Unlike a certain purple dinosaur we could name, Sesame Street is something even grown-ups like to watch. It’s the show’s prolific use of satire that keeps big people glued to the set. ”We’re really a comedy show that teaches,” says supervising producer Arlene Sherman. ”Our format is very much like Saturday Night Live, and what better to poke fun at than popular culture?” As the show begins its 30th season, here’s a look at some of the most sparkling spoofs.
”LETTER B”: 1972-73 Season
PARODY OF The Beatles’ 1970 anthem ”Let It Be” EXECUTION Moptopped Muppet insects the Beetles sing an ode to the alphabet’s first consonant. One holds his guitar to the right (a la McCartney) and croons, ”My mother always whispers, letter B.”
”SNEAK PEEK PREVIEWS: ‘THE SEVENTH SEAL”’: March 15, 1984
PARODY OF The 1956 classic The Seventh Seal EXECUTION This high-concept black-and-white riff on Ingmar Bergman’s film features a forlorn Swedish fisherman in search of his lost seal, Sven (who, of course, is the seventh one to come along).
”GROVER TRAVOLTA”: Dec. 6, 1979
PARODY OF 1977’s Saturday Night Fever EXECUTION Clad in a white disco suit, the spastic monster busts a groove on a multicolored dance floor, accompanied by divas singing a disco ditty, ”Now I’ve sung my ABC’s, won’t you come and boogie with me?”
”REBEL L”: May 6, 1986
PARODY OF Billy Idol’s 1984 single ”Rebel Yell” EXECUTION As hard-rock guitars squeal, a brooding, leather-clad Muppet with a spiky blond mane booms in an Idol-like baritone about one particularly delinquent letter: ”The little rebel L — he cried la, la, la!”
”SQUEAL OF FORTUNE”: April 13, 1987
PARODY OF Wheel of Fortune EXECUTION Host Pat Playjacks asks his contestants to spin a squealing pig on a wheel. The winners choose prizes (like a barrelful of finger paint) presented by perky hostess Velma Blank.
”SPACESHIP SURPRISE: THE NEXT GENERATION”: Feb. 4, 1988
PARODY OF Star Trek: The Next Generation EXECUTION A bald, Captain Picardesque Muppet leads his crew — including a bumpy-headed Klingon sidekick and a Commander Riker look-alike (complete with helmet hair) — on an exploration of planet H.
”CEREAL GIRL”: April 13, 1990
PARODY OF Madonna’s 1985 song ”Material Girl” EXECUTION A Madonna wannabe (who actually resembles Cyndi Lauper) sings the praises of breakfast: ”First I tried cold cereal with milk and it was hip (so hip)/Then I tried hot cereal and that was such a trip.”
”ABCD BLUE”: May 7, 1996
PARODY OF ABC’s cop series NYPD Blue EXECUTION Two blue monster cops help city folk sing the alphabet in a skit that mimics Blue‘s shaky camera angles. Host Alistair Cookie also takes a dig at Steven Bochco’s failed musical drama Cop Rock.