Friday A/V Club: Too Hot for Sesame Street

Happy 45th birthday, Big Bird.


Fun fact: There are college graduates who are younger than Elmo.
Sesame Street

Monday marked the 45th anniversary of the first Sesame Street, and sites across the Internet have been honoring the occasion all week. (I especially enjoyed The Onion's tribute.) Back when the show was turning 40, I pointed out one of the reasons it had been so successful:

When the program's entertainers were at odds with its social engineers, the entertainers frequently won. If Sesame Street's board of academic advisers had its way, the show's people and puppets wouldn't have interacted at all. (It was inappropriate, they felt, to mix fantasy and reality.) For its first two decades on the air, writers and performers were usually free to follow their creative instincts…

But not always. Whether they were pulling Roosevelt Franklin from the show for fear that he was too much of a stereotype or ending the grown-ups-don't-believe-in-Mr.-Snuffleupagus gag for fear it would discourage kids from revealing they'd been molested, the writers did periodically bow to pressure. The biggest loss may have been Don Music, a songwriting Muppet who starred in several funny sketches with Kermit the Frog. Those ended when the producers heard some kids had copied his habit of frustratedly banging his head on the piano.

Fortunately, they've been preserved online. Here's Don Music, the Muppet too hot for Sesame Street, writing "Twinkle Twinkle" with the assistance of an amphibian:

There's also the program's infamous unaired episode, "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce"—but given how the test audience reacted to that one, it's probably for the best that it never was transmitted.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)