The Return of MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD – Sort Of

It’s in The New York Times, but we still can’t believe this!

PBS Is Going Back to the Neighborhood – by Elizabeth Jensen

IT’S been nearly a decade since the death of Fred Rogers in early 2003 and 11 years since the last original episode of his long-running PBS children’s show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” was broadcast. That’s practically an eternity in the fast-morphing world of children’s television. At least three cable networks devoted solely to the demographic have been created since then.

But on Monday the Rogers vision will come to life again, albeit in very different form.

“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” which most PBS stations will show twice every weekday, has no sweater-wearing father figure to shepherd young viewers gently. The show, built around the fictional young offspring of Rogers’s original puppet characters, including Daniel Striped Tiger, is aimed at a narrow demographic, 2-to-4-year-olds, while the original program was designed for a broader audience.

Most significant, the live-action neighborhood created in Rogers’s studio in the 1960s has given way to a brightly animated world. As one commenter — who appended a symbol depicting an unhappy face — noted on the PBS Facebook page, “I don’t recall the Original Neighborhood of Make-Believe requiring Flash,” referring to the computer animation software.

Those involved in creating the new program say that, stylistic changes aside, all the important elements from the original show are returning. “What you saw in Fred was that he talked about feelings, he talked about difficult things,” Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer of the Fred Rogers Company and the show’s co-executive producer, said in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh, the company’s home. “The death of a goldfish was not a discussion of the alphabet. It was a discussion of life. It was social and emotional, not cognitive based.”

Read it all

The Monday mentioned in this article as kick-off day was about 3 weeks ago, but we haven’t been able to get ourselves to see this show. Has anybody out there tuned in? Frankly, we can’t believe this can be any good, no matter how you define “good.” So, since we steadfastly are unable to man up for it, consider this post an open call for reviewers.

Who’ll pick up the gauntlet? C’mon, wusses, we’re waiting. (Yeah, we know what Mister Rogers would say to this challenge. But what we need is Daniel Tiger’s POV.)