The first two releases of Sesame Street Home Video's new "visits" series indicate that the venture will be highly successful, which is nothing new to the people at Children's Television Workshop, producers of "Sesame Street."
The two titles, co-produced and distributed by Random House, are "Sesame Street Home Video Visits The Hospital" and "Sesame Street Home Video Visits The Firehouse." Each is 30 minutes long and priced at $14.95.
In usual captivating style, these stories invite children to join their favorite Sesame Street characters as they visit these important places in the neighborhood.
At the hospital, for an upbeat half-hour, children follow along as the doctor (comedian Robert Klein) gives Big Bird a blood test, takes his blood pressure, temperature and X-ray, and gives him his own ID bracelet.
Written by Sonia Manzano ("Maria" on "Sesame Street"), who also writes for the regular TV series, this video helps children understand what goes on at a hospital and overcome their fears of visiting. It is also comforting for those wondering what to expect during a hospital stay. Added pleasure comes from two original songs, "Busy Getting Better All the Time" and "You Have to Be Patient to Be a Patient."
The visit to the firehouse also has an original song, "Waiting for the Bell to Ring." This video shows Big Bird, Elmo, Gordon and friends being invited to tour the firehouse after Oscar's trash-can barbecue gets a little too smoky.
Real fire fighters show them how equipment like hoses, trucks and ladders work, as well as what firemen do between alarms. Tony Award-nominee Bob Gunton plays the chief.
Young viewers also learn what a smoke detector is and get some useful tips on what to do in a fire. Big Bird and his pals even get to watch fire fighters battle a real fire and rescue a trapped monster.
There are more than 3,000 children's titles out there in video-land. Studies show that by the time a child reaches 18, he or she will have spent about 15,000 hours in front of a TV set. Some concerned parents have turned to their VCR and videos that educate. This series does just that.