Sesame Street parodies the Hobbit, Hunger Games

09-Dec-13 11:18 AM by
Filed under Humor; Comments Off on Sesame Street parodies the Hobbit, Hunger Games

The Internet has inspired a revolution in Sesame Street's relevancy. Always a wonderful tool for educating children not just in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also in social skills such as cooperation and patience, these values are now being encased in many wonderful YouTube videos whose humor will appeal to adults as well. Nowhere is this more evident than in the show's newest segment, "Cookie's Crumby Pictures", in which Cookie Monster teaches kids self-regulation and executive function skills in the form of parodies of Hollywood's latest big-budget hits.

This series is impressively modern by setting its sights on this holiday season's headliners. One of the current hot flicks has been Catching Fire, the second adaptation in the Hunger Games book trilogy. Cookie Monster engages in survival of the fattest in The Hungry Games: Catching Fur:

Despite Cookie being the leading role, Pita nearly stole the show. What an improvement over the original!

The next fantasy film in showgoers' sights is The Hobbit: The Desolaution of Smaug, releasing this week. What force could be more evil: a dragon, or a ring? Neither! Beware the one dessert to rule them all in Lord of the Crumbs:

Classic icons aren't above having our furry blue friend inserted into their casts. When the world's best spy isn't available, they call Cookie Monster in The Spy Who Loved Cookies:

You can also see Cookie Monster as Captain Snack Sparrow in Cookies of the Caribbean and as an earnest martial arts student in in The Biscotti Kid. See the playlist for the full catalog of parodies.

It just goes to show: everything is better with Muppets!

PBS remixes Reading Rainbow, Bob Ross

03-Dec-12 11:06 AM by
Filed under Television; Comments Off on PBS remixes Reading Rainbow, Bob Ross

Earlier this summer, non-profit public broadcasting television network PBS demonstrated surprising savviness when it recruited YouTube user melodysheep (musicalscience on Twitter) to create a remix music video of Mr. Rogers. With over seven million views, the video has been incredibly popular, proving an effective melding of nostalgia and modernity.

I should've realized PBS would know it had a hit on its hands and would follow up with additional hits. Today, PBS Digital Studios published its latest remix, a music video featuring Levar Burton of Reading Rainbow:

But wait, there's more! "In Your Imagination" wasn't PBS's second remix; that honor falls to this summer's publication of "Happy Little Clouds", a celebration of the soothing tones and happy little paintings of Bob Ross:

I love the themes that are present in all three of these shows and videos: creativity, imagination, and self-confidence. We can do anything we set our minds to, if only we believe in ourselves. It's a lesson that we need to hear as much as adults as we did as children. I'm just sorry none of the shows being celebrated are still on the air. Do we need to wait for a Sesame Street remix?

In celebration of her 100th birthday, Julia Child got a remix, too. See all four remixes in one playlist.

(more…)

Mister Rogers Remixed: Garden of Your Mind

08-Jun-12 7:46 AM by
Filed under Television; 1 comment.

Like many kids my age — heck, like many kids any age — I grew up in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Paired with Sesame Street, the two PBS shows were not just entertaining; they also laid a subtle foundation for literacy, curiosity, and creativity.

In the past few months, I've encountered, both in-person and online, assertions that Mr. Rogers' on-screen character was very different from his off-screen personality. This belief is in sharp contrast to any first-person reports I've heard from individuals who had the opportunity to encounter this preacher and teacher. Stories that, in a previous life, Fred Rogers was a military sniper, or that he wore cardigans to cover violent tattoos, struck me as disrespectful. Sure, society likes to see its celebrities fall — but Mr. Rogers' star should be above such sullying.

So when I saw floating around Facebook a Mr. Rogers music remix that debuted on YouTube just yesterday, I was hesitant. What was next — were they going to turn my childhood hero into a gangsta rapper?

See for yourself:

This remix is officially sponsored by PBS Digital Studios:

When we discovered video mash-up artist John D. Boswell, aka melodysheep, on YouTube, we immediately wanted to work together. Turns out that he is a huge Mister Rogers Neighborhood fan, and was thrilled at the chance to pay tribute to one of our heroes. Both PBS and the Fred Rogers Company hope you like John's celebration of Fred Rogers' message.

I think Mr. Rogers would be very pleased with the tasteful, respectful work this artist has produced, just as it made me happy and, at the same time, a bit sad. I can only hope our children have a Mr. Rogers of their own.

(Hat tips to Seth Weintraub and Brendon Chetwynd)

A Convenient Film

15-Oct-07 6:14 PM by
Filed under Films; 4 comments.

It seems like documentaries have suddenly become an acceptable format for a popular film release. From political releases such as Death of a President and the upcoming Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains, to scientific subjects such as In the Shadow of the Moon and more grounded ones like March of the Penguins, they all beg the question: Why the sudden approval of a predominantly slow, plodding, and — gasp! — educational medium?

I say the person we have to thank is Al Gore. As the former next president of the United States, Mr. Gore has a kind of fame not usually found in Hollywood. Any other star would've made a film about global warming into a made-for-TV special, but Mr. Gore propelled An Inconvenient Truth into theaters. Both his 2000 election loss and global warming are topics that are, for better or worse, controversial; people wanted to see what this presidential candidate, politically quiet for six years, had been up to, what his new angle was. It wasn't like Morgan Freeman narrating March of the Penguins; as engaging as the film was, there's little debatable about birds, and they didn't represent Mr. Freeman's politics or platform. But global warming? It's either the biggest scientific hoax of all time, or one of the greatest threats to life on Earth. It was a killer combination of topic and delivery, and its accolades, awards, and accumulated profits have opened the door for other documentarians.

And so I'd like to thank Mr. Gore, not for either alerting us to this peril or perpetuating this worldwide fraud, but for showing that documentaries can be edgy, accessible, and enjoyable — and, in so doing, expanding the diversity of film genres, subjects, and debates. If you haven't already discovered this cinematic style courtesy the Discovery or History channels or the works of Ken Burns, check it out; you'll find it's grown up from the inescapably dull classroom lessons forced upon you a generation ago.

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TNG at 20: But Don't Take My Word For It

27-Sep-07 5:22 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; Comments Off on TNG at 20: But Don't Take My Word For It

The upcoming TNG complete series box set has a bonus disc of unique features, interviews, and documentaries. Though there is some unearthed arcana from decades ago, much of the material is retrospective in nature, created exclusively for this DVD collection.

It can be fun to look at the making of Star Trek: TNG as it was actually being made. Without the benefit of hindsight, documentaries that are as old as the show they're inspecting have a certain nostalgic quality. And who brings that magic to life better than LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow?

Before (and while!) he was Geordi LaForge but after Kunta Kinte, Mr. Burton hosted this PBS children's educational series that explored the power of books, fiction, and imagination. He took advantage of being an explorer of both space and imagination when he brought the show he hosted behind the scenes of his "other" show. Now available on YouTube as a three-part series is that episode of Reading Rainbow.

So open the video — and open your mind.

Also in the TNG at 20 series: