Monday, April 27, 2009

Street Gang

I picked this book up because I have the type of curiosity that makes me watch the making-of sections of all the DVDs we own. I have watched all 12 hours of extras in the Lord of the Rings Extended editions. Yes, I am a geek, but I can kick your butt in Trivial Pursuit (as long as I don't have to answer any sports questions).
I have heard writing described as weaving a tapestry. This was a book that you could see the weaving being done. The author gives half-chapter biographies of all the people involved in creating Sesame Street, starting from way before they met. Eventually all the threads converge and you have a public television show. It was an enjoyable read, and I learned some things, but a lot of those things I didn't really want to know. For example, the politics and bickering involved in making a television show; I knew it was there, didn't appreciate so many pages explaining it in detail. The liberal policies of mid-60s intellectuals wasn't all that high on my interest list either.
What you hope for in a book like this are amusing anecdotes and a new insight into people you already knew. There were some of both, but since the real story was the development, the book gave a cursory look at the actual production of the show.
And I now feel really old because this year is Sesame Street's 40th anniversary.

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. Michael Justin Davis. Viking. 2009


jendoop said...

With all the bickering and politics didamaze you that the show was ever made and was successful? It gives me encouragement that sometimes if in the process of something it seems like a trainwreck in the end it can still result in good.

readerMom said...

It amazed me that they didn't study it to death. They use a lot of academics and most of the time you get the too many chefs phenomenon. And haven't (yet) PC'ed it to death. They even have a warning label on the DVD of the early shows: not meant for small children.
It's all that early Sesame Street that has made our society messed up you know.