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Spaceship Surprise

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Sesame.jimmartin-trek

Jim Martin with the Next Generation crew.

Spaceship Surprise was a recurring sketch on Sesame Street. Inspired by Star Trek, the segment was designed to teach consonant digraphs, the pairing of two consonants to create a new sound. The series focused on the crew of the titular ship, headed by an excitable captain (performed by Jim Henson) and his stoic officer (Richard Hunt). In each segment, the ship would crash land on a different planet, whose populace demonstrated a specific sound. Alliteration was used heavily ("cheering chairs," "shouting shovel," etc.) The skit would generally end with the entire group performing a dance named after the digraph.

In the early 1990s, a sequel series, Spaceship Surprise: The Next Generation, was launched. This time, the emphasis was on consonant sounds in general, and not digraphs. The new crew included:

The original intro music was similar to the original Star Trek theme and featured Martin P. Robinson as the narrator. The new series featured new music similar to Star Trek: The Next Generation series and Jerry Nelson narrating.

In an interview for Tough Pigs, Noel MacNeal explained that Patrick Stewart was meant to make a guest appearance in Spaceship Surprise, but refused, and a different segment featuring Stewart aired instead.

Sketches

Original Series

Picture Theme / EKA Description
PlanetCH
Planet "CH"
Episode 2414
The crew lands on the Planet CH, where they are greeted by Chunky Cheese.


Online: Sesamestreet.org (SSvideo), Hulu (Hulu), SesameStreet's YouTube Channel (YouTube)

Spaceship.TR
Planet‎ "TR"
Episode 2607
The crew lands on the Planet TR, where they are greeted by Trevor Trout.
PlanetSH
Planet "SH"
Episode 2776
The crew lands on the Planet SH, where they are greeted by Sheriff Shrimp, and meet a shouting shovel and shopping sheep.

Next Generation

Picture Theme / EKA Description
SpaceshipH
Planet "H"
Episode 3195
The crew lands on Planet H. They are greeted by Hopalong Hamster, and see Happy Harry the Hopping Haystack and hula dancing hens.


Video: Best of Sesame Street Spoofs!
Online: Sesamestreet.org (SSvideo), Hulu (Hulu), SesameStreet's YouTube Channel (YouTube)

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