Michael Wermuth Jnr – The Best of Ernie and Bert is a 1988 Sesame Street video highlighting – what else? – the best of Ernie and Bert. Well, it’s more a release of some good Ernie and Bert segments, some of which belong on a release with “the best” in the title more than other segments.
Now for those of you who have not seen this video – and don’t already know the contents (whether you’ve read the contents on Muppet Wiki or elsewhere) – I want you to think of ten segments (at least from before 1988) you would expect to see on a video titled The Best of Ernie and Bert. Better yet, think of 20. Now go to the Muppet Wiki article. I bet not every segment you thought of is included. Many of the best Ernie and Bert segments – such as “Rubber Duckie”, “Doin’ the Pigeon”, “Dance Myself to Sleep”, the rhyming game, “La, La, La”, Ernie making Bert wear a pot as a hat, Ernie’s “banana in the ear” bits, Ernie’s clay sculpture of Bert, “Imagine That”, Ernie counting sheep – are not included. To be fair, at the time this video came out, Sesame Street videos did not repeat segments previously released on video, and many of those previously-mentioned segments had been released elsewhere by the time this video was released. It also would have been nice if it included some of Ernie’s many team-ups with Cookie Monster, Sherlock Hemlock, or Lefty the Salesman, not to mention any of his songs about Rubber Duckie (though Ernie does sing a verse of “Rubber Duckie” in one segment).
But this video does have a good number of segments I see as essential Ernie and Bert segments. Such classics as the duos trips to Egypt and the movies (the one where a lady with a tall hat sits in front of Ernie), classic songs as “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” and “The National Association of W Lovers”, and Bert teaching Bernice how to play checkers. But then there’s also a few segments that feel more randomly chosen, such as their camping trip, the doctor visiting Ernie, and arguably “That’s What Friends Are For”. All fine segments, just not Ernie and Bert segments I associate among their best. Then again, while future character spotlight videos generally did a much better job with the clip selections, those often included at least one segment I find as random. But considering this is the only time those three segments have been released on video, I shouldn’t really complain much about their inclusion.
The linking footage is also fairly odd. The linking footage finds Big Bird helping Gina babysit Ernie’s niece Ernestine, whose favorite book is a scrapbook of Ernie and Bert, each photo leading to a different clip. The linking footage is alright, but not too special. It is rather unfortunate that the title characters didn’t appear in the linking footage. To be fair, Jim Henson and Frank Oz were both very busy in the late-1980s. I wish they would have maybe waited until both performers could be scheduled to perform on the show, though it seems like it was harder to get both Henson and Oz on Sesame Street scheduled at the same time.
Nitpicking aside, this is a decent release. It’s the first time a Sesame Street video focused on the best of any of its characters, though future character compilations would do better in terms of plot and clips chosen to truly represent the best (though most character compilations do have one or two choices that don’t really seem like the best, I’ll probably talk more about this in the comments section on Facebook). It’s good as a release of Ernie and Bert segments, but as one with “best” in the title, it might be a little disappointing.