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Joseph Scarbrough launched what he called "The Scarblog" as a way of cataloging his work over the years, as well as going into greater detail of things on his mind (known as "Unfinished Thoughts").

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy 40th, Sesame Street!

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the most successful children’s program in the history of television.


 
What started out in 1969 as an experimental public television show, aimed at poor/poverty-stricken children to help them learn things like the alphabet and numbers in a fun and engaging way, that the producers doubt would have lasted a season or two, now 40 years later has become an institution in our culture and lives. Back in 1969, a group of creative pioneers brought to children a realistic inner city street where reality and fantasy co-existed; where everybody you knew was your friend; where an eight-foot bird tripped over things and a grouch would pop out of a trashcan; where a frog would lecture about letters and numbers only to have a large blue monster eat them; where animated commercials attempted to make said letters and numbers appealing to kids.


 
Like so many people out there, when I grew up, some of my first friends went by the names of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Grover, Ernie, Bert, Telly, Snuffy, Gordon, Susan, Bob, Luis, Maria, Gina etc. I consider myself lucky enough to grow up during the tail-end of what’s considered the golden/old school era of Sesame Street; as Muppeteer Frank Oz said, the show not only was educational and entertaining, but it was also hip… not so much today… the show may not be as hip as it used to be, but it still serves its purpose – it’s a proven fact that in recent years, nurseries and kindergartens have had to adjust and expand their curriculum, as their pupils have already learned simple things like numbers, shapes, and the alphabet from watching Sesame Street. Even through elementary, middle and high school, students who grew up watching Sesame Street tended to do better in their schoolwork, their studies, and their testing than kids who didn’t; I may not be the smartest person in the world (I always sucked at math, and always will), but I’m pretty sure, I probably wouldn’t have done nearly as well in school (or, other subjects I should say) had it not been for Sesame Street. And it’s all thanks to the wonderful people who put this show together – the writers who made entertainment and education blend seamlessly; the everyday people who were hired by kids, not casting agents, who served as our mother, father, grand-father figures; the Muppeteers who gave life to all of our favorite furry, featured, and fleecy friends; the animators who gave us cartoons that would surpass the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants and Chowder any day; and the musicians who gave us the songs that we love to hear over, and over, and over, and over again, even when we’re all grown up.


 
I imagine it would be difficult to have a show like this on the air for so long, but with every passing year, the show always manages to keep talent inside – there’s only one rule to writing for Sesame Street: “Write a show that a child would want to watch, and that you would want to watch”. When I look back on the past twenty years of my own life, there are so many fond memories involving what I have seen happen on our favorite street…
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It’s been amazing to see how many have gotten so hyped up in recent weeks regarding Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary… if we think this is big, one can only imagine how huge their 50th anniversary will be…

Thanks for everything, and happy 40th, Sesame Street!


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