Once upon a time, in the mid 1970s, “Sesame Street” traded its bright, sunny atmosphere for ominous gray skies. Most of us would have probably never known this had it not been for the power of the internet.
An entire episode of the beloved children’s show has resurfaced online after being initially pulled for allegedly being “too frightening” for kiddie viewers.
What on earth could be so scary in a place where the air is so sweet, you might wonder. As it turns out, even “Sesame Street” isn’t impervious to a wayward witch broom.
The video clip starts with upbeat, fast-talking David (played by Northern Calloway) exiting Hooper’s store, struggling to make his way through powerful gusts of wind.
“Look at that! Something’s falling right outta the sky!” he shouts gesturing up as the wind whirls. David drops to one knee and catches an incoming broom just in the nick of time. Suddenly the wind stops. Yay?
Unfortunately, our hero’s troubles are just beginning. Sinister music begins to play, and unbeknown to David, who should come lurking from around the corner but the original Wicked Witch of the West herself.
No, you’re not in Dorothy’s dream. That is Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the one, the only, the Wicked Witch of the West. Guess that bucket of water did not quite do her in her.
“I know I’m not in Oz anymore,” Hamilton says while looking around, concluding she “must be over the rainbow somewhere.” Determined to find her broom and fly away, she marches over to David, demanding he give it back.
Unfazed, David does not immediately give back the broom, insisting that she should be more careful and treat him with more respect (can’t have a “Sesame Street” episode without a life lesson, after all). The lecture only further agitates the witch, but David won’t budge. Finally she tries to snatch the broom away, only to be electrocuted.
“Oh I forgot!” the Wicked Witch claims. “I can’t so much as lay a finger on the broom as long as somebody else is holding onto it!” What an oddly specific and important detail to forget. Oh right, kid’s show.
The Wicked Witch disappears in smoke, promising that this is not the last we’ve seen of her. She proceeds to terrorize poor David throughout the entire episode, including creating an indoor thunderstorm and threatening to turn him into a basketball. Savage.
Finally the Wicked Witch concocts a plan to get her broom back by turning herself into a sweet, regular looking older woman, a scheme so fiendish she wins the heart of Oscar the Grouch in the process. The plan works, but the witch still has to ask for it nicely. So, you know … compromise.
Though Big Bird called the ordeal “interesting and exciting,” apparently audiences didn’t quite hold the same view. Mike Minnick, who posted the episode on YouTube, claimed that it only aired once in the mid ’70s before getting the pull for being “too scary for children.” According to an article published by AV Club, the show was on the receiving end of a deluge of complaints from the parents of freaked out kids.
Some reminiscing fans agreed that yes, as kids, the episode was terrifying. One wrote that it “scared me beyond belief when I was 5. I would anxiously watch the start of each episode after seeing this one, to make sure it wasn’t the ‘witch one’ again.”
However, the main sentiment shared in the comments was gratitude that the footage found its way back into viewing.
“What a real joy to see… I know she scared the bageezus out of me when I was a little one watching The Wizard of Oz every year on television. Now, it’s just plain old nostalgic to see the original Wicked Witch,” wrote one person.
Another added, “People have no idea how huge this is. I honestly thought I’d never see the day. One of the holy grails of lost media has been found.”
Mostly, the whole thing became one giant Margaret Hamilton appreciation fest. Here are just a few of the heartfelt comments:
“From the bottom of my heart, Thank you SO SO much for making this available to watch and experience! This really was a great treat and seeing Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch again just brought out the kid in me!”
“Lmao when she turns into a cute little grandma and does the evil laugh, I loved it! She she is so cute, what a legend.”
“Margaret Hamilton…. I love her so much and miss her desperately. I love how 40 years later she was still able to play the wicked witch as incredible as she always was.”
You could say that Hamilton was born to play a witch. During her interview with Mister Rogers—yes, Hamilton frequented children’s shows in her heyday dela—she shared that as a little girl, she always dressed up as a witch for Halloween. So it’s no wonder that getting the chance to play perhaps the most iconic witch of all time made her “very, very happy.”
Hamilton felt her cackling, green-skinned, shoe-obsessed character wasn’t all that wicked, just misunderstood. She told Mister Rogers, “Sometimes the children think she’s a very mean witch, and I expect she does seem that way. …she also is what we refer to as frustrated… because she never gets what she wants.”
Under that definition, there’s a bit of witch in all of us.
This uncovered relic, traumatizing as it might have been, has brought some major joy with its epic return. Perhaps even wicked witches can be a source for good.