Sesame Street has explored some sensitive topics over the years, but few episodes were as controversial as the one PBS aired—and quickly pulled—in 1976. Episode 847 features Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West nearly four decades after The Wizard of Oz (1939) premiered. The episode was banned for being “too scary” for kids, and for decades it was difficult to find. Now, as the AV Club reports, this piece of lost media has been made available to view online.
Margaret Hamilton’s Sesame Street appearance was uploaded to YouTube on June 18, and it’s already received close to 275,000 views (and counting). In the segment, the infamous witch loses her broomstick, threatens to turn Big Bird into a feather duster, and charms Oscar the Grouch. Compared to the flying monkeys scene in The Wizard of Oz, the episode feels pretty tame.
But many parents thought differently when it premiered in 1976. PBS was bombarded with complaints of the character traumatizing preschool-age viewers. Though the episode was reportedly meant to teach kids about overcoming their fears, the network gave in to the backlash. After airing only once, it was pulled from syndication permanently.
Though it’s categorized as lost media, Episode 847 of Sesame Street hasn’t been impossible to view. It’s archived at the Library of Congress, and grainy recordings have surfaced online in recent years. This newest upload is notable for its high quality. If ’70s kids have been searching for the lost footage since their childhood, this video is as close to the original as they’re likely to get. The clip also proves that the banned episode isn’t quite as horrifying as its reputation suggests.
[h/t AV Club]