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Sesame Street’s 25th Birthday: a musical celebration!

Children’s TV
1993 / 57 minutes
Rating: 7/10

This begins with a bang, with a huge crowd having all sorts of fun on a brilliantly bright sunny day on Sesame Street. Inspired by all this activity, Big Bird and his friends Telly and Prairie Dawn, want to put on their own show. But they’ll need some help. So Big Bird hands out the assignments: Telly and Prairie Dawn will head off to go find the dancers, singers, and musicians. Big Bird will find the “lah lah-ers.”

Prairie Dawn is, understandably, a little put out by this division of labor, but it turns out Big Bird really does have a tough assignment. He finds moo moo-ers, baa, baa-ers, tweet tweeters, and bawk bawkers, but can’t find what he’s looking for.

Meanwhile, we’re treated to a series of loosely connected musical interludes, with old favorites like “C is for cookie” and “Rubber Ducky: You’re the One,” and some new ones too.

It’s not giving away much to say that when the friends re-unite, they’ve all found what they were looking for. The show ends with everyone gathered for a group rendition of “Sing a Song” backed by a group of African “lah lahers.”


The cautions aren’t for this video, but for Sesame Street overall.

The most edgy thing here – the only edgy bit at all – is the Count. And he’s edgy only because of who he is based on: Count Dracula. But whereas Count Dracula was a vampire that sucked blood, this Count simply counts… though he does have fangs for some reason.

These sorts of parodies – that grown-ups will get, but the kids won’t – have long been a part of Sesame Street. Older episodes referenced classic films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps , or James Bond’s Dr. No. More recent parodies have been done for Desperate Housewives, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. It was always odd to riff off of very adult material, but it’s gotten more problematic with the advent of the Internet, where kids who liked Sesame Street’s Law and Order spoof might be inspired to go searching for more.

Along the same lines, when the show features guest stars like Richard Pryor, Will Arnott, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Jon Stewart, Anderson Cooper, Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, R.E.M., and Tim Gunn, you gotta wonder, where could that take kids?

More troublesome is how Sesame Street is now unabashedly promoting the LGBT lifestyle to children. They’ve featured male actor Billy Porter crossdressing in a huge black gown. And a couple of years ago they introduced their preschool viewers to a child who had two dads who are now making infrequent, but repeated appearances. And while their social media is more radical than the show itself, it indicates where they are heading: the last couple of years they’ve tweeted out endorsements of Pride Month.


I reviewed this not only to recommend a good show, but also so I could give parents a heads up as to where Sesame Street has been heading.

So, what of the kid who really likes this and wants more of the same? Well, that’s a very good question. If we’re going to enjoy something like this, it has to be with the understanding that sometimes one is enough. This is a skill that we – kids and parents – have got to sharpen. We need to be able to enjoy a fun film like Toy Story, without feeling pulled to watch the latest sequel, Buzz Lightyear, that took a homosexual turn. We have to watch Frozen with the ability to not watch any further if, as the rumors have it, Disney decides to make Elsa gay. Take the good, and just say no to the bad if that’s what follows.

So enjoy some bouncy, energetic, musical performances in this Sesame Street celebration. And then, instead of finding more of the same, have the kids go make some music of their own.

Watch the trailer below, and rent it all over.

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Family, Movie Reviews

The Newtons' Workshop

Children's TV series 1997 / 226 minutes Rating: 7/10 The stars of this children's "edutainment" show are most certainly Grandma and Grandpa Newton, who have more spare time and are quirkier than any grandparents you know. Over the course of this 8-episode series, this set of seniors is ready to help any time their grandkids have a question or a problem. What kind of help? Well, in Episode 1, when granddaughter Trisha and her friend Megan decide to do a science project on "world building" Grandpa Newton just happens to have a workshop full of mechanical models that show how wondrously God has designed this planet. And in Episode 4, when an astronaut's visit has Trisha curious about space, Grandpa helps puts the solar system in perspective. He creates a scale model in which the Sun is the size of a beachball, and Earth is almost a soccer field away. It's fast-paced, funny, and has my daughters' attention even after repeated viewings. What I like is that they teach science from a conservative Christian perspective, which isn't surprising considering these are produced by the generally Calvinist, Moody Bible Institute. And, while I'm not up for quite as many viewings as my kids, these are entertaining enough that I don't mind seeing the repeats now and again. CAUTIONS That said, I did have a caution to share. In Episode 8, "The Pollution Solution," Grandma and Grandpa tackle the problem of pollution, and while most of this episode is sensible and helpful, there is a dash of confusion and a spoonful of tokenism mixed in. It begins with Dad calling a family meeting about the way everyone is wasting water. But he misrepresents the problem: he make it seem like long showers can contribute to drought, but shower water heads down pipes that will eventually return it right back to the lake or river it came from. Waste is happening here, but it isn't contributing to any drought. What's going down the drain, never to be seen again, is mom and dad's money, paying for water that isn't needed. The tokenism comes in when Tim and Trisha end up having a trash contest to see who can generate the least amount of trash over a week. What isn't addressed is that recycling costs money - it takes resources too - so some recycling isn't always the responsible choice. We see a similar sort of tokenism when the Newtons briefly address global warming. This episode was made 20 years ago so, compared to anything today, the doom and gloom is a lot less pronounced. But we do get fed today's typical non-solutions: Tim and Trisha suggest global warming can be addressed by "walking on short errands, or riding your bike, or carpooling to work." Sounds good, and you'll hear suggestions like that made today too. But it misrepresents the radical nature of the changes global warming proponents are really after. It isn't a matter of more bikes, but fewer children. Now, if the show's producers had heard that sort of argument 20 years ago I think they might have seen through it. They'd know from the Bible that children are a blessing to be embraced, so when the world says the opposite – that they are a curse to be avoided – that gives Christians reason to be skeptical. That said, Grandpa Newton has some good things to say in this episode too, and I think it can be watched to some benefit so long as mom and dad are there to talk their kids through it. But if you aren't buying this as a package set, then DVD #4 might be worth giving a miss. CONCLUSION So who would like this best? While the producers recommend this for 7-12, I'd lower that on both sides by about 2 years. This is best suited for 5-10, although Mom or Dad can enjoy it too. Overall this is just a fun, clean, biblically-based science lesson wrapped up as family TV series. It entertained our family and educated them too - not a bad combination!...