The Countdown series was a recurring animated segment during the early years of Sesame Street. Each clip began the same: a wide-mouthed launch director (perched atop a podium) stands next to a button, ready to trigger a rocket (proudly displaying the letters "USA" on its side). A group of people closely stand by, awaiting the launch. The director counts backwards, from ten to one, but when he's finished counting, some kind of disaster often occurs. In early episodes, Carol Burnett would appear at the end of one or more of these segments in a filmed tag, where she laments, "Well, back to the ol' drawing board."
The first three Countdown films appeared on the Sesame Street Pitch Reel and This Way to Sesame Street.
- When the director reaches 1, the rocket falls down.
- When the director reaches 4, the rocket launches too early covering him, who continues counting down, and the crowd in door.
- When the director reaches 1, he launches.
- When the director reaches 1, the rocket instead shoots water.
- When the director reaches 1, the crowd launches and the man laughs nervously.
- When the director reaches 7, the rocket launches too early when is called to return by the director. When he reaches 1, the rocket falls on the group, causing an explosion.
- There is another segment where the rocket successfully launches as everyone celebrates, that debuted in Episode 42. It's the only segment that is hard to find on video, along with the episode.
- Segments 1, 2, and 3 debut in episode 18. 4, 5, and 6 debut in episode 22. Segment 7 debuts in episode 42.
- It's unknown who voiced the director.
- In segment 5, the director's podium is missing and he stays in midair.
- Segment 6 is the longest segment in the series while segment 1 is the shortest.