Sunday, January 26, 2014

Street Gang: The Complete History of "Sesame Street"

2009ish*, from Viking
Michael Davis
Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street
Original price $27.95, purchase price $7.99
Good condition hardcover

This is a case where the subtitle is just as misleading as the title, in that this is not by any means a complete history of the show that my generation and later grew up learning basic concepts from.  There's much more in here about Captain Kangaroo than there is about the then two most recent decades.  In fact, there's more in here on Barry Goldwater and Julia Child than there is about some of the latter-day cast and crew!  Davis doesn't even get to the first episode's premiere until the midpoint of the book, and that's counting the index and such in the back.  He acknowledges feminist criticism, of the sort that's in And Jill Came Tumbling After (1974), but he really doesn't spend much time on either the content of the show or its impact.**

This is quite a contrast to Stephen Davis's (no relation I assume) 1987 book on The Howdy Doody Show, which I really enjoyed despite my lack of Doody knowledge.  I do believe there's a good book here, buried under M. Davis's meandering chronology and sometimes overwrought style.  ("If Joan Ganz Cooney was queen of CTW's domain, Chris Cerf was its minister of mirth and high priest of the practical joke."  Jeez, just call him the court jester!)  Enough interesting stories and information come through that I can marginally recommend the book, although I'm curious about Sesame Street Unpaved (1999) by David Borgenicht, which sounds like more of what I was looking for.

*It's copyrighted 2008, but towards the end it says, "In 2009, it's hard to imagine a world without Elmo...."  So I'm going with that date.

**He does seem horrified by the idea of a pink Muppet (having forgotten the Snowths of "Mahna Mahna" fame), Abby Cadabby.  But it's not as if the less stereotypically girly female Muppets ever became integral to the show.

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