Sesame Street DVD Reviews: Count on Sports and Abby in Wonderland

Welcome to the first installment of the newest Muppet Mindset article series, Sesame Street Saturdays. Every Saturday, The Muppet Mindset will feature an article or review of something related to Sesame Street. Today, we focus on some recent Sesame DVDs, starting with “Count on Sports.”

Sesame Street: Count on Sports
DVD Review

Shane Keating (Oscarfan on Muppet Central Forum) – Math and sports. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, ham and eggs, rock and roll, paperclips and “a good time” and Ernie and Bert. Wow! What a nice segue into this review of the 2008 Sesame video, “Count on Sports”! “Count on Sports” is one of the funniest Sesame videos ever and should defiantly have a look taken at.
The video starts with Bert, who plans to spend his day reading his book, “Math and Me”. But, if there’s one thing Bert should’ve learn since 1969 is that his quiet time is bound to be ruined by Ernie. And lo and behold, Ernie barges through their apartment, dragging a news desk and huge TV into the room, as it’s time for him to host “ESSN” (Ernie’s Sport Show News). He even has his own suit and jacket prepared.

Ernie’s show covers the subject of math in sports. He suckers Bert in with the idea, the fact that Bernice works behind the scenes and nice duds he can wear (My favorite part occurs here where Bert complements the new tie and asks of its origin, then we see Ernie holding up Bert’s trademark sweater with a tie-shaped hole in it.) Among Ernie’s correspondents are Grover (who covers golf and basketball), Prairie Dawn (who covers gymnastics and soccer), Bernice, and Murray (who covers baseball). Murray’s part is especially funny, as he finds shapes on a baseball field, while the game is still playing!

The video gives some very helpful math lessons for kids. Kids learn that directions such as up, down, forward and backward are considered math, as well as shapes (introducing kids to the “sphere”) and sizes, like big, small, short and tall.

The segments included are mostly about sports, but some having a number theme. Some of them were edited, which disappointed me. One odd thing is that they used two film segments from the Mexican Sesame Street co-production, Plaza Sesamo. The video includes three celebrity appearances in the program itself, including Vince Carter (demonstrating short and tall with Grover), Dominique Dawes (who shows fast, slow, forward, backward, up and down) and Venus Williams (who plays imaginary tennis with Elmo). Also featured is a new song by Grover, Elmo and Zoe, titled “The 7th Inning Stretch Song”. It’s not the greatest Sesame song, but I’ve heard worse.

One thing I like about the recent Sesame videos is the bonus segments we get with them. On this DVD, we get a 2007 segment featuring Elmo, his pet goldfish Dorothy and a couple of the New York Jets. While not really relating to math, it’s does keep in with the theme of sports.

Plus, as a special surprise (at the time of the DVD release), three full episodes of Sesame Workshop’s newest animated mini-series “Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures” are included. These were a real treat, as when the DVD came out, it wasn’t announced that the segments would turn up in the 2008 episodes, so fans weren’t sure if they would even air in America. The episodes included are “Tiny Town” (later aired in episode 4161), “Inventors” (later included in episode 4185) and “Mountain Climbers” (which has yet to air. Shame, as this was my personal favorite).

This is, hands down, one of my favorite Sesame Street videos. Chock full of hilarious scenes, great segments and a great choice of bonus features, this is definitely a recommended DVD to have!

Order your own copy of the hilarious Count on Sports DVD today!

Abby in Wonderland DVD Review

WRITER’S NOTE: Please keep in mind that I’m writing this review as an 18 year old male Sesame Street fan. I will have different tastes than, let’s say, a five year old little girl who is also a fan of the show. Thanks!

Ryan Dosier – Sesame Workshop’s latest outlet for their classic characters is the new direct-to-DVD, 41 minute Abby in Wonderland(the special is also showing in select Kidtoons Theaters). Starring, of course, Sesame Street’s newest main addition to the cast: Abby Cadabby playing herself as she’s whisked off into the twisted realm of Wonderland. Co-starring alongside Abby are more of her friends from Sesame Street, including Elmo (as the White Rabbit), Cookie Monster (as the Cheshire Cookie Cat), and Grover (as the Mad Hatter).

Based on Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Abby in Wonderland is an enchanting tale that follows Abby Cadabby down the rabbit hole and through Wonderland.

The special opens with Abby piling a table with colorful books. As she works, she’s greeted by her friends Grover, Rosita, and Zoe. Once they pass, Abby sighs and examines her books. She tells the viewers that these are all of her favorite books of fairy tales. She then proceeds into a song about how she longs to have her own fairy tale. During the song she’s joined by Anything Muppets straight out of fairy tales.

After her longing song and dance number, Abby is visited by Elmo, who’s very impressed by Abby’s collection of books. He’s most impressed by his favorite story, Alice in Wonderland. A clever name gag occurs and Elmo and Abby decide to read the book. Mid-way through the first page, Abby starts to fall asleep. She awakes only to realize that Elmo has left her side, she calls out for him and instead finds the White (Red) Rabbit (played by Elmo). The Rabbit looks at his pocket watch and realizes he’s late and darts off. Abby, confused by this occurrence, gives chase.

Soon enough, Abby has fallen down the rabbit hole and has caught up with the Rabbit–but only briefly, as he’s still late. Abby starts to give chase, but trips and loses her wand. It lands in the back pocket of the Rabbit, who disappears behind a door that is way too small for Abby to fit through. Luckily for Abby, however, she has the aid of a talking cookie and bottle (and some clever rhyming) to help her enter Wonderland. Almost immediately upon entering this new world, Abby meets the Counterpillar (the Count von Count) and Rose-ita (Rosita). Rose-ita and the Counterpillar tell Abby about all the wonders of being small and counting small things.

Abby returns to her normal size and runs into the Rabbit again. She gives chase to him, running past Tweedle-Dee (Bert) and Tweedle-Dum (Ernie) in an extremely brief (albeit very funny) cameo. Abby loses sight of the Rabbit again and finds herself in the presence of the Cheshire Cookie Cat (Cookie Monster) who tells her that the Rabbit is probably late for a tea party with the Mad Hatter. Cookie Monster’s performance here is probably the highlight of the special–he truly stole the show.

Continuing her quest, Abby meets the Mad Hatter (Grover), the Doormouse (Zoe), and finally catches up to the Rabbit. Abby is overwhelmed with the Mad Hatter’s attempts to sell her a hat and is thrust into the “T-Party” he’s throwing. Abby asks the Hatter why he’s mad all the time. The Mad Hatter tells her that he is really a Hatter of many emotions and transitions into a peppy song full of numerous hats and feelings.

Abby finally confronts the Rabbit about her wand in his pocket. The Rabbit reveals that the pocket the wand fell into is now agape with a huge hole, “It must’ve fell out in the woods!” the Rabbit laments. Abby, distraught, returns to the woods in search of her wand. When her quest turns up no wand, even with the help of the Rabbit, she and the Rabbit sing a song about her desire to return home.
Immediately after the song, the Rabbit realizes he’s, once again, late, and rushes off to “his majesty’s croquet game.” Abby takes a few clever turns and winds up in the kingdom of the King of Hearts (ironically portrayed by Oscar the Grouch). The King has Abby’s wand in his possession, and tells Abby the only way she can have it back is by beating him at a game of croquet.

Abby takes on the King’s challenge, but is thwarted by his cheating ways. The Rabbit and Abby recover the wand from the King in a larger-than-life way, and Abby finally awakes from her dream. After her adventure, Abby has learned that she doesn’t need to be bigger or older to do great things, she just has to try.

The special finishes with a new version of “Little Things” performed by Elmo and Abby.

I felt this special severely underperformed. Based on earlier expectations for this, I feel like it really didn’t come through. I think the short length of the lack of characters may have affected it, but the biggest problem was the short run time.

It would’ve been nice (and expected) to see Big Bird, Snuffy, Baby Bear, and Telly in special, Wonderland roles, but the short run time really didn’t allow for it. There wasn’t too much or too little time spent on one part of the story either, it was just too short for the amount of story that needed to be told.

All in all, the special was decent for old-school fans, with memorable, scene-stealing appearances from Grover, Cookie Monster, and The Count, and a quick cameo by Ernie and Bert. The lack of Big Bird is extremely disheartening, and the over-inclusion of Elmo IS expected but wasn’t all that necessary.

Again, the high points of the special are Grover, The Count, and most of all Cookie Monster, beautifully designed sets, clever writing, and stellar performances all around. The lows are poorly written songs, lack of certain main-stay characters, and length.

I highly recommend this DVD to anyone with a son or a daughter who loves the show currently, but I don’t think hardcore, old-school Sesame fans would enjoy it nearly as much, but I guess that’s what you can expect from a release intended for kids.

Order your own copy of Abby in Wonderland on DVD today!

2 thoughts on “Sesame Street DVD Reviews: Count on Sports and Abby in Wonderland

  1. What a lost opportunity with Wonderland. I feel that marks the current economic hardships we're all suffering when this great Sesame project can't get a better budget.

    I probably won't get the Sports DVD, but if they ever made an Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures DVD that would be a no-brainer.

    Great reviews!

  2. I'm not sure how I feel about Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures — but how great for a modern Sesame dvd to be based around them! I'll certainly be checking this out if I get the chance.

    Abby in Wonderland, on the other hand, I doubt I'll be watching — although I love the concept and hope it can be realised better in the future.

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