I wish all my friends were more like Sesame Street, because Sesame Street has been celebrating its own birthday by giving us a ton of great presents. One of these, which I just finished consuming, is the two-disc DVD set 40 Years of Sunny Days.

Every season of the show is represented with at least one segment on this set, which pretty much guarantees you’ll see some stuff you’ve known all your life, some stuff you’ve seen a time or two before, and at least one thing you’ve never seen.

For example, I had never seen the very first appearance of Telly Monster, in his initial incarnation as “the television monster.” That’s here, and it’s almost worth the price of the DVD just to see it. That voice! Those swirling eyes! Boy, Telly’s come a long way.

Then there’s an appearance from the Fonz, and Bob and Linda performing “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood” with an elevator operator, and some clips from the Hawaii episodes. (My goodness, but Mr. Hooper was hairy!) Oh, and Batman shows up at some point. It’s a pretty comprehensive selection that goes way beyond the obvious.

The disc covering the first 20 seasons is a bit longer than the one covering seasons 21-40, and I’m guessing nobody’s going to have a problem with that, as it’s the old stuff that most people buying a Sesame retrospective DVD are looking for. So you got your Teeny Little Super Guy and your “Put Down the Duckie,” and it all looks really fantastic, but there’s plenty of great stuff from recent years, too. Mr. Noodle… Destiny’s Child’s cover of “I Got a New Way to Walk” with Zoe, Elmo, and Grover… season 40’s groovealicious “Dance” iPod commercial parody… and “Can’t Say the Alphabet Enough” by Gabi, Maria, and Gina, which I happen to love.

The extras are delightful too. There’s a pretty healthy dose of “Behind the Street” footage that shows the cast and crew working on the show, and most of these focus on scenes that are included on the discs. As some folks on the Tough Pigs forum have noted, it seems like few people outside our little world of Muppet geeks would really be interested in a lot of this stuff, but that just proves that the Sesame people know we’re out there and they want us to be entertained. (Hi, Sesame people! Thanks for the cool DVDs!)

My one and only fan-geek complaint is that I wish some of the clips were longer. I’m mostly talking about the street scenes… We get a few minutes of Snuffy being revealed to the grown-ups, and Gabriella’s birth, and the hurricane, and so on, but it sure would have been nice to see a little bit more. It seems like we get an impression of what the episodes are about, and then it moves on to the next clip just as things are getting good.

My favorite part of the Snuffy story is when Phil Donahue comes in and hugs everyone, but that’s not included. My favorite part of the baby Gabriella story is when Oscar sadistically withholds the news of the new baby from everyone, but that’s not included either.

But that doesn’t prevent this from being a dynamite DVD set. If you don’t already have it, I suggest adding it to your Christmas wish list. If you do already have it, I suggest buying it for all your friends and family for Christmas. If they ever watched Sesame Street, chances are they’ll dig it, and they’ll thank you for getting “Ladybug Picnic” stuck in their heads.

Click here to talk about the 40th anniversary DVD on the Tough Pigs forum!


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