It’s such a good feeling, to know you’re alive.
Watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a staple of my childhood. I loved Trolley and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe (though Lady Elaine Fairchilde drove me nuts!), and I especially loved the neat mini-shows that would play on Picture Picture on the wall; I especially remember seeing the visit to the crayon factory, and being enthralled with how crayons were made. (As an adult, I discovered How It’s Made and wished it had been around when I was a kid.)
Fred Rogers was the real deal. He was such a gentle person, deeply caring about children, their needs, and their well-being. We are fortunate to have had him as an early childhood influence for so long. But he was more than that. He fought to protect public television. He even testified that recording his program on a VCR so a family could watch it together wasn’t a bad idea. He was a force for good.
His show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was always the same, and always different. His adherence to routine (changing into his sweater, putting on his sneakers, feeding the fish) brought stability and reassurance to all children. His calm demeanor made children feel safe. But each episode also took us on an adventure into make-believe, and sometimes out into the real world, whether through video clips or field trips. All through it, Mister Rogers was our guide and companion.
In the new Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s a Beautiful Day Collection, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the classic show, is a new collection of 30 episodes from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that span 1979-2001, with shows from my generation’s childhood to the next generation and everywhere in between.
Through the years, Mister Rogers taught us and our children important life lessons. This DVD set includes a nice cross-section of them, such as the importance of play, strengthening friendships, rules and limits, art and music, types of families, being kind, recycling, taking care of yourself, helping, feeling good about yourself, generosity and gratitude, books, and, of course, love.
And don’t forget the catchy songs from the show. Just thinking about them makes them go through my head for days. After watching these episodes, you (and your kids) will be singing “Won’t You be My Neighbor?”, “It’s Such a Good Feeling”, “It’s You I Like,” and all the other regular songs.
The set includes four discs with a total of about 14 1/2 hours of video. There isn’t typical bonus material like you find on most special DVD sets, but it does include an episode that the DVD claims is the first ever episode; it also appears to claim that the bonus episode is in black and white. But really, it’s the first episode of the second season from February of 1969, the first season that the show was broadcast in color. As usual, though, during the episode he changes into his trademark sweater (his mother knitted all of them), visits his neighbors, and sends Trolley into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. He looks so young in this episode! But his style and demeanor didn’t change through the decades of hosting the show, which is somehow reassuring. Yes, you could say I am still really into Mister Rogers, even in my mid-40s. This set is a must-have for any Mister Rogers fans out there. I wish the original broadcast dates were listed with each episode, but you can look them up for yourself.
Watching the episodes in this collection brought me back to my own childhood, filled in some interesting holes during the years between when I was a kid and my own kids were born, and reminded me that there is still pure goodness in this world.
Fred Rogers has been gone for 15 years, but he’ll always be in our hearts. And we can be reminded of some highlights of one of my favorite childhood shows with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s a Beautiful Day Collection. For the affordable price of only $14.99, it’s easy to relive a more innocent time, either from your own childhood, or from your kids’.
Note: I received a sample for review purposes, but my enthusiasm for Fred Rogers is entirely my own.