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Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (2021)

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This documentary features extensive contemporary (and vintage) interviews with the cast, crew, producers and other participants of how the iconic television show got developed and what its vision/mission was as well as how it fared -especially in early decades!  This viewer come away admiring the tenacity and calling of Joan Ganz Cooney who not only overcame sexist attitudes to bring her vision of  a program using commercial television techniques to teach vulnerable children basic education (e.g. no coincidence that shows were 'brought to you by the letter ___ and the number___')  in 1969 but also how she was able to corral a very disparate set of singers, actors, animators, songwriters puppeteers, etc. to bring it to life. Highlights include    vintage interview footage from the composer Joe Raposo ( with contemporary footage from his surviving son) in  which he explained how he created so many unforgettable songs that often went deeper than the ostensible intent (e.g. he was told to create a song  expressing what the supposedly happy-go-lucky Kermit the Frog was supposed to think about when he was alone and that inspired "It's Not Easy Being Green") as well as from Jim Henson and Jon Stone (and their surviving children).  Interspersed within were classic broadcast moments as well as behind the scenes footage. It's quite impressive and I feel fortunate to have been able to see it in a theater (with only four other folks  in the entire cinema- all of us masked).  

Of course, while it dealt with how vital such cast members of Will Lee (Mr. Hooper) was to the show's integrity (and how devastating a loss his death was which spurred the iconic teaching moment for the show),


it avoided ,among other things,   what happened to Northern Calloway (David) .He had had at least one serious mental health breakdown in 1980 but was able to return to the show for the next nine years before his condition deteriorated to the point of his services being terminated at the end of the 1989 season. Mr. Calloway would    die in January, 1990 after an altercation with a staff physician of the mental hospital he'd been committed to. David had been a vital part of the show (and, in fact, he had inherited Hooper's Store) . Hence,  even if they didn't want his character to have a worse fate than having moved to his grandmother's farm in Florida to help her out, I still think the survivors should have attempted to address for the documentary their POV's of what they believed  might have happened to Mr. Calloway if not attempted  to acknowledge his earlier positive contributions despite his very troubling end. 


Edited by Blergh
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2 hours ago, Cotypubby said:

Is this streaming anywhere? It sounds very interesting!

I believe it will be on HBO On Demand starting May 7,2021.


I hope you get the chance to see it then (if you are not able to find/ don't want to chance viewing it in a local theater).  It was quite amazing seeing all these   dynamic personalities get together working themselves into a frenzy to make something remarkable. 

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