NEW YORK (AP) — Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby are utterly transformed in a new “Sesame Street” show. You might even say they're Transformers.
The trio of furry monsters wear cool metal suits bursting with gizmos and soar through the air in their new CGI-animated show “Mecha Builders,” adding some science and technology lessons along with their adventures.
“These are characters that are beloved and that our audience loves. So it’s just like expanding on these characters and who they can become,” says Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind "Sesame Street.”
Each 11-minute episode begins with a problem — a runaway train, a hurtling Earth-bound asteroid, a melting ice slide, a broken movie screen or a wayward boulder — and the trio try a series of fixes, refining their ideas until they find an answer. The lesson is to always plan, test and solve.
For the busted movie screen, the Mecha Builders first use a giant wooden sculpture and then some window glass as a replacement before coming across the answer: a repainted billboard. Along the way, they learned that round or see-though objects don’t work well for projecting images onto.
“That’s how kids learn, right? You’re not going to get it right the first time. And what we like to model is what these characters are doing: They’re really heroes in training and so there’s a lot of trial and error," says Wilson Stallings. "You just have to have perseverance and you have to do a little creative problem solving before you end up with the right solution.”
The Mecha Builders' motto is repeated in every episode: “First we planned it. We thought about ways to solve the problem,” says Abby. Elmo soon takes it: “Then we tested it. We tried different ideas and didn’t give up.” Finally, Cookie Monster finishes it off: “Then we solved it. We found a solution and saved the day.”
The show is part of a new content partnership between WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Sesame Workshop and is set to debut on HBO Max and Cartoon Network in early May. The first episode — “They Sent Us a Pie” — premieres on “Sesame Street's" YouTube channel on Tuesday.
In the new series, Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby maintain the sweet personalities they've always had, but their sleek suits provide them all kinds of problem-solving tools. Elmo has an arm loaded with everything from a vacuum and a drill to an umbrella and a laser cutter. Cookie Monster has a hammer hand and the ability to see very far away, something called “googly vision.”
All three characters can temporarily grow giant-sized or drop down to be teeny-tiny. Together they explore concepts like magnetism and melting and learn about the usefulness of wedges, both for splitting wood and to keep large objects parked.
“It’s all about character, it’s all about great stories that are relatable to kids," says Wilson Stallings. "Oh, and yeah, you’re learning something, too. So it’s all about a combination of all of that.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits