STUDIO: Sesame Street
MSRP: $9.93
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 50 minutes
•    A case for the disc
•    Previews of other Sesame Street DVDs

The Pitch

Your kids need to learn more words. You need to not watch kid’s programming that will make you want to throw your TV out a window.

The Humans

Muppet Performers: Fran Brill, Kevin Clash, Eric Jacobson, Carmen Osbahr, David Rudman, Steve Whitmire

Directed by Emily Squires

CHUD’s Bodily Function Junction has gone too far.

The Nutshell

Enjoyable for Kindergarteners and adults alike, this collection of clips teaching words from semi-vintage Sesame Street episodes is held together with a word (stage) play framing device.

The Lowdown

Sesame Street isn’t as good as it used to be. There’s something about the digital age, Elmo-centric, post-Jim Henson Muppets that are missing some kind of intangible spark that made the initial decades great. Luckily, compilation DVDs like Bert & Ernie’s Word Play exist to bring a combination of vintage segments and new “classic”-feeling bits to a new generation.

…And like that, Grover was impotent.

Working outside the mold that the standard show is dedicated to, the story of Word Play involves the on-stage antics and behind the scenes of a performance aptly called the Word Play. Led by Bert, Ernie and a smattering of fellow Sesame Street-ers including Cookie Monster, Elmo and Grover, the whole show plays like a junior version of an old Muppet Show episode. The conceit of putting on a stage performance gives wiggle room for a lot of jokes, song and dance, and integration of older video segments.

The fact that a vaudevillian show would exist in the first place is amusing on an adult level, as it’s such and an outdated concept that in order to put on this show that Bert and Ernie would put on striped jackets and straw boater hats to go before an audience with signs on A stands but that’s part of the vintage fun. Regardless, five year-olds will care more about Elmo spelling the word “sticky” than the downfall of vaudeville. The segments themselves vary in quality, but on the whole they are edu-tainment that you and your kids will both be able to enjoy, at different levels.

American Idol’s new judges.

There are enough adult jokes and references smattered about that will keep your interest, and honestly when watching with my brother-in-law and niece, he was more enraptured at times than his daughter. There is a loose plot revolving around a final act that never shows, and the impromptu finale that the Muppets must cobble together, but the real reason to keep watching until the end is a song sung by Bert, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch about their love of pigeons, cookies, and trash, respectively. If you have ever wanted to see Bert get hit in the face with a pie (multiple times), a chicken singing a loose parody of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” (called “I Am Chicken”) or a James Brown-esque song about letters, then this is the Sesame Street DVD for you. Children’s Programming gets much worse than this.

The Package

The video is presented in 1:33:1 full screen and the video is presentable enough for the age of some of the segments. There is Dolby Digital audio. An Amray case is all you get in the way of special features, unless you count the previews for other Sesame Street DVD releases. Your kids won’t care, because they’re not sitting through an audio commentary by Brian Henson anyway. Is anyone actually waiting for the blu-ray?

7 out of 10