Unearthing previously "lost" Sesame Street episodes

scarecroe

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Hi, I'm Scott; I co-founded Muppet Wiki almost 14 years ago. In that time, we've been building the very first episode guide for Sesame Street. This is something that's literally never been done before, not even by Children's Television Workshop. With more than 4,500 episodes over the course of fifty years, and given that a vast majority of these episodes have been "lost" for most of that time, you can imagine how difficult and time-consuming this has been.

It appeared impossible to make this guide complete until recently when we started acquiring materials that had previously been unavailable anywhere else. As such, there are now quite a few guides on the wiki for episodes that either haven't been seen in decades or had been completely forgotten. Soon, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting will have a (mostly) complete collection of episodes where researchers and enthusiasts can watch these, but in the meantime (and for those unable to make the trip to AAPB), I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorites here.

Kermit and Ernie in Street scenes:

Maria gets a job as a construction worker:

Introduction of Gina:

First appearance of The Countess:

Sally Ride talks about being an astronaut:

[BONUS] Sally Ride video:

David meets the Rockheads:

Garbo the juggling monkey:

Tom in a 3-part Superman sketch with Bob:

The debut of Grover:

[BONUS] proto-Grover video:

Mumford makes Sesame Street disappear:

Vaccinations on Sesame Street (early Snuffy):

[BONUS] Vaccination video:

Luis hires Maria to work in the Fix-It Shop:

Bert's nephew Brad's first word:

Bert's nephew Brad's new teeth:

Mr. Hooper's brother visits:

James Earl Jones wants the perfect egg cream:

The six-part Puerto Rico trip:

Herry Monster's sister Herriet visits:

Oscar's first love (pre-Grundgetta):

Ernie and Bert want to go their separate ways:

[BONUS] Ernie and Bert break-up video:

Olivia's introduction:

Olivia is welcomed to Sesame Street:

Oscar launches into space:

Charles the Robot / Big Bird goes to the doctor:

Barkley's first appearance as Woof-Woof:

Woof-Woof counts / Big Bird plays limbo:

Bert and Bertha fall in love:

A witch curses Oscar with a nose:

Caroll Spinney owns a yellow bird:

Big Bird plays Mr. Hooper and Sherlock Hemlock:

Mr. Hooper's missing doughnuts / very first performance of "Sing":

Jerry Nelson plays a movie director:
 

hooperfan

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You're doing a fantastic job! I love looking on the site daily and finding these treasures. I never got to experience the show in the 70s (I'm 40 now), but getting the screenshots and descriptions is like gold to me. Not to mention the video footage you help provide :insatiable:
 

D'Snowth

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Maria gets a job as a construction worker:
I can't believe this was lost. Sonia Manzano considered this one of the important chapters in the arc of Maria, especially with the Feminism Movement of the 70s, they even showed a clip of it in the A&E special.
 

MikaelaMuppet

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Hi, I'm Scott; I co-founded Muppet Wiki almost 14 years ago. In that time, we've been building the very first episode guide for Sesame Street. This is something that's literally never been done before, not even by Children's Television Workshop. With more than 4,500 episodes over the course of fifty years, and given that a vast majority of these episodes have been "lost" for most of that time, you can imagine how difficult and time-consuming this has been.

It appeared impossible to make this guide complete until recently when we started acquiring materials that had previously been unavailable anywhere else. As such, there are now quite a few guides on the wiki for episodes that either haven't been seen in decades or had been completely forgotten. Soon, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting will have a (mostly) complete collection of episodes where researchers and enthusiasts can watch these, but in the meantime (and for those unable to make the trip to AAPB), I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorites here.

Kermit and Ernie in Street scenes:

Maria gets a job as a construction worker:

Introduction of Gina:

First appearance of The Countess:

Sally Ride talks about being an astronaut:

[BONUS] Sally Ride video:

David meets the Rockheads:

Garbo the juggling monkey:

Tom in a 3-part Superman sketch with Bob:

The debut of Grover:

[BONUS] proto-Grover video:

Mumford makes Sesame Street disappear:

Vaccinations on Sesame Street (early Snuffy):

[BONUS] Vaccination video:

Luis hires Maria to work in the Fix-It Shop:

Bert's nephew Brad's first word:

Bert's nephew Brad's new teeth:

Mr. Hooper's brother visits:

James Earl Jones wants the perfect egg cream:

The six-part Puerto Rico trip:

Herry Monster's sister Herriet visits:

Oscar's first love (pre-Grundgetta):

Ernie and Bert want to go their separate ways:

[BONUS] Ernie and Bert break-up video:

Olivia's introduction:

Olivia is welcomed to Sesame Street:

Oscar launches into space:

Charles the Robot / Big Bird goes to the doctor:

Barkley's first appearance as Woof-Woof:

Woof-Woof counts / Big Bird plays limbo:

Bert and Bertha fall in love:

A witch curses Oscar with a nose:

Caroll Spinney owns a yellow bird:

Big Bird plays Mr. Hooper and Sherlock Hemlock:

Mr. Hooper's missing doughnuts / very first performance of "Sing":

Jerry Nelson plays a movie director:
I like how you included the bonus videos as well.
 

minor muppetz

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Bruno's debut episode, 1259, now has images....

https://muppet.fandom.com/wiki/Episode_1259

....and it turns out the broadcast version was significantly different from the script, which had been all about Oscar meeting Bruno and having him move his can to a different location. Judging from the guide, Bruno is still introduced as a new character, but he only gets one scene in the episode, which isn't similar to any scene from that script.

The old guide sounded like a fantastic episode, but I had wondered about certain logistics. It sounded like there were a lot of single street scenes where Bruno has Oscar in his can then Oscar and his can are put down, separate from Bruno. I know it's pre-recorded so there'd have been plenty of time to get Caroll in and out of Bruno and to have Oscar's can set down, but somehow it seems like it also would have been a lot of work (in the old days it seems like street scenes were often done in just one take, though I don't know if they would have still done it that way by 1979).
 

scarecroe

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Bruno's debut episode, 1259, now has images....
....and it turns out the broadcast version was significantly different from the script
That change seems like a shame to me. I liked that it was written to show Oscar and Bruno's first meeting, but I guess they had other ideas in the writer's room. This might be the most drastic change from script to screen I've seen so far. You can still read the synopsis for the original script here.
 

minor muppetz

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That change seems like a shame to me. I liked that it was written to show Oscar and Bruno's first meeting, but I guess they had other ideas in the writer's room. This might be the most drastic change from script to screen I've seen so far. You can still read the synopsis for the original script here.
I recall you mentioning that he had a lot of dialogue in the script, and I've wondered if that might have had anything to do with them changing it (though looking at the description, I don't think we would have really lost much if they cut his lines, maybe just how Oscar decides to ask him to take him to his work, in fact Oscar learned his name from looking at his name tag). Maybe they decided to make him a more silent character after the script or maybe they decided that the way they made his mouth move didn't look too right (I've noticed that whenever he does talk, it's either just a couple syllables or he's scatting in a way where lip sync doesn't have to be perfect).

It's also a shame, seems like this would have been the only episode to really have Bruno be one of the stars (well, it seems like he's heavily featured enough in the episode where Gordon, Bruno, and Oscar go to figure out how to get the vacant lot cleaned).

I wondered if maybe they just swapped episodes. I think I've looked at all of the (now-complete) season ten guides and don't remember the Big Bird plot before (I know that the opening scene wasn't in any guides before), I've looked at the episode descriptions given on the season 10 page and didn't notice any other episodes having the plot "Big Bird wants to be an animal trainer" (I did correct the plot for this one).

This makes me wish that the "trusted sources" would provide more production documents besides the final aired versions of scripts, like memos about certain scripts. I am surprised that they bothered to have the scripts note things like air dates and "final aired version" (even if some are still different), but I am glad that they had such foresight, decades before Muppet Wiki.
 

scarecroe

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Yeah, "final air version" doesn't really mean final air version. It's more an acknowledgement that "this is what we think is the final version of the script".... when in reality, there was still plenty of time to change things in the writer's room, not to mention right down to the day of shooting an episode. Especially when Jon Stone was directing.
 
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