Sesame Street: Old School - Volume Two (1974-1979)
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Can you dig it? Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off, including all the grooviest Sesame Street memories from 1974 to 1979! You’ll see cats like Don Music and Roosevelt Franklin, Guy Smiley and Fat Blue. Break out your boogie shoes for far out classics like "What’s the Name of That Song?" and "Telephone Rock!" Rediscover the Sesame Street of the 1970s -- the place where you learned about letters, numbers, and loveable furry monsters. Catch you on the flip side!
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But let's get the negatives out of the way first, to explain why I gave it four stars rather than five:
1) One reviewer for Volume 1 complained that there was too little material extracted from a six-year period of broadcasts. Unfortunately, Volume 2 presents the same limits.
2) If a Volume 3 is ever released, please omit the Falling Baker skit for the Number Two. With the current two volumes, it's been repeated to death. Give us more variety -- at least treat us to that elusive Number One skit (Baker falling with a wedding cake).
3) Same packaging is used as in Volume 1, with two of the three discs annoying stacked on top of each other.
4) One Super-Grover skit appears to be needlessly edited with recent material.
5) That irritating disclaimer saying the DVDs may not be appropriate teaching material for today's kids. (Might the lobster-trap segment be too un-PC?) My 3-year-old nephew absolutely loves watching Volume 1, so I anticipate the same reception for Volume 2.
Nonetheless, this DVD set almost earned five stars from me for two main reasons:
1) The nostalgia effect was powerful enough to nearly override the negatives.
2) There's one absolutely can't-miss-feature in Disc One -- the test pilot used to pitch the show to PBS! It's one of the freakiest gems in this release, with a heavy and admirable "Soul Train" streak running through the episode, an atypically rude Mr. Hooper, no kids singing "Sunny Day" (it took a moment for me to recognize the voice), and precious animated skits that I wish had been included in Volume 1 (notably Triangle & Square). And is that the actor that I think it is, playing a FOURTH Gordon??!!
As with Volume 1, I nearly cried seeing some skits that jogged bittersweet memories out of my subconscious (horseback mailman delivering an issue of "The Plain Truth" in the outskirts of Kentucky), and some that I thought I'd never see again but which I'm grateful to say I own at last (cows being fed hay in winter). Some material almost unsettled me as a kid but I now find hilarious (King Minus), while some is of just downright laugh-out-loud quality (Grover's show-and-tell with Maria's head).
You'll also find the following: Telephone Rock, I'm a hard-working dog, surprisingly more of Roosevelt Franklin, Cookie Monster in flamboyant Elton-John wardrobe, the moment when Woof-Woof's name was changed to Barkley (a change I voted against as a kid, but which I now can't imagine having occurred otherwise), and one moment when Snuffy came so close to being discovered by David. I could go on! But you'll have to watch for yourselves.
I must admit my hope that, if there's a Volume 3, it's willing to go back and cover more of '69-'74.
The show these days makes an effort, but is bogged down too much with PC values, which make it not as fun as the old schools.
Some of these characterizations are very plainly real, which is what makes them work so well. You have some characters like Don Music, who throws a fit when he cant get his lyrics right, or Jack-Be-Nimble, who is portrayed as a hippie biker type who gets mad at Kermit when Kermit corrects his mistake. "Hey! Get off my case, Frog!" ...by todays standards thats probably not as peachy clean as it should be. But as any kid who grew up with old school version of Sesame Street will know... It's not bad to be mad.
On this set you get the season premieres from seasons 6-10, and bonuses. The thing with sesame street is that it purposely repeats bits all the time, which is the point of the show, so kids dont forget. So as in the first volume, some bits get repeated on the DVD. I would say that a third volume is necessary, staying away from full episodes and just giving us the leftover segments from the first ten years. While the full episodes are cool to have, it is obvious that any more will result in a lot more repeated bits...still, An hour of Sesame Street from the seventies is much more varied with different stuff than todays show which relys very heavily in its commercial characters like Elmo and Baby Bear. In this era there is input from a slew of very talented writers and cartoonists, and musicians and celebrities and filmakers, just tons of stuff to enjoy. I'm still a huge fan of the animal reels and how-they-make-it reels that no longer get played on the show. Remember when they showed us how to make chinese noodles? I find that my four year old gets bored easily with the new stuff on TV, like twenty minute Elmo segments, but is quite in tune with the cut and paste style, and fast moving segments of these shows. I believe it gives a child more of an incentive to see whats coming up next, when the segments are shorter. Sesame Street was right on the money in these days, and cannot be duplicated. Better disclaimers for this set may be, Warning: May encourage Free Thinking and Sense of Humor... Warning: Brilliant Television, may make your kid more fun to be around than most kids... or something to that effect. I really dig it and I'm pretty sure they've made ME more fun to be around. Don't pass it up for your kids just cuz of some lame disclaimer, this IS the real deal.
The set contains five complete, hour-long episodes from the 6th through 10th seasons, 57 bonus segments, an unaired test pilot, a 12-page booklet with behind-the-scenes information and photos, and a special collectible animation cell from the classic animated segment "Pinball Number Count" featuring vocals by The Pointer Sisters.
Episode content includes the first episode with Roscoe Orman, the actor who still plays Gordon today. Also the first appearance of Muppet characters Rodeo Rosie, Oscar's trashman Bruno, the Two-Headed Monster and Barkley the Dog. Famous songs include "What's the Name of that Song?" and "A Song From Kermit" with celebrity appearances by Judy Collins, Henry Winkler (as the Fonze), Paul Simon, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Ray Charles and others.
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