Sesame Street: Old School, Volume Two review, Sesame Street: Old School, Volume 2 DVD
Jim Henson and Frank Oz
Sesame Street: Old School, Volume Two

Reviewed by Jeff Giles



tuff like this is why DVDs were invented, people.

Picking up where last year’s “Old School, Volume 1” set left off, these four discs survey the second five seasons of “Sesame Street,” following the show through the years 1974 to 1979. Just as the first volume was a nostalgic goldmine for kids of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, so will this one be for their slightly younger counterparts – kids who came along after Oscar the Grouch went from orange to green, but before Big Bird adopted his fluffier, fuller-faced modern guise. The whole thing is a strictly Elmo-free zone – words that will be music to many parents’ ears.

Curiously, these sets come bundled with ominous-sounding warnings from the studio, letting parents know that although these episodes were okay for them when they were growing up, they may not be sufficient for modern preschoolers. Why this might be is never explicitly addressed, which is fine, because it’s got to be total bullshit anyway. We all watched “Sesame Street,” didn’t we? (According to this set’s booklet, an estimated 80 percent of American 2-to-5-year-olds were “Street” viewers in 1979.) We turned out all right, didn’t we?

If you grew up during the “Volume 2” era, prepare yourself for a happy onslaught of memories: the five years covered here contain a slew of iconic “Sesame Street” moments, including the first appearances of Barkley the Dog, Sherlock Hemlock and Don Music, as well as a ton of flashback-inducing clips (Pinball Number Count, Herry Monster and John-John, Kermit news reports) and a bevy of celebrity cameos, among them Paul Simon, Richard Pryor, Arthur Ashe, Madeline Kahn, Lily Tomlin and the Fonz.

What it doesn’t include is a lot of complete episodes – you get one each from seasons six to10 – and that, as with “Volume 1,” is bound to be a source of disappointment for anyone hoping to find a more comprehensive look back. From the studio’s point of view, abbreviated sets like these are the only ones that could possibly make economic sense, and anyway, chances are that all the bits you remember from these seasons are included here. Pop them in and bliss out to your memories of long-forgotten “Sesame Street” characters such as David and Linda, marvel at the youthful faces of Linda and Luis, and savor every minute of the timeless banter between Big Bird and Mr. Hooper.

The show is still on, of course, and still a wonderful thing, but for thirtysomethings, this is the golden age of “Sesame Street” – Elmo, Baby Bear, and the hated Telly are just around the corner from here, not to mention the continued marginalization of the human cast (and the misguided, short-lived remix of the theme song). Thankfully, you no longer need to rely on newer episodes to relive your childhood. Just buy these discs, break them out whenever you’re feeling particularly wistful, and send your kids to their rooms if they complain about the musical numbers by Helen Reddy or Richie Havens.

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