episodes of that season. The highlights include the Monsterpiece Theater segment The 39 Stairs, Grover as a singing and dancing waiter in a Spanish restaurant, and the Jellyman Kelly song.

Of course the biggest highlight in this feature is Hoots the Owl and his band performing Put Down the Duckie as Ernie struggles to play the saxophone while holding his rubber duckie. As an extension to the catchy song, various celebrities join in like Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Madeline Khan, Paul Simon, Jane Curtain, Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), and bunch of others I didn’t recognize.

Speaking of celebrity guest stars, in another segment Bob (Bob McGrath) sings People in your Neighborhood, which features Barbara Walters getting the scoop on Bob and Linda’s (Linda Bove) relationship and Ralph Nader practically destroying Bob’s sweater as he inspects it. This segment seems much different compared to past versions of this song because it’s not as innocent as before when comes to describing each person’s job.

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I can also remember back in the day when Robert MacNeil was a news correspondent on PBS. He appears on this feature to investigate a missing cookie story by talking to Cookie Monster. Kermit the frog also appears as Cookie’s lawyer.

The final segment is called Pretty Great Performances, which features an all animal orchestra performing Italian Street Song with Placido Flamingo. Who remembers this character? Looking back now, he sounds just like Wayne from The Muppet Show, especially when he sings.

This was certainly a classic Sesame Street feature, especially since it was only on TV once. You still won’t find this feature on cable because it’s now part of Sesame Street Old School. By the way, when do you think they’ll release Sesame Street Old School: Volume 4 on DVD?

May 252016

Welcome back. Some of the other books on tape based on TV shows of the 80s only had a single story. For instance, here’s one about The Popples in The Magic Shoe. In case you were wondering, this version from the 80s is much different from the new series on Netflix.

Another good one is about Pound Puppies in Pet Project. Yes, it’s another series that has a current version that’s nothing like the original.

Here’s an interesting item. A character called Barney the Book Bear hosted this story. I had no idea who that was until I saw his picture right inside the back cover.

Now that we’ve made it through the storybooks, it’s time to go over the songbooks. That’s right. Some music albums had books to follow along with lyrics and cool pictures to go with it.

First we have Fraggle Rock Sing Along Book, Volume 1. Basically it only contains a few songs from the series. I don’t know if there were other volumes since this is a very unique one.

However, there were other Fraggle Rock albums like the 3 CD set Fraggle Rock: The Fraggle Rockin’ Collection. But looking at the old book with these cool pictures sure brings me back.

The only other classic music book on tape I have is Sing Along Favorites performed by Bob McGrath. We all know him as Bob from Sesame Street, but this is not a Sesame Street album. It contains basic kids songs like If You’re Happy and You Know it, When the Saints Go Marching in, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, The Hokey Pokey, etc.

This album was made in 1986, but I’ve heard that Bob McGrath has a new album, which contains most of these same songs with some new ones and is available on CD. Whether you listen to this one or the other that nostalgic feeling is still the same.

Finding these books on tape again brings back some great memories despite that most of this material is not likely to make it to CD. It just goes to show how big those 80s cartoons were.

Feb 062010


Sesame Street has been a top PBS show for preschoolers since 1969 and is still going strong. However, the series has changed a lot since I was a kid. When Sesame Street – Old School, Vol. 1 (1969-1974) and Sesame Street: Vol. 2 – Old School (1974-1979) were released, it totally brought me back. Even if these particular seasons were from before I was born.

It’s mentioned in these box sets that these episodes are for grown-ups and may not suit the needs of today’s preschoolers. I don’t see why they wouldn’t. The entire series is based on the same level of educational purpose. Learning about things like letters, numbers, and Spanish isn’t exactly out of date.

Some of the classic Muppet characters looked so much different back in the day. For example, Big Bird has very short feathers at the top of his head. It’s like his face is bigger than his head. And believe it or not, Oscar used to have orange fur. Now that’s amazing.

Grover was one of my most favorite characters. He goes to great lengths to teach things to his younger viewers. Things like near & far, as well as over, under, & through. Grover tires out after awhile, but he keeps going. You’ve got to admire this little furry monster. Especially since he’s one of few monsters that doesn’t have a huge appetite like some monsters we know. That especially includes the ones who eat other Muppets.

What really brings me back about this show is some of the old Muppet characters that are no longer on the series. Like Don Music the songwriter, for example. Whenever he gets stumped on a lyric, he goes crazy and slams his head on the keyboard of his piano. Even after all these years, I still think it’s funny. There’s also Little Jerry and the Monotones. Sometimes their music is pretty catchy. And let’s not forget Biff and Sully the construction workers. Sully never speaks because Biff does a lot of the speaking for him. Not by Sully’s choice though.

The segments are very well setup with random skits, songs, and presentations by all sorts of characters that are human, Muppet, and animated, during the main story. It’s not exactly The Muppet Show, but works just as good.

Speaking of The Muppet Show, Kermit used to be a regular cast member on Sesame Street before leading his own Muppet troupe. However, Kermit never completely left the show. He still made many appearances over the years, mostly as a news reporter and in skits with Grover the door to door salesman, who sells earmuffs and nose warmers. In a way, it’s like remembering a character before having his or her own spin-off.

Here’s an interesting item. Sesame Street cast member Bob McGrath recorded an album of children’s songs back in the 80s called Sing-Along Favorites, which came with its own book to follow along. I used to listen to this all the time when I was a kid. The book was very helpful because I used to have trouble understanding these songs when I first learned them in music class. The pictures inside with the easy to follow lyrics made much more sense to me.

These are excellent compilations of Sesame Street nostalgia. It brings back a lot of memories. Now if only I can figure out when Snuffleupagus first became more than just Big Bird’s imaginary friend.