Posts Tagged With: sesame street

The Smallerpictures Video Dump (2020, part four)

This morning, I’m treading through the archives. There are a fair few videos that haven’t been written up yet: here are the first of them. I hope they are as enjoyable for you to watch as they were frustrating for me to assemble, although that’s possibly overestimating the fun factor.

Still. Lead on, Macduff…

1. Think About Things: The Doctor Who Performance (May 2020)

I write this during our second, not-exactly lockdown – but I want to take you back. Back to May, when we were still cloistered in our homes, and relying on Facebook live streams, Zoom webinars and specially recorded entertainment to keep us from going insane. Did it work? Well, I’m still here, although some days I think I’m dangerously close to fractured.

I’d rather hoped that this year’s Eurovision would be a respite from that – a couple of hours of silly entertainment where we could forget, just for a while, about the situation in which we found ourselves. Instead the show’s producers opted to show lots of videos of people stuck in their homes earnestly reminding us that “We are strong and WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS”, while scarcely featuring the songs at all. I still don’t know what Latvia were planning, because I went to the toilet at the start of that segment and when I came back it was done. Oh I know they meant well, but even so. It was all thoroughly miserable, and more than a little frustrating.

But there was one clear winner, and that was Iceland. The deep, distinct voice of Daði Freyr Pétursson is perhaps the best aspect of ‘Think About Things’, but really, as a package you can’t fault it. The the sharp, Jamiroquai-esque hooks, the eighties synths, the catchy melody, the close part harmonies…and, of course, the video, in which Pétursson and his gang interrupt a family recital in order to frighten assorted aunts and grandparents. Why not intersperse with reactions from Doctor Who characters, I thought? So I did. Well, anything to keep Jackie Tyler away from the drinks cabinet. You know how she gets after she’s had a few.

2. Everybody’s Been At The Helium (May 2020)

If there’s one thing we love doing here at Brian of Morbius, it’s ruining classic scenes. You know, the ones that make people cry. I did it earlier this year by adding a laugh track to the end of ‘Doomsday’. I reimagined the Eleventh Doctor as a creepy stalker. Oh, and I’ve made Clara fart. So taking classic scenes and cranking up the pitch so they all have squeaky voices? Why didn’t I do this years ago?

Largely because I didn’t really know how to do it. The process basically refined itself during lockdown, through other projects. It was simply a matter of finding appropriate footage (which exists in abundance; I was spoilt for choice) and sequencing it. There will inevitably a be a follow-up, probably starring Capaldi, but while you’re waiting for that you can enjoy the sight of River Song losing her rag like a prodigious eight-year-old in a year school production. Meanwhile somebody on YouTube pointed out that it sounded like those Haribo commercials where they overdub sweet-munching adults with the voices of children – and that’s exactly what I was trying to emulate, so job done.

3. Sesame Street’s Wegman Dogs Do David Lynch (June 2020)

I loved Sesame Street. Particularly as a teenager. The catchy songs, the bright and colourful direction, the unexpected celebrity cameos, and perhaps more than anything the sheer variety of what was on offer. I can still remember the moment in my grandmother’s house when we watched the full length version of ‘Put Down The Duckie’ – a song I’m still able to quote, almost word for word, nearly thirty years after I first heard it – and marvelled at the presence of John Candy, Ellen De Generes and Jeremy Sodding Irons.

But variety can be a double-edged sword, and there was one element of Sesame Street I always felt was tonally off. I’m talking about the dogs. You remember. The Weimeraners. They’d appear in regular situations – or rather their heads would appear, superimposed onto human bodies by William Wegman, who also owned the dogs he filmed. And hence we would watch the ‘dogs’ bake cakes and paint houses and do god knows what else, accompanied by cheesy musak and some absurd narration – thanks in no small part to Wegman’s deadpan, borderline creepy delivery.

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about and would like to watch an untainted clip before moving on to the below, then here is a good place to start. Anyway, something about this series always sat uncomfortably with me, and it wasn’t until years later that I figured out what it was. Because this is essentially David Lynch’s Rabbits, years before its time. And so I set about Lynchifying some of the Wegman scenes, as best I could. The results are mixed, but I think the laugh track probably helps. If nothing else you will now get to experience this Children’s Television Workshop staple the same way it was always playing in my head, so I suppose we can call that a win. Oh, and the skipping children? That’s a nod to Lynch as well. If you’re familiar with his early work, you’ll know why.

4. The Thirteenth Doctor Reveal: Revisited (July 2020)

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Oh, I don’t mean the reveal. You know, the one that broke the internet during the Wimbledon final and had many fans leap for joy while others cried into their strawberries. Suffice it to say that the nation’s collective jaw well and truly dropped: when, some months later, I married up the promo clip with footage from series 8, jaws dropped rather less, but people were at least amused, and it became one of my most popular videos, at least on Facebook.

Fast forward to July this year, and in need of another video to post, I opted to do it again, only this time…well, you’ll see. And don’t panic – the Doctor has been here before, and there’s usually another TARDIS hanging around somewhere.

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Don’t Panic

This started with the image at the bottom – a joke for which Gareth is responsible, stemming as it does from a conversation we had a while back as to whether the First Question was, in fact, the same as the Ultimate Question of life, the universe and everything, and whether or not the answer was thus ’42’. And one thing led to another and so here are a group of badly-produced Photoshop memes, most of them Doctor Who / HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy mashups, along with one that isn’t.

I made two images for the Marvin one which had different connotations, but went with the one I preferred. I’m fun like that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yip yip yip, exterminate

Here’s an upsetting thing I realised a couple of years ago. Somewhere in New York, there’s a disorientated fifty-year-old vagrant wandering around with a permanently bewildered expression, asking anyone who will listen “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”. No one will tell him, because no one knows the answer. A few people with good memories tell him to follow his nose until the air is sweet, but you really have to go out of town for that sort of sensation, so he wanders, aimless, mumbling. (Actually, even though Sesame Street was set in New York, the vagrant is probably in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is full of people like that.)

We have been watching a lot of Sesame Street this past week, largely because Thomas has taken a sudden interest. I’m glad. Sesame Street was essential viewing when I was his age, but it occurs to me now – living in the UK, where it is no longer shown – that there is a generation of children growing up who have no real awareness of the adventures of Bert, Ernie and Mr Snufilop Snuffalop Snuphalop – oh, the mammoth. Sometimes you reach a point where you assume that everyone has a similar level of knowledge about various cultural icons, and it comes as something of a shock to discover that no, the kids can’t name a single Beatles song, nor do they know what a record player is. You get round this – at least I get round this – by playing YouTube videos of ‘Monster in the Mirror‘ every chance you get, if only because it features Jeff Goldblum.

Coincidentally, I also combined last night’s hour ironing session with the second half of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. If you haven’t seen this one, it features a sinister minister who – if you’re of a certain age – cannot be taken truly seriously once you learn his name.

Even without the presence of Charles Grover, ‘Invasion’ is ridiculous. It is full of people who are either in on the conspiracy or too blind to see that the conspiracy exists. The colonists who are sitting in a ‘spacecraft’ that’s actually three rooms in an underground bunker and thus not vibrating at all are so colossally stupid you cannot imagine how anyone could ever have thought that they were the creme de la creme of what 1970s / 1980s* society had to offer. There is the sad and somewhat unjust fall of Mike Yates. There is the bunker map and its unfortunate visual resemblance to a Cluedo board. There is the wildly implausible idea of rolling back the world to the Jurassic era in order to start again, although one of the offending scientists is played by Martin Jarvis, which means I’m prepared to be a little more accommodating than usual.

* see UNIT dating controversy.

It’s a shame, because the cast in general is great, with Pertwee on fine form and some wonderful scenes with Benton and the Brigadier. But in fandom this is one of those stories that is remembered largely for its ropy effects (indeed, that seems to be Lis Sladen’s overriding memory of things, from what I can remember of her autobiography). Allowances do need to be made for the passing of time, but in this case the criticism has weight – the dinosaurs in ‘Invasion’ are like the England football team, in that they actually look reasonably effective until they have to start moving. There is a fight in Smithfield Market between a brontosaurus and a T-Rex that borders on laughable, but even this is eclipsed by the scene in which the Doctor fights off a swarm of pterodactyls with a mop – a scene that might have worked if  they’d manage to source some decent sound effects, rather than having the puppeteer shouting “Caw! Caw!” just off camera.

I mean they should have done this. This would have worked.

“I think,” says Bob, “that this could be the bestimost story ev-”

Look, I was talking about Sesame Street. I was struggling a little with the obvious crossovers. You will recall, of course, the Martians who appeared out of thin shimmery air in order to look at household objects (and, occasionally, sing about babies). I asked Gareth if they reminded him of anything, and his initial answer was the Axons, “but it’s not that close”. And it isn’t, but if we add the Ood, and a certain Lovecraftian eater of worlds –

Martian_Sesame

 

Elsewhere, there is Sam the Robot, who is convinced he’s actually on Mulberry Street, rather than Sesame Street. “My first thought was that it was a bit like a Mechanoid, but not much,” says Gareth. “And then I thought no, if anything, it’s much more like the TARDIS console”. And indeed, it is.

 

Sam_Sesame

But it’s left to the cast themselves to drop in a direct reference to Doctor Who, courtesy once more of Grover:

Anyway, I was thinking about all this the other day when the boys were watching a classic Sesame Street sketch in which Ernie makes a statue of Bert, and – well…

Bert-Ernie-statue

Me: Look! What’s wrong with the statue?

Daniel: He’s got no nose!

Me: Right! How will he smell?

Thomas: He can’t. He’s a statue.

Me: Ha ha.

Thomas: Unless he’s a Weeping Angel or something.

 

“Whatever you do,” said Gareth, “don’t stink.”

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Can you tell me how to get to Gallifrey Street?

Because sometimes, you need to post an animated GIF you found on Tumblr of Grover and Cookie Monster enacting Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond scenes.

Sesame_Who

 

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