Monday, November 3, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Another Monday, another long-running television show. I decided to go with another PBS show,
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Like last week's Sesame Street, this show also is geared toward children, has puppet sequences as well as live sequences, and often shows clips from factories and galleries to help viewers understand how things are made. A main difference: no new episodes are being made; the final episode aired in 2001.

There is never a plot, and storylines only half continue from episode to episode. The Mr. Rogers segments do not continue, but the Neighborhood of Make-Believe sections can carry for days. Mr. Rogers often breaks the fourth wall by recapping the puppet sections for the audience, and discussing what went on. Fred Rogers himself was one of the show's puppeteers, and with him viewers imagined themselves on the trolley to and from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Characters: King Friday, Queen Sara Saturday, and Prince Tuesday; Lady Elaine Fairchild; X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat; Daniel Tiger (who lived in the clock); Corny the inventor; Grandpere the tiger (who lived at the Eiffel Tower); the Platypus family (little Ana was so cute!); and Harriet Elizabeth Cow (the schoolteacher). Oh, and of course Mr. McFeely, Mayor Maggie, Chuck Aber, and Lady Aberlin.

Fred Rogers wrote over 200 songs for the series, and sadly, I doubt that the new generations will be privy to learn them all. While there is a campaign to make Mister Rogers a part of daytime PBS scheduling once again, it is currently only airing once a week or so in most parts of the country. There were some great episodes, and I learned about a lot of different things, including how toothpaste is made, LoL. "Jospehine, the Short-Necked Giraffe" was my favorite sequence, but it seems that I cannot find a good video clip. It was a three- or four-day sequence, and extra time was allotted to the musical play than the usual middle segments. Josephine was a giraffe, and she had a friend, Hazel, who was an elephant. Hazel played the trombone, and there was another giraffe who played the "hoof organ," which was similar to the floor keyboard in Big. And a snake who learned to hiss. The main theme (I believe) was to accept and love your differences.

The clip below gives a good view of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, introduces several characters, and begins with Mr. Rogers in the sandbox, one of my favorite live-action settings.

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