Big Topics Small Minds
Fred Rogers sought the importance of children having television catered to them. He talks to the children watching like they are intelligent people, because that’s exactly what he believed them to be. Fred Rogers demonstrated empathy and grace with all and to love and accept them. Some of his famous quotes in the show are “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile”, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me”, “It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression”, and after every episode he tells the audience “You always make each day a special day. You know how: By just your being you/yourself. There's only one person in the whole world that's like you, and that's you. And people can like you just/exactly the way you are. I'll be back next time. Bye-bye!”.
Because Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was such a fan favorite for many generations even after being taken off air, the show had a spinoff called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an animated series that follows the son of the popular puppet, Daniel Tiger, the animated character has the same name as the puppet. This show aired in 2012 and continues to produce new episodes with the same lessons for children as the original series.
I think Fred Rogers made a huge impact on children's educational television because of his positive attitude, encouragement, and his want for all children and even adults to feel included in the neighborhood. From comforting a sad Daniel Tiger, to sharing a foot soak with Officer Clemmons during a time when racial segregation was a common occurrence in real life. After all, it's You that he likes. So put on your favorite red sweater, grab your puppets, and travel to the Land of Make Believe to meet your neighbors!
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Review by Syd Couick
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a children's television show that aired from 1968 to 2001. The host Fred Rogers was seen as a gentle soul who would spend an enthralling 28 minutes teaching kids the importance of things other than the usual children's television lessons on counting, and spelling, and instead focused more on the importance of being a good friend, sharing, and being confident in yourself as an individual. In many episodes he is with his neighbors, human and puppet. A diverse community of gender, race, and species, such as Mr. McFeely, Daniel Tiger, Officer Clemmons, King Friday XIII, and many more. This is the Land of Make Believe.
Bear in the Big Blue House
Review by Syd Couick
Bear in the Big Blue House is a children’s puppet television show that aired from 1997 to 2006. The show is about a large bear and his friends' daily life in, if you haven’t guessed by now, a big blue house. Characters of BitBBH include Doc Hogg, Luna the moon, Ojo the bear cub, Jack the dog, Pip and Pop the otters, Shadow the shadow, Treelo the lemur, and my personal favorite, Tutter the mouse, the manic icon on my lockscreen.
Throughout their adventures they teach lessons such as personal development, music, and social skills. Bear and his friends do all sorts of things such as carve pumpkins, have sleepovers, cook, and sing songs. My favorite fever dream of a song is the toileteers song, an absolute fever dream led by Pip and Pop. I feel like this show should’ve lasted longer on air. Unfortunately, the actress for Luna the moon, Lynne Thigpen, passed away in 2003 leaving the show in a hiatus.
The man responsible for the Bear puppet costume coming to life, Noel MacNeal always made sure to make the show feel personal to the children watching. The 7 foot tall, 45 pound Bear was a full body puppet suit similar to Sesame Street’s Bigbird with one arm controlling the head and the other down one of the characters arms connected together by a string invisible through a filming camera. Bear would always welcome the viewers with excitement, then bring his nose up to the camera for a big sniff, something a lot of viewers loved and remembered. I love the integrated teaching, the fun music, the diverse characters, and overall this show still remains timeless.
Review by Syd Couick
Sesame Street! Do you know how to get there? Since 1969, this children's educational television show continues to produce new episodes with new lessons on counting, the alphabet, sharing, embracing individuality, and much more. While doing so all these years we have met a plethora of characters. The classics, such as Elmo, Zoey, Telly, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Count von Count, Big Bird, Mister Snuffleupagus, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Rosita, who represents hispanic culture, are now accompanied by new characters to continue the diversity.
Today we have Abby Cadabby, her stepbrother Rudy, and Julia, a character with Autism.
One of my favorite characters is Big Bird. This giant yellow bird stands just over eight feet tall and the puppeteering functions similar to the Bear puppet in Bear in the Big Blue House, another children’s show. The puppets head is the suit wearers arm, and the person's other arm controls one of the suits arms which is connected to the other by a line invisible to the film cameras.
Another one of my favorite characters is Elmo. This three and a half year old muppet monster is so popular he was given his own segment at the end of Sesame Street episodes in 1998 titled Elmo’s World. The thing I love about him the most however, is his disdain for his friend Zoey’s pet rock, Rocco. The beef this guy has with a literal rock since ‘99 grows each episode they feature the inanimate playmate. Zoey INSISTS that this rock needs a turn on the tire swing, deserves Elmo’s favorite cookie, and is indeed a living, sentient being. Elmo refuses to acknowledge this and probably will forever say “Rocco's a rock, Zoe! Rocco won't know the difference!”
The imaginative community of 123 Sesame Street has a website for grown ups to help teach deeper lessons such as divorce, death, emergencies, fostercare, and so many more. They also have episodes that incorporate these lessons, and they air regularly. This is a show that I want to continue seeing aired for more generations.