Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street


23 Responses to “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street”

  1. virgil says:

    I was 3 1/2 when this debuted. Talk about being a target market.

  2. postjosh says:

    the key to sesame street’s success was one word: muppets! the educational ideas though new at the time, are fairly obvious in retrospect. jim henson’s genious is was what made the show a classic. today, the street is a pale shadow of it’s former self. elmo is an embarrassment. with the exception of word world (which is brilliant), pbs’s children’s programming is pathetic. nostalgia aside, if you want to see what’s happening in preschoolers tv, tune into noggin on cable.

    full disclosure: i worked briefly as a technician on sesame street in the mid ’80′s and i have a 3 year old.

  3. Slowermo says:

    The Sesame Street – Old School, Vol. 2 (1974-1979) DVD ends just as I started watching. I hope they’re planning a 3rd volume

  4. Brainspore says:

    I was raised on the Street, yo.

  5. cinemajay says:

    I remember visiting Sesame Place in Longhorn, PA when I was a kid. That’ place was awesome, except that I was disturbed to find Oscar’s trash can was empty.

  6. Stefan Jones says:

    I can’t honestly claim to remember watching Sesame Street for the first time, but I do remember the reaction of the kids in my second grade class the next day.

    We were all acutely aware that we were a couple of years older than the show’s demographic. We also all thoroughly loved the show.

    So we prefaced our enthusiastic descriptions of the cookie monster and cake guy (Jim Hensen) tumbling downstairs with an almost identical excuse: “Yeah, well, my mom wanted my little brother to watch it, so I had to watch it too.”

  7. yahshar says:

    Those were the days. Waking up, running into the living room to turn on the TV so we could catch the opening song. SUNNY DAY,SWEEPING THE CLOUDS AWAY!…
    Oh man!
    I remember all my favorite PBS shows. The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, and the art show with the funny looking bald guy with glasses (think it was Let’s Draw). He’s the whole reason I chose my profession. And what about all the actors and actresses who filtered their way through public television? Morgan Freeman, LeVar Burton, Rita Moreno, and Bill Cosby to name a few.
    The stuff they put out today can’t compare.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Michael Davis was on the Dianne Rehm Show earlier this year talking about his book. It was a great program:

  9. cinemajay says:

    @Yashar, speaking of Reading Rainbow, it’s Levar Burton’s birthday today:

  10. CVR says:

    I picked this book up the other day and flipped through it, and then went looking for reviews on Amazon. Many people seem to have enjoyed it, but I was struck by a critique from “Tina Twice” which argued that the book focused on the less interesting side of the Sesame Street story. Here’s a bit of what she said:

    “….So what IS included in “Street Gang”? Davis spends much of the book answering questions that even the biggest Sesame Street fan would never think to ask. While the conception of “Sesame Street” makes for an interesting story, Davis bogs down the narrative in the first half of his book by introducing comprehensive mini-bios of every government bureaucrat and PR lackey that worked on the show during its formative years. That’s nearly the entire first half of the book. The second half of the book shifts its focus to the talents that made Sesame Street worthy of attention in the first place, but while this section of the book makes for a fairly entertaining read, one comes away with very little insight into the way the creative life of Sesame Street functions apart from the bureaucracy that runs the show.

    The most damaging omission in the book is an absence of meaningful analysis regarding the lasting influence – or lack thereof – that Sesame Street has had on children’s entertainment. While Davis has a lot to say about how early educational television influenced Sesame Street (though he excludes Mr. Rogers from this discussion entirely!) he has virtually nothing to say about how Sesame Street influenced children’s television in the 21st century. We are told that the game changed with Barney, but that’s about as far as it goes….”

  11. The Unusual Suspect says:

    I still remember the morning when my daughter burst into our bedroom, shouting “Daddy! Daddy! My pillow — it’s a rectangle!”

  12. Architexas says:

    Just in case anyone’s interested, a few years ago I picked up a book called “Sesame Street: Unpaved.” Although probably not as insightful as “Street Gang”, it was a ton of fun, with some weird facts, as well as the words to many of the songs and a brief history of the show.

    Did YOU know that Grover is a libra?

  13. A New Challenger says:

    I just wanted to say I love the title.

  14. wolfiesma says:

    Long live PBS. And let’s hope the death of analog tv doesn’t leave too many kids behind…

  15. wolfiesma says:

    There is a ton of great children’s programming out there but access is a big issue. All kids (of all ages) should be able to see Sesame Street and the modern incarnations like Little Bill and Wonder Pets and Blue’s Clues, Dora, Diego, etc. Those shows should be available in every home without needing to buy a big screen tv or premium cable. I think the government should be bailing out public television instead of wall street. blah, blah, blah.

    I’d also really like to see better availability of children’s books… the ones that tie into these shows, as well as a ton of other kids’ books that are now out of print. How about a little stimulus money toward establishing a publishing entity that produces low cost high quality print media and distributes it at very low cost through schools, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, etc.

  16. Drowse says:

    The author of this book was on Dallas/Fort Worth’s local NPR station, KERA 90.1 discussing this book with Chris Boyd on Think. Very fascinating discussion.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a second order effect of Sesame Street. The mother of a couple of men I know well told me (around 1990) that she didn’t let her sons (born in the late 1960s) watch it when they were young. The family was white and socially conservative, living on Army bases or in working-class Catholic neighborhoods in the northeast. She said she “didn’t like having her boys starting to talk like they lived in some ghetto. [She} worked hard to raise them better than that.” She didn’t *explicitly* say she was uncomfortable having her impressionable preschoolers watch a happily idealized community with any racial integration at all. I just picked it up from context.

    I didn’t meet her sons until they were both in grad school, and were reasonably enlightened. By that time, even their mother had learned a thing or two. Sesame Street taught literacy in quick and measurable ways. They tried to teach values, but teaching that sort of thing is intrinsically slower…kids who watched Sesame Street weren’t old enough to have an impact when Boston had so much trouble coping with school integration in 1975. But what effect is it having now?


  18. Modusoperandi says:

    chasie “Too busy watching Julius Sumner Miller. ‘Why is it so?’”
    On The Hilarious House of Frightenstein?
    Ah…the memories. Much like Spongebob, it was a show that both young children and their older, stoned brothers could watch. (My favourite: When The Grammar Slammer, with the assistance of Bammer, punished Igor for poor grammar. Catching this bit is remarkably easy. Like virtually all the skits on the show, it happened every…single…episode. Then a gorilla would get hit in the head with a golf ball)

  19. mahlen says:

    I’ve almost finished this book, and it’s really quite marvelous. One fascinating aspect is the dissection of how the creation of the show involved both data (they had a setup for testing how compelling various ideas actually were to young children) and raw instinctual talent (the show was largely cast on the gut instincts of Jon Stone). It really covers well the combination of luck, drive, talent, and skill it takes to make something really new.

    Plus, I’d never realized that Easy Reader (on The Electric Company) was played by a young Morgan Freeman. Out-a-sight!

  20. Tgg161 says:

    If you were raised on TV like me and don’t have the attention span to read this book (LOL reading), I’ve also seen a few short documentaries on the history of Sesame Street.

    My favorite is the A&E Biography one, which plays every few months in the wee hours and your Tivo can pickup if you set it to search for ‘Sesame’ and ‘Documentary’.

  21. froopyscot says:

    As a compulsive proofreader, I just can’t let the headline alone without comment.

    “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street Street” ?

    As you were.

  22. chasie says:

    Funny, even though I was age 6 when it first appeared, I felt Sesame Street was for little kids. Too busy watching Julius Sumner Miller. “Why is it so?”

  23. wolfiesma says:

    I missed the Sesame Street Book Club as a kid, but have been lucky to find a number of titles at used book stores. I’d love to see a re-launch of the book club. The concepts conveyed go way beyond counting and the alphabet. High quality children’s lit from our good friends at the Children’s Television Workshop.

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