On a special inner city street, the inhabitants, human and muppet, teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs.On a special inner city street, the inhabitants, human and muppet, teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs.On a special inner city street, the inhabitants, human and muppet, teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs.
In 1998, a muppet monster that had, for the majority of its lifespan on Sesame Street, been nothing but a background character with virtually no lines or significant appearances in the show's then 29 year history, became the undisputed center of the show. Over the course of the following decade, that character would continue to dominate the show, becoming its very face and voice. That character was Elmo.
Within a few years, the entire format of Sesame Street would change. Elmo's world started as a small segment of Sesame Street that aired every other episode. By 2004, Elmo's World became a full 1/4 of the show, airing every single episode. Appearance by favorites, familiar faces and mainstays of Sesame Street began to slowly phase out. Big Bird, formerly the face and "host" of Sesame Street was replaced in time by "Murray" who, like Elmo, was also a background muppet that had virtually no presence on the show in the 35 years leading up to his first appearance as host. Murray, like Elmo, dominates roughly 1/4 of the show with various segments. Joining Elmo early in the 2000's was Abby Cadabby, a feisty and rather irritating purple fairy that's a huge hit with girls. She has her own segment, comprising the 3rd 1/4 of the show, Abby's Magical Sky School. Murray, from the very opening moment of a Sesame Street show, immediately begins reassuring kids that Elmo's World will be coming up, "but we have a few other things to get through first". Ultimately, "Sesame Street" itself is now reduced to a mere 10 minute segment. The problem that is posed in the beginning of the show, once taking the full hour of the show to investigate, understand and solve, is now resolved in only 10 minutes (sometimes 15, but rarely). Occasionally, one of the familiar adults may show up, like Gordon, but its otherwise Elmo, Abby Cadabby and the dreaded "Beybah Baw" (Baby Bear), a talking teddy bear with an insufferable speech impediment. Likable, new adult characters such as Gordon's nephew Chris, and Alan, who both run Hooper's store appear often enough to break up the monotony of Elmo, Abby and Baby Bear's childish antics. On the rare occasion that a classic character will show up, such as Bert, Ernie, Big Bird or Snuffy, Elmo will make his appearance within minutes to take over the show. I recall watching an episode recently with my daughter in which Bert lost his pet bird. 3 minutes after this situation is announced, Elmo and Abby show up and take over the segment. Bert is not seen again, his bird is never found...the entire segment consists of Abby and Elmo picking up random objects and asking "Is this a bird? Is that a bird? Why isn't this a bird?".
Sesame Street, I fear, is simply TOO childish to be of any value to children at this point. When I was a toddler in the early 80's, Sesame Street helped me learn how to read, count, differentiate colors and shapes and objects...all things my parents helped me with, Sesame Street did too. It was truly a valuable educational tool. Now? We have Elmo running around his house like a lunatic, screaming at inanimate objects, displaying narcissistic tendencies by referring to himself in the third person and imagining himself as different animals and objects. His own house seems to hate him, as he is constantly yelling at his window shade to cooperate with him, and other objects, such as his desk drawer, repeatedly bash him over the head when he starts yelling at them. Where's the educational value in Elmo running around in circles yelling at everything?
Parents are strongly advised not to utilize "classic" Sesame Street (pre-1990) as educational tools, as they "no longer have any educational value and should not be utilized by your child." Very sad that this warning comes on the DVD box sets of pre-Elmo Sesame Street. Frankly, I'd rather have Gordon sing "Who are the people in your neighborhood" to my daughter, rather than having Elmo cannibalize the melody to Jingle Bells and repeat "Trucks trucks trucks, trucks trucks trucks" over and over again.
A silent uproar occurred sometime around 2010, when it was suggested by the show's producers (internally) that the show be renamed. It would have become something along the lines of Elmo's World (Featuring Sesame Street)) Thankfully, this never occurred, though it appears to have piggybacked off the movement to cancel Sesame Street entirely, which was proposed in 2003, in favor of making Elmo's World a standalone show. The dominance of Elmo over Sesame Street into the 2000's and 2010's only continued to grow, as more and more of the classic faces of Sesame Street faded away into nothingness. Cookie Monster and Big Bird seldom make appearances on the show anymore...sometimes going over a dozen episodes without seeing them. On the other hand, if you were to watch Abby's Sky School and Elmo's World each day for the 24 episode season, you'll have seen at least 18 reruns of each show, since there are barely a dozen segments filmed for both.
Sesame Street was great for our generation but for our children? I wouldn't recommend it. It hurts me to say it. My daughter loves it...she's 15 months, and she loves the characters. I'm not going to take that from her...but as she gets older I will due my duty as her father to make sure she is educated properly. Sadly, Sesame Street, in its current state, cannot be a part of that experience.
- Apr 21, 2013