Friday, June 15, 2007

Old School Update: "Volume 2" in November

Back in April, I told you Sesame Workshop is planning to release the second volume in their "Sesame Street Old School" DVD series later this fall. Just like the fans, Sesame Workshop is very excited about this release and the DVD team is busy working to get everything ready for this highly-anticipated product. I've talked with some people from Sesame Workshop and have some more details on the release.

The first "Old School" box set focused on the first five years of Sesame Street (1969-1974), and I've been told that the next "Old School" installment will be focusing on the next 5 seasons (1975-1979). Similar to the first volume, the set will include complete episodes from the seasons along with additional bonus sketches from the respective years.

And for all those wanting to mark their calendars, the "Sesame Street: Old School – Volume 2" box set is currently scheduled for release on November 6, 2007.

More information (such as the specific disc features, cover art and other details) is expected to be available sometime around September. I'll be sure to keep you all updated as soon as any more information is revealed on this highly-anticipated title.


Anonymous said...

Is there a website for Old School volume 2 and will there be. It would be great to see it online.

Matthew Miller said...

I can't wait -- these are the years I grew up with!

Crossing my fingers for an entire Pinball Number count with all the different middle segments.

Anonymous said...

oh ya, just wantd to let u know that an insider at muppetcentral is talking about a new wesbite coming in july that will have classic clips available kinda like they do on youtube, but oficiel from sesame street people. i think he goes by the username ssetta. cant wait!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, this is extremely disappointing. I was hoping for more shows from 1969. Where's Roosevelt Franklin? We want Matt Robinson, the original Gordon! After Matt Robinson left the show it was all down hill.

Nic Kramer said...

You got to be kidding anonymous. That's the dumbest remark I ever heard! There were plenty of graet moments from the show long after Robinson left the street.
I hope the set includes James Talyor's "Your Grouchy Face" duet with Oscar. That's one of my favorite guest star moments.

Anonymous said...

Nic Kramer,

I never said that there haven't been any good moments after Matt Robinson left. I said that it was all downhill after he left. You have to admit that the show started its slow decline after Matt left. It just has never been as good as those early seasons. The problem is that there have been less and less great moments since Matt's exit. The show is virtually un-watchable today. The proliferation of poorly designed Muppets with insulting baby voices that talk down to kids has ruined the show. What was once an intelligently written program has been dumbed down to the point where it is almost the equivalent of "Barney" or "Teletubbies." The original cast, especially Matt Robinson, did NOT talk down to children.

Also, why would you attack me for my opinion. That's not very nice to call my comment dumb. What kind of forum is this?

I apologize for upsetting you so much, however, I have to respectfully disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

There was more to the show then Robinson and I don't think went downhill until season 30. And poorly desigin muppets? Oh yeah like the eariler muppets were not primative looking. Seriously, I don't think you are a muppet fan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a HUGE Muppet fan! Criticizing the lack of imagination in the new shows does not mean I don't like the Muppets. On the contrary, I am such a huge fan that I expect the Muppets to be as good as they once were. Today's Muppets don't even come close. When was the last time Kermit was funny? In my opinion it was when Jim Henson was the performer. Jim Henson set the bar extremely high with his past achievements and I just want the newer Muppets to be as close to that standard of excellence as possible. And yes, I do think it is possible. The new regime just needs to work harder to insure that Jim's legacy lives on.

The older Muppets were NOT poorly designed. Yes, they were cruder compared to today's Muppets, but they were so much more appealing. Baby Bear is particularly bland no matter how much better he is stitched together. Here is what I posted earlier in another post concerning Abby Cadabby:

Abby Cadabby is a terrible design! Man, Sesame Street has sunk to new lows. Bert and Ernie don't even look good anymore. Look at the original versions of Bert and Ernie from the first episode in 1969. They were better built and a lot more appealing. The clothes were baggy and the faces were looser. Ernie and Bert's head shapes were more defined. Today's versions look like stuffed dolls with too much stuffing. The puppeteers have trouble manipulating them properly. What happened to the great puppet design work from 1969 through most of the 70s?

They've ruined Don Sahlin's original masterpieces!

"Sahlin is the designer credited among Henson staff as the creator of Ernie and Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster and other classic Sesame Street characters. He is "the inventor" of the Muppet look, from a design point of view. As discussed in the book Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles, many of the Muppets began as Henson's rough sketches, which Sahlin then built and modified as needed. This often included special mechanisms or effects; for the La Choy Dragon commercials, this meant "devising a system for this early full-body character to actually breathe fire." Sahlin was known to refer to himself as the "guardian of the essence" of the Muppets.

Beyond building specific characters, Sahlin contributed two significant concepts to the Muppet aesthetic, "the Magic Triangle" and "the Henson stitch." The former was a simple but effective approach to postioning eyes, creating a triangle in relation to the nose and mouth. Jim Henson explained the importance of eye placement: "It would be the last thing [Sahlin] would do, and he always wanted me there, to make sure it was right for both of us -- making sure the eyes had a point of focus, because without that you had no character."

The new Bert and Ernie are devoid of character.

Anonymous said...

When Sesame Street began in 1969, not only did Matt Robinson play Gordon, but he also provided the voice of the puppet Roosevelt Franklin, he was one of the show's producers and the head writer. He left the show in 1972. In later years, when producers needed a last name for the Gordon character, then played by Roscoe Orman, they used Matt's last name.

Matt brought so much more to the show than just the role of Gordon. He had an enormous influence on the series that arguable was as much or more than Jim Henson or Joan Ganz Cooney.

Anonymous said...

Here's an excerpt from a New York Times Magazine article called "Report Card on Sesame Street" (May 24, 1970). I think it says a lot about how passionate, complicated and interesting Matt Robinson was:

Sesame Street is male oriented for the same reason that the character of Gordon dominates the series. "This was done in order to upgrade the black male," said [producer Joan Ganz] Cooney. "We felt very strongly that it would be a good thing to show a black male who works and is strong and who is the force in the Sesame Street community, because the father is missing in so many slum homes."

Yet Gordon as the force in the Sesame Street community does not necessarily reflect the views of Mrs. Cooney. "I am a feminist, myself," said the executive director, who, though married, is childless. "Our society doesn't need more babies, we need more doctors." So she pushed for Susan, who is portrayed as also married but childless, to get a job outside the home. "We felt we had put her down a little in making Gordon so important," Mrs. Cooney said. "Susan was just the little woman in the kitchen. We talked about making her a doctor, but it didn't seem real, with them living where they live."

So the next scene in the continuing story of the people of Sesame Street has Susan discuss with her husband whether she should go back into nursing. "The reason we chose public health nurse," said Mrs. Cooney, "was that the medical services in this country are going to need more and more people. Then, too, we wanted a job with a uniform that little girls could identify."

In the script, Susan wants Gordon to approve her intention to go down to the Public Health Department and renew her license, and Gordon approves. However, the dialogue is partly improvised; like many of Sesame Street's improvisational scenes, it is partly clumsy; and for that very reason, it is rather revealing. Susan tells Gordon that she wants to discuss whether or not she should go back to work, but no discussion actually takes place. "After all," she begins, "I'm a trained nurse and I just think they could use my services, and I was wondering what -- how you felt about it, what you thought about it?" To this awkwardly phrased question, Gordon replies that he had spoken to her when she came back from Mr. Hooper's store, but she walked right by him without answering. Susan apologizes, explaining that the critical nursing shortage was on her mind. "If it bugs you that much, I'll tell you what," Gordon grumpily concludes: "Try it and see how it works out."

Neil Smith, who has been directing the first season but is now leaving to return to soap operas, says that he would have liked more time to rehearse the improvisational material. "The show has a soft underbelly," said Smith. "It's on five hours a week, so we have to turn out a lot of tape. Some things have to go in the can, not because they are the way I want to see them, but because we've got to produce a certain amount of tape each week." This scene is clearly a case in point: what chiefly comes through is the ambivalence of actor Matt Robinson as a person toward the situation on which he is being asked to improvise. Off screen, Robinson says he realizes that feminists want to use Sesame Street to upgrade the female; still, he says, many black Americans consider that the most important role black women can play at present is as ego supports for their husbands. The problem with the scene as played is that it gives the impression that Gordon is acquiescing to Susan's desire to go back to work ("If it bugs you that much..."), but doesn't really approve. The effect is hardly a contribution to building a strong male image. I felt that this scene, at least, should not have gone into the can until there was agreement on the effect Sesame Street wanted it to achieve.

The transition from this segment to the next is accomplished by Gordon as he watches Susan go off to the nurse's registry. "Well, she's happy now," he rather moodily tells a black child named Kwame and a white child named Ann. "And, speaking of happy people, take a look down there..."

Anonymous said...

Get out of here you grouch. They did ruin Don designs. they improved them. And the most bland person is you who keeps goin on and on. As Oscar would say, "Scram!" Devoid of character my foot!

Anonymous said...

You're saying that I'm "devoid of personality?" What did I say to offend you so much. I think that you are taking my opinions WAAAAY too personally. I've said nothing against you or anyone else in this forum. Am I not aloud to express my opinion?

I have to respectfully disagree with you. The new puppets are NOT an improvement on what Don Sahlin created. As I wrote; "Sahlin is the designer credited among Henson staff as the creator of Ernie and Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster and other classic Sesame Street characters. He is "the inventor" of the Muppet look, from a design point of view." These are quotes from the people who were most involved with the original Muppets. If you don't agree with me, surely you must think that they know something on the subject.

You can't improve on the original designs in my opinion because they were perfect! What about that statement is so outrageous to you?

I'm really confused here. Is everyone who posts in this forum only allowed to say positive things? Do you honestly feel that the newer Muppet films, since Jim Henson passed away, are an improvement over what was produced in his lifetime?

I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with you on this subject no matter how much it bothers you. Saying the newer Muppets are an improvement over the originals is like saying that "Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid" are an improvement over "Pinocchio" and "Bambi." It just isn't so.

Anonymous said...

Look that's not what I'm saying the design are good and not all the stuff that has come out since Jim's death are bad. Heck, half the projects were good.
But like Nic was trying said, saying that the show went downhill when Matt Robbinson left the show is like saying the Wariner Brothers cartoons went downhill when they introduce Bugs Bunny!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that your Bugs Bunny analogy is the same thing. Warner Brothers cartoons took more time to develop into something great. Sesame Street was perfect right out of the box.

You like the new stuff better (after Jim passed), I like the old stuff better (when Jim was alive.) Lets just agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute I happen to like the show when Jim was alive. I was born in 1987, so I didn't know much of Jim before his death. He was and always will be an idol. It just that I think the Muppets still have the spirit. It 's just depends on how it works.
Anyway, I'm sorry I offened you and let's just leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Here are my top ten all time favorite Sesame Street Muppets.

1) Kermit the Frog
2) Roosevelt Franklin
3) Bert and Ernie
4) Grover
5) Cookie Monster
6) Guy Smiley
7) Prairie Dawn
8) Oscar the Grouch
9) Sherlock Hemlock
10) Simon Soundman

I'd love to hear other people's favorites! Below is a link to some classic clips featuring Roosevelt Franklin for those not old enough to have seen one of the hippest Muppets ever created. Awesome!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here's another great clip.