An episode of “Sesame Street”, allegedly removed from syndication as too scary for children, has been posted on social media sites such as YouTube and Reddit.
The episode stars Margaret Hamilton, who revives her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz.”
The plot is also inspired by “The Wizard of Oz”, but rather than looking for the return of a pair of ruby slippers, Hamilton is looking for a “stolen broom”.
Hamilton terrorizes David, played by Northern Calloway, throughout the episode in an attempt to retrieve his broom.
Finally, at the end of the episode after pretending to be an old woman, the witch recovers her broom and flies away.
“It’s glorious!” she proclaims. Then, as she shows off, she says, “Look! No hands!”
The broom falls from under her and David, Big Bird and his friends grab the broomstick again.
The “lost” episode aired on February 10, 1976 during the seventh season of “Sesame Street,” according to the Muppet fan archive, Muppet Wiki. The intention of the episode appears to be to teach children how to overcome their fears and “the value of planning by creating and implementing broom recovery methods,” writes Muppet Wiki.
Sesame Workshop was reportedly inundated with complaints from parents about the episode, and it never aired on TV again, according to the AV Club. Sesame Workshop did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the episode appearing on social media.
The AV Club reported that pirated versions of the episode would be posted on social media from time to time, but would either be deleted or of very poor quality.
Although it was never re-aired on television, the AV Club reported that the episode is preserved at the Library of Congress.
The latest episode upload was posted on Saturday by YouTube user Mike Minnick. NBC News was not immediately able to reach Minnick for comment.
In her post, Minnick claims the episode was never aired on television – a claim disputed by the AV Club. Instead, Minnick writes that the episode was shown to test audiences in the 1970s and declared too scary. In Minnick’s account of why the episode was lost, he claimed that Muppet creator Jim Henson deemed the episode “too scary” and was never allowed to air. .
Muppet Wiki states that the episode’s actual story overlaps the two stories. Muppet Wiki reported that after the episode aired, the show received “an unusually high amount of email responses from parents, almost entirely negative, in a short period of time.
This prompted additional rounds of drug testing in March 1976, about a month after the episode aired, Muppet Wiki said. Although the children were attentive to parts of the show featuring Hamilton, it was difficult to judge their fear by watching the episode, according to Muppet Wiki. He was later advised not to rebroadcast the episode, Muppet Wiki reported.
In a 1976 handwritten letter to “Sesame Street” and archived on Muppet Wiki, a viewer named Rebecca said she dreamed of the green-faced witch at bedtime. She wrote, “I wish you wouldn’t put that witch on ‘Sesame Street’ anymore because…I dreamed [of] this witch again and again and again and again.
The episode first surfaced online in 2019, according to Muppet Wiki.
On the latest YouTube post, many say deleting the episode was a disgrace and others said they were glad it was released so it could be enjoyed.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the lost media community, this is a huge win for all of us!” one person commented.
Many said they didn’t find the episode very scary, but one commenter reminded others that young children in the 1970s had more limited media exposure than young people today.
“People forget the kind of exposure kids had to ‘scary things’ then compared to now. She was a real baddie, and [in] one of the only kid-friendly movies kids could watch,” the commenter wrote. I agree it was such a great loss to be gone so long, especially for Margaret Hamilton. Such a legend.”
Hamilton, who died in May 1985, also reprized her role as a witch on TV shows like “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” In “Mr. Rogers”, Hamilton plays himself and explains what it was like to play the witch.
“When I got the chance to do it, I was very, very happy about it,” Hamilton told Rogers. “Sometimes the kids think she’s a very mean witch, and I guess she looks like that…she’s also what we call frustrated. She’s very unhappy because she doesn’t get never what she wants.”
Before becoming an actress, Hamilton was a kindergarten teacher, and the AV Club reported that her history as a teacher seemed to be part of the reason she wanted to educate young people about how they could overcome their fears.
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