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Anchor Bay Entertainment presents
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Adventures in Friendship (1982/1993)

"Won't you be my neighbor?"
- Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: June 24, 2005

Stars: Fred Rogers
Other Stars: Betty Aberlin, David Newell, Robert Trow, Joe Negri, Audrey Roth, Bill Carnahan, Peter Ostroushko
Director: Paul Lally, Bob Walsh

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:57m:10s
Release Date: April 12, 2005
UPC: 013131319699
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-A-A B-

DVD Review

Like countless millions of others, as a child, part of my daily ritual was spending time in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The sweaters, the trolly, and the Neighborhood of Make Believe were part of the magic of this series, where Fred Rogers and his friends taught us, in a nonthreatening environment, all the important things we needed to know as adults. The Neighborhood was a place where we were loved unconditionally, and where our uniqueness was celebrated. Rogers, recognised the world over as a leading child educator, was able to connect with kids in a softspoken, yet authoritative manner. The series originated in Canada as Misterogers on CBC in 1963. It began airing on American public broadcaster, The National Education Television (later to become PBS) in 1967, after Rogers returned to WQED, in Pittsburgh where Rogers got his television start as puppeteer on The Children's Corner, where many of the Neighborhood characters were first created. Over the next four decades, Rogers would produce almost 900 episodes in thirty-one seasons of daily shows. In addition to single-handedly saving the public broadcasting with his appearance before a Senate committe on funding in the mid 1960s, Rogers was responsible for aiding in the development of generations of young people, in helping children deal with thier feelings, understand the dynamics of relationships, develop self-esteem, challenge their creativity, and learn about the world around them.

Adventures in Friendship contains two episodes, which are designed to teach children about friendship, cooperation and love. The first, show 1508, renamed Why Friends Fight for home video, is the third in the 1982 season on friendship. We take a tour of Audrey Roth's restaurant, and get to see the chef, Bill Carnahan, prepare Mister Rogers' sandwich. We also are reminded of cutlery in a table setting, and told some of the things to do at a restaurant, including the meaning of "restroom." In preparation for his picnic in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, King Friday has sent out notes to his guests with riddles on what they are to bring. Lady Aberline, Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl are in charge of making a fruit salad, but their teamwork is jeopardised when X and Henrietta get into a spat. Lady Aberline has to help them make up.

Episode two is show 1664 from 1993, the fourth in that season on love. In the Neighborhood of Make Believe, Lady Aberline is confused about the meaning of "love" when she sees that King Friday and Queen Sara are no longer mad at each other (which occured on a previous show). She tries to get an answer from Robert Troll, but it is Lady Elaine Fairchilde who comes up with the best explanation. Later, Mister Rogers takes a trip to Joe Negri's Music Shop, where Peter Ostroushko gives a demonstration on the mandolin.

While many shows have been produced for the children's market, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is one of the very finest. In watching these episodes, I am reminded of my own wonder and excitement when I was a child viewing this series, especially the visits to the Neighborhood of Make Believe, or the many excursions to different places seen in the show. Both episodes are effective on thier own in their thematic demonstrations, and can be recommended on that basis, but in this reviewer's opinion, would be better served in the context of the continuing storylines as the series was originally broadcast.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Both episodes here look very nice, with vibrant color and a good deal of detail. There are the expected source video anomalies, such as a bit of ringing in high contrast areas, and some minor aliasing, but nothing overly distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio presentation is very good, and suitable to the programming. The tracks sound as they should with no technical deficiencies to report, outside those from the original recording.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 2 cues
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Games
  2. Sing-along and read-along
  3. Recipe
  4. Child activity ideas
  5. Care-giving tips
Extras Review: There are a number of extras available, most for the kids, but the first About Fred Rogers, (6m:09s) is one for the parents, being Rogers' acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Emmy Awards, presented by Tim Robbins. His reception by an audience of Hollywood's biggest television names just goes to show the lasting impact this man had on those who grew up watching him. Have a hanky handy, you'll need it.

First up for the kids (and adults too) is a tour of a factory (7m:01s) where they make teddy bears. Mister Rogers and Mr. McFeely narrate over the process of assembling the stuffed animals. These were the kinds of segments I always enjoyed as a kid, and still enjoy today.

There is a read-along of a story by Rogers on friendship, Making Friends, which can either be read with or without Mr. McFeely's narration. With the narration, the "pages" turn automatically, otherwise you can navigate with the remote. There is a sing along for You are Special, one of Mister Rogers' favorite songs, which is basically a segment from one of the episodes. Although included in the booklet, this feature would have been better with a traditional bouncing ball for the lyrics.

A Neighborhood Gallery has brief information of ten of the regulars on the show, including Mister Rogers, Mr. McFeely, the trolly, Daniel Striped Tiger, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Henrietta Pussycat, X the Owl, and the royal family: King Friday XIII, Queen Sara and Prince Tuesday.

Three games are included: a maze, in which you help the trolly make its way to the Neighborhood of Make Believe, a shape matching game in which you help X and Henrietta make a fruit salad, and a Build your Own Neighborhood game (which requires a DVD ROM drive and a Flash-enabled web browser), where you can drag the various neighborhood objects, some of which are animated, into your own scene, and print out the results.

My only coment with regards to the talking menus is that, while kids may find them novel, adults will tire of them quickly, and there is no way to turn off the narration, which loads each time the menu is accessed.

A few of the features on the disc are duplicated in a companion 16 page booklet, including child activities like making a paper chain, a funny picture foldup and baking pizza bagels. There are also a number of care-giving tips for parents included, which tie in to the theme of the shows.

This DVD is available in three configurations. The first is a disc-only version, the second comes with a wraparound sweater, and the third includes a limited edition toy trolly for a slightly higher price. Unfortunately, there is no way to get both the sweater and the trolly without a redundant purchase.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

With his unique educational style, Fred Rogers left an indelible and lasting impression on the generations of children who grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and while I would have prefered to see the series get season sets, or at the least, themed sets from a season, this two episode collection at least pays a tribute to his legacy, and along with a pair of enjoyable episodes, includes some fun children's activities and useful advice for parents.

 


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