Elmo, the red Muppet so closely associated with “Sesame Street,” has enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with his fish, Dorothy, and his pal, Mr. Noodle. Soon, he will be extending his circle of influence.
When the 47th season of “Sesame Street” debuts on HBO in January, it will come with a retooled version of “Elmo’s World,” the long-running segment that has appeared in the last few minutes of the kids-TV mainstay. In 25 five-minute installments of “Elmo’s World” slated to run, viewers will encounter Smartie, an animated cell phone and learning tool that will assist Elmo as he uses his imagination to delve into the show’s main topic. The new segment will also include live action films and interactive thinking games such as matching, counting and sorting. And while Mr. Noodle (played by Bill Irwin) will return, he will bring with him two brothers played by Daveed Diggs and Daniel Koren and three pet dogs: Schmoodle, Floodle, and Frank.
“We’re excited to bring back an inventive and interactive take on one of the most successful children’s television segments, ‘Elmo’s World,’ for today’s kids,” said Brown Johnson, executive vice president and creative director of Sesame Workshop, in a prepared statement. “Kids love to learn with Elmo, and they are sure to enjoy the beautiful new chalk-drawn world Elmo creates in his imagination. We are also thrilled to be working with the legendary ‘original’ Mr. Noodle, Bill Irwin, and proud to bring two new diverse and multi-talented Mr. Noodles into our ‘World.’” Dorothy will appear more sporadically.
The maneuver shows “Sesame Street” returning to a favorite segment of the show after ceasing its production in 2009. Starting in 2012, “Sesame Street” launched a segment called “Elmo the Musical,” an occasional 11-minute piece that took the sensitive title creature on an adventure filled with songs and problem solving – all part of an effort to gain viewership among a slightly older segment of younger audiences. For recent “Sesame” viewers, “Elmo’s World” has largely been the stuff of repeats.
The revived segment will be “fresh, contemporary,” said Steve Youngwood, chief operating officer of Sesame Workshop, the show’s producer, in an interview, and will incorporate “star power.”
“Sesame Street” appears first on Time Warner’s HBO as part of a deal announced last year. New episodes appear on PBS a few months after their appearance on the premium-cable service.
“Sesame Street” will focus on kindness throughout much of the new season. In a recent study, Sesame Workshop found that nearly three-quarters of parents and almost four-fifths of teachers say they “often” worry the world is an unkind place for children. Around two-thirds of parents and more than half of teachers said they believed that today’s children are generally more disrespectful than respectful, and that people generally do not go out of their way to help others. With that in mind, the “Sesame Street” cast will address those concerns by highlighting positive interaction, the value of inclusion, listening to and respecting others, and being empathetic, warm, and generous, illustrating for parents and children how to be caring and compassionate.
The new season will feature a “kindness cam” segment that will prompt kids to pick out a “kindness moment.” In one episode, actor Zachary Levi will help Grover learn about being kind.
Other celebrities will appear during the season as well. Sia will sing “S is for Songs.” Jason Derulo will perform “D is for Dance.” James Corden will teach kids about Father’s Day. Tori Kelly will sing singing “K is for Kindness.” Anthony Mackie will teach Cookie Monster how to cook a healthy meal. And country music band Little Big Town will sing “I is for Instruments.”