Shane Keating - Sesame Street's 44th season is starting next month and Sesame Workshop has just published their seasonal press kit online, as well as a dozen preview clips. I've perused it all and here's what's worth looking forward to when the season hits your TV screen in September.
THE NEW NEIGHBOR
It's was widely announced last summer that Sesame Workshop was holding open auditions for a new, Hispanic cast member. But just who that cast member would be was held a mystery until a couple of months ago. Ismael Cruz Cordova as Armando looks like a fine addition to the cast. From what I've seen of him, he's got a great voice and lots of energy, but from what's presented in the press kit, it doesn't sound like he's in too much; just a small number of street stories and a couple of musical numbers, including the wonderful "Rhymes for Mando" and a Spanish remake of "I Love My Hair" (which Cordova actually wrote as part of his audition). Hopefully, he'll get more time to shine next season; he's earned it.
COOKIE'S CRUMBY PICTURES
So far in the "block format," most of the more popular and recognizable characters have gotten their own segments: Grover, Elmo, Abby, Ernie and Bert. And now, Cookie Monster's got his own. He's been due for his own segment and it looks very promising. Cookie's one of the funniest characters on the show, and the parody format should have comedy firing at all cylinders. The "Biscotti Kid" segment shared online is really funny and very well done, production-wise. I'm expecting great things from the other editions. The only downside to this could be that the jokes won't be as funny when the different editions get repeated throughout the season, but that's to be expected with so few of the segments being produced. The press kit claims there's seven segments debuting this season, though it mentions one segment ("When Sally Met Cookie") that's not mentioned anywhere else.
THE FAMOUS-TYPE PEOPLES
As per the norm for the show, there's gonna be tons of celebrity appearances this season. I'm actually looking forward to the Word of the Day segments this year, as it appears Eric Jacobson was present during the shoots and brought ol' Grover and Bert with him, so I'm hoping those will be the funniest of the bunch. We're also going get an extended taste at Ryan Dillion's Elmo in several of them, so we'll see how he works with the celebrities compared to Kevin. I'm mainly excited for Hank Azaria (big Simpsons fan here) and Pentatonix's "Number Medley," which includes the classic Pinball Number Count song. Oh, and Anna Kendrick, just so I can gawk at how pretty she is.
Also per the norm of the show, we’re getting some more parody material this season, mostly provided by Cookie's new segment. The press kit mentions only two real segments that spoof TV shows (Homeland becomes "Homelamb" and Sons of Anarchy becomes "Sons of Poetry"). The Sons of Poetry segment is great, working well for those of us (like me) who've never watched the original series. The rest of the spoofs listed in the kit are sorta stretching it when it comes to calling them "spoofs," such as claiming an episode featuring a "Simon Says" competition is parodying the kids' game of the same name. A new Cookie song, "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait,"( claimed to spoof the Mischel marshmallow tests, which is moreso referencing it than spoofing it) is my favorite clip so far.
Jerry's passing last August caused Sesame to lose one of their oldest performers and it's truly a shame. But, Sesame Street isn't going to let his passing go unmentioned. A special episode is going to pay tribute to him, where the Count will receive a "Nobel Prize for Counting" and the whole street celebrates. The episode sounds very promising (even if the Count doesn't seem to show up physically until the end), but hopefully it will feature some cameos from some other Jerry characters (Herry has been confirmed to show up in the episode). Plus, as confirmed by Tyler Bunch on his Twitter, last season won't be the last one with his involvement (season 44 started taping about a month after Jerry's passing). The season premiere, "Telly Gets Jealous," has an appearance by The Count, voiced by Jerry. So, even though he’s passed on, his legacy will live on.
So, that's what I'm looking forward to this season. Read the full press kit here and tune in to the new season on your PBS station September 16!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org