Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mister Rogers and the Simpsons

Who knew Mister Rogers was on The Simpsons?

Sort of.

Read more on the Neighborhood Archive.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mister Rogers Tattoos

We've all heard the urban legends about Mister Rogers -- he was a Navy Seal, he was a sniper, he wore sweaters to cover the tattoos on his arms. Of course, those legends have all been debunked time and time again, but speaking of Mister Rogers and tattoos...

I received an email from Betty Aberlin this morning who shared a photograph with me. Apparently her cousin ran into a woman in a Seattle drugstore and snapped a picture of the woman's impressive tattoo.


A quick search online shows that there are others who have adorned their body's with the image of everyone's favorite Neighbor.

Image courtesy of MySpace

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of flickr

Not sure I'd have the guts to do something like this. In fact, I know I wouldn't. But if you've got a Mister Rogers tattoo -- especially one featured in the pictures above -- drop me a line. I'd love to hear the story behind your ink!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Early Thoughts on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

As the self-proclaimed one-stop-shop for "all things Mister Rogers," I wanted to take a few minutes to share my early thoughts on the upcoming premiere of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

This past week, PBS Kids launched a new DTN website which includes several games, printables, and even a full episode. While my viewing of DTN has been limited to this one episode and the handful of clips that have been available online, here's where I stand as the guy behind the Neighborhood Archive...

Let's start with the negatives...

I'll just come right out and say it. I don't care for the "grrrrr-ific" catch-phrase. It seems cheesy and somewhat lacking in creativity. In the footage of DTN that I've seen so far, this catch-phrase is overused and will get old with viewers very quickly.

But that's just petty, really. The one true negative aspect of the first full episode I saw ("Daniel's Birthday"), is that the feelings of disappointment felt by Daniel seem to be glossed over with the idea of looking past the bad and making something good of the situation. While this in itself is fine and good, what's wrong with feeling disappointed? Children do not need their feelings altered but rather need their feelings validated.

This aside, I am 100% behind Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood! My kids and I watched "Daniel's Birthday" together this past week and they loved it. LOVED it. So let's take a look at the positives...

First and foremost, my favorite thing about DTN is what I just mentioned -- my kids love it! They know their dad's appreciation for Mister Rogers and have humored me as I've occasionally tried to get them to watch episodes of the original Neighborhood. They enjoy the original, but to them, Mister Rogers doesn't match up to the likes of My Little Pony and Veggie Tales. Daniel Tiger, though? They can't wait! In fact, my 4-year-old saw a DTN preview on PBS Kids the other day and said, "I'm frustrated. I don't want any more short ones. I want to see the whole thing."

Another positive...I love the nods to the original Neighborhood. The songs, the stoplight, the characters. Did you see Mr. McFeely cruise by quickly on his bicycle during the closing? Have you seen the updated Lady Elaine Fairchilde?

The fact that DTN is an animated version of the next generation in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe is a wonderfully creative idea. Introducing a new generation of children to the Neighborhood message through a new generation of Make-Believe is brilliant. So brilliant that I can look past "grrrr-ific." :)

Along those lines is the most positive aspect of all when it comes to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. To steal a line from Mister Rogers & Me, DTN is out to spread the message. As I've said since the first day I started the Neighborhood Archive, the message of Fred Rogers is timeless. Sure, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood may not appeal to the majority of today's kids, but the message shared in the original Neighborhood is no less important and relevant today than it was when I was a kid. Not only is the message of Mister Rogers being shared with a new generation, it's being done through the characters he created and developed as mainstays in our culture. As Joanne Rogers said herself regarding Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: "It's so important to have those values that were in Fred's program out there for every child and every family."

Folks, I think we're in for something marvelous here. I know many people with a passion for the original Neighborhood are somewhat turned off by Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, but realize, this is a kids show being broadcast with a message for today's kids. This is not a show for adults who grew up with daily visits to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The children of today have different tastes and preferences than the children of our day. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood communicates Fred Rogers' timeless message to the modern generation of children on their terms -- in ways that they recognize and understand.

Sesame Street has evolved to meet these preferences. The Electric Company has been rebooted for the modern generation. Both continue to communicate the same message that they shared in decades past -- just in a different format. There is no reason that the Neighborhood should not do the same.

I certainly can't speak for every family who will be watching, but in my house, my kids and I are counting the days until we are welcomed into Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!