I did not watch a lot of TV growing up, but I did always watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Kid at heart that I am, I still have a soft spot for the show, even now that it is no longer on the air. So on a recent trip to the library, I picked up one of the DVD releases from the show - A Day at the Circus.
This DVD consists of two unrelated episodes of the classic PBS children's series. The first episode is "Circus Fun," which gives the disc its name. In the half hour episode, Mister Rogers joins Betty Aberlin at the circus. They meet the elephant trainer and see where the circus performers live before watching Chuckles the Clown put on his make up. Then they enjoy part of the show, including acrobats and clowns. Meanwhile, over in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, Lady Aberlin and Chuckles help some new friends feel better about themselves.
Obviously, a big part of this episode is designed to help kids overcome their fear of clowns by seeing they are just people who are pretending. Even so, it's a fun episode that shows some behind the scenes stuff and some great performances. I've never made it to a circus myself, but watching this makes me want to go.
The second episode is "Music Adventures." Mister Rogers visits a friend who collects all kinds of unusual instruments. There are bells and all kinds of things I'd never seen before. Some of them made some strange sounds, but it was fascinating. Then we head over to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe for a Bass Violin Festival.
This one just feels like a normal episode of the show without the obvious lesson about clowns the first one has. Still, it does introduce some instruments I'd never heard of before, and it show just how diverse you can get while celebrating a single subject.
Both episodes are fun and entertaining for the just under 30 minutes they each run. The shows are gentle with very little in the way of conflict, they just teach the value of a person and to look at the world with interest in what other's enjoy.
Really, you can't go wrong with Mr. Rogers, and these two episodes are good examples of why. They will entertain your young kids while teaching them a little about life. It's too bad the show is no longer on the air, but Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: A Day at the Circus is a good substitute for that.
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