It's easy to think that, with the Internet existing and all, we should have access to pretty much every movie, TV show, and book ever made. But that's not remotely true -- for various (usually stupid) reasons, there are huge holes in our cultural history. Nobody bothered to keep copies of certain things, in any format. So, we can only be wildly curious about ...
7 An Infamous Sesame Street Episode That Traumatized Children
After decades of successfully teaching kids about the elementary facts of life -- shapes, letters, and ... uuuhm, death -- in 1992, Sesame Street decided to teach kids about divorce. Hey, don't laugh. If anyone out there is capable of explaining divorce to kids, it's Sesame Street, a show which consults a team of child psychologists and psychiatrists on every topic they tackle to make sure they don't accidentally traumatize their impressionable audience.
The fact that their divorce episode, unofficially titled "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce," ended up traumatizing their impressionable audience is really of secondary importance here.
The Count teaches kids how to add gifts from two birthdays and Christmases.
So as you may have guessed from its title, the episode in question dealt with Mr. Snuffleupagus, Big Bird's woolly mammoth friend, coming to terms with his parents splitting up. The show did its best to explain to kids how, despite Snuffy's parents no longer living together, they still love him and his kid sister Alice, who definitely won't have to move away to Basil Boulevard or anything like that. Unfortunately, after watching the episode, the preschool test audience reportedly thought that, no, divorced parents did no longer love their kids, that divorce did mean losing all your friends, and that your folks arguing did automatically signal the end of your family.
Some confused kids even saw Snuffy's sister angrily hitting her teddy bear and somehow got it into their heads that she stabbed it with a knife. Holy shit! Now we have to see this thing.
"So ... is she single?"
We'll probably never get our chance, though -- in the end, despite sinking months of research and God knows how much money into the episode, Sesame Street decided to not unleash it on the general public, and probably fed all of its remaining copies to Cookie Monster. To this day, only the 60 children in the test audience have seen the divorce footage, and we imagine most of them have repressed most of it since then.
6 Nearly 100 Episodes of Doctor Who (and Other Shows)
For much of its existence, TV was seen as a one-and-done sorta thing. It's hard to imagine now, but most early shows were never recorded at all, and if they were, it was done in the most primitive way possible -- by pointing a film camera at a TV when the show aired.
A tradition many shitty YouTubers keep alive today.
For example, in the case of sci-fi TV's great-granddaddy, the 1953 serial The Quatermass Experiment, the show's recordings were of such poor quality that one actually has a bug crawling on the screen for a good 15 minutes. But even if a show was recorded to videotape, there was still a solid chance that it'd get rubbed out so the tapes could be reused. This process is known as "wiping" or "screwing over Doctor Who fans."
We bring up the cult sci-fi series about a reincarnating time-traveler because it's currently missing 97 of its 800 episodes after the BBC had wiped the tapes containing them, in a foolish but noble effort to weaken the show's fanatical fanbase, probably. It apparently didn't work, though, because ever since then, BBC has been desperately scouring the globe for the lost episodes, some of which have turned up in attics, garage sales, far-flung former parts of the British Empire like Nigeria or Hong Kong, and the basement of a Mormon Church in London.
Don't worry. The best episode is completely safe.
Other classic shows, like Dad's Army and Z Cars, were also substantially gutted because of wiping. Most horrifying of all, even Monty Python's Flying Circus would have suffered the same fate if troupe member Terry Jones hadn't bought up the precious tapes at the last minute, which have better been made of freaking diamonds for how desperate the BBC was to recycle them. And even then, the surviving cuts were a bit butchered by BBC censors, who worried that the Queen would die of a heart attack if the Pythons were allowed to say the word "masturbation" on TV.