PBS premiered this week a mostly-animated sequel to the beloved “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The new show is called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” Daniel is the son of the show’s puppet Daniel Striped Tiger. Daniel sings a version of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and zips up a hoodie instead of a cardigan.
“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” ran for 33 years until Fred Rogers’ retirement in 2000. He died in 2003.
“Fred’s widow Joanne Rogers tells The Times that her late husband had quietly searched for a successor to take over his show, but that he could never find one – and she figured that if he couldn’t, no one else could, either…. “
“I must say I spent a very nervous time thinking about what Daniel would be like,” said Joanne Rogers. “I’m in my 80s now, and I grew up with cartoons, the slapstick kind of things that went on, and I never much cared for it.”
“Only Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is nothing like that. According to Mrs. Rogers, “I like that little Daniel is so dear, but he’s also very, very human, and he has his feelings.”
Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker finds the show to be just OK.
“There’s a difference between being simple and simplistic. Fred Rogers’ Neighborhood was great kids programming because its creator not only addressed common kid problems and joys, but did it with interesting conversation. He also built a rich fantasy world in the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe.” And while Rogers’ puppetry may seem slow and old-fashioned to some grown-ups now (probably a lot of television executives, for example), the life that Rogers and his collaborators breathed into characters such as Lady Elaine and King Friday XIII is missing in the current new show.”
“The series is a co-production of The Fred Rogers Company and Out of the Blue Enterprises, the latter containing some of the folks who brought you Blue’s Clues. This new project is a good enough show — not, as Daniel says ceaselessly, “Grrrr-ific!” If it didn’t have the Fred Rogers sourcing behind it, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would seem like a score of other pre-school-aimed shows: brightly-colored, always in hectic motion, always careful to spell out every theme and emotion slooooowly. It doesn’t have the slightly eccentric, humane, leisurely touch that Fred brought to children’s television, but it’s perfectly okay.”
I grew up on Mister Rogers. I loved it as a kid. I tried showing it to Rose and Walsh when they were little, and they would never sit still for it. I think the other shows were so go-go-go that they found the show to be slow. (The same is true for Beverly Cleary novels, which I always loved. They always thought they moved too slowly. It makes me sad.)
Michael met Mr. Rogers when we lived in Pennsylvania. They both attended a celebration at the Crayola factory. Mr. Rogers asked Michael what his favorite color crayon was and they both agreed on yellow. Mr. Rogers took a photo of the two together and sent it to Michael. He also sent him a yellow crayon. We have since lost it in moves. I am hoping it will turn up. Michael said he was just as lovely as he seemed on TV.
Did you happen to catch the show? Do you want your kids or grandkids to watch it? Did you watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood when you were young? Did your kids? What do you make of the preview?