Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Back on the Street

This year Sesame Street celebrates its 35th Anniversary. Let's take a good look at the VERY first show.

The first episode of Sesame Street was rather different than the way the show is today. Big Bird looked rather odd, Oscar was orange and Gordon was... uh... Sam Jackson from Pulp Fiction.
Really! He had the afro and everything. They have changed Gordon's a few times during the early days of the show. There were a total of 3 Gordons and NONE of them looked alike.

The current Gordon is Roscoe Orman. Roscoe had quite a career before Sesame Street. Most notably, he played the title role in Willie Dynamite a blacksplotation film. Willie Dynamite is a mean drug pusher and pimp. Big Bird would be so ashamed.

The first episode starts with Pulp Fiction Gordon (Matt Robinson) leading a young girl named Sally down the street. Early on she meets Mr. Hooper.

GORDON: Mr. Hooper, I would like you to meet Sally.
HOOPER: Hello Sally.
GORDON: Sally is new here on Sesame Street.
HOOPER: Hello, new Sally.

If you listen carefully after that exchange you can hear Jim Henson writing "Don't let Mr. Hooper ad lib anymore!" in his notebook.

Next Sally meets Big Bird. Bird has a much smaller head in this episode. He looks a little creepy. He speaks in a sing song-y yokel voice (like Barney) during this show. Bird is scared by Sally and says that he "Almost laid an egg right here on Sesame Street."


Big Bird is a male bird, so clearly he doesn't lay eggs. There is just something about him being pregnant that I find disturbing. Correction: EVERYTHING about him being pregnant I find disturbing.

After this we are treated to a series of vignettes where Cookie Monster eats letters and numbers. I always found it interesting that he is the COOKIE monster, despite the fact that he doesn't seem discerning about his food intake. Cookies are his favorite, maybe, but he will eat the plate you serve them on.

There was a 'Got Milk?' poster featuring Cookie Monster a few years ago.

It bothered me that he seems unable to digest cookies without milk. I HAVE SEEN HIM EAT A HUBCAP. If he did have milk, he would eat it, glass and all. Maybe he would just rip the udders off a cow and eat them. Now that I think about it, the people of Sesame Street must be living in constant fear of a Cookie Monster rampage. I bet Ernie sleeps with a gun under his pillow.

Later, the show takes us to Gordon's house where Bob is helping Gordon hang a picture. Gordon speaks to him in a patronizing tone, much like you speak to a child. This seems to be common on kid’s shows so the children can follow along with the dialogue. Bob, however, is not having it.

GORDON: Hold the nail there, and after you do that pull the hammer back and-
BOB: I know, I teach shop.

WOAH! Bob is a little testy today! Don't anger Bob, he has a hammer.

I have a brief Bob story. A few years ago I met Gordon (Orman) at the local mall. He was doing a show for kids. He was a really nice guy, and I got an autograph from him. Afterwards I decided to write him a thank you note, and while I had the pen out, I wrote an autograph request to Bob as well.

Bob sent back a letter from his secretary saying:

Mr. McGrath would like to grant your request; however, he is too busy to sign autographs due to the volume of mail he receives.

HOW COULD THAT BE? How many people are writing to Bob McGrath? I wonder if he does the same thing to the credit card company.

Mr. McGrath would like to grant your request; however, he is too busy to sign checks due to the volume of mail he receives.

Anyway, Bob knows how to use a hammer. So Gordon leaves to introduce Sally to Oscar the Grouch. Oscar looked EXACTLY the same, except he was ORANGE. He actually looked pretty good that way. I don't know why they changed him to the 'mold green' color he is today. I suppose that more of our garbage is GREEN. Realistically, living in a trash can, Oscar should have contracted dysentery and turned a bloated yellow color by now. But, that is nit picking.

The show wraps up with Sally talking with Gordon (MAN HE WAS A CAMERA HOG) and Bert and Ernie. Gordon wraps up the show by asking Sally if she remembered everyone. Then he asks her if she remembers Oscar. He holds up his fingers to his mouth and mimes smoking a cigarette. I still don't know why. Perhaps Oscar was a chain smoker back then.

As for Sally, I never saw her again on the show. Perhaps her parents got a little suspicious of all the attention Gordon was lavishing on her and decided to move to the suburbs. Not a bad call, who knows how long before Cookie Monster and Bob go on an eating/hammering rampage.

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