Numerosity: The Baker Segments
February 14, 2017 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Numerosity was one of the earliest series of filmed segments to appear on Sesame Street. "The first batch of ten were all in the same style. They began with Jim’s hand-drawn animations accompanied by children singing to a melody by Joe Raposo [PREVIOUSLY]. Examples of the given number were revealed, ranging from body parts and shapes to toys and animals, and each film ended with the dramatic entrance of a baker, played by Alex Stevens, carrying the appropriate number of cakes, pies, or ice cream sundaes. In Jim’s voice, he announced what he was carrying and immediately tumbled down the stairs. While these films aired on the early seasons, they were eventually deemed to be too violent and dropped from the rotation."[via]
posted by not_on_display (41 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
The film and animated segments in early Sesame Street were fantastic.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:34 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh, wow. This brought back some memories.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:08 AM on February 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Six cats !
posted by D.C. at 2:40 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I vividly remember these from early 80s episodes of Sesame Street.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:44 AM on February 14, 2017


1. Eminently sampleable audio.
2. Nightmare fuel, as evidenced by a lifetime of psychedelic nightmares
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:29 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Ten . . . chocolate cream . . . pies!!!!

WHOOPS!!!!
posted by jfwlucy at 4:35 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Too violent?

Sheesh. (Get off my lawn.)
posted by Ickster at 4:37 AM on February 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


When I was very little and part of Sesame Street's target audience, the baker falling down the staircase was my favorite part. When I was a teenager, I found it kind of disturbing that they wasted all that delicious cake. Now that I'm a grown-ass middle-ager, mostly I worry about the poor dude's bones.

The segments must have been in rotation for at least a decade before they were dropped, or at least the Canadian Sesame Street series retained them for longer than the US series.
posted by ardgedee at 4:38 AM on February 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Unfortunately, when they tried to teach the kids up to 40 by baking 40 cakes, someone came and took the forty cakes, which is the same as four tens. And that's terrible.

/crossover
posted by splen at 4:39 AM on February 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


I loved the baker falling down. It was one of my favorite bits, along with the crazy marble maze.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:39 AM on February 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Thought this was a double, but no, the previously was about the number videos with the mad painter, not the mad baker. Also posted by not_on_display. Kudos to you - well done!.

Now I look forward to the Pointer Sisters Pinball Series post.


(I love these so much)
posted by Mchelly at 6:14 AM on February 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Aw man! My sister and I had a debate for years about whether there was one segment where the baker doesn't fall. I distinctly remember him making it all the way down the stairs with some pies, and then somebody hits him in the face with one of them, and he drops the rest. I guess she was right.
posted by KGMoney at 6:19 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I distinctly remember him making it all the way down the stairs with some pies, and then somebody hits him in the face with one of them, and he drops the rest.

I seem to recall that, too. Maybe there was an alternate version of the pies one that didn't make this reel?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on February 14, 2017


It's also great to notice how much everybody was enjoying themselves in these segments. The "Two hats!" guy looks like he's about to burst out laughing.
posted by KGMoney at 6:30 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I never saw these segments, but I have a memory of my mom falling down steps carrying bowls of soup. It was tinned soup dinner for us kids, because she had become a single mom and was tired. She couldn't drive and my dad had always been the one to do the shopping, so even tinned soup was a careful choice in the store because it had to be lugged home on foot with omnipresent gallon of milk and anything else that was needed for five people. She doesn't even remember this happening, but I do because she was upset and angry. And if my mom was upset, I was gonna be upset in short order because it was often somehow my "fault." So my already naturally high empathy was way dialed up all the time by associated fear.

I suspect I wouldn't have been among the kids who thought the baker falling was funny.
posted by zennie at 6:33 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I also loved the baker skits. Violent? Someone falling is violent? I guess we just weren't the kind of kids who would imitate every stupid dangerous stunt we saw on TV. Mind you, we did stupid things, but it never occurred to me to fall down stairs while holding baked goods.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:35 AM on February 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Did that falling baker become the voice of Ernie? Sounds just like him to my memory.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:59 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Did that falling baker become the voice of Ernie? Sounds just like him to my memory.

Well, yes, in the sense that Jim Henson dubbed the voice of the baker AND performed Ernie, but he did both from the outset. I only just learned today from the first link in the FPP that Henson didn't actually PLAY the baker, he just did the voice. The actor certainly did look a lot like Jim Henson, so I always assumed it was him.
posted by briank at 7:20 AM on February 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


These are still my favorite. I used to wonder as a kid in the mid 70's why there weren't more of these, and why the ball was always red.
posted by hearthpig at 7:23 AM on February 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


I remember these. I also liked the Turk Murphy ones.
posted by eye of newt at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2017


Funny, I was all wrapped up in this while sick at home last week. Hey, it has the 10 Indians with Brian Henson instead of the later-swapped-out 10 Bells with John Henson!

When this was on TV originally, it never, ever, ever showed 1. It went from 2 to 10, then back to 2 again. The show was never sponsored by the number 1. I went through my entire childhood wondering what was wrong with 1.

I remember seeing the animal guy (two turtles, etc.) all over TV at that time. He did Lavoris mouthwash commercials, and may have been in a sitcom, can't remember, but he was very recognizable.

And finally, IIRC, Joan Ganz Cooney called the baker falls "male humor." Which it probably is. And that's absolutely fine.

Happy Melismata
posted by Melismata at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Now I look forward to the Pointer Sisters Pinball Series yt post.

Wait ... what?!?!? I never made that connection before. Now that I have, I'M SO EXCITED!
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:31 AM on February 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Long ago, I had a job baking pies in a restaurant. During the warmer months, cream pies were high in demand, so I found myself baking multiples of each flavor every week. When I would get ready to carry them out to the display case, one co-worker would always sing out, "[NUMBER] [FLAVOR] CREAM PIES!"

Now I know why. (I guess I'm just lucky they didn't push me down the steps.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:32 AM on February 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


So puppeteering is one of my hobbies, and I love this segment.

I've actually been wanting to do a skit like this, but I need to get audio of kids counting. That's harder than you would think.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:34 AM on February 14, 2017


Now that I have, I'M SO EXCITED!

Are you going to jump now? Don't be shy.
posted by Melismata at 7:35 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I do remember that my parents were not impressed at how much I loved the guy falling down the stairs.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:36 AM on February 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


A lot of this reminds me of just how hard it must have been to film in colour for television back then. They were probably using super-8 film for these!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:38 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


caution live frogs: "along with the crazy marble maze."

The pinball machine! Also, by the Pointer Sisters.
posted by WCityMike at 7:53 AM on February 14, 2017


A lot of this reminds me of just how hard it must have been to film in colour for television back then.

Well...you are probably seeing dupes of a dupe, possible recorded off-air, thus the janky quality. Most likely, these spots were recorded in 16mm, not 8.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2017


I always loved the Ladybugs' Picnic, the Martian Beauty, and King of 8, personally.
posted by Deeleybopper at 8:27 AM on February 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Also, just because it is V-Day...

Sesame Street is still putting out content of questionable tone...
posted by Deeleybopper at 8:31 AM on February 14, 2017


Grace Slick and Denny Zeitlin.

https://youtu.be/-WSHvbGM6oE
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:27 AM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was talking about Sesame Street a while back with my younger sister and she had no idea Snuffy was ever imaginary. I felt like I was explaining the PBS Kids version of the Illuminati conspiracy.
posted by Diablevert at 1:42 PM on February 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


The animation team for the Pointer Sisters pinball shorts included Ernie Fosselius, of Hardware Wars fame.
posted by EarBucket at 5:38 PM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Pointer Sisters sang the pinball song, and TILT the jazzy spies-&-racecars counting videos had music by Denny Zeitlin and vocals by Grace Slick. Sesame Street had some serious artistic muscle in it.
posted by NumberSix at 9:13 PM on February 14, 2017


My favorites are the psychedelic alphabet (so very groovy!), the yogi counting to 20, the hipster jazz dudes' alphabet, and Jazzy Spies. Of those, Grace Slick singing 7 is the best! The way she sings SEVEEEEAHEYEYAYVENNNN! towards the end of that clip is magnificent. I tried to mimic her every time. Can't imagine how that sounded with my extra-high, 4 year old's soprano. When I found out as a teenager that it was her, I was like, of course it was!

I liked the Numerosity segments, also. My favorite part of that was singing the count along with the kids. Because I so desperately wanted to be on Sesame Street in 1973. Any excuse to sing along between Sesame Street and The Electric Company, I took!
posted by droplet at 9:20 PM on February 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


The One episode did in fact air, it was just less frequent than the others since 1 wasn't the sponsoring number very often.
posted by JHarris at 10:28 PM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


(That's also Henson in #3, juggling)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:50 PM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


We watched these with toddler-lastobelus last week! He's 4, and he loved them -- especially **six cats**, which he kept rewinding* to watch.

There haven't been any nightmares so far.

*are we still using the word rewinding with a generation who will probably never experience media on any sort of tape? or is there a better word?
posted by lastobelus at 12:17 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's something so distinctly 1960s about the earliest Sesame Street shorts, like the one-two-three ball-rolling machine that spits out maraschino cherries. It's such a short era in the show's history, and one that almost immediately gave way to the 1970s bits that were the bulk of my experience of the show.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 10:45 AM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Rube-Goldberg 1-2-3 rollercoaster machine was one of my favorite bits, too. However, I only remembered the "rare" ending, where the ball is ground up into dust at the end. I have no recollection of the maraschino cherries ending, but I love how deliberately the girl retrieves one of the cherries.
posted by not_on_display at 11:44 PM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


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