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Elmo's World does the presenting

Author: Chip_douglas from Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands
21 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As time goes by, everything and everyone evolves. Sesame Street is still here after 40 years, and though a lot of the same people, monsters and whatnot's still liver there, naturally an equal amount of things have changed as well. There have been a number of anniversary shows over the years, of which "The Street We Live On" celebrates season number 35. However, it was broadcast as a normal episode, not a prime time special. Therefore it plays out as the way Sesame Street did five years ago (which I must confess is a format I am not very familiar with). Old school fans hoping to see the street they grew up with will probably be disappointed, for although there is a celebration of 35 years, this special is firmly rooted in the New Millennium and Elmo's World. It really is a look at the street they live on now more than yesterday.

At least the opening sequence can be enjoyed by Muppet lovers around the world: it sees Grover delivering a package from Maria and Luis' Mail-it store (which has since reverted back to being the Fix-it store) to Oscar's trashcan. Along the way Grover meets/bumps into/interacts with just about every current human and Muppet cast member. In the old days the show often did a scene like this at the start of a new season, introducing each character in the opening scene, usually in one long tracking shot. But when Grover delivers the package to the big O, it turns out to be from Elmo (actually, his mother) and less than 4 minutes into this special, the street sequence is over and Elmo's World starts. Bad news for old schoolers, but probably a nice surprise for pre- schoolers who didn't realize this particular episode was a celebration.

I must admit to finding it difficult to sit through Elmo's World, even if today's subject is Sesame Street. All the usual segments are there: Mr. Noodle (the other guy from the 'Don't Worry Be Happy' video), the Spanish world of the day (my Gabby has grown) and 'Journey to Ernie'. Each one of these has one or more classic clips incorporated into it, like the 1969 Ten Song, an operatic version of C is for Cookie by Marilyn Horne (okay, this is only from 1994, but still kinda classic) and Ernie and Bert's 'Dance Myself to Sleep' number, now with an extended bridge sequence featuring all the celebrities that visited the street in season 35 dancing along.

One thing long time Streetgazers will pick up on is that a lot of the classic Muppet characters have been taken over by new performers. Of course Steve Whitmire started performing Ernie (and Kermit) after Jim Henson passed away (and not Brian Henson as a lot of people seem to think). But for a long time nobody dared to touch Bert, Grover and Cookie Monster. That all changed when Eric Jacobson took over as the first two and David Rutman as the last. Now all the classic characters are back on the street, where they should be. Further more their new segments still alternate with classic sketches performed by Henson and Frank Oz, so it's all good. Also, while Caroll Spinney has no intention of giving up as Big Bird any time soon, his understudy Matt Vogel does help out, most notably during the aforementioned 'Journey to Ernie'.

All through the show Elmo just wants to learn more and more about Sesame Street, until finally Supergrover shows up and takes him on a trip back in time using a yellow cab. Elmo supposedly gets to see things that happened on the street before he was born, which is inaccurate because the puppet has been around since the early Seventies and was in fact present during all the times he is shown. These include when Mr. Hooper still ran Hoopers store, the marriage of Maria and Luis, the birth of Gabby and the adoption of Miles. Elmo is actually visible as a ring bearer during the marriage clip.

Naturally the special ends with the entire cast singing a song called 'The street I live on'. Every one gets to sing one lyric, even Elmo's goldfish Dorothy and a CG tree get in a line. All the Muppers appear to be a colored a bit more brightly than in the old days (as does the street itself) and they seem to get cuter looking as the years go by. But one can't help but be touched when Bob and Susan take their turn, since they have been doing the show since the very beginning. Immediately after that it become unintentionally funny when Miles sings his line, performing like he's in Destiny's Child or a male equivalent thereof, trying to outdo all the rest.

As usual the DVD release differs from the original broadcast: the show originally ended with a time line sequence featuring one clip from each season and a dedication in memory of Michael Jeter (who still appears to this day in archive footage as Mr. Noodle's Brother). Unfortunately this interesting part is absent on the home video version, most likely due to copyright involving some of the songs and characters therein. Also changed was the 1969 version of 'Mahna Mahna' during the end credits in favor of the 'Clap' number from the fifth season.

7 out of 10

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