I actually preferred Abby on the AFFS segments. She was a quick thinker and she would actually get exasperated by situations and get irritated by her friends. She was a much stronger character in those segments than she is in the actual show,of coarse she had to be because she was the star of it,but sill,that's how I want her to be all the time.
I can get behind that. Abby can be used for tension and to teach life lessons to kids, but somehow it's just more kid appealing to have her just, as the penguins might say, smile and wave.
As for the rest of the episode, between this one and the last one, I really don't know how to feel about the letter of the day segment being one long film with barely any reference to the letter except for a tie in at the beginning and end. I'd hate to think that the alphabet has to be pushed aside because of the new format. I mean, no wonder they did away with the sponsor announcement at the end of the show. I've noticed that there are 3 minutes of commercial free commercial time (where channels that don't have commercials take breaks to promote themselves without showing outside advertisement). I really wish HBO and SW took advantage of that and made the shows 2 minutes longer for the HBO run, and only so they can throw a couple extra letter and number bits in. I've noticed they air shortened versions of segments inbetween episodes. Seems that would be a good place to put some other sketches in there anyway, but it really feels like they could do something more with that time than Super Grover 2.0's edited to 2 minutes.
Only time I've seen them bother giving any tension between Elmo and Abby was the one where they were fighting with each other about what they wanted Mother Goose to write. And that episode worked because there was tension. Abby needs someone to react to her magic negatively, Elmo needs someone who can get emotions other than smiletime laughfun out of him. But something tells me one of the higher ups is making them write them as happy faced mascots for the sake of merchandising.
Well there may be tension between Elmo and Abby in the upcoming Best Friend Band episode. We'll see.
To be fair, it was the first time Matt performed the character, and hopefully not the last. While I personally think he lacks the voice quality of Jerry, his performance more than makes up for it. Mr. Johnson feels a tiny bit restrained here, but I'd count that more as writing than anything on him.
Well, I finally saw the episode and I did notice a difference in the voice, but like you said it is more or less Matt trying to get used to performing the character. The more he works with him, the better he'll be. Look at the first time Steve performed Kermit or the first time Eric performed Bert and Grover. They both improved over the years. Same thing with other Muppet recasts. The list goes on and on. Besides, even Jerry's Mr. Johnson voice has sounded a bit stuffy in recent years, so I don't think kids who don't know about the recast would have noticed a difference.
The biggest question is why he's never referred to as Mr. Johnson on screen. Seems like Grover always calls him sir and I notice now he's got Elmo doing it. I guess they take after Marcie from Peanuts.
Welcome back to CoolGuy Reviews! As you may know, this season is 2 for 2 in terms of episodes that are just OK. Will this episode break that chain? Let's find out. Also, I just want to apologize for not posting a review in a while. I was on vacation, and I couldn't log on.
Anyway, the cold open features Grover setting up the safari theme for the episode. Some Muppet animals pop up behind him, only to disappear when he tries to see them. This is a gag I've seen so many times that it's no longer funny, and it's only made worse by the lack of a payoff.
And now the street story. When I read the description, I got excited to see some more Grover/Mr. Johnson moments for pretty much the first time since Jerry's death. So anyway, Grover is taking Elmo and Mr. Johnson on a safari around Sesame Street, the latter of whom wants to see a warthog. Their first stop is to see monkeys near Hooper's Store, which they attract by impersonating monkeys. It's cute, but then it's ruined by the monkey trying to take a selfie with Mr. Johnson. Thankfully, as far as I can tell, this is the last time I've seen these things in the show. But if I'm wrong, I'll be sure to cringe over it. Anyway, then Elmo and Grover impersonate elephants to attract Horatio, a character I find very annoying. BTW, Horatio has all the traits of stereotypical gay people, so why don't we see "moral guardians" trying to out him as gay instead of Ernie and Bert? Oh well, the last stop is the steps of 123, where Grover claims there are warthogs, but can't get them to come because he doesn't know how they act, nor does anyone else in the safari car-y as they call it, except for Mr. Johnson. He then impersonates a warthog, attracting an one who takes him back to her family, thinking he's an actual warthog. I'll admit, that was pretty funny.
Then comes the letter of the day, which is S. And thus begins an infuriating trend that will last the entire HBO era, the "letter" segments. If you are unaware, a "letter" segment is a segment that claims to be about the letter of the day, but is just a film about the theme of the episode with the letter lazily slapped on at the beginning and/or end. I can't even remember anything about the segment other than it's the first "letter" segment in the HBO era.
Now for another Smart Cookies. Yay. Like with the previous installment, this is the best part of the episode. It features the Crumb bringing animal crackers to a party to wreck it, and the only thing that can stop them is something that is made of fruit, purple, and goes great with peanut butter. While Cookie brings in a purple crayon and a Carmen Miranda hat, which made me laugh, the answer is clearly grape jelly. Which makes me wonder if any other kind of jelly would have also worked, or just grape for some reason. Anyway, I always love the ending gags where they solve the problem, but create a new one in the process.
Anyway, the number of the day is 5, and we get a pop song about 5 Kangaroos. It's catchy, but the lyrics can sometimes be unintelligible.
And now, Elmo the Musical, which they played Cowboy the Musical. It doesn't fit in to the theme of Safari they ditched after the LOTD anyway, but at least they put in segments relating to animals. This one really doesn't. Anyway, Elmo has to take 6 kitty-cows (How does that work?) to the Double Double Dude Dude Ranch Ranch. The only real conflict here is that the kitty-cows (really, HOW?!!?!?) are kidnapped by wrestlers and a boulder blocks their path. I really think EW: Wild Animals would've fit better.
All in all, this episode had many problems. From a theme ditched halfway through and eventually just give up, to selfies, to Horatio, to the birth of "letter" segments, to the ETM. The only saving graces were the gags in the Street Story and the Smart Cookies. This episode gets a 4/10. I don't like it, but I know that there will be worse. Strap in, because we're just getting started...