Michael Wermuth, Jr. – Earlier this year, Sesame Workshop put a feature on its Facebook page that allowed for fans to vote for a selection of 48 nominated clips, four per character. It was said that the DVD would come out in fall 2012, and during that time a number of different questions ran through my head. Would it contain any clips that were not nominated for this? Would it be one disc or more? Would it be a collectors-type release or more like the average Sesame Street release? Well, that release is “Best of Friends” and it has just been released (currently as a Target exclusive, but those always eventually get wider releases), and I can provide quick answers: Yes, one disc, and more like an average release.
“Best of Friends” contains 49 segments, grouped by 12 characters: Elmo, Cookie Monster, Telly, Zoe, The Count, Bert and Ernie, Oscar, Rosita, Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Grover, and Abby Cadabby. Each character section includes four segments (except Oscar, who gets five for some reason). 36 of the 48 clips nominated on Facebook made the final cut, with the remaining clips being appearances by celebrity guests, such as Elvis Costello, Lena Horne, James Taylor, Little Richard, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ramjin, and others.
For a listing of what’s included, check out the Muppet Wiki page for this release. There are many good clips included. I am glad to finally have “That Grouchy Face” on DVD, as well as the classic cookies in bed sketch with Ernie and Bert, “Admiral Bird” with Big Bird, and last season’s “Spider-Monster: The Musical.” It’s also great to see “Super Grover: Telephone” with its full title sequence (it was cut from its inclusion in Old School Volume 1), and the Monsterpiece Theater segment “The 39 Stairs” is presented with the original Alistair Cookie sequences (where he has a pipe). This release also includes quite a few segments that I had never seen, particularly all four Rosita clips that are included.
It would have been great if more characters were spotlighted, although 12 characters is quite a lot and spans over two hours of content. Mr. Johnson appears in two of the Grover segments, and a number of other characters show up here and there, mainly in the background, but there are a lot of great characters missing. Baby Bear and Murray Monster are nowhere to be seen, making them the most major Muppets currently on the show to be excluded.It also would have been great to have seen more old school fan favorites like Roosevelt Franklin, Biff and Sully, Sherlock Hemlock, and Forgetful Jones. Perhaps they could have put segments with these characters as bonus segments. Also, Ernie and Bert appear together in all the segments they’re in. I would have liked to have seen at least one solo Ernie segment and a solo Bert.
This DVD is good for fans of classic and current Sesame Street, but it’s not aimed at collectors specifically. It is only one disc and the only bonus features are tips for parents and a downloadable activity book. There are no bonus clips. Despite the nitpicking, this is still a great release–especially for a Target exclusive. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in Sesame Street DVDs. I hope Sesame Workshop will provide fans with more opportunities to vote for clips for DVD releases. Ever since 2008 I had been hoping for a release like this, focusing on the main characters. I would love to see a “Best of Friends Volume 2” release some day with more characters included.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com