'Sesame Street' Reissues Not for Kids

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1970s Ernie

The 1970s Ernie wonders who took a bite out of the apple. Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images

Early episodes of Sesame Street are being released on DVD — with a warning that they are intended for grown-ups and may not suit the needs of today's preschoolers.

Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times blog The Medium went looking for Big Bird, and found that his neighborhood has essentially been gentrified for a new generation of viewers. "I definitely had dimly remembered that something in the palette of the show was really unnerving — both unnerving and thrilling," she says. "I watched it from a small town, and it made me think of, you know, 'New York's mean streets!' "

The vintage Sesame Street characters couldn't make on T.V. today, she argues. Just look at Oscar the Grouch, a fellow who lives in a garbage, gets no help with his obvious emotional problems and shows no ambition to better his station in life. Gone, also, are the parodies of PBS programing and scenes of puppets smoking pipes.

And then there's the question of pacing. Heffernan points to what now feels like an interminable bit about the origins of milk. "Was life just as such a slower pace that this made sense to preschoolers and adults?" she says. Maybe so.

On our blog, the Sesame Street we all remember, starting with a lovely clip about cows.



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