I had no idea how much of an impact “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” had on me until “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” a spin off of the PBS classic, aired. The main character, Daniel Tiger, is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger and some other tiger woman. The other characters are the offspring of original Magical Land of Make Believe puppets, and the aged-up original cast. Instead of puppets, though, the characters are animated in a paper cutout/CGI style that I’m afraid is going to look very dated very soon. The transition from exterior to interior, and from one room to another, already look like cut scenes from older video and computer games.
The theme of the show is emotions. What do you do with negative emotions? What do you do when you’re disappointed or sad? Or scared? How do you handle new things? Daniel Tiger and his mother/other adults/friends travel to different new places (a bakery, a doctor, a school) and talk through what they can expect and what actually happens. It feels similar to Mr Roger’s original show, but kind of… reduced? Simplified?
Niko assured me several times while watching the show that he liked it. “Oh, I like this show,” he said. “Oh, this is a good show.” “Mama, this is the show that I like.” He especially likes when Daniel Tiger says “Ugga Mugga,” he thinks it’s hilarious.
Niko doesn’t usually respond when the tv asks him something. When Dora the Explora or the creepy floating kids on “Super Why” turn their blank, soulless eyes to the viewer and ask a question and then pause for an extended period of time, he says nothing. He just ignores it. When Daniel Tiger asks if anyone wants to “imagine with him” or “visit a bakery with him” or “decorate a cake with him” or etc, Niko answers. He says “No,” but he answers.
My one complaint about the show is that Lady Elaine Fairchilde is historically pretty ugly. She had a big nose and chin and terrible hair and a frumpy red dress. In the cartoon, she’s slender and attractive with a stylish hair cut. I loved ugly Lady Elaine Fairchilde and am disappointed she’s been given a make over. Less-than-beautiful people on tv make me feel better about my own less-than-beautiful bits. But maybe this isn’t the real Lady Elaine Fairchilde but a cousin or daughter or something? I’m not sure.
Her kid is cute as hell, though.