REVIEW: Sesame Street Season 45, Part 3

Shane Keating – Hey! Missed the last few Sesame Street season 45 episodes? No problem. Here’s what you missed and what I thought of the new stuff.

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EPISODE #4510 – CALM DOWN AND THINK, ELMO – Elmo needs Alan’s help calming down to win Guy Smiley’s game show, “Calm Down and Think.”

This was a pretty nice street story. It’s wonderful to have Guy Smiley back and have a role in a story, even! I would say they should lighten up on the “self-regulation” storylines, since they’re all starting to seem similar, but I’ll take these over the health initiative in season 36.

45-1DIn terms of celebrity appearances, basketballer Pau Gasol explained the word “coach” to Abby in a pretty neat bit. The fairy tale confusion of “coach” was cute, especially with the punchline. The highly anticipated and heavily promoted One Direction bit–“What Makes U Useful”–debuted finally. The preview sounded catchy, so I was looking forward to hearing the rest. The whole song is alright; catchy still, but the lyrics and the melody didn’t seem to mesh very well. And one certain member of the band clearly didn’t know the words. I still appreciate them using a single, static take (much like the classic days) for some bits among the more dynamically shot ones, but it didn’t work much for me here.

45-TwoHeadThe next new Crumby Pictures came out–“Nosh of the Titans.” I haven’t seen the original film, but I don’t think that mattered much, since the only real reference was the “Kraken” one. Still a pretty good segment; I love the Pegafish puppet. Also debuted was a new Two-Headed Monster sketch, where they learn how to catch a ball. I’m glad they’re still making these (despite the unnecessary Chris narrations), though I’m wondering where all the Ernie and Bert skits are.

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EPISODE #4511 – PETER PIPER’S PURPOSE – Peter Piper gives up picking pickled peppers in lieu of a purpose with more pizzas.

I really enjoyed this street story, since it was one of the more developed and longer ones we’ve gotten. I like the letter-themed episodes because of how many clever words the writers can work in for the day’s letter and this episode was chock full of them (Peter Piper: “I guess parachuting isn’t a very practical pursuit.”) I also liked the original song in the episode (despite it’s very short length) and appreciated seeing Forgetful Jones make a brief background cameo.

45-AndyAndy Cohen and Elmo demonstrated the word “popular,” using some TV spoofs I’m sure the writers considered using for full bits, but couldn’t do much with (though Cluck Dynasty would have potential). There were also a couple of new animated spots – one detailing how to make a pizza (with a healthy overdose of organic food name-drops) and a trippy, but well done bit about counting to 3 with various neon objects.

45-PrairieThe episode also debuted something I was looking forward to: a new Cookie Monster/Prairie Dawn sketch, where Cookie ruins Prairie’s scout cookie stand! Naturally, it was hysterical and makes me miss Prairie Dawn. She’s made a slight comeback this past year and with Fran’s recent retirement announcement, I wonder if they plan to continue using her in future seasons or productions.

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EPISODE #4512 – BIG BIRD LOSES HIS NEST – Minnie Mynah stakes claim on Big Bird’s nest, stating “Finders keepers, losers weepers.”

Big Bird takes the spotlight and stars in one of the best stories all season. It seemed like a follow-up of sorts to the “Good Birds Club” from a few years back. I though the story was sweet. I wasn’t expecting a new puppet for the Minnie Mynah character, but it looked great. More of these kinds of stories would be wonderful.

45-JonahJonah Hill is our word-explaining-celebrity this show, talking with Murray about the word “empty.” I liked this bit a lot more than the others, since it seemed like it could work like a regular sketch outside of the Word of the Day structure. More of the bits need good punchlines like this one. The only other new insert was a cute musical cartoon about subtracting birds from a nest.

45-ZooIn today’s “Murray Has a Little Lamb,” Murray actually doesn’t go to a school for once – he goes to the Staten Island Zoo to learn about birds (his intro with the Muppet pigeon made me laugh). It’s amazing the kinds of things they get the Murray puppet to do in these bits: he’s dug in the dirt, he’s washed his hands and now, he’s held an actual owl. What made the bit even greater was a cameo by Big Bird at the end. It would be great to incorporate more of the other characters in the tune-ins like that.

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EPISODE #4513 – WAITING FOR THE PRESENT – Rosita struggles to control herself while waiting to open a present from Elmo.

This was a pretty nice story. Even though I said before about lightening up on the self-regulation stuff a tad, I will say that it does give way for more character-based stories that can have some emotional conflict. Rosita’s solution to her problem was solved in a very clever and heartwarming way. I also enjoyed the original song (“Imagine It’s Something Else”) and the rhyme scheme kind of reminded me of the classic Sesame songwriting.

45-SirIanSir Ian McKellen and Cookie Monster covered this episode’s Word of the Day – resist. It was a pretty funny bit, if not a tad long (I think it’s the longest one of these bits so far). Michael Bublé also appeared, covering the classic song “Believe in Yourself” with Elmo, Abby and Murray. I enjoyed the big band, jazzy arrangement of it, though was kind of visually bland, again, compared to the much more dynamically shot pieces.

The newest Crumby Pictures debuted – “When Cookie Met Sally,” an apparent holdover from last season. As usual, it was pretty entertaining, though it does seem apparent it’s only using the original film for the setting and a few jokes, not the narrative of the segment. A minor gripe, but a few of the Crumby Pictures segments fall into that trap. In the new “Murray Has a Little Lamb,” Murray makes a present for his mother at Recycled Art School. It’s nice to see his mother for the first time; adds a bit of character development to him.

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So, that covers the episodes from November and December. Stay tuned for what’s coming this month (lots of Oscar the Grouch, so I’m excited)!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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