‘Sesame Street: The Magical Wand’ Will Work Magic On Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy: Sesame Workshop/Shout! Factory

PBS’ hit educational series Sesame Street has for decades, been a source of great educational and entertainment for audiences of all ages.  From teaching numbers and words to teaching equally invaluable lessons about cultural diversity and more, Sesame Street has proven time and again to be one of the most important series on television.  Even as the decades have passed and times changed, the series has changed along the way to stay up with the world, but has not changed to the point of losing any of what it has done.  The show’s latest DVD, Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase is proof of that, both in its primary and bonus content.  Each item will be discussed here, as each is equally important to the DVD’s overall presentation.  Those items make the DVD’s average price point, the last of its most important elements, money well-spent.  Each item is important in its own right to the DVD.  All things considered, they make Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase more proof of why Sesame Street remains today one of television’s most important programs.

Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase is an enjoyable new offering from Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory that clearly proves the series remains today, one of the most important series on television.  That is even considering programs in other genres.  This statement is supported in part through the DVD’s primary content, the feature presentation that gives the DVD its name.  The primary content finds Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover and Rosita chasing down a bird in order to recover Abby’s magic wand after Abby accidentally drops the wand during a balloon ride.  Abby and the others were taking a balloon ride in a trip of balloons, and when she tried to get herself and her friends back to Sesame Street, she dropped the wand, leading to the chase.  Looking at the “movie” from an analytical standpoint, this is actually a good way to set up the chase that follows.  As Abby and company chase down the bird, who uses Abby’s wand to hide her identity at points, the group encounters children with various ethnic backgrounds – Chinese, Mexican and African – leading to lessons about their people’s cultures and the value of those differences.  Of course there is plenty of hilarity along the way thanks to plenty of family friendly jokes (including a laugh riot tribute to Benny Hill), and Abby eventually gets her wand back.  Those lessons of cultural diversity, though, is the most important item to note.  As noted previously, this is nothing new for Sesame Street.  What is important here is the way in which the show’s writers executed the lessons.  They used a new, enjoyable way to present the lesson on cultural diversity.  To that end, the story and its familiar and welcome lessons promoting cultural diversity form a solid foundation for the DVD.  The bonus content included with the DVD strengthens that foundation even more.

The bonus content included with Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase strengthens the DVD’s foundation even more because it picks up right where the DVD’s primary content leaves off.  The full-length featurette “Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge” continues Sesame Street’s long-running focus on teaching the alphabet and words to young viewers.  As with the DVD’s primary content, it does that here once again, but in a fashion that is in line with the current age.  Telly, Elmo and Abby are pulled into the video game world while deciding on a game to play on Abby’s tablet.  Over the course of roughly an hour, Abby and her friends go through a variety of different video games, which are takeoffs of video games, such as Super Mario Brothers, Angry Birds and World of Warcraft in order to find letters that align with each letter of the alphabet.  The ultimate goal is to defeat a character named ABC-More in the process so that they can get back to their world.  Obviously it has a happy ending.  The video game spoofs will entertain grown-ups while the additional (yet possibly latent) lesson about pride – ABC-More constantly calls himself the greatest, leading to a starting point on that noted lesson about pride – and the primary lesson teaching about the alphabet and words join in to make this bonus feature in whole just as entertaining for the whole family as the DVD’s primary story.

“The Golden Triangle of Destiny,” the second of the DVD’s bonus features, is just as certain to entertain the whole family.  It is also the shortest of the DVD’s features, both primary and secondary.  It is a full-on spoof of the Indiana Jones movie franchise that finds Telly going on a search for the titular triangle around Sesame Street.  Along the way, he has to avoid a giant boulder (yes, a boulder), a bunch of “exploding” washing machines and determining the shape of each figure that he finds.  So what audiences get here is the basic geometry lesson as its educational content alongside a fun movie spoof that will entertain audiences of all ages and likely be a favorite watch for those audiences.  When it is coupled with the lead video game-based bonus, the two bonuses together succeed solidly in offering plenty of entertainment and education at the same time.  When the bonus content is considered alongside the DVD’s primary content, the whole of the content offers plenty for audiences of all ages to appreciate throughout the DVD’s two-hour-plus total run time.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point proves to be another positive for the DVD.

The average price point for Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase is $11.75.  That price is attained by averaging prices from Shout! Factory’s online store, Walmart, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble.  The DVD is not listed – at the time of this post – at Amazon, Target and Books-A-Million.  Considering the breadth and depth of the content presented over a total run time of more than two hours (specifically, two hours, two minutes), that price is not overly expensive.  When one takes into consideration that the DVD also includes a downloadable .pdf file of The Magic Wand Chase for families to enjoy any time they want, that price becomes that much more affordable and welcome for every family.  Keeping this in consideration along with the primary and secondary content featured in the DVD, it is just one more positive for the DVD.  Keeping this in mind, all three elements come together to make the DVD overall another successful offering from Sesame Workshop, and an equally welcome new offering from the new partnership between Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory.

Sesame Workshop and Shout! Factory’s recently launched partnership is proving to be a positive match for the organizations.  This was already recently proven with the new Elmo’s World DVD released through that partnership.  The new full-length feature The Magic Wand Chase supports that statement even more.  As has been discussed here, that is proven through the primary and secondary content collectively featured on the disc.  The affordable average price point supports that statement even more.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD.  All things considered, Sesame Street: The Magic Wand Chase is another successful offering from Sesame Workshop, and more proof of why Sesame Street remains today, one of the most important series on television, genres aside.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Sesame Workshop is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.sesameworkshop.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SesameWorkshop

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sesameworkshop

 

 

 

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Say Hello To Shalom Sesame Again This Fall

Courtesy:  SISU Home Entertainment

Courtesy: SISU Home Entertainment

SISU Home Entertainment will re-issue the Sesame Street series Shalom Sesame next month.

The twelve-episode series is spread across six discs with two episodes on each disc, all of which chronologically follow the Jewish calendar. It all starts with an introduction to Israel and Hebrew. From there, viewers are taken on a trip through the various important dates on the Jewish calendar with the whole thing culminating in a trip taken by beloved Sesame Street resident Grover and guest star Annelies van der Pol (That’s So Raven, Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast). Throughout the trip, the duo highlights the importance and richness of the Jewish culture and its associated traditions. Each half-hour episode pulls from those traditions and culture in general to teach young American audiences about the Jewish community. The episodes include lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values.

It was originally released on DVD October 11th, 2011. The new upcoming re-issue will see the series contained in a thin pack gift box, which will retail for MSRP of $99.95. It will include a free bonus DVD that features two episodes from the classic Shalom Sesame series—“Jerusalem” and “People of Israel.” Also included in this upcoming re-issue is a free 30-day trial of download of the program “Welcome to Israel.” That program is the first episode from the original Shalom Sesame series. It is currently available online at http://www.sisudigital.com.

Along with the main series and its bonus DVD, Shalom Sesame also includes a number of bonus features. There is a trailer for another series titled Grover’s Video Player, sing-alongs and a chance for young viewers to do their own karaoke with songs such as ‘Aleph Bet Song,’ ‘’Rosh Hashanah Hannah (a spoof of Disney’s Hannah Montana), and even the most beloved Sesame Street song of all, ‘Rubber Ducky.’ The catch with that final song is that it is done entirely in Hebrew. And Annelies van der Pol is not the only celebrity to make an appearance throughout the series. Fellow celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mazar also make appearances throughout the series.

Shalom Sesame will be available Tuesday, October 14th on DVD. Parents and children can view trailers for the series online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/shalomesesame. More information on Shalom Sesame is available online at
Website: http://www.shalomsesame.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShalomSesame
Parents can also order separate stand-alone episodes of Shalom Sesame online now at http://www.sisuent.com.

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Being Elmo is fuzzy fun for the whole family

He’s red.  He’s fuzzy.  And he’s one of the most beloved characters on television today.  For those who perhaps haven’t already figured it out who is being referenced here, it’s Elmo!  Yes, Sesame Street’s Elmo.  Elmo is just as well known and beloved–if not more than–Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  And now, thanks to docurama films and New Video, fans and families world wide finally get a glimpse behind the scenes at the man who has made Elmo a house hold name in the documentary, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful, touching look into the life and career of a man who is a star unlike any other.  Kevin Clash is the very body behind Elmo.  His love of the craft and art of puppetry has made what would have otherwise just have been another puppet into a worldwide phenomenon.  Yet in it all, audiences see in this documentary, a man who is entirely humble, and wants only to entertain.  It’s his love for his art that has brought joy to children and adults the world over, including a young terminally ill child.  It’s that same love of performing and entertaining that brought tears to the eyes of not only that child, but to those of Clash himself.  And it’s that same love that has even given Elmo his very own segment in the “new” version of Sesame Street.  That love of the art of puppetry all began thanks to the legend himself, Jim Henson.

Audiences will be enthralled as they experience Clash’s journey from backyard puppet shows to a spot on Captain Kangaroo to his amazing start with Jim Henson’s company after having turned down job offers from Henson himself twice.  Yes, twice.  Most people wouldn’t get a second chance after turning down such a legend only once. But for whatever reason, Henson believed so much in Clash that he gave Clash a third offer.  He offered to let Clash work on his movie, “Labyrinth.”  Clash took the job, and impressed Henson so much that he was offered a spot on Sesame Street.  The story of how Clash eventually became the voice and life of Elmo is just as interesting as the story of how he reached that point.  What’s even more interesting is the impact that he has had to this day as Elmo’s puppeteer.  There are lots of funny moments in that story.  And there’s also an equally touching story of the impact that he and Elmo had on a young, terminally ill child.  Seeing the tears welling up in his own eyes as the little girl smiled while she hugged Elmo will bring even the strongest person to tears, too.

While the documentary about how Kevin Clash came to basically be Elmo is so impressive, one can’t ignore the bonus features included in the documentary.  One might think what could bonus features add to this documentary.  But the bonus features here really do add a whole extra dimension to Kevin’s story.  Audiences learn that a lot of Elmo was influenced by Clash’s own parents.  His parents constantly showed love and support to him.  That love is reflected in Elmo’s love for children.  What’s more, even in public audiences see how genuine Clash is about wanting to make children smile.  It’s another truly touching moment.  On the opposite hand, one of the funniest moments comes when it’s explained that his mother’s love of something as simple as mowing lawns was infused into Elmo.  That childlike love of the simple things in life made Elmo relateable to young audiences. 

Elmo’s relateability to young audiences is wonderfully exhibited in a combination of the bonus features and the final sequence of the documentary.  As the documentary closes, Clash welcomes a young viewer into his office who he took under his wing, just as Kermit Love took Kevin under his own wing years prior.  That young man got his first taste of fame as he joined Clash and the other Sesame Street Puppeteers in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  He was the actor behind the Baby Bear character in the parade.

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful piece of family entertainment.  It does hold a “PG” rating though.  However, parents should note that that is mainly thanks to a clip from the Rosie O’ Donnell Show.  The clip was taking during the height of the Tickle Me Elmo craze.  A star had asked her about getting a Tickle Me Elmo doll.  To that, she joked that she felt like a drug dealer.  Other than that brief moment, “Being Elmo” is an otherwise wonderful documentary for parents and kids alike. 

So much could be written and spoken of this documentary.  But doing so would take entirely too long and would take far too much space.  So audiences would be best to experience it for themselves.  From the story itself, to the equally  entertaining bonus features, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is one of the best documentaries of 2012, if not the best. 

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