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Major Changes in store for Sesame Street Season 46

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D'Snowth

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Here's the thing: SST's done its job very well over these past 46 years, and back then its main objective was to reach out to the disadvantaged and inner city kids who didn't necessary grow up in the idealic world of suburbia where they were more likely to be surrounded by books and raised by educated parents - this is what Joan Ganz Cooney was producing documentaries about prior to SST. There was a need back in those days, and SST supplied that need: back in those days, it's main educational goals were pretty simple, such as letters, numbers, reading, shapes, patterns, and such. Not only that, but the show was aimed at the 4-6 age bracket.

Fast-forward decades later, the target audience has gotten steadily younger to prepare kids at an even earlier age, and not only that, but you've got tons of different educational shows competing for kids' attention, SST has to keep up with the times to face said competition (remember, they started it). With kids learning basic educational goals at such early ages, they have to step it up a notch and get a little more "advanced" in their content (lest we forget the season or two that was almost solely dedicated to STEM education); showing old-school SST to today's preschoolers, admittedly, would be like that episode of ARTHUR where Ratburn's sister subbed for the day and was teaching the students kindergarten-level lessons.

As for the confusion . . . hey, it could happen. I remember when I was in kindergarten, we had the original Letter People from the 70s, however, our teacher had the slightly updated record (this pre-dated the completely overhauled P.C. Letter People of today). Mr. H was depicted as being purple in most of our material, but the record cover had him yellow, and I was trying to wrap my mind around how could Mr. H be both purple and yellow. Showing old-school SST to today's kids, they're going to wonder where Elmo, Abby, Murray, Zoe, and others are; they're going to wonder who Mr. Hooper, David, and Olivia are; they're going to wonder why Snuffy is Big Bird's "imaginary" friend; they're going to wonder why does Hooper's Store have a taxi checkerboard tile front and why there's a Fix-It-Shop instead of a laundromat.
 

antsamthompson9

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It's important to note that that video shows that Caroll's only doing voices from now on. So @Daffyfan2003, the next time we see Big Bird or Oscar on a talk show, it'll most likely be Matt playing Big Bird and Eric doing Oscar. The reason I'm telling you is because, you're usually the first one to notice when voices are different, even when it's the same performer.
 

Drtooth

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Here's the thing: SST's done its job very well over these past 46 years, and back then its main objective was to reach out to the disadvantaged and inner city kids who didn't necessary grow up in the idealic world of suburbia where they were more likely to be surrounded by books and raised by educated parents - this is what Joan Ganz Cooney was producing documentaries about prior to SST. There was a need back in those days, and SST supplied that need: back in those days, it's main educational goals were pretty simple, such as letters, numbers, reading, shapes, patterns, and such. Not only that, but the show was aimed at the 4-6 age bracket.
Honestly? You had me at 46 years. It's unprecedented that a show lasts this long, especially one for kids. Heck, even Scooby-Doo switched it's formula up once in a while. Sure it sucked sometimes (the Scrappy-Doo episodes where it was just him, Shaggy and Scooby and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo get a Clue... come to think of it, any time it's just Scooby and Shaggy), but those only existed to keep the franchise going. And other than that brief period in the 90's between Pup and What's New when they subsided on reruns and DTV movies, it's always been around. They have like, 2 shows per decade now.

We can argue about pop psychology all we want, but anyone that thinks a show can exist 46 years without changing with society is ...I dunno... anything I could say would have an insulting subtext I don't mean. Oblivious or selfish maybe? Yeah, I hate the new cast of Saturday Night Live too (except for actually funny cast members that just so happen to be African American that they don't use a quarter of as much as completely unfunny Cecily Strong), but anyone tuning in to expect Dan Akroyd as a Conehead is...well... clearly in a coma before the 80's somehow. I could make the obligatory joke about The Simpsons not being funny anymore too, but even complaining about that has become retro.

Face it. Kids don't play in construction yards anymore for various reasons. Kids won't sit still for a 10 minute repetitive lecture about milk coming from cows... most adult old school Sesame Street fans can't (and well aware of the irony about the same Abby School segment for 9 minutes, but at least it's a fast movie 9 minutes). And I don't think a single person alive thinks the lame antics of the terrible human duos was funny then let alone past that. Seriously... defend the Larry and Phylis where they moan and beep. Can't be done. It's awful. Point is, Sesame Street is made of change. They dropped what didn't work and perfected it. And once it reached it's zenith, people involved with the show kinda died or left (or both) and times changed, and worst of all, kiddy shows made for younger audiences came out and became their strong competition they didn't have before. It was in flux for years and once it found it's footing Pop psychology... then it found itself again, and that's the cycle. Sesame Street is a living, breathing thing. It didn't disappear for 10-15 years only to get an in name only reboot with maybe a couple elements of the original here and there that lasted like a couple years (cough cough, Electric Company). The changes were either gradual or something kinda heavy and sudden. By all means, if Sesame somehow ended in the 80's and were reborn today, it would be all CGI, a half hour long, and a crappy Dora wannabe. Thing is, they did try elements of that while keeping close to the original and those changes? They're all gone. Mostly.

You don't have to like them, you can show all the old episodes of something to kids (just be prepared to answer the heck out of questions), but from any other standpoint...yeah... 46 years has passed.
 

CensoredAlso

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but you've got tons of different educational shows competing for kids' attention, SST has to keep up with the times to face said competition
I think they had to keep up with the competing viewership and toy sales. Which I do understand. But then they shouldn't masquerade that as evolving educational needs.
 
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CensoredAlso

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Face it. Kids don't play in construction yards anymore
Oh? I hadn't realized we'd eliminated poverty in this country.

anyanyone that thinks a show can exist 46 years without changing with society is ...I dunno... anything I could say would have an insulting subtext I don't mean. Oblivious or selfish maybe?
And I never once said change was automatically bad. Sheesh, the version I grew up with was very different from the '70s version. I have no problem with that. But what about that Sesame Street producer that said Oscar would probably not be included on the show today? Do you think that's a positive change? I don't. It kinda terrifies me that anyone behind the show thinks that way. I remember at that William Patterson event a few years ago, there was a kid who said she liked Oscar and asked why certain characters weren't on the show as much as others. The audience audibly agreed. If you're satisfied with the show in its current state, that's your right. But not everyone agrees, including children.

You don't have to like them, you can show all the old episodes of something to kids (just be prepared to answer the heck out of questions
It's interesting how you say that like it's a problem. The purpose of childhood is to ask questions. When did we become so terrified of our children being "confused?" They're young, not stupid. We're the ones with the hang up, not them. Childhood is all about confusion. It's normal and healthy. It's also healthy for children to be made aware that the world existed long before they personally were born.

I'm sorry but I have trouble supporting a show when the people behind it now seem so utterly divorced from what childhood actually is. Especially when, again, I suspect these changes are motivated more by profits than actual child psychology.

but from any other standpoint...yeah... 46 years has passed.
46 years. Not 146. There needs to be some perspective here.
 
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Drtooth

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Oh? I hadn't realized we'd eliminated poverty in this country.
Doesn't mean kids still play in construction sites. Even back then, it's one of those retroactively cringeworthy things. I'm sure kids have better places to play than abandoned construction sites. Besides, those are mostly in the better off neighborhoods now. "Oh, it's going to be a condo" and it NEVER is. I don't want to make awkward guesses about what the worst neighborhoods are like, but I'm sure even they have a park or lot or something. To say the least, we need a lot more parental guidance now than ever. Even Arthur's somehow ...strange how the kids can run around alone like that. Elwood must be one heck of a nice community. And I'm sure latchkey kids are told to come straight home.



It's interesting how you say that like it's a problem. The purpose of childhood is to ask questions. When did we become so terrified of our children being "confused?" Just feels very First World problem to me. They're young, not stupid. Childhood is all about confusion. It's normal and healthy. I'm sorry but I have trouble supporting a show when the people behind it seem so utterly divorced from what childhood actually is.
Long story short here, but while there are a LOT of sketches that don't need explanation and can age perfectly fine. Then there's the unique situations that make no sense past the 80's, and some of that involves technology moving on. Do you ever stop to think about how you can't have whimsical spy comedies anymore because phones do too much? Evident in how roundabout they had to introduce the shoe phone in the Get Smart movie, and that's the most iconic bit! You certainly can't have half the Seinfeld plots because again phones. Telephone Rock's going to get a "let me get this straight... you had to go into a confined area to make a call in something a bum urinated in?" And the cultural aspect. Let's not forget that. Yes, I do think Sesame is starting to pander to Yuppies that live in these areas that shoo out the poorer urban dwellers. I go cross eyed and head tilty like a 1980's anime character every time they mention Yoga on the show unironically. Really?! Yoga?! Yeah. I agree with you and then some on that. Really seems the last decade or so, the poorer people were shooed away from the kind of busy city street Sesame was supposed to represent. And I can make the obvious jokes about how no one on Sesame Street can afford to live there anymore. Why do you think everyone was buying houses on horribly leveraged credit that caused that crash?

But moreover, I agree on one thing that BUGS me about the show lately. Sesame Street used to be a buffet style educational series. Right up until just a few seasons ago. But it really seems that, even with the best of intentions, Sesame Workshop overreacts to these studies saying that America's schools are failing in some aspect, and taking it up on themselves to fill that gap as heavy handed as possible in the form of "initiatives." While I have to admit, I hate the little anklebiters that run around and ruin movies for everyone (Bolt Story, that is all) and I'm glad they're teaching behavioral techniques (especially for the freaking parents of these kids), but they really need to take it down a notch. Well, several notches. Sesame Street shouldn't be all about nutrition one season and math and engineering the next. They need to vary and use the inserts rather than the street stories to teach these concepts. There's a difference between teaching and bludgeoning, and they're gone straight up anvilicious territory to the point where letters and numbers have taken a back seat.

of course, I also blame the fact that, while in 1969 there was a thin level of a couple other shows competition that turned into "if it wasn't an institution, it would have been cancelled by now" in the 2010's. We have entire cable channels and websites devoted to doing what Sesame Street does. And they're quicker and easier access. I keep seeing these dumb ABC Mouse commercials (a PAY-site, mind you) that does exactly the same thing free Sesame Street website alone can do.
 

CensoredAlso

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I don't want to make awkward guesses about what the worst neighborhoods are like, but I'm sure even they have a park or lot or something.
I'm sure there are more parks than they're used to be, but I do think it's dangerous to start assuming from our nice comfortable porches that things have gotten so much better.

And in any case, I'm not a fan of censoring Television on the off chance that one kid might try to copy something. That is the opposite of common sense to me.

Do you ever stop to think about how you can't have whimsical spy comedies anymore because phones do too much?
Can't? Again, that feels like an adult's hang up, rather than a child's. We're thinking too much for our kids instead of giving them a chance to understand. All out of some bizarre reactionary fear that they'll get "confused." I remember seeing old fashioned phones on TV or movies as a child. But I was certainly capable of understanding that it was still a communications device. The meaning was more than obvious by the way the characters were using them. Again, young not stupid. And even if there were things I didn't fully understand, I didn't just turn them off in order to avoid "confusion."
 
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Drtooth

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I'm sure there are more parks than they're used to be, but I do think it's dangerous to start assuming from our nice comfortable porches that things have gotten so much better.
I'm also pretty sure most of those construction sites are well guarded or roped off anyway. Things may not have gotten that much better, but I don't see a huge resurgence of real life Fat Albert style junkyard hi-jinx among kids. Plus, I'm sure kids old enough to actually want to play aroubnd in dangerous areas are just too darn lazy now to bother, so there's that. There are lots of problems befalling the poor today, but kids playing in junkyards isn't one of them. And who's to say those who are worrying about it from their porches aren't doing things about it? We have more resources than ever before and a lot of it is on a volunteer to volunteer basis. robably because no one wants to see kids playing in junkyards.

Can't? Again, that feels like an adult's hang up, rather than a child's. We're thinking too much for our kids instead of giving them a chance to understand. All out of some bizarre reactionary fear that they'll get "confused." As a child I was certainly aware that telephones used to look completely different. And I was capable of understanding that it was still a communications device. The meaning was more than obvious by the way the characters were using them. Again, young not stupid. And even if there were things I didn't fully understand, I didn't just turn them off in order to avoid "confusion."
Yes and no. If you expose a child young enough to that sort of thing, I'm sure they'll understand. I know what records are and have them due to being there around the very exact moment they became obsolete. But whatever exotic obsolete (and to some extent thankfully obsolete) technology exists in fiction, it only exists in older media or period pieces. I don't think a kid would respond the same way to a phone booth if the only ones they see come from movies. Phone booths were pretty much dying off when I was younger anyway in favor of phone vestibules, and being the HUGE fan of Bill and Ted I was back then, I was amazed to see them. Saw one as late as the 00's, and even then it was just there because no one removed it yet. The phone was long gone, but the booth... still there for some reason.

But that's the main pratfall of the series, you see. It's been on long enough to say a Fix-it shop is obsolete that they had to replace it with a Mailbox etc. type place, which then itself became obsolete. In so much as a couple years. The show's been trying to be as current as possible since it started, and it can't help but have to keep up with modern appearances, both technologically and culturally to remain relevant and not be cancelled and replaced by something that barely has the cultural impact to be drawn in the background of a Mad Magazine. Remove yourself from the show specifically, and look at the HUGE swings preschool television has taken in the last 20 years. Loud, obnoxious guys in foam rubber suits singing annoying songs* gave way to loud, obnoxious cartoon characters asking the viewers questions with dead eyed stares only to answer questions anyway. And mercifully that gave way to superior kid's entertainment like the 7D, Miles from Tomorrowland (which I feel will surpass the movie in terms of popularity and relevance), Peg + Cat... things that owe more to Muppet Babies type preschool programming than Dora. And yes aged up Dora still stands their dead eyed answering her own questions. Makes her stick out like a sore thumb.

* which is one of the many many many reasons Oogiloves was thankfully never a thing...
 

CensoredAlso

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I don't think a kid would respond the same way to a phone booth if the only ones they see come from movies.
So they don't respond the same way. That doesn't mean they can't handle it.

The show's been trying to be as current as possible since it started, and it can't help but have to keep up with modern appearances
If they really want to be modern, then they should tear down Hooper's and replace it with a Duane Reade. And I'm half serious, btw. I mean, the point of the show when it began was to depict city life in a somewhat grounded fashion (while still keeping it friendly). That all goes out the window every time they bring in an Elmo's World or Abby's Flying School.
 

mr3urious

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I don't know which of you guys to root for. I'd say you're both right for different reasons.

Drtooth said:
Do you ever stop to think about how you can't have whimsical spy comedies anymore because phones do too much? Evident in how roundabout they had to introduce the shoe phone in the Get Smart movie, and that's the most iconic bit!
Isn't spy technology more about wacky gadgets disguised as ordinary objects, not about technology that can do amazing things?
 
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