Nowhere on this site will you see a review of “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, because I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to. I also didn’t see last year’s documentary about Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
The reason? It has nothing to do with Tom Hanks, whose work is almost always stellar, even in bad movies. He’s one of those very few movie stars who, when his name is attached to a project, it’s likely to be worth checking out.
However, I was never a Fred Rogers fan. By the time his PBS show debuted in 1968, I was ten years old and thus out of the target demographic. But in my teens, I tuned in once or twice to see what the buzz was about and got bored very quickly. I couldn’t stand his ministerial style, thought the puppets were creepy, and found the proceedings too tame and highly condescending to the younger kids he supposedly spoke to.
On the other hand, I was a big fan of “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company,” both of which were hip and clever and fun, with actors who represented a diverse community and puppets (Muppets) that were relatable, silly, and brilliantly performed. My wife felt the same way, so it was those shows we shared with our daughter when she was young, along with “Blue’s Clues,” which also seemed light years ahead of Rogers’ bland material.
In retrospect, the only thing I ever liked about Mr. Rogers was Eddie Murphy’s parody of him as Mr. Robinson on “Saturday Night Live.”