In search of brainbreaking episodes of Mister Rogers
March 22, 2016 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Toddler WanKenobi & I have been all about Fred Rogers lately. We've seen a few episodes that have broken the fourth wall in interesting ways, and I'd like to see more.

These episodes included:
  • One where Mr. Rogers opened up the pull-out sofa in his house, turned off all the lights, and talked about night time.
  • One where Mr. Rogers called Mrs. Rogers on the phone to ask if he could dogsit for Bob Trow at his "real house."
  • An episode where Mr. Rogers had to go to a meeting and left his television viewer in the care of Chuck Aber.
  • Another where the camera panned back to show a piano sitting stage right to the front door of his house, which Mr. Rogers sat down to play.
All of these strike me as a really unusual way to interact with kids watching TV and also lightly broke my brain about my assumptions about the show's set (Mr. Rogers has a piano and a pull-out sofa?!). I'd love to see more episodes that similarly blow apart my expectations of this long-running show, where he refers to "real life" or interacts with the set in interesting ways. Any recs? Episode numbers appreciated but if you have just enough info to google, that's fine, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

And there is this one that is more general behind the scenes. I can't find the full episode on YouTube, but it seems to be available on Amazon Prime.

I'm jealous, because I could never really get my little one into Mister Rogers when she was younger.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:21 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

You said you've seen his piano offstage--did you see this clip?: Mr. Rogers introduces his musicians. He talks about the music that plays when he sings the opening song, and goes over a few steps to reveal and talk to the jazz trio that plays the music, introduces them, etc.
posted by theatro at 8:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

And then he walks back through the cameras and cables to get to the house set, and they do the opening song again, so it really shows him embedded in the TV-production context. (Sorry, just wanted to explain without abusing the edit function...)
posted by theatro at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Oh also--in the YouTube comments someone identifies it as coming from "Episode 1546, which first aired on Monday May 13, 1985", if that helps you find it.)
posted by theatro at 8:31 AM on March 22, 2016

I was just going to mention the show theatro just did. I remember it as a kid and really loved seeing it.
posted by zsazsa at 8:31 AM on March 22, 2016

Mr. Rogers' house has a bathroom.

OMG there's a wiki for the show! Thank you, Internet!
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:59 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gnomeloaf, that wiki is great! Clicking for instance on Johnny Costa (the pianist) gives you a list of the shows he appeared in, and following those I found more times that Mr. Rogers stepped out of the house set to talk to him that I hadn't remembered. In episode 1530, for instance, the wiki's summary starts with "Mister Rogers opens by talking about how his job is to make television programs for children. As the camera pans out, viewers are treated to a glimpse of the studio where Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is filmed."

Wiki entries also link to ways to watch particular episodes. Awesome reference tool!
posted by theatro at 9:10 AM on March 22, 2016

The wiki has reminded me about the episode where one of the fish has died. He buries the fish in the yard, which is an unusual/expanded use of the sets, and he shows a photo of his childhood dog who died and thus interacts more directly with his real life.

So that's technically relevant to your question, although maaaaybe not quite the thing for Toddler WanKenobi depending on how they feel about loss of pets and handling those kinds of emotions.
posted by theatro at 9:16 AM on March 22, 2016

I remember two episodes, one in which he explains how Picture Picture works and one where he goes into greater detail about how he controls the Trolley. I couldn't find either episode online, though, they might not have been significant enough to include in summaries.

Like you said, despite the level of fantasy elements in the show Rogers was very clear to demonstrate how it is fantasy, unlike the Muppets where I recall there's rules about who is allowed to see a muppet without a hand inside it.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2016

In case you aren't aware—The Definitive Mr. Rogers Profile: "Can You Say...Hero?" (Esquire, 1998). Off topic, I know, but still relevant.
posted by she's not there at 11:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

My toddler & I just came across an episode in which Mr Rogers talks about pretending. He takes out all the puppets to show how he and another character give them voices. It's "episode 1384." (Thanks for asking this question!)
posted by onoclea at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

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