Post-Gazette classical music critic Andrew Druckenbrod showed me an odd disclaimer on this week's DVD release of "Sesame Street: Old School" ($39.98, Sesame Workshop and Sony Wonder). The first DVD of the show's early seasons, 1969-1974, begins with an animated character announcing, "Welcome to 'Sesame Street Nostalgia.' I am Bob, your host, and I want you to know that these early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not meet the needs of today's pre-school child."
Andrew, who will review the box set in a future issue of the Post-Gazette, thought there was some conspiracy afoot by conservative watchdogs trying to keep undesirables off the "Street."
I figured it had more to do with changing times and what's considered appropriate and safe for children today. It's a more protective (some might say over-protective) time than it was in the early '70s, and showing kids scampering about a junkyard, as an early "Sesame" episode does, may raise an eyebrow.
Rosemarie Truglio, vice president of education and research for Sesame Workshop, said reasons for the disclaimer were many. She said the changing mores and dangers of today's kids emulating the on-screen children playing in the dump was part of it, but not the primary motivation.
"To kids today watching 'Sesame Street,' this ['Old School' DVD] looks significantly different," she said. "This 'Sesame Street' is not their reality. Kids have no concept of time, so for parents to tell them, 'This is the "Sesame Street" I watched growing up,' would be a disconnect. It has a different Gordon, Oscar is orange, not green. Big Bird looks significantly different."
Truglio said parents should screen the DVD first and use their own judgment about whether to share it with their children.
"We decided to release this for nostalgia purposes for adult viewers who want to go back down memory lane," she said. "The disclaimer is intended so parents, instead of having an impulsive reaction to put it in to watch with their children, will think about it and be prepared. I'm trying to protect the magic of 'Sesame Street' for today's young viewers who don't know it has 37 years of history."
Speaking of TV shows on DVD, I continue to be impressed with the extras the "Scrubs" teams conjure up for their DVD releases. Even its recent fourth season release ($39.99, Buena Vista Home Video) is chock-a-block full of extras, which is pretty impressive considering how deep into the series the DVDs are at this point.
Season four includes featurettes on the J.D.-Dr. Cox intern-mentor relationship, the sweethearts of Sacred Heart, the characters the writers deploy as comic weapons and a look at the background of the Janitor (Neil Flynn), which doesn't reveal anything but is pretty funny anyway.