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October 1, 2014

Sesame Street 40th: Five greatest animated shorts

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 11th 2009 11:00AM
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, the greatest and most celebrated kids' show in the history of the known universe.

Its cast of colorful character and innovative use of the medium have made it more than just entertainment for the young ones. It's a children's show that has educated the growing minds of children all over the world. It's a show that has shaped a generation into curious and innovative people. It's a show that could kick the ass of any other children's show on the planet if the two were in some sort of a weird battle to the death, provided that no weapons were involved and Justice League doesn't count as a kids' show.

To celebrate this momentous day in television history, I'm compiling the most interesting moments, memories and characters from the show's 40 years into four special lists for their anniversary week (Why four? Because 40 would break the last ounce of my spirit), starting now with the show's best short cartoons.

An hour-long show for an audience that has the attention span of a mosquito on espresso laced blood is impossible to write. So rather than make the entire show about the characters and inhabitants of Sesame Street, they commissioned animators to create shorts in between the action to teach the kids about their letters, numbers and colors. They not only helped the Children's Television Workshop accomplish their educational goal, but have themselves become just as famous and iconic as the neighborhood's characters.

5. The Pixar Luxo Jr. Shorts
Before Pixar was in a position to save The Walt Disney Company's ass at every turn, they made short films featuring their iconic characters such as the Luxo and Luxo Jr. desk lamps. Sesame Street commissioned the budding animation studio to cast their desk lamp characters into a series of very short educational shorts that featured the speechless comedy duo teaching the little ones the differences between up and down and light and heavy and the concept of "surprise."



4. The "Nu-Nu-Nu-Nu" Typewriter
This was just one of the many shorts that animator Jeff Hale and his studio Imagination Inc. created for the show. He went on to work on other kids' cartoons such as The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, Transformers and Muppet Babies and less kid friendly fare such as the big screen animation anthology Heavy Metal.



3. The Ladybug Picnic

The song might still be stuck in your head these last 25 years (true story: for some reason, I hear it every time I'm hungover) but it got kids' all over the country counting. Animator and musician Bud Luckey wrote and drew the counting cartoon series and even sung the iconic song behind it. Luckey went on to work for Pixar in the animation department where he worked on the studio's biggest films and even directed, drew and sang for the Oscar nominated short Boundin'.



2. The Counting Pinball Machine

The aforementioned Hale also animated this iconic short that has been synonymous with the children's show from practically day one. It featured a silver pinball making its way down the playing field as it helped kids with counting and number identification all to the tune of a 70s disco funky beat sung by the Pointer Sisters.



1. The Teeny Little Super Guy

Stop motion animation has to be the most frustrating form of film making on the planet. Put hand drawn animation on top of that and you have a brain tumor in the making. Somehow, animator Paul Fierlinger pulled off 13 episodes of the Teeny Little Super Guy, a gravelly voiced tap dancing cup "hero" who helped teach the younger neighborhood utensils the importance of determination and cooperation in what appeared to be the best stocked and most possessed kitchen in America.

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wulfn1

I think the ladybug picnic wins hands down, if for no other reason that it haunts you during a hangover...

The Pinball machine song pops into my head more often though.
Hope "Bob's" song "one of these things is not like the other " or Bert's pigeon song make it to one of your next lists of four.

November 11 2009 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Guess Who

This is a good day. I can now spell cat AND count to 12.

Now if Sesame Street could make a animated short that will instruct me on how to manipulate space-time.

November 11 2009 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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