Elmo's World is a segment on Sesame Street starring Elmo. It ran consistently from Season 30 (1998-1999) to Season 37 (and less regularly through Season 42). Each segment, or episode, runs approximately 20-minutes long following the same, basic format. Regular features include inserts featuring the Noodle Family, Elmo asking questions of a baby and email messages which feature other Sesame Street regulars. The segment takes place in a crayon-drawn apartment.
Each segment focuses on a specific topic - ranging from Balls or Jackets to Fast and Slow or Hands. The segments follow a series of skits and interviews centered on that topic. The skits and interviews are essentially the same every day, only changing the subject matter.
In a 2011 interview with the fan website ToughPigs, Kevin Clash revealed that the segment was no longer in production, and would be replaced by a new, 11-minute Elmo segment created by Joey Mazzarino and the writers, "Elmo the Musical," that debuted in season 43. Elmo's World remains as part of repeats of past episodes and a new section of Sesamestreet.org collects videos, games and merchandise based off the segment.
One characteristic feature of "Elmo's World" is that every episode has the same segments, in the same order. Research has shown that the formula appeals to young children's attraction to ritual and routine, and that children's participation with the program increases with repetition.
- Guess what Elmo's thinking about today: Elmo introduces the episode topic, which leads into a film montage of the subject.
- Dorothy has a question: Dorothy's bowl has a decoration related to the topic, Dorothy relays something factual about the subject and has a question.
- The Noodle Family: Skits featuring Mr. Noodle, his brother (known as Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle), or his sister (known as Mr. Noodle's sister, Ms. Noodle), or any combination of the above, attempting to answer Dorothy's question, but usually fail. The segment is intended to be comical, demonstrating that the Noodles aren't all too bright.
- Kids and Baby: Kids answer Dorothy's question, followed by Elmo asking a baby with a prop related to the topic.
- Elmo Has a Question for You: Elmo asks the viewer to help him, often counting items in a CGI animation.
- Home Video/Video E-mail: During the first few seasons, home video footage shot by Elmo of other Sesame Street characters. Later replaced by video e-mail, in which Sesame Street characters demonstrate something related to the main topic.
- Quiz: Elmo asks different questions about the main topic, often with multiple choice answers, and kids, in voice-over, provide the answer. Usually, at least one Sesame Street character appears in each segment. The segment usually begins with Elmo failing to open the drawer until it finally opens up on its own, often pushing him offscreen.
- Film Insert: Live action films, usually involving a child and their experiences with the subject. During the first season, it used a jigsaw effect at the beginning and end, which was later replaced by a crayon-wipe effect.
- TV: Animated segments, seen on a channel devoted to the topic, and usually featuring the Lecture Lady.
- Expert Interview: To learn more, Elmo talks with an expert, often an inanimate object related to the topic or activity. Book is featured in certain segments.
- Tickle Me Land: Usually occurring during the guest's speech, Dorothy imagines a version of Elmo as a specific animal or in an occupation/activity.
- Closing Song: Elmo and the guest(s) sing the topic word(s), usually to the tune of "Jingle Bells".
Inside Elmo's World
As shown in the Elmo's World: Happy Holidays! home video special, Elmo's World takes place inside one of Elmo's crayon drawings, which explains the scribbly look and bright colors of the digitally-generated set. While Muppet representations of the day's topic have always appeared inside Elmo's World, it was not until the season 35 special The Street We Live On that major Muppet characters also visited Elmo's World in person. Most segments usually feature cameos by at least two other recognizable characters (one of whom usually appears in sequences where Elmo asks a yes or no-type question).
The basic look of Elmo's World has been replicated by the Indian co-production's segment The Word of the Day, also hosted by Elmo.
- Dorothy (Elmo's pet goldfish)
- Mr. Noodle (Bill Irwin)
- Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle (Michael Jeter)
- Mr. Noodle's sister, Ms. Noodle (Kristin Chenoweth)
Behind the Scenes
The idea for an Elmo-centered segment came just before the 30th season of Sesame Street. Research was showing that the average viewing age of the program was getting younger and was more popular with viewers under the age of three than ever before. Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, vice president of Education and Research for Sesame Street, attested that tests showed younger viewers were losing interest around the show's 45-minute mark. Producers came up with the idea for the original format to end around 45 minutes, and that a shorter, and very different styled, segment that was specially designed to engage the younger viewers, would air during the final 20 minutes of the show. Judy Freudberg, Tony Geiss, Emily Kingsley, Cathy Turow, Annie Evans and Molly Boylan created and developed the concept along with Arlene Sherman.
The first episode of "Elmo's World", which was about balls, debuted on November 16, 1998 (in Episode 3786). "Elmo's World" has undergone a few changes since its conception. In the beginning, the same "Elmo's World" segment was repeated on all five shows for the week, but by the end of the inital season the practice was dropped. When the segment first appeared, Elmo introduced "Elmocam" home videos. In 2001, Elmo's computer began delivering video e-mails from other Sesame Street characters on the topic of the day. These computer segments replaced the home video portion of the show used in the first two seasons. Also, the film portions featuring kids were originally narrated by Elmo, but later on were switched to being narrated by the kids themselves.
Elmo's room is a simple raised set comprised for three walls (painted scenery flats) with crayon drawing designs. The episodes are produced outside of the regular seasons' production schedules.
Early on, many of the animated characters who interacted with Elmo were performed in real-time alongside the puppet through the use of motion-capture puppeteering. Rick Lyon served as motion-capture puppeteer for Elmo's drawer, shade and door when the segments first started. However the use of motion-capture performances was dropped as production got more complicated. Now, simple stand-ins and markers are used and the animated characters are added in post-production using traditional key-frame computer animation techinques.
Kevin Clash is Elmo's principal puppeteer for Elmo's World; for more complicated shots that show the use of Elmo's entire body, a puppet known as "Active Elmo" is used and additional puppeteers assist and are matted out along with Clash in the final shots. Matt Vogel, John Tartaglia and others have served as assistants.
Bangladeshi co-production Sisimpur has a segment inspired by Elmo's World, Ikri's World. Instead of being inhabited by animate objects that are normally inanimate, Ikri Mikri's imagination features traditional Bangladeshi puppets. This segment also features a clown similar to Mr. Noodle that tries to answer Ikri's question through pantomime.
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