I don’t do a lot with Twitter these days. On rare occasions I’ll post something there but usually it’s just site promotion and updates with the occasional thought on something going on not worthy of an article here. Every now and then a trending topic does catch my attention, and while at times I wonder if Twitter is pushing a topic on their own outside of sponsored promotion for whatever reason I still check to see what people are saying. Usually they’re saying stupid things. For example….
As part of the current restructuring of HBO Max by the new Warner Brothers Discovery, who seem to be very good at getting in the news as of late, shows and episodes are coming off of the streaming service. This really isn’t anything new and why there are still those of us who promote physical media to a cloud run by someone else. Licenses change, things that don’t get a lot of views aren’t renewed, and the shows and movies go away. This isn’t new, folks. And yet in the most recent announcement a list of shows including Infinity Train and Sesame Street have everyone in a panic. Well, the former is disappointing, but to hear some on Twitter tell it Sesame Street is going away entirely. Do not panic. Sesame Street isn’t going away. Just part of it is.
The announcement says that 200 of the current 456 episodes (that’s right next door to 123 Sesame Street) are going to be removed from HBO Max. This isn’t even the first time according to the Variety article I linked to. While they used to have every episode of the show they did ditch a lot of the early seasons. Not knowing why I can only theorize that it had something to do with guests, whatever cultural nonsense is going on, and that time C-3PO and R2-D2 showed up since they’re Disney fodder now.
From the article: “HBO Max listed 456 total episodes of “Sesame Street,” with a selection from Seasons 1, 5 and 7 and the full lineup from the most recent Seasons 39-52. Of those, only 29 are from the earliest seasons. Previously, the streaming service offered about 650 total “Sesame Street” episodes, including episodes from Seasons 2-4, Season 6 and those from every season between 8 and 35.” So they already dropped episodes before and nobody panicked. I know there are a lot of changes and surprises going on, as there are with any restructuring. However, when HBO started airing the show in 2016 on their cable channels it dropped to a half-hour. A number of the Muppets I grew up with have disappeared, like Prairie Dawn and Harry Monster, and none of the humans are there. The show has changed numerous times but somehow losing a portion of episodes constituted the series itself being canceled to some of the Twitter responders.
However, the show never left PBS, the station that originally aired the New York City based series. (Are they still in New York? A lot of the previous show was based around New York culture, which is one of the reasons it was occasionally bi-lingual with so many Spanish speakers in NYC.) PBS still has full episodes on the PBS Kids website and presumably the app. It only goes back maybe a week, but it’s still there. A number of streaming services still carry the show, including the official YouTube channel that still has old shorts and some full episodes, but I don’t know if any of them have shows from 1960s to today and you have to hunt down the abandoned one where the Wicked Witch Of The West showed up. They’re not even taking all the episodes off. Possibly it’s the older ones only viewed by us nostalgic adults that are still an hour long are going.
They’re not even abandoning the franchise altogether. As part of their cartoon section or whatever Cartoonito is Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby are getting turned into robot as part of their odd interest in building shows. (The other being Bugs Bunny Builders, which makes slightly more sense.) Elmo’s spin-off show #2, the talk show parody The Not-Too-Late Show, hasn’t been canceled to my knowledge but I haven’t seen it. There was some other spinoff about monsters running a hotel that Grover and Cookie Monster were on I think but that does seem to be over. And later episodes of Sesame Street, including presumably the new season, are still coming. They also made a cartoon adaptation of a Little Golden Book I received as a kid, The Monster At The End Of This Book, which I keep trying to catch on PBS and the PBS Kids channel. There are plenty of options for seeing this show, though you’ll have to go hunting for the episodes you grew up with.
The removal of the “Sesame Street” episodes comes after HBO Max on Wednesday said at least 36 more titles will be leaving the service this week. That includes 20 original HBO Max shows, including teen drama “Generation,” animated anthology series “Infinity Train” and kids’ show “Summer Camp Island,” as well as several “Sesame Street” specials. That’s in addition to the previously announced titles exiting HBO Max this month, including all eight of the original “Harry Potter” films.
So nothing of value lost except for Infinity Train since Harry Potter is all over the place, Summer Camp Island is probably available somewhere in the Cartoon Network sphere (not that I’ve seen it or Generation so I don’t know what kind of loss either is), and there’s sure to be other ways to see everything else.
Warner Bros. Discovery said the decision to pull the titles from HBO Max were tied to the pending combo of the platform with Discovery+. “As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and Discovery+,” the company said in a statement. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.”
In recent weeks, HBO Max also quietly removed six Warner Bros. films and HBO shows such as “Camping,” “Vinyl,” “Mrs. Fletcher” and “Run.” Under Warner Bros. Discovery’s stewardship, HBO Max also recently killed Greg Berlanti’s DC series “Strange Adventures” and a “Wonder Twins” live-action movie.
See, there’s some good news too. I was not looking forward to their Wonder Twins take given current history. Strange Adventures I’m not too sure of, but anything with Kevin Smith right now I can do without.
So worry not. Sesame Workshop (the former Children’s Television Workshop) is not done making Sesame Street and there will still be ways for your kids to fall in love with the show even if the episodes of our youth may be disappearing from HBO Max. And maybe someday somebody can finally tell us how to find the dang street.