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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arthur Meets Mister Rogers [1997]

Crossovers in television seem to be less common today than they were in the past. I remember the days of seeing Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coletrane of the Dukes of Hazzard make a guest appearance on Alice -- and, of course, don't forget Steve Urkel's visit to Full House.

Several weeks ago, we looked at Mister Rogers' crossover to the Sesame Street neighborhood but what about a more recent, lesser known crossover? Many people don't realize that Mister Rogers made an animated crossover to the PBS show Arthur.

Back in 1997, during the first episode of Arthur's second season, the first half of the show was a segment titled "Arthur Meets Mister Rogers" [Written by Ken Scarborough, Storyboard by Denis Banville]. In this episode, Mister Rogers comes to stay with Arthur's family and to visit Arthur's school. According to the dialogue, Mister Rogers grew up in the same neighborhood as Arthur's mother. Throughout the episode, Arthur is scurrying to prevent his peers from knowing that Mister Rogers is staying at his house for fear of being thought of as baby-ish. In the end, Mister Rogers visits the school and all is well.

The segment ends with footage of Fred Rogers recording audio for this episode and some clips about the process of animating Mister Rogers. Very interesting and fun, indeed.

For anyone interested, this episode is currently viewable on YouTube in its entirety (for the sake of our agreement with FCI regarding video footage, you're on your own to track it down).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PBS Cuts Mister Rogers...Again

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7/23/09)...

PBS has told member stations that "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" will only be available to air one episode weekly beginning in the fall. This past season, stations that wanted to air the "Neighborhood" daily had that option. Not anymore.

"PBS is operating under very tight budget constraints and it already has a full program lineup to support Monday through Friday," said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer for Rogers' Oakland-based Family Communications Inc. "If it was offering ‘Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' on a daily basis it would only be as an option to the existing full lineup of programs, and that option is an expensive option for them and the financial situation prevents them from making that an option."

Presumably that means WQED will also air the show just once a week, although I haven't gotten definitive clarification on that yet.

Morrison said PBS remains supportive of the "Neighborhood," launching a revamped Web site for the show this week at the PBS Kids site.

"It's a demonstration of their continuing commitment to keep ‘Mister Rogers' on the Web," Morrison said this week. "They put a lot of time and effort into keeping that fresh and alive and it certainly looks good."

The updated site includes a section called "Neighbors of All Ages" that invites fans to post their memories and photos of growing up with Fred Rogers. Video clips of Rogers are posted with more due this fall.

For more, on this topic and what you can do to voice your opinion, visit

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Episode 1365 [1974]

Original Air Date: April 12, 1974

For details on Episode 1365, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

May it stay a beautiful day in...

A few days ago I was contacted by Neighbor Vickie who provided me with a link to her Shutterfly page. The page is a nice tribute to Mister Rogers complete with several terrific slideshows. Most notable is the slideshow of photos taken at Idlewild during Mister Rogers Days when Vickie and her daughter had the opportunity to meet David Newell, Chuck Aber, and Maggie Stewart. Also, you will find a slideshow of images taken of the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe puppets.

Thanks for sharing, Vickie!

(On a side note, you may recognize Vickie's daughter from the "But I watch it everyday..."post from this past April.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Revised PBS/FCI Official Website

Many of you may have already noticed, but just in case, Family Communications has revised the official Mister Rogers' Neighborhood website. Thanks to the Boston-based FableVision, the website has taken on a new look with several updated features. Take some time to check it out!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pittsburgh Bus Pass [1994]

Not that this blog is moving towards being a collection of Mister Rogers items found on eBay, but here is one that caught my eye that I would assume is somewhat rare.

According the the item listing, this is an August 1994 Pittsburgh PAT Bus Pass commemorating Fred Rogers. I would agree with the listing in that a majority of these passes were likely discarded long ago. The image to the left rotates between an image of Fred Rogers and an image of the Trolley depending on the angle at which the pass is held (much like the Sportflics baseball cards of yesteryear).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Having an Operation - Let's Talk About It [1977]

Several weeks back, we looked at the 1977 book Going to the Hospital which was part of the Let's Talk About It series produced by Johnson & Johnson and the American Medical Association among others. I'm not sure why but at the time, it didn't occur to me that there would be more than one Mister Rogers book published through this effort.

With that in mind, it was interesting to come across Having an Operation on eBay this week (still for sale at the time of this post if anyone is interested). Having an Operation also comes from the Let's Talk About It series and has the same specifics as Going to the Hospital -- published in 1977 by Johnson & Johnson, et al.

I do not own a copy of this book but if anyone has any specifics about its contents, please let us know!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fan Art- Cornflake S. Pecially

I don't know if anyone has checked out my profile and seen any of my personal blogs, but if so they would see that I am an illustrator. Some time ago I started thinking about about drawing the characters and places from the show. This was partially inspired by the fact that I didn't like a lot of the Mr. Rogers character art and merchandise I was seeing, and partially just because it seemed like a fun idea. I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to devote to it, and as of this moment it's only resulted in one painting and a lot of sketches with some digital color. But below is one of my first and favorites.

Someday I hope Tim or I will really research and document each of these characters as I'm sure each of them has led an interesting life after 40 years of being on television. But for now here's a very brief biography of Cornflake S. Pecially, Corny to his friends, for those who may not remember. He works (and lives?) in a pink factory just to the right of King Friday's Castle. He touts himself as a man who manufactures, and his specialty is Rocking Chairs, which he calls Rockits, though he has been known to make just about anything that needs making (dolls, pretzels, trolley's, annoying talking horses). His museum caught fire once, and Lady Elaine once thought that they were engaged.

After drawing a couple of Mr. Rogers characters I think I'm realizing that Corny was always one of my favorites, though I couldn't really tell you why. His voice (as provided by Fred Rogers) was kinda funny, a sort of scratchy, high pitched "old man" voice, I always thought. He looked like some sort of chipmunk with his one tooth sticking out and his hair was always dissheveled. I think he may have been one of the most capable of the puppet characters on the show. Besides Dr. Bill and Gran Pere', he was one of the few who didn't show too much dysfunction. He just went about his business and was friendly, unlike Lady Elaine or King Friday both who caused trouble in one way or another. Perhaps as a kid I liked his stability.

I did this drawing in under a minute, (color took about 5) and I really like how effortless it looks. Many of the puppets on the show don't lend themselves to much expression, but Corny's grin and easygoing manner were easy to translate. Perhaps I'll post some of the other Mr. Rogers pieces in a future post.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hang in there...

Hey folks...July has turned out to be a busier month than I had expected. Hang in there though. I plan to pick up the pace on here again real soon....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Episode 1364 [1974]

Original Air Date: April 11, 1974

For details on Episode 1364, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Poetry, Praise, and a Positive Attitude

In his great interview for the Archive of American Television, Fred Rogers talks about a poem which he says is Daniel Striped Tiger's favorite. I assume that this means it was one of his favorites as well. He says it was taught to Daniel by Emily Jacobson, a poet who appeared on the Children's Corner and in the early days of the Neighborhood. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find much more about Ms. Jacobson. The poem however is by Douglas Malloch and is easy to find online, so I'm going to post it here also.

Be The Best of Whatever You Are
Douglas Malloch
If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley-but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.
If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass-
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.
If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail-
Be the best of whatever you are!

Aside from being used on the show, and simply being a good positive message, how does this relate to Mister Roger's Neighborhood? I think Fred must have really believed deeply in the concept of doing your best no matter what the job was, but also in helping others know how much their hard work was appreciated. Certainly he praises the world-renowned musical guests he's had on, like Yoyo Ma or Itzhak Perlman but have you ever noticed how he interacted with the normal folks around his neighborhood? Talking to someone working on an assembly line in a doll factory or a mushroom farm, he always praises them for contributing what they can. He looks at these people toiling in what any other person would consider a frighteningly menial job, looks them in the eye and says "You really must know how to do your job well!", "You must think a lot about the children/people who will enjoy what you make", or simply "I really appreciate what you do,". When was the last time you thought to say that to somebody?! I mean, on the rare occasions someone encounters a truly talented musician or an artist, it's difficult to muster the courage to say something so heartfelt, but would you ever think to thank the bagboy or checker at your local grocery store, not simply with the standard "Thanks" but with such a kind compliment as "I appreciate what you do and am glad that you're here"?

Fred thanks Paper Artist Ben Gonzalez in Episode #1714

Too often work is openly discussed as a drudgery. We complain to our children how tedious it is and how we wish we had their freedom to play. How can we expect them to do their best at everything if we condition them to have a negative outlook at a less than glamorous job? I know that a nice compliment will not make you love a hateful job, but wow! I think if anyone ever gave me such a sincere compliment for something most people take for granted, the rest of the day would certainly be beautiful in my neighborhood. What a wonderful example it would be to children- to show them how to appreciate hard work, not only doing it themselves but to open their eyes to the everyday tasks around them and how valuable each and every job is.