The richly deserved heaps of accolades festooning Mr. Rogers Neighborhood usually highlights the wonderful work with puppets and make-believe. There’s an aspect of the program’s design that is firmly, essentially rooted in reality, children’s realities. The documentary segments produced for them, through the Neighborhood characters such as all the music segments through Joe Negri’s Music Shop, appealed to kids desire to know the real world, about how things are made, and about neighbors. When children were featured as guests, they were never performing, always rooted in their own reality, and respected for it. Though many people don’t make the connection between Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and children’s documentaries, children’s documentary makers share Fred’s perspective, and their best films serve the same purpose. My love of the program is tightly woven with my desire to see more for children on screens that is rooted in that calm and relevant reality.
This “Drunken History” sketch is funny, I’ll even bet Fred would get a kick out of it. Fun fact, the actor playing Fred Rogers is Colin Hanks, Tom Hank’s son (doesn’t he look exactly like both his mom Annette Bening, and dad?). Tom’s the producer of the devotional Mister Rogers film coming out soon. The idea that they were mutually conducting a study of Rogers behind the scenes is pretty cool, and the wise and wicked interpretation of the history by Solomon Gregoire, brought me delighted cackles, curiosity about how he came by some details I’d never heard before (have you?), and a warm grin.