For a moment we thought we had just entered the Land of Make Believe when we read that Mr. Rogers is coming back to television. This is no imaginary world -- the man, the myth, the sweater will return to PBS Kids this coming fall as a part of a cartoon world. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is the future of the Mr. Rogers franchise. Okay, so Fred is not exactly back on the trolley, but we assume the show will be filled with educational goodness akin to the original show.
It's not quite clear yet if Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a reboot, a spin-off or an animated version of the original. Of course, Art Attack is very excited about this reincarnation in any form, but it's kind of funny that they need to bring puppets back from the grave in the form of CGI.
That being said, we'll play along. What other live action old-school children's shows can they turn into cartoons? Here are a few we think might work: H.R. Pufnstuf If we are going all out, we might as well bring Pufnstuf back to life by getting the whole gang together on Living Island, but in cartoon form. Kids these days will either really dig this show for its wild colors and bizarre plot lines, or it will be just like when we watched it back in the day and thought there were secret drug references going on.
Captain Kangaroo Captain Kangaroo was basically Mr. Rogers but in military time. He enjoyed a good wardrobe change, random guests swinging by and he thought it was socially acceptable to spend time yacking it up with puppets. The difference between the Captain and Fred was the lack of respect Kangaroo got from his puppet friends. The Captain was always the butt of jokes as opposed to the soft-spoken voice of reason that was Mr. Rogers. Oh, and Captain Kangaroo had ridiculous 1970s sideburns.
Pinwheel If you were rich enough to have Nickelodeon as a kid, you may recall Pinwheel. It was more or less Sesame Street without the educational value. Puppets aside, the best part about Pinwheel was the interstitials shown throughout each episode, like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, Hattytown Tales and, of course, Paddington Bear. Now that we think about it, if any part of Pinwheel should be re-animated, it should just be Bill Cosby and his Picture Pages.
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Today's Special Another Nickelodeon puppet/people classic was Today's Special. The premise of the show was a department store mannequin that came to life at the end of each day when a marionette mouse, Muffy, would say the magic words "Hocus Pocus Alimagocus!" There were other odd characters that popped in and out like the computer, TXL, which was reminiscent of Hal from 2001 and often got its feelings hurt, or the mime that was also a game show host. Kids today would probably be very confused by this show, as they should.
Lambchop's Play Along. "This is the song that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friend...." Never mind. They should never bring this show back in any form. Romper Room Everyone out there knows someone who knows someone who was on an episode of Romper Room. If we tried to push our kids on Romper Room in 2011, we'd see typical reality show drama. Their sandbox fights would be filmed for the public to scorn and the Dunkaroos they ate would be photographed and put on the Internet with captions like, "Romper Room Celeb Hates Miss Molly, Binge Eats." It would be a 21st century nightmare.
On the other hand, if it was rebooted, Mr. Do-Bee would really be able to fly.