Review: ‘Sesame Street Stays Up Late! a Monster New Year’s Eve Party’

Big Bird and crew leap into primetime and into 1994 -- even if it's two nights too soon -- as they join hands (or paws or whatever) around the world to wait for a seal to drop the ball. The spec is muddled, but for juves will probably be a delight.

Big Bird and crew leap into primetime and into 1994 — even if it’s two nights too soon — as they join hands (or paws or whatever) around the world to wait for a seal to drop the ball. The spec is muddled, but for juves will probably be a delight.

“It’s a special night on Sesame Street,” promises Big Bird. It’s also a mishmash, with the customary Sesame ‘hood’s humor less direct, the sophisticated interactions less surprising, and the glee tempered as “Sesame Street” explains (via the Monster TV Network) how foreign kids enact traditions.

Gina (Alison Bartlett) and Savion (Savion Glover) supposedly host the U.S. festivities, but the Muppets don’t take kindly to control.

The worthy Ruth Buzzi zips through, since she joined the troupe in the last days of taping (she’s signed on with the regular “Sesame” gang for the upcoming season).

Overseas portions were created, with varying success, by the international staffs; some of the clips will guarantee kiddie yawns. It remains to be seen how thrilling it is for the “Sesame” faithful to watch youngsters skiing down a Norwegian slope or Japanese children pounding rice.

Foreign segs illustrate local customs and individuality. Kippy the Porcupine, for example, leads viewers through New Year’s preps in Tel Aviv (though the Jewish New Year has long since passed) as the kids agreeably put on a display of Israeli traditions.

Oscar the Grouch tries phoning his mom via operator Ernestine (Lily Tomlin, a highlight), who’s got a mind of her own.

The hijinks pass swiftly enough, and maybe young folks will gain something from these foreign forays.

On the other hand, it may all be moot: Just how many pre-schoolers are able to stay up until showtime?

Sesame Street Stays Up Late! a Monster New Year's Eve Party

(Wed. (29), 8-9 p.m., PBS)

Production

Taped in Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Israel, Germany, Norway and at Lifetime TV and Kaufman Astoria Studios, N.Y., by Children's TV Workshop and Televisa, Mexico; RTP, Portugal; NHK, Japan; IET, Israel; NDR, Germany; NRK, Norway. Exec producer, Nina Elias Bamberger; director, Chuck Vinson; writer, Lou Berger; costume designers, Bill Kellard, Terry Roberson; production designer, Victor DiNapoli.

Cast

Cast: Alison Bartlett, Linda Bove, Ruth Buzzi, Annette Calud, Emilio Delgado, Savion Glover, Angel Jemmott, Loretta Long, Sonia Manzano, Bob McGrath, Roscoe Orman, Jou Jou Papailler, Carroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Martin P. Robinson, Kevin Clash, Fran Brill, David Rudman, Jerry Nelson, Joey Mazzarino, Steve Whitmire, Carmen Osbahr, Peter Linz, Noel MacNeal, Pam Arciero, Bryant Young, Jim Martin, Jim Kroupa, Alison Mork, Rick Lyon, Lily Tomlin.
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