This episode of Sesame Street first aired Thanksgiving day, 1983. I was just shy of 12 years old. Yes, I saw it then. And I would be lying if I didn’t admit to occasionally watching Sesame Street now. There is still no better show – aimed toward any demographic – on television.
An event sort of recently happened that instantly reminded me of this lesson and this blog presents me with a forum in which I can share it with you. It's amazing all the things I've retained from this show.
I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrighted material. I will gladly remove this partial transcript if asked to do so by Sesame Workshop. Know that it is presented out of love and respect.
GORDON IS STANDING ON THE SIDEWALK WHEN BIG BIRD APPROACHES HIM – WALKING BACKWARD WITH HIS HEAD BETWEEN HIS LEGS. GORDON LOOKS TO CAMERA, PUZZLED.
B.B.: (MAINTAINING POSITION, SIMPLY) Oh, hi, Gordon.
GORDON: Uh, hi, Big Bird.
B.B.: (MATTER OF FACT) Nice day, isn’t it?
GORDON: Yeah. Very nice. Big Bird?
GORDON: Why are you doing that?
GORDON: That! With your head between your legs?
B.B.: Oh. (SIMPLE) Because.
GORDON: Because why?
B.B.: (SIMPLE) Just… because.
GORDON: You’re walking with your head between your legs… just because?
BIG BIRD NODS HIS HEAD
GORDON: Can’t you give me a better reason than “just because?”
B.B.: Well, I guess I could try, but I don’t think I could come up with a better reason.
GORDON: (ACCEPTING) Yeah. I understand.
B.B.: (STANDING UPRIGHT) You know what I’m gonna do now?
B.B.: This! (PUTS ONE HAND ON HIS HIP AND SHUFFLES OFF) De Do, De Do, De Do…
GORDON: (WATCHES BIG BIRD EXIT AND IS AMUSED. HE PAUSES FOR A BEAT, THINKING. THEN SHUFFLES OFF LIKE BIG BIRD JUST DID) De Do, De Do, De Do…
-SHORT FILMS AND CARTOONS-
THE ADULTS IN THE BACKGROUND ARE ALL SITTING ON THE PATIO AND TALKING ABOUT MR. & MRS. WILLIAMS' NEW BABY.
B.B.: (TO THE CAMERA) Hey, I have a fun idea. Why don't we just go watch the grown-ups for a while? C'mon. (B.B. WALKS OVER TO THE ADULTS)
OLIVIA: If you're talking about cute, let me tell you something about cute. Because I know about cute. This baby is cuter than I was when I was his age. Now, we're talking cute!
THE ADULTS ALL LAUGH. BIG BIRD LAUGHS EXTRA LOUD TO GET EVERYONE'S ATTENTION.
GORDON: Oh, hi, Big Bird!
B.B.: Oh, hi. Gee, I hope we're not bothering you. I thought maybe we could watch you grown-ups for a while. Could we?
THE ADULTS ALL SAY IT'S OK.
B.B.: (TO CAMERA) We can watch. Stay. (TO THE ADULTS) OK, so, what is it we're going to be seeing? I mean, what are you doing?
GORDON: Um, well, we're talking, Big Bird.
B.B.: That's it? You're just talking?
BOB: Yeah. That's it.
SUSAN: Grown ups do that a lot, Big Bird.
B.B.: Well, I was hoping you were going to be doing something more interesting.
MARIA: Well, we’re sorry, Big Bird. You know, you don’t have to listen.
B.B.: Well, that’s OK. I can make even listening to you guys talk, exciting. What I’m gonna do is, I’ll listen to what you’re saying, and from what I hear, I’ll try to guess what you’re talking about. And I’ll do all of that while I’m balancing on one leg! (B.B. BALANCES ON ONE LEG) Ta-Daaa!
DAVID: Why do you have to balance on one leg, Big Bird?
B.B.: That’s the exciting part.
THE ADULTS ALL LAUGH.
BOB: Whatever you say, Big Bird. Hey, what were we talking about, anyway?
OLIVIA: We were talking about cute babies.
GORDON: By the way, who does he look like? Does he look like Mrs. Williams or Mr. Williams?
LUIS: Oh, Mr. Williams.
BOB: Really? I would have said Mrs. Williams. Same eyes, nose, hair.
OLIVIA: No way! He looks like both of them!
SUSAN: What did they name him?
BOB: Oh! Leandro.
DAVID: When are we going to see the baby?
LUIS: I think today. They’re coming today.
SUSAN: Oh, Big Bird! You should be able to guess by now.
B.B.: (STILL BALANCING) Well, how?
SUSAN: Put all the clues together. We were talking about the baby. We said what his name was, who he looked like and that he and his mother were coming over here.
B.B.: Right, right! I can figure it out! You were talking about Mrs. Williams coming with her new baby named Leandro – today.
THE ADULTS ALL CHEER AND CONGRATULATE BIG BIRD
B.B.: That was exciting, wasn’t it? Well, what are you going to talk about now?
THE ADULTS ALL PAUSE, THINKING.
DAVID: Well, how about… POLITICS!
B.B.: Not even standing on one leg could make that interesting. (HE EXITS)
THE ADULTS LAUGH.
MARIA: (TO THE CAMERA) He’s got a point.
-SHORT FILMS AND CARTOONS-
ALL THE ADULTS ARE SITTING ON THE PATIO HAVING A CONVERSATION. DAVID IS CLEANING UP THE COFFEE CUPS FROM THE TABLES.
DAVID: Look, I'm telling you, she's a great candidate. She says she's against big spending, big business and inflation. She says when she gets into office, there'll be enough money for government, social programs and the space program!
BOB: Hey, she sounds great. What's her name?
GORDON: (SARCASTIC) Alice in Wonderland!
THE ADULTS ALL CRACK UP LAUGHING.
BIG BIRD ENTERS.
B.B.: Hey, it's time for your presents!
B.B.: Well, I just drew pictures of all my grown-up friends on Sesame Street and I'm gonna give them to you. (B.B. HANDS LUIS THE STACK OF DRAWINGS) I'm going to be an artist when I grow up.
LUIS: (EXCITED) Oh! Let's see! (HOLDING UP HIS DRAWING) Oh, look at this! Look at me! (HE PASSES THE REST OF THE DRAWINGS OVER)
B.B.: That's you, Luis!
SUSAN: (EXCITED, HOLDING UP HER DRAWING) That's got to be me!
B.B.: Yeah, you're always smiling, Susan.
GORDON: Hey! (HOLDING UP HIS DRAWING) How's that?
B.B.: Doesn't that look like you, Gordon?
BOB: Oh, Hey! There I am! Hey, that's nice! (SHOWING HIS DRAWING)
B.B.: I put musical notes because you're singing.
MARIA: (DISPLAYING HER DRAWING PROUDLY) Thank you, Big Bird! Thank you.
DAVID: (SMILING, SHOWING HIS DRAWING TO EVERYONE) Hey! Wait! Whoa!
B.B.: That's you, David.
OLIVIA: Smile! I think you're going to like this! (EXCITED, SHOWING HER DRAWING)
B.B.: And last but not least, TA-DAAA! (HOLDING UP HIS DRAWING OF MR. HOOPER)
THE ADULTS ALL COMPLIMENT BIG BIRD ON HOW NICE THE DRAWING OF MR. HOOPER TURNED OUT.
B.B.: Thank you. Thank you. Well, I can't wait until he sees it.
SILENCE FALLS AS THE CAST MEMBERS REALIZE B.B. DOESN’T KNOW MR. HOOPER HAS DIED. THEY EXCHANGE CONCERNED LOOKS.
B.B.: (STILL UP, HAPPY) Where is he? I want to give it to him. I know! He’s inside the store. (STARTS OFF)
BOB: (SOFT) No, Big Bird. He’s not inside.
B.B.: No? Then where is he?
MARIA: (DEEP BREATH, GOES TO BOB, THEN SOFT) Don’t you remember, Big Bird? We told you that Mr. Hooper died. He’s dead.
B.B.: (THINKS FOR A BEAT AND THEN, SIMPLY) Oh, yeah. I remember. (INNOCENT, BRIGHTENING) Well, then, I’ll give it to him when he gets back.
CONCERNED LOOKS ARE AGAIN EXCHANGED BY THE CAST
SUSAN: Big Bird. Mr. Hooper’s not coming back.
B.B.: (SIMPLY CURIOUS AND SURPRISED, NOT HEAVY) Why not?
SUSAN: (GETS UP, GOES TO HIM. SOFT, A BIT OF A STRUGGLE TO FIND WORDS) Big Bird… when people die, they don’t come back.
SUSAN: No, never.
B.B.: (INNOCENT, CURIOUS) Why not?
LUIS: (SOFT) Well, Big Bird. They’re… dead. They can’t come back.
BIG BIRD IS TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT
B.B.: (STARTING TO DAWN, AND EFFECT HIM EMOTIONALLY) Well, he’s gotta come back. Who’s going to take care of the store? Who’s going to make my birdseed milkshakes and tell me stories and…
DAVID: (GOES TO B.B., CALMING HIM) Big Bird, I’m going to take care of the store. Mr. Hooper, he left it to me. And I’ll make your milkshakes and… and we’ll all tell you stories… and make sure you’re okay.
OLIVIA: Yeah. We’ll look after you.
B.B.: (THINKS FOR A BEAT) Well, it won’t be the same.
BOB: You’re right, Big Bird. It will never be the same around here without him. (GETS UP AND GOES TO HIM) But we can all be very happy we had the chance to be with him and know him and love him a lot when he was here.
B.B.: (NOT SO SURE) Yeah.
OLIVIA: And Big Bird, we still have our memories of him.
B.B.: (BRIGHTENS A BIT) Yeah! Our memories! Right! That’s how I drew the picture… from memory! We can remember him, and remember him, and remember him… much as we want to. (HE LOOKS AT THE DRAWING)
B.B.: I don’t like it. It makes me sad.
DAVID: (REASSURING) We all feel sad.
B.B.: (AFTER A BEAT) He’s never coming back?
B.B.: (AFTER A BEAT) I don’t understand. Everything was just fine. Why does it have to be this way? Give me one good reason.
THE ADULTS ARE STUMPED FOR A BEAT. THEN GORDON REALIZES SOMETHING AND TAKES THE LEAD.
GORDON: (GENTLE) Big Bird, It has to be this way… because.
B.B.: Just because?
GORDON: Just because.
B.B.: Oh. (LOOKS AT THE PICTURE FOR A BEAT, THEN GENTLE, TO PICTURE) You, know, I’m gonna miss you, Mr. Looper.
MARIA: (WITH SWEET SORROW) That’s Hooper, Big Bird. Hooper.
B.B.: (STILL LOOKING AT THE PICTURE) Right. (TURNS PICTURE TO CAMERA. LOOKS OFF INTO SPACE AND SIGHS. EVERYONE GATHERS AROUND B.B.)
FINAL SHOT OF B.B. SURROUNDED BY CAST. FADE OUT
-SHORT FILM AND CARTOON-
QUIETLY, B.B. HANGS UP HIS DRAWING OF MR. HOOPER IN HIS NEST AREA. THERE IS A KNOCK ON HIS DOOR.
B.B.: (SOMBER) Come in.
LUIS: Big Bird.
B.B.: Hi, Luis.
LUIS: You want to see Mrs. Williams’ baby?
B.B.: (BRIGHTENING) Oh, yes!
THE ADULTS ENTER WITH MR. & MRS. WILLIAMS AND THEIR NEW BABY.
B.B.: Oh, hi, Mrs. Williams!
MRS. WILLIAMS: Hi!
B.B.: Hi, Mr. Williams! And this is the new baby!
LUIS: Yeah, here he is!
B.B.: Oh, isn’t he cute! Oh, look at him! And what did you say his name was?
MRS. WILLIAMS: Leandro.
B.B.: Leandro. Oh, what a nice name. And look! He is even cuter than Olivia was!
B.B.: Coochie, coochie, coo! Gee, you know what the nice thing is about new babies?
MARIA: What’s that, Big Bird?
B.B.: Well, one day, they’re not here, and the next day – here they are!
EVERYONE CROWDS EXCITEDLY AROUND THE BABY. CAMERA PULLS OUT.
V.O.: SESAME STREET HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU TODAY BY THE LETTERS “J” AND “M” AND BY THE NUMBER “5.” SESAME STREET IS A PRODUCTION OF THE CHILDREN’S TELEVISION WORKSHOP.