This week’s 50 in 50 article was written by our pal Jarrod Fairclough, owner and operator of our rival Muppet fan site The Muppet Mindset.  After you’ve read everything on ToughPigs, be sure to visit his site!  Thanks for all your hard work, Jarrod!

Season 43 (September 24, 2012 – April 25, 2013)

Okay, I don’t know what happened. I was just minding my own business, chilling out on The Muppet Mindset, and all of a sudden everything went grey and purple and yellow. I don’t know where I am. What’s a ToughPig? Wait… ToughPigs… Why does that sound so familiar?

Oh my god, I remember! I used to write for this site years ago, before I took out that guy who used to run The Muppet Mindset. And for some unknown reason, I’m back. And I’ve found myself in a Sesame Street review of Season 43, so I guess I’d better write one. Maybe that will break the curse and I’ll go back home.

Season 43 saw Sesame Street continue the STEM curriculum they had begun a couple of years earlier, only this time they added a letter for Art, making it STEAM, and not the original suggestion of SATEM, which sounds uncomfortably close to the word Satan for Sesame Street.

And there is perhaps no better Art than Elmo: The Musical, which debuted this season in place of Elmo’s World. The segment revolves around the little red tyke exploring a whole random topic while also sneakily teaching math in song. Okay, look, it’s not Art, that was just a segue. The whole thing is a little on the nose, and a lot of the songs just don’t land quite right. The first episode is about Guacamole, and aside from a catchy song by Carmen Osbahr’s Queen of Nacho Piccu (Wocka Wocka) the whole thing was pretty forgettable. Sure, Kevin Clash is in fine form in his final few performances as Elmo, and the 3D rendered environments are pretty. But it’s easy to understand why they ditched the Musical and went back to a revamped Elmo’s World. What’s not easy to understand is why Sesame Street has cut 4 minutes off the segment when uploading it to YouTube. Who is that benefiting?

Also debuting this season was Murray and Oliv—Ovar—Ovejita’s ‘People In Your Neighborhood’, where they would interact with people with interesting jobs like Zoo Keeper, Sand Painter and even a Puppeteer. Murray was a strange case. He very rarely appeared on the actual set of Sesame Street, and he served as a kind of ‘host’ for a couple of years there. Joey Mazzarino’s manic energy was a great choice for the character, but he never really gelled in the way he should have, and with Joey’s departure a few years later, Murray’s disappearance hasn’t really affected the show in the least.

Of course it wasn’t all just new segments in Season 43 – there were also new Street Stories! Fun things like Hansel and Gretel sleeping over at Big Bird’s house. Or like Grover trying to school Telly at breakdancing. Or like Cookie Monster being renamed Veggie Monster. Or like– wait, hold up, let me click on that Veggie Monster episode description real quick.

In a fun bit of meta comedy, Sesame Street takes on that whole ‘Cookie Monster only eats veggies now’ nonsense head on, as Mario Lopez turns up on the street telling viewers that Cookie’s changing his name. There are a few really infuriating things about being an adult Sesame Street fan, and the constant quashing of this rumor is definitely high on the list. Cookie Monster is still Cookie Monster! I should know, I’ve fed him multiple of them. This whole story is great way to wink at the uproar of that whole debacle, and Mario Lopez is surprisingly hilarious playing it straight against a stellar David Rudman.

In fact, Season 43 of Sesame Street was fantastic for celebrity appearances all round. In looking at the Season 43 highlight reel, I was reminded of just some of the great guest stars who turned up, whether it be on the Street or on ‘Word of the Day’ segments. Halle Berry fed pizza to a tiger. Melissa McCarthy danced with a penguin. Steve Carell voted with cheese. Maya Rudolph rapped with Elmo. Jon Hamm lifted heavy things. Dax Shepard rocked out with Abby. Kristen Bell got covered in mustard splatters. And every one of them are hilarious.

But Bobby Moynihan steals the season as The Quacker Duck Man, mascot of Baby Bear’s favourite porridge. Boy, that Muppet nerd sure can act, with his character totally overshadowing anything else that might be in the scene. Bobby is one of the finest physical comedians of his time, that rubbery face of his just begging you to laugh at it.

Notable Character Departure: Say bye to Gabi, as Desiree Casado leaves the Street after 18 years. Many of us grew up watching her, and while it was sad to see her go, she’s continued supporting Sesame Street at galas and celebrations since her departure.

MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): Baby Bear seems to have fallen by the wayside with the resurgence of Cookie Monster meaning David Rudman is spending most of his time with him. But Baby gets a couple of great moments this season, so let’s give it up for him.

MVE (Most Valuable Episode): The Veggie Monster episode mentioned earlier takes the cake, which means he’s now the Cake Monster, I guess?

Other Notable Episodes: Episode 4321 has Snuffy in a Swan Lake inspired ballet costume. That is all.

Classic Sketch Debut: Frank Oz returned to play Grover in ‘I Am Special’, which, according to Muppet Wiki, is the last time he has performed him. It’s a lot of fun.

Best Celebrity Moment: Kristen Bell’s ‘Word of the Day’ segment is brilliant, aided by Kevin Clash and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph obviously enjoying every single second of it. Bell is a powerhouse, you just have to watch The Good Place to see that, and she’s in fine form here.

One More Thing: Oh, there’s a door here that says ‘To MuppetMindset.com’. Let me see what happens if I op–

Click here to cross the aisle on the ToughPigs forum!

by Jarrod Fairclough

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