Warner Bros. // 2011 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // July 10th, 2011
A treasure trove the entire family will enjoy!
I've reviewed several Sesame Street releases for this site, all of which have been strictly geared at young children. Obviously, right? Sesame Street is a show specifically designed for young kids. However, every now and then the program dips into a pool of pop culture completely irrelevant to 4-year-olds, whether it be inviting Robert De Niro to come by and transform himself into a cabbage or delivering a parody of Hill Street Blues. Most kids will miss the joke, but it gives parents in the room a chuckle or two. As such, Sesame Street Spoofs! Volumes 1 and 2 seems to be the rare Sesame Street DVD release which is aimed as much at adult viewers as to the youngsters: the wee ones get to see their favorite characters teaching them assorted pre-K lessons and the grownups get to take pleasure in the fact that Mad Men is now a program about emotions (though in fairness, the same could be said of the actual Mad Men).
In a nice touch, two hours of spoofs are spread across two discs. This is a good thing for two reasons: it permits parents looking for something a little shorter than feature-length to pop one of the discs in for their kids and it separates the vintage pieces from the newer ones. The older spoofs are presented on Disc One, and they're a delightful reminder of just how much cheerful wit Jim Henson brought to the program in its heyday. While many of the pieces have educational elements (a classic Bruce Springsteen song is turned into "Born to Count"), others are nothing more than good-natured silliness (a puppet version of Madonna performs a tune called "Cereal Girl").
The disc does a nice job of mixing up the pace, shifting back and forth between song parodies, "Monsterpiece Theatre" installments (with your host, Alistaire Cookie), some Guy Smiley game shows and a handful of special reports from Kermit the Frog. There are a lot of highlights, but my favorite is a little piece called "Twin Beaks." There are so many delightful moments, from Cookie Monster's insistent declarations of "Me think this is darn fine pie" to a visit with "the log bird" to the introduction of a shady avian character named David Finch. Volume One is grin-inducing fun from start to finish.
We move into the somewhat less consistent present with Disc Two, which offers parodies of considerably more modern television programs. The content is still good-natured fun, but the hit-to-miss ratio is roughly 1:1. On the plus side: The Count watches Six Feet Under (there are six feet under a table, just waiting to be counted), the aforementioned Mad Men parody, and the "Grouch-BO" presentation of "True Mud."
On the negative side: pretty much all of the celebrity guest appearances. Nothing against the likes of Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, and Mike Rowe, but their awkward performances kill any fun their sketches might have had. Elsewhere, there are quite a few television parodies that never really go anywhere interesting ("30 Rocks," "A's Anatomy," etc.). Additionally, the parody of The Closer features the weirdest Kyra Sedgwick impersonation of all time (as if Paris Hilton, a southern belle and a swedish film star were fused into a single being).
The DVD transfer varies from sketch to sketch, with the newer pieces generally looking quite sharp and the older ones offering considerably dingier visuals. Everything is basically what you would expect given the assorted ages of the pieces delivered. The only problem: the newer pieces shot in 1.78:1 are given the non-anamorphic treatment. Audio is solid throughout, as the dialogue is clean and the music sound vibrant. Extras include two brief bonus spoofs on the second disc ("Smell Like a Monster" and "Jon & Kate Count to Eight"). Sesame Street Spoofs! Volume 1 and 2 is a refreshing change-of-pace from the most of the Sesame Street DVD releases. Not everything included is top-notch material, but there's more than enough fun stuff included to make this set a worthwhile purchase.
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Shorts
* Sesame Workshop