8/17/2006

Law and Order: Special Letters Unit

So, I have a tenth-month-old daughter. She's awesome. Anyone who doesn't have kids, I want to say, don't worry: It's great fun when they start learning how to speak. Josephine can utter certain phonemes which do represent things in the real world. Watching a human being learn to speak is fantastic.

And, I am anticipating that watching a human being learn to read will be just as amazing and fantastic. So, as a public service, I want to announce something.

Sesame Street has my vote as an absolutely cool television program.

Now, now. Most people think Elmo has killed the show. Joel Stein even takes it task in a recent article. He quotes the creators of Wonder Showzen as saying "Elmo doesn't grow. People show him something and he laughs. He doesn't learn a lesson."

And, okay, on that basis, yes, the show seems to be produced at a lower level of quality then when I was a toddler in the mid 70's. My dad used to brag that the show helped teach me how to pick out letters before I was 3. I could read pretty well before 5. My sister is the real one who did most of the heavy-lifting. But, Sesame Street made it seem real.

And so, I was quite surprised when I learned through TVSquad that Sesame Street's debut featured a parody of Law and Order's Special Victims Unit. An odd choice, as many have said, but yet, it's kind of cool to watch. I love how all the in-jokes are in theme. The Mallard, Murray the Cow, for instance.

Here's the show:



Television is inevitable with children. It was with me. I loved this stuff when I was a kid. Mid-70's Sesame Street and the Electric Company filled me with a sense that language was playful, and rules of language were to be taken with a grain of salt. This video from Sesame Street reminds me of the best approach to teach words and language - through making it silly.

There will no doubt be a lot of flack that a show like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit should not be referenced to on a show like Sesame Street. But, should we really think five year olds are going to seek out a 10:00 program?

As an aside, YouTube is the best thing to happen to an old nostalgic like me. Check out this clip from classic Sesame Street. I don't consciously remember this, but watching it kind of made me tear up for my lost childhood.

1 comment:

Steve Whitaker said...

Sean, we've got a 13-month old son, and from your description it sounds as though you and I are very close in age.

Given that, it's not surprising that my wife and I have had some very similar conversations. We both of us have started to see children's programming in a very different light, and certainly look at "adult" television more warily, too. Sesame Street certainly remains at the top of the list, even after 37 years.