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April 18, 2008 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find older episodes (pre-Elmo) of Sesame Street on DVD for my son? I know about the two disks of "Old School" episodes that have been released on DVD, there's still a huge gap between where those end (1979, I believe) and when Elmo became extremely prominent in the show (late 80s, I believe), and each of those sets only contain 5 full episodes, and a lot of individual segments, outside of the context of a full show.

The new episodes of Sesame Street that I've seen just aren't the Sesame Street of my childhood, and I personally feel that Elmo (and several of the other characters) that are designed to appeal to toddlers are really just "dumbing down" the show - I'd like to have some more old episodes to let my son watch now and then. All of the DVDs on sale in the store, except for the "Old School" ones, prominently feature Elmo on the cover, and don't seem to be just episodes, anyway - they're all devoted to one subject or another. Why can't I find just DVDs of episodes for sale?
posted by jferg to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I want this, too! The last 20 minutes of Sesame Street is basically an "blank-me Elmo" commercial. Get off my lawn you little, red, Grover-usurping punk...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2008

Why can't I find just DVDs of episodes for sale?

Because the Old School DVDs are the first time they've ever released full episodes on DVD. Here are some possible ideas for you:

Take a closer look at the Old School DVDs, especially Volume 2. It starts to get really close to what we watched in the early 80s--in fact, you'll notice that a lot of the little vignettes and cartoons are the same.

YouTube and the Sesame Workshop website have TONS of old clips.

If you still have a VCR, it's possible you can find old clip compilations from the pre-Elmo days on eBay or other used stuff sites (like the Elmo-centric ones but you know, with Big Bird instead).

Some of the full anniversary specials are on DVD. I especially suggest Put Down the Ducky, my favorite. (Look for Ralph Nader singing "a consumer advocate's a person in your neighborhood" ...I'm not kidding). Also don't forget the Big Bird movies such as Big Bird in China, Big Bird in Japan, and the theatrical release Follow That Bird. (Big Bird was the Elmo of the 1980s).

Assuming they continue as they have so far with the Old School DVDs, they'll probably be releasing 1980-1985ish this fall. After 1985, you're beginning to head into Elmo territory. Let's not kid ourselves about how much non-Elmo time we had in the 80s.
posted by lampoil at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

They're on VHS, not DVD, but you may be able to pick up tapes of old kids TV shows (including "Sesame Street") off of eBay.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:30 PM on April 18, 2008

My public library has a ton of Sesame Street videotapes, and we're currently weeding the collection. Both public libraries and library booksales may be promising avenues. And, more broadly, there's a huge glut of VHS on the secondhand market right now--unless you want a specific title (I'd recommend Big Bird in China), you'll find childrens videotapes a lot cheaper from local sources (thrift stores, garage sales, Freecycle, etc.).
posted by box at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2008

Noggin used to air these as Sesame Street Unpaved, but I don't think that's on anymore.
posted by designbot at 3:00 PM on April 18, 2008

I would pretty much count on an Old School volume 3, what with all the 80s kids being of childbearing age and the rights just recently going to a new company.
posted by softlord at 6:53 PM on April 18, 2008

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