“I Am The Count”: Sesame Street’s Jerry Nelson Tribute

Published: October 31, 2013
Categories: Feature, Reviews

When Jerry Nelson passed away last year, we learned that there’s no way we could ever do justice to his entire career.  It’s not even the massive amount of content he created with the Muppets, but the depth of the characters he helped to create and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

It seems that Sesame Street had a similar viewpoint.  Not being content with their own tributes, they have done the most amazing thing by dedicating an entire episode to Jerry and The Count.

Before you read on, give it a watch!  The Street scenes from the episode is online in its entirety on the Sesame Street website.  Watch it right here.

Debuting this week, “Count Tribute” puts the spotlight on everyone favorite monocled vampire, Count Von Count.  Considering the fact that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to honor Jerry Nelson in the context of the show, they chose to focus on his most popular character instead.  Not only was it done tastefully and cleverly, but it was also funny and touching.  Let’s walk through the entire segment, shall we?

count1Telly, Alan, and Chris are helping to keep everything moving smoothly for The Count’s ceremony where he’ll accept the Noble Prize for Counting as The World’s Greatest Counter.  Why he hasn’t been receiving this award every single year is beyond me (despite the fact that Sesame Street knows what it’s like to receive the same award every year).

count3Already we have our first Easter egg!  That’s Jerry Nelson’s face adorning the Noble Prize for Counting.  His bearded profile is the perfect look for someone who might someday find himself on a prestigious award.  I was glad they showed the image several times throughout the show, as I never got tired of seeing it.  I’m also thinking about starting some count training so I might win one of those someday.

count5Another tidbit I loved was when The Count would send a text message to Chris.  Not only would Chris read The Count’s texts aloud (along with the mispronounced “sewen” and the “ah ah ah”), but Chris’s phone flashes like lightning at the end.  There should be an app for that!

count6I was really glad to see such a huge cast of characters, all together to honor their vampiric pal.  Bert and Ernie made it, Prairie Dawn and Cookie Monster are hanging out in the back, and The Two-Headed Monster has his double-tux on.  And everyone looks so dapper!  Like they’re going to a preschool prom.

count7Anyway, back to the plot.  Since The Count is on his way, the ceremony needs to be delayed.  So in true sitcommy fashion, that means costumes and mistaken identities!  I love costumes and mistaken identities!  First up is Alan, who actually does a pretty decent Count imitation.  He also looks good in a pointed goatee.  Unfortunately, he’s found out as an imposter when he fails to count the dancing pickles, because that’s obviously more reliable than any DNA test.

count8Alan also does a mean Cookie Monster impression, as well as Gladys the Cow.  Because of course he does.

count9Next up to try and fool nobody at all is Telly, who dons a cape and monocle to try and succeed where Alan failed.  Apparently Telly lays in bed at night practicing his speed counting.  Telly, I love you, but you should really keep some things to yourself.  Naturally, his identity is compromised and Telly slinks off into the backdrop.

count11Elmo makes one futile attempt at saving the day by Count Von Counting himself, but almost gives it away by referring himself in the third person (“Greetings! Elmo’s the Count Von Count.  Ah ah ah.”), which Maria quickly fixes by saying that it’s a Spanish nickname like El Gallo or El Cid.  He’s “El Mo.”  Quick thinking, Maria!  El Mo counts by two, a trick The Count taught him (this must’ve happened once in Sesame Street history, right?) and seemingly saves the day!  But wait!  There’s no thunder or lightning, so El Mo must be a phony!

count12The award committee is ready to leave if The Count doesn’t appear, until The Count shows up in the audience!  It’s Gordon as our fourth Count!

count13Then Maria!

count14Then Grover!

count15And Gina!

count16And Cookie Monster and Prairie Dawn!

count17And then everyone!  Say it with me: “I am The Count!”  (Eat your heart out, Spartacus.)  Sadly, the real Count needs to be present, and despite the fact that he’s a shoo-in for the honor, and as Telly points out, he’s taught millions of people how to count (myself included), the award is forfeited to a handheld calculator in Beijing.  Public opinion be damned, rules are still rules.   When this happened, I was shocked.  Would Sesame Street actually end an episode on a sad note?  Is all hope lost?  Would they really pull this trick in a tribute episode??

count18Chris then reads one final text message from The Count.  It seems that having prizes to count aren’t nearly as important as having friends to count and care about you when you’re not there.  And then!  The Count floats down from the sky, either flying under his own power or being carried by his bat friends.  He goes on to count all of his friends (with pre-existing audio from Jerry Nelson himself) who just showed their support by trying to steal his fashion sense.  And we fade out on thunderous applause, not just from the cast on screen, but from me as well.

I have to admit, I got chills during Telly’s speech near the end, and then again when Chris read The Count’s final message.  We all miss Jerry very much, and I like to think of him counting all of the people who care about him, and going on and on into the millions.  I would gladly dress like a vampire, wear a fake beard, and claim to be The Count if he needed me.

Like The Count in this episode, Jerry is sorely missed when he’s not here.  But also like The Count in this episode, his legacy lives on in all of us.  There’s a little bit of Jerry in us all, and a little bit of The Count too.  I am The Count, you are The Count, and everyone who loved Jerry Nelson is The Count.


Click here to count Counts on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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