Photo Courtesy: New York Times.
It's been a while since we traveled back in time. Today, I will take you on the journey from the ’60s through the 90's to the 2000s. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was one of my favorite TV series back then. I would say it is one of the reasons why I ended up loving motivational books.
The show stood the test of time and was the most educational musical TV show. Fred Rogers had a lovable and powerful personality. He was a stoic that many people loved watching. Most important, he was a natural. He could keep us watching the show effortlessly. He was a pro entertainer by just being himself.
Today we will take a nostalgic trip down the memory lane to remind ourselves of the show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
I consider Mister Rogers as the King of Empathy. He was able to speak to children with precision, and he just knew the right thing to say from one episode of the series to the next. His goodness and honesty were what we needed back then; it is what children yearned for back in the days and even now. Children need a constant reminder of why they should be a good version of themselves and stop imitating or wishing to be like someone else.
In all the show episodes, Fred Rogers would remind kids why they should always be thankful for what they have and how they can improve their relationships and life every day. The kid's entertainment life needs such shows even now. Such highly ethical shows are much needed now than ever before. This was a much-loved show by both kids and parents alike. For those of you who were lucky to be a teen in the 90s, you can easily remember this show. I never missed any of its Friday screening.
But before we go deep into Mister Rogers' Neighborhood card game and how it filled out time when we were kids, let us first look at a brief history of how the TV show came to be, the people behind it, and a brief on its existence back then.
Background History of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Card game
Rogers moved back to America and founded an Eastern Educational TV Network (EETN) the later referred to as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. On February 19, 1968, the American national debut took place. It was broadcasted on NET and PBS from then until August 31, 2001.
The series focuses on pre-school kids aged between 2 and 5 years old but was classified as "suitable for all ages" by PBS. The company was called the Fred Rogers Company after the death of Rogers. In May 1997, Captain Kangaroo was surpassed by the series as the longest-running children's TV show. A record held until June 2003 when Sesame street took it over.
PBS studios revived the series until August 31, 2007, when many other stations started dropping it, until it was completely removed from the daily syndicated schedule by PBS after August 29, 2008.
Eleven years after Mister Rogers's end, PBS made its debut on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, a lively spin-off. On March 6, 2018, Mister Rogers: It's You I Like, premiered at PBS stations nationwide, hosted the fiftieth-anniversary tribute show hosted by actor Michael Keaton, who started the show.
The History behind Mister Rogers
This program had numerous puppets, personalities, and music, such as King Friday XIII, Daniel Tiger, and X the Owl, were developed. It was also when Rogers started to wear his famous sneakers, as it was quieter than his work shoes when moving behind the cast. The show was awarded the Sylvania Award, which was a show on a national TV network for a short time.
In 1961, Rogers relocated to Toronto, Ont., to work on a new show named Misterogers, a CBC TV program based on the Children's Corner. The show was up for four years or so, and CBC designers and producer Bruce Attridge produced a variety of set pieces he brought back to America, such as the trolley and the castle for the Canadian program.
More significantly, Rogers would be seen on camera more than just playing the puppets or characters from the new episodes' background. Rogers was convinced, after watching him interact with kids, by Fred Rainsberry, Head of Children's programming in CBC, to participate in a new show (which he named after Rogers).
Ernie Coombs was one of the Americans whom Rogers brought on board with him to assist in the development of the CBC show. They remained with CBC after Rogers returned to America. Coombs initially showed as Mr. Dressup in the CBC program Butternut Square conceived and produced by Attridge. Coombs helped to create Mr. Dressup, which ran for almost 30 years and ended in 1996.
Mister Rogers moves to WQED
All the 100 episodes of the half-hour show featured the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment from the CBC episodes with additional opening and closing material created in Pittsburgh based on fact. In 1967, the series had been canceled because of a lack of funding, but the public reaction led to a quest for new financing.
The Sears Roebuck Foundation provided financing for this program in 1967. It made it recognizable throughout the country on National Education TV, which started taping for the first national season on September 21 of 1967. On February 19, 1968, most NET stations published the first national broadcast from the Misterogers neighborhood. It inherited this program in 1970 when PBS replaced NET. The show had a slight change of title at the same time, in the familiar Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
The show was transmitted between February 19 1968 and February 20 1976, again between August 20 1979 and August 31, 2001. On December 1 2000, the final episode was taped. The WQED Studio in Pittsburgh was later called "The Fred Rogers Studio," where the series was recorded.
Mister Rogers' storyline
In all the episodes, Rogers talks to the viewers on different subjects, takes the viewers on a factory tour, demonstrating experiments, crafts, and music, and connects with his friends. Rogers also pointed out, instead of playing a character, that he acts naturally on camera "The gift of your true self is one of the greatest gifts you can offer to anyone. I think children can find a mile away from a fake.
Puppets dominated the episodes. In the shows, Rogers went to various locations in the area and spoke to people about their jobs and other contributions based on the theme of the episode, including Brockett's Bakery, the Bob Trow's Atelier, and the Negri Music. Other segments of the show were Rogers. Rogers took the sample of the incredible Hulk behind the scenes in an episode broadcast on CBS from 1978 to 1982.
The show's logo appears at the beginning of each episode as the camera pans over a model of the neighborhood, while the "Neighborhood Trolley" crosses several streets from left to right as the text reads "Mister Rogers Talks About...".
Between 1979 and 1981, the opening sequence was used in an alternative version. The camera goes typically out of the location, from the porch of the Rogers' TV house, where viewers see Fred Rogers visiting before entering the house. This is the same electric trolley model that will carry viewers to a make-believe neighborhoods later on in the show.
After the camera go to the Rogers TV house from the area, Fred Rogers is seen with his jacket going back home singing "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. He goes into the close, takes off his jacket, hangs it up, and grabs a cardigan zipper sweater to put on. Then he took off his dress shoes and picked up a couple of blue sneakers to put on. One of his sweaters is now in the Smithsonian Institution, a testimony to his essential everyday ritual’s cultural influence.
How about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Card game?
Did you get a chance to play Mister Rogers’ card game? Just like the show, it is was one of the best and most engaging card games I played back then. It was based on the advice and theories of Fred Rogers. It was the TV show put on cards.
Last week while doing my rounds in our local store, I saw Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Game from Buffalo Games on the shelf. This was surprising because it has almost been a decade and more since I last saw anything to do with the TV show or the card game. The nostalgia that hit me made could not allow me not to write something about the show.
In this game, you will be trying to fill a neighborhood with matching sets of Mister Rogers’ famous characters; the Game Mister Rogers’ is a press-our-luck card game. It was one of my favorite games back in the days. I would play with my friends on Friday nights without getting tired or bored. Like monopoly, the game had a way of exciting you the more you played it. The card game was a great way to transform the nostalgia of the TV series into a fun game.
The card game had illustrations of favorite characters like Elaine, Henrietta Pussycat, McFeely, Daniel Striped Tiger, King Friday, and Mister Rogers (Special action cards).
How to play Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Card game.
The game consisted of taking cards from the opponent's hands and pushing your luck, without finding the stoplight, to draw as many as you can. But you can’t put any card on the table in your “neighborhood” that transforms if you draw a stoplight. This is where you aim to be the first to set such matching sets to win the game.
You are supposed to draw cards without looking at your opponent in a regular turn. But when you draw Daniel Tiger, you can take any card you like, looking at someone’s hand. And drawing King Friday allows you to ask for a specific card – just like when you play Go Fish. And even trolley cards can be put in your area, which allows you to steal a card that someone has already placed. The Mister Rogers card is the best special card in this game.
You must do something special for the person from whom you draw a Mister Rogers card. You can tell them something good, tell them why you love them, or just hug them. I miss such moments of the game. I loved these bits. Personally, in family games, I am a great fan of imaginative rules like these. I wish they add something special, mainly when they’re playing with children. This made Mister Rogers’ card game unique and stood out from the rest of the card game that we were used to at the time.
It was very appropriate to have the element of love and compassion in the game at the time. This was fun for siblings to play together and compliment each other. It was satisfying to hear even three-year-old say something like, “ I love you very much because you give me food when I am feeling hungry.” This is genuine love that comes from deep inside the heart when the kid says it.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Characters
The show had many characters, including:
Neighbor Aber – Also called Chuck Aber – was a resident of Westwood who is an associate of Mayor Maggie, who does odd jobs. His real-world friends also do odd jobs.
Lady Aberlin – aka Betty Aberlin, was the niece to King Friday XIII. Betty is her real-world counterpart, who is also an actress that the manager of Betty’s Little Theater.
Scientist Adler – Counterpart is Bud Adler, are the scientific expertise in the real world and the Neighborhood of Make-believe in earlier episodes.
Charles Appel – He was a teacher and also a magician and a close friend of Mr. Rogers.
Natalie Baker – cousin to Joe Negri and also Angela’s and Reid’s mother who is a teacher who plays piano.
Marilyn Barnett – the neighborhood school gym teacher.
Chef Brockett – real-world counterpart is Don Brockett. He is the owner and baker at Brocket’s Bakery. His counterpart assists Edgar Cooke in the kitchen in the neighborhood.
I loved this show, and it remains one of the shows that I would wish was revived. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood deserves a comeback with the latest technologies available. It is hard to replace Fred Rogers, but the show should continue; it was educational and suitable for kids of all ages. What is your take on the show? Would you wish to watch its re-run?