It's been a decade since there were new adventures in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and over three years since Mr Rogers' Neighborhood was regularly on the air. But PBS announced today that there will be an animated spin-off of the show coming in the fall of 2012 with a familiar name in the center: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!
The series will feature original Mister Rogers characters grown up and with children of their own living in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, with four-year-old Tiger, son of the original Daniel Tiger, as the star. In honor of Fred Rogers, Daniel Tiger will put on a sweater and tie his shoes at the start of every episode. Trolley will also be back, and continue to ding, ding: “In research, the trolley has become a very big character with the kids we’ve tested this with. They’re 3 and 4 and have no clue what a trolley is but they like it and it plays a role in the Neighborhood,” said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer of The Fred Rogers Company.
Morrison promises that the show will carry the spirit of the original Mr. Rogers, but admitted that the television landscape has change remarkably since the original run of the show from 1968 to 2001:
‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ wasn’t specifically aimed at the same audience. It had a very broad audience reach. You could watch ‘Mister Rogers’ if you were 4 and you could watch ‘Mister Rogers’ if you were 12 and you could get different things out of the program. That was one of its great strengths, and obviously in the context of that time when there weren’t many children’s programs, that was an important strength. There are no longer three TV channels a child can watch after school; there are 300. It’s a fragmented market. It’s now structured so that there are programs that specifically target boys who are 9 and boys who are 12 and so on.
This show is meant to target boys and girls who are 3 or 4 and be of interest to children between 2 and 5, so the focus is much more narrow than the ‘Mister Rogers’ focus.
Below, you can watch the timeless intro to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and check out a clip from the show featuring the original Daniel Tiger, who really wanted to go to school, he really did, and boy, we forgot how emotional this show can make us: