Season 6 (November 4, 1974 – May 2, 1975)

Season six opens with my absolute favorite episode of Sesame Street. Take a glance at the Muppet Wiki page for the ominously-numbered episode 0666, which is contained on the Old School Volume 2 DVD set. It has everything that we want from the show. The delights include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:

  • A street story about the Count turning the lights on and off.
  • Joe Raposo singing a gentle number about the sense of touch.
  • Maria smothering the guys’ faces with pies while singing a torch song.
  • Ernie removing Bert’s nose and sticking it on his own nose.
  • A cartoon about pencils dancing the rumba.
  • An Appalachian mailman delivering mail on horseback.

That’s just a small sample. There’s so much more. It’s 58 solid minutes of brilliant content. It’s the kind of stuff we all think of when we remember what Sesame Street used to be like. It’s the Golden Age made flesh, a monument to the glory that was Sesame Street in the 1970s.

Yes, like many fans, I think of season 6 as being firmly part of the Golden Age of Sesame Street. The 1970s are the classic era we all know in our hearts, whether we were watching at the time or not. This is the period that gave us all of the classic Muppet and human characters, beloved songs, and hilarious sketches. Most fans would agree that the past 40 years of Sesame Street have struggled to live up to the tall reputation set by the first ten.

But working on this series of articles has taught me a surprising lesson – the Golden Age is a myth, a mirage, a hazy memory that we’ve all decided is a matter of fact. Very few full episodes from that period are actually available to watch now. The Old School DVD sets have ten episodes from the first ten seasons. A handful more are available for purchase on iTunes.

But each season had 130 episodes, which means that we can buy twenty episodes out of roughly 1300! Helpful YouTube accounts have posted a few more, but not as many as you might think. While preparing for this article, I wasn’t able to find *any* episodes from season six online other than the premiere. I was hoping to write about another episode – one I hadn’t seen before – but they just aren’t out there.

All available evidence points to those seasons being full of the same kind of delights as the premiere. But mostly we just have brief descriptions, at least when it comes to full episodes. We have a ton of the famous songs and sketches, but the street scenes are mostly hidden from view. As time passed, and home recording became easier, that situation changed. There are dozens of episodes from the 1980s and (especially) 1990s on YouTube, and most episodes from the 21st century are available to stream or purchase legally. For the most part, that’s the Sesame Street we can actually sit down and watch.

Yet many fans – myself included, to be sure – insist that the 1970s are the best era for the show, even though we’ll never seen most of it. This isn’t a problem unique to season six, of course, but I bring it up now because I love that premiere episode so much. If I had access to 129 more, I would definitely make time to watch them all. That’s the Sesame Street I want to see, and I get so excited every time we find a little bit more of it.

Notable Character Debut: Roscoe Orman’s Gordon finally shows up, and all is right with the world. Additionally, Richard Hunt gets his first major character, frustrated piano man Don Music.

MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): It sounds like the Count takes center stage this year, with storylines where he looks for a job, tries not to count for a whole day, celebrates National Counting Day, and follows an ant in hopes of counting a million ants. Gang, I want to see all of those so badly.

MVH (Most Valuable Human): Luis gets a ton of stories this year, with the Fix-It Shop in full swing. He also gets to look for agua in the desert, so I’m gonna give it to him.

MVE (Most Valuable Episode): Like I said above, the season premiere is the Platonic ideal of a Sesame Street episode.

Other Notable Episodes: A lot of turmoil on the Street this season. Ernie & Bert, and Oscar all decide to move away, and David leaves Cookie Monster in charge of Hooper’s Store for some reason.

Classic Sketch Debut: One of Sesame Street’s most enduring and beloved animated characters, The Typewriter! His twenty-six segments continued to air for the next thirty seasons.

Classic Song Debut: “I Just Adore Four”, which is easily the greatest song Big Bird has ever sung. Also “Women Can Be”, Sesame Street’s first feminist anthem.

Curriculum Focus: The curriculum focus this season was on “affect behavior, divergent thinking, career awareness, and social interactions.” Every time Sesame Street announces a new curriculum focus, fans have a tendency to act like the focus was only on letters and numbers in the old days, but this list wouldn’t be at all out of place in the 21st century.

Musical Highlight: Pete Seeger and Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick both visited the show, which led to an amazing album of their contributions. 

Best Celebrity Moment: The Pointer Sisters came on to sing their amazing hit song “Yes, We Can Can.” Not a version about lyrics rewritten to be about preschool concerns, just the original song with its message of Social Justice and togetherness.

WTF Moment: In other celebrity news, Zero Mostel stopped by to demonstrate opposites. Just like Seeger and Kirkpatrick’s songs, this was immortalized outside of the show. The Sesame Street Book of Opposites is truly one of the weirdest, most bizarre things ever to bear the show’s title.

One More Thing: According to Muppet Wiki, this was the last season that Jerry Juhl worked on. This means that he wrote for Sesame Street for six years, longer than either The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock existed. That seems impossible.

Okay, One More Thing: The show got a new head writer this season – Norman Stiles. He left after one year to pursue other projects. He returned five years later, serving as head writer again for seasons 11-27.

Click here to take a time machine back to 1975 and record season six on Betamax on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Anthony Strand

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