1 The Muppet Mindset: Best of Sesame Street in the 1980s

Apr 11, 2014

Best of Sesame Street in the 1980s

Michael Wermuth - The 1980s was a great time for Sesame Street. More performers joined the show, allowing for more Muppet characters to be introduced. The show was starting to have a lot more parody segments than before. The adults finally saw that Mr. Snuffleupagus was real, Maria and Luis got married, Susan and Gordon adopted Miles, and the show was starting to have more episodes that focused on the plot (as opposed to unrelated street scenes). Oh, but this article isn’t about those stronger plots! No, here is a random assortment of my favorite inserts from 1979-1989, favorite inserts that I haven’t really talked about in any of my other articles.

Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco
"Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco" is among the shows greatest disco numbers. Cookie Monster brings his cookie to the disco, but has lost it. The other monsters (including an early Elmo) are too busy having fun to know where his cookie is. And Cookie Monster NEVER finds that cookie in this segment. There’s fun lyrics, a nice disco setting, and no educational value at all.

Weather Around the World
In this segment, Simon Soundman is visiting an explorer who had just gotten back from a trip around the world in 80 days without any sleep. He keeps falling asleep whenever he’s about to talk about what kind of weather he encountered, leading Simon to “correct” him with the right sounds. I really like the setting of this segment. It looks nice.

Ernie’s “Guess What I’m Thinking” Game
This is one that I’ve always liked since I was a kid. Ernie wears socks on his ears and tells Bert that it’s time to play the “Guess What I’m Thinking” game. The object is to guess what Ernie is thinking about, and he says that it’s a body part that he has hidden. It’s obviously ears, but when Bert asks to make the next round harder, Ernie puts a sock over his nose, and gives the clues that it’s a body part that Bert can’t see and begins with the letter N (too bad he didn’t give the hint that it’s a four-letter word). But it ends up not being his nose – it’s his neck.

Long Time No See
This segment features a really long-haired character getting his hair cut (his hair is so long, it covers his whole body). As the barber cuts, the customer keeps singing about what parts of his body he can now sing again. There’s great vocal work from Jerry Nelson as the customer, great back-up vocals by his friends, and the barber seems to be one of Frank Oz’s last one-shot roles before becoming a director.

Monsterpiece Theater: The Sound of Music
In this segment, Grover sits on a hill, waiting for the sound of music. He hears other sounds first, before he finally hears the sound of music…. And the hill he sits on starts rocking back and forth.

Rainy Day Song
This film segment features footage of the rain, with a great tune about the rain, and why we need the rain. There’s some great shots of kids looking out the window as it rains.

Grover’s Health Minutes: Teeth
In this segment, Grover gives a health minute, talking about teeth. Kermit shows up and volunteers Kermit to be his visual demonstrator. When Kermit points out that he doesn’t have any teeth, Grover quickly puts teeth in his mouth. At first Kermit refuses to open his mouth and seems embarrassed, but when we finally see his teeth, Kermit seems to enjoy it.

Teeny Little Super Guy: Danger
This segment has Teeny Little Super Guy talking about the word “danger”. Most of it is a flashback to when Teeny Little Super Guy was a kid, and we get to read the word “danger”.

Trash Outta Heaven
In this segment, Oscar reveals that he doesn’t like rain as much as you’d think, because it only rains water. Then he imagines it raining trash, and sings about it while Bruno dances and carries the can. Oscar’s vocals are great, the lyrics are catchy, the jazz music is lively, and Bruno’s dancing is good. It’s also a rare opportunity to see Bruno pick up Oscar’s trash can from its usual spot.

Rebel L
This song is a parody of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” about the letter L. It’s sung by Billy Idle, who signs about a letter L who disturbs the neighborhood with his loud sounds, though when the police tell it to quiet down, they are a bit louder. This is a fun, catchy song. Kevin Clash provides a great voice for Billy Idle, a voice not found in many other Kevin Clash characters. The Rebel L is voiced by Christopher Cerf with the same voice Cerf gave all of his characters, but it’s still a great voice.

Miami Mice: Kermit’s Interview
Miami Mice was a series of skits spoofing Miami Vice, and while only a few segments were made, the ones that I’ve seen are great. In one, Kermit goes to Miami to interview the titular Miami Mice, Tito and J.P., about adventure. However, the mice deny that anything exciting or adventurous happens, while those kinds of things occur in the office, many at Kermit’s expense. This is a funny sketch, and a rather rough moment for Kermit.

Do De Rubber Duck
“Do De Rubber Duck” is a reggae tune sung by Ernie in the bathtub, in which he’s created a new Rubber Duckie dance. He’s joined by many characters, including Oscar (taking a bath despite being a grouch), Kermit, Biff, and Gladys the Cow (ironically, Elmo is the only character in the song who doesn’t get his own line). This was one of my favorite segments as a kid, and for a long time I had really wanted to see it again. It is a little odd that so many characters are in the bath tub together, though, but it’s also an interesting number, featuring one of the few segments with all three of Jim Henson’s main Sesame Street characters.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

2 comments:

  1. I forgot all about the Miami Mice; it's probably been close to three decades since I thought about those segements. I really liked them, though I wasn't familiar with Miami Vice- and I'm still not; I've only ever seen the pilot for that show. Now that I'm thinking about that, I recall Muppet Magazine also did a Miami Mice comic in one of its issues, but I think it was unrelated to the Sesame Street segments and instead featured Muppet Show type rats, ala Rizzo.

    Kermit with teeth scared the pants off me. Not so much the segment mentioned here, but there was another one from the series where Grover was the salesman who'd try to sell Kermit something he didn't need- in this case, a toothbrush. That and the time Mr Rogers visited the set of The Incredible Hulk are way at the top of my list of early childhood traumas.

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  2. I think the educational value of "Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco" is to show loss.

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