Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution
It’s hard to believe, but this past February marked 15 years since beloved television figure Fred Rogers passed away. When he died on February 27, 2003, the world lost a man who was more than just a TV personality. For so many audiences the world over, he was that father figure (and in other cases even grandfather figure) that maybe was lacking in said household. He was that reassuring voice that was needed in tough times of all kinds and just as much the caring one in the happy times. So it goes without saying that his passing left everyone wondering if there would ever be a figure like him again or even a show such as his again. Part of that concern was answered in September 2012 when PBS and PBS Kids debuted Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which was basically an updated, animated take on its source material from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Even with the success that the said series has continued to have now six years later, many audiences continued to wonder if said source material would ever see the light of day on home release. PBS’ officials heard those continued calls for the series’ release, and finally, early last month, they responded with the network’s first-ever collection of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes in the form of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection. The four-disc, 30-episode collection is not the first time that the series has ever seen a DVD release. The Fred Rogers Company released quite a number of the series’ episodes on their own standalone DVDs in 2010. That release format was problematic, though, and makes this collection’s episode selection all the more important. It will be noted shortly. The inclusion of the printed episode guide inside the case is another key element to discuss in examining this release. The quality of the footage in its transfer to DVD rounds out this set’s most important elements. Each element does so much to make this collection work. All things considered, they make Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection a box set that will make every day beautiful for viewers, and hopefully just the first collection of episodes from this beloved series.
PBS’ first ever Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVD box set It’s A Beautiful Day Collection, is a box set that will make every day beautiful for viewers. What’s more, it is hopefully just the first proper collection of episodes from the decades-long family friendly series. Part of what makes this recently released collection such a positive product is its collection. It presents 30 episodes from the series’ second run between 1979 – 2001. “Second run” is noted as it was originally run on PBS between February 19, 1968 to February 20, 1976 before taking time off and then returning to television in 1979. That 30 episode presentation is but a drop in the proverbial bucket for this collection, considering the series’ total episode count of 912 (including specials). However, considering that the series’ episodes were previously released on standalone DVDs via The Fred Rogers Company (and that said approach clearly didn’t prove too successful) having even 30 episodes in one collection proves to be a successful approach for PBS. What’s more, if PBS decides to continue releasing more sets in the same fashion over time, it will give the company something to release for years to come that will also assuredly be welcomed in every household across at least America. As an added bonus, one of the episodes included in the mix in this debut set is none other than the series’ black and white premiere episode. Reaching so far back and including so many other episodes shows the lengths that those behind this set’s creation went to make sure it paid proper tribute to Fred Rogers’ legacy while also making sure audiences were entertained and engaged. To that end, this portion of the set’s presentation – its breadth of featured episodes – proves to be definitely a key piece of its whole. In direct connection, the set’s printed episode guide is just as integral to the set’s presentation.
The episode guide is printed on the inside front and back of the set’s box. It includes a brief but concise description of each featured episode’s story. As has been noted with other box sets from PBS (and other companies) this may seem a minor aesthetic element on the surface. However, including even this element plays so much into the set’s overall viewing experience. That is because it provides a starting point in deciding which episode to watch, and in turn, can and does save time on deciding which episode to watch. This is especially important to note considering all that children go through on a daily basis. It helps make quicker and easier, the choice of how to best approach given situations. Kudos are in order for those behind the set’s creation for including this guide. The only down side to the whole matter of the episode guide is that the season and episode number itself is not included. Of course that one is just a want more than a need. However, for those interested in the series’ history, having that included in the episode guide would have made enjoyment of the series’ history that much deeper. That is, after all, considering that this collection focused on one part of the series’ run rather than the whole of its run. Even with that in mind, it would be wrong to say its lack detracts any from the set’s overall presentation. It would have just been nice to have had that included. Keeping in mind both of the noted elements, do plenty to make this box set a welcome offering from PBS. Both alone and collectively, they are not the set’s only key elements. The quality of the footage in its transfer rounds out the set’s most important elements.
One need watch only a handful of the 30 episodes included in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection to notice the quality of the footage in its transfer. It looks and sounds quite impressive from one episode to the next. It’s obvious in taking in this set that at least some work had to have been done in terms of cleaning up the footage. The video does retain some of that grainy look from the original episodes’ broadcasts, yet it isn’t so prominent that it takes anything away from the viewing experience. Rather it adds a certain sense of nostalgia to that experience. Much the same can be said of the episodes’ audio quality. It might not seem like much on the surface, but viewers will note that they don’t have to adjust the volume at any point. Anyone who has ever dealt with that issue will agree that it is so annoying. To that end, it is nice to not have to deal with that issue here. It ensures even more, viewers’ entertainment and engagement. When it is considered along with the enjoyment brought by the episodes themselves and the episode guide to lead the way, the whole of all three elements makes Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s A Beautiful Day Collection a welcome addition to any family’s home entertainment library. Keeping that in mind, it easily makes a case to be considered for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.
PBS’ recently released Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVD box set – the network’s first true official release from the timeless series – is a collection that is sure to make any family’s day “beautiful.” It is also a collection that definitely deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets. That is proven in part through an extensive 30 episode presentation that spans almost 40 years of the show’s run. The quality of the footage in regards to its audio and video adds even more enjoyment to the viewing experience. Each element is important in its own right, as has been noted here. All things considered, it is a welcome first effort from PBS for this series, and hopefully not the only one. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this box set is available online now along with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood activities, printables, news and more at:
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