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Series / Sesamstraat

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Sesamstraat is an adaptation of Sesame Street, based in the Netherlands. Having began its run in 1976, this Dutch co-production is one of the longest running adaptations of the show, second only to the German version, and by extension one of the longest continuously running Dutch television shows.

Sesamstraat features its own Dutch human characters and a few original Dutch Muppet characters. The show also uses dubbed scenes from the American version that only feature Muppet characters.

Compared to its original counterpart, Sesamstraat places more emphasis on the social development of young children rather than teaching them basic reading and mathematics. The reason behind this, is that, unlike in America, learning letters and numbers is a fundamental part of Dutch children's education.

The original Dutch Muppet cast includes:

  • Tommie: A small doglike creature whose mentality resembles that of a 5-6 year old boy. He is known for saying made-up exclamations such as 'Poehee' (pronounced 'poo hey') when he is surprised or annoyed.
  • Ieniemienie: A mouse character, representing a 6 year old girl.
  • Pino: More or less the Dutch counterpart to Big Bird. Pino is a large blue bird, who, in terms of character, resembles a four year old child.
  • Purk: A small pig, resembling a baby.
  • Angsthaas and Stuntkip (Translation: Scaredyhare and Stunt-Chicken): A duo of Muppets who teach children how to deal with fear in situations that might scare them, such as going to the doctor.

Notable human characters include:

  • Buurman Baasje (Neighbor Bossy): A grumpy neighbor who always has a complaint about the Muppet characters.
  • Mr. Aart: A somewhat dignified elderly man. He was introduced to the show as a grumpy old man because critics felt the show was too idyllic. In his early years, Aart was an arrogant man who always thought he knew better than the other residents of Sesamstraat. But as he aged, he gradually grew into a more caring grandfatherly type. To still have a resident grouch in the show, the character of Buurman Baasje was created.
  • Lot: Started out as a teenage older sister type, but evolved into more of a "Working mother" type.
  • Sien: The owner of the local supermarket. She is more or less the "aunt" of the muppet characters.
  • Frank: Was introduced as a teenage older brother, but gradually developed into an "ideal uncle".
  • Elvan: was introduced to take over the role of teenage older sister from Lot.

This adaptation also features many Muppets from the original Sesame Street, including, but not limited to Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Kermit the Frog, Oscar, Count von Count and Cookie Monster.

Sesamstraat features examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Mr. Aart always pronounces Pino's name as "Peenyo", instead of the correct "Peeno".
  • Bird People: Pino, like his originator Big Bird, is a large humanoid bird.
  • Character Development: A case of Real Life Writes the Plot. Since the human characters age visibly, they are no longer fit to play certain roles, so they are gradually developed into more mature roles. When this happens, new younger actors are hired to play the younger character types. Examples are Lot and Frank, who played teenage characters, but took on a motherly and a "cool uncle" role respectively.
  • Christmas Episode: Subverted. Instead of a Christmas episode, the show gets an annual Sinterklaas themed episode on 5 December. In Dutch speaking countries, Christmas is not a holiday children associate with receiving presents and thus not as relevant to them as it is in America. The holiday Dutch children associate with presents instead is Sinterklaas, which coincidentally is the inspiration for Santa Claus. According to the tradition, Sinterklaas has his birthday on 5 December, hence the date of the special.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several of the American Muppet characters, most notably Oscar, play smaller roles compared to the original Sesame Street.
  • Grumpy Old Man: The Dutch portion of the show has at least one character filling this role to avoid the show becoming too idyllic. Aart filled the role at first and was replaced by Buurman Baasje, allowing Aart to become more of a grandfatherly character.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Tommie and Ieniemienie sometimes wear pieces of clothing, but not full outfits. On other occasions, they don't wear any clothes at all, as their fur counts as clothing.
  • Long Runner: This adaptation is one of the longest-running television shows in the Netherlands, having started in 1976 and continuing to this day. Suffice to say, many Dutch parents who now watch this show with their children watched it when they were young themselves.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • The pun with Count von Count is completely lost with the Dutch version of the character, as he is named Graaf Tel there, which is literally translated to Count Count. This is because the Dutch words for counting and the rank of nobility aren't homonyms like in English.
    • The character Herry Monster in the original Sesame Street is obviously a pun on being a hairy monster. In Sesamstraat, the character is renamed to Harry Monster, but does not retain the pun of being a hairy monster, as the Dutch word for "hairy" is "harig".
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: The Muppet characters are around for decades, but keep resembling young children. Contrary to most depictions of this trope, the human characters do visibly age, causing the character dynamics to shift.
  • Retool: Around 2005, the show moved to a more abstract looking set, in which the background pieces resembled huge toy blocks and the trees looked like giant pieces of broccoli (although this now makes the show's title seem incomprehensible).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Addressed by critics. In the early days of the show, critics felt the show was too idealistic. They felt that the show needed a metaphorical "Snake in the paradise". As a result, the character of Mr. Aart was added to the show.
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: Pino is easily one head taller compared to the adult human characters, who act as his Parental Substitutes.
  • Verbal Tic: Tommie exclaims "poohey" when expressing surprise or indignation at something.