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The Countdown series was a recurring animated segment during the early years of Sesame Street. Each clip began the same: a wide-mouthed launch director (perched atop a podium) stands next to a button, ready to trigger a rocket (proudly displaying the letters "USA" on its side). A group of people closely stand by, awaiting the launch. The director counts backwards, from ten to one, but when he's finished counting, some kind of disaster often occurs. In early episodes, Carol Burnett would appear at the end of one or more of these segments in a filmed tag, where she laments, "Well, back to the ol' drawing board."
|#1: Flop||Episode 0018||After the countdown, the rocket flops over. The director nervously chuckles.|
|#2: Soot||Episode 0018||The rocket lifts early, and showers everyone in soot.|
|#3: Director Launch||Episode 0018||After countdown, the director himself is launched into space as the rocket stays put.|
|#4: Water||Episode 0022||After the countdown, water comes out of the rocket and splashes everyone.|
|#5: Spectator Launch||Episode 0022||Minus his podium, the director laughs nervously as he accidently launches the spectators into space.|
|#6: Explosion||Episode 0022||The rocket takes off at seven. It comes back down so the director can continue his countdown, but at one, it falls over and explodes, crushing the spectators' stand.|
|#7: Successful Launch||Episode 0042||Unlike previous segments, the rocket successfully launches at the right time as everyone celebrates, and the director grins at the camera.|