20 Things to Watch for During Twitch's Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood Marathon

PBS Television // Courtesy of Getty Images
PBS Television // Courtesy of Getty Images

As you may have heard, Twitch is currently streaming every episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon style—just short of 900 half-hour Neighborhood visits! By the afternoon of Sunday, May 28 the marathon will have reached what is commonly referred to as the “modern episodes”—those from 1979 and beyond.

If you’re looking to satisfy your Neighborhood craving but aren’t sure what episodes to view, here are 20 things to watch for through the remainder of the 18-day stream.

1. OPERAS AND PLAYS

Scattered throughout 22 years of episodes you’ll find multiple musical performances, including Windstorm in Bubbleland (Episode 1475), Spoon Mountain (Episode 1505), A Grandad For Daniel (Episode 1535), A Star For Kitty (Episode 1565), and Josephine the Short-Neck Giraffe (episodes 1608, 1609, and 1610).

2. FRED ROGERS'S WHIMSICAL SENSE OF HUMOR

You may have never thought of Fred Rogers as a funny guy, but his subtle humor is discovered in Neighborhood episodes if you look closely enough. For example, in Episode 1462 when Mister Rogers and Mr. McFeely are speaking through two-way radios:

Mister Rogers: “Roger.”
Mr. McFeely: “McFeely.”

3. MISTER ABER'S NEIGHBORHOOD

Rumors suggest that an idea was considered where Chuck Aber would take over for Fred Rogers once Fred decided to retire from the Neighborhood. Viewers get a small glimpse of what this may have been like in Episode 1578, when Mister Rogers steps away for a few moments and Mr. Aber addresses the viewing audience.

4. TOUGH TOPICS

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood never tiptoed around taboo subjects and difficult topics, as is evident in the week of episodes starting with Episode 1476 which focused on the subject of divorce.

5. FULL DISCLOSURE

A master of make-believe and supporter of imaginative play, Fred Rogers never wanted viewers to think that his television house was his real home. In order to be fully transparent, he would occasionally share various behind-the-scenes aspects of his Neighborhood such as a look at the controls for the Neighborhood Trolley (Episode 1681) and views of the set in Episodes 1530 and 1698.

6. DEDICATIONS TO LOST NEIGHBORS

Throughout the modern run of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, several performers passed away and were recognized during the credits of episodes to follow. Episode 1686 was dedicated to Don Brockett, Episode 1715 to pianist Johnny Costa, and Episode 1740 to Bob Trow.

7. JEFF ERLANGER

One of the most emotional moments in the history of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood occurred on Episode 1478 when Jeff Erlanger—a boy in an electric wheelchair—visits and sings It's You I Like with Mister Rogers.

8. RUSSIAN INFLUENCE

In 1988, on Episode 1587, Mister Rogers reflects on a recent visit to Moscow where he visited Russian children's television host Tatiana Vedeneeva. Ms. Vedeneeva visits Mister Rogers in his own Neighborhood on Episode 1589.

9. THE CRAYON FACTORY

Probably the most famous of Mister Rogers's factory visits, the film about how crayons are made can be seen on Episode 1481.

10. OFFICER CLEMMONS'S FAREWELL

In 1969, Officer Clemmons visited Mister Rogers on a hot day and together they soaked their feet in a pool of cold water. In 1993, Francois Clemmons makes his final appearance in the Neighborhood in Episode 1663, when he joins Mister Rogers again for a soak in the pool.

11. A SESAME STREET CROSSOVER

Mister Rogers once passed through Sesame Street, and on Episode 1483, Sesame Street's Big Bird returned the favor by visiting the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

12. RARELY SEEN ROOMS

Viewers became quite familiar with the usual areas of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood such as the television house, Brockett's Bakery, Negri's Music Shop, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe; however, you may be interested to see some of the lesser known places shown only once or twice in the Neighborhood's nearly 900 episodes. The modern episodes include looks at the inside of X the Owl's tree (Episode 1508), the inside of Cornflake S. Pecially's factory (Episode 1528) and Mister Rogers's computer room (Episode 1746).

13. KOKO THE GORILLA

On Episode 1727, Mister Rogers spends time with a gorilla named Koko and makes a very obvious yet unexpected connection with the primate.

14. RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE

It's a well known fact that Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and occasionally, his religious influence would find its way into Neighborhood episodes. For example, in Episode 1477, Mister Rogers visits a place where pretzels are made and is told that the three holes in the pretzel represent the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, in Episode 1538, Queen Sara addresses the goat which has been stealing vegetables: "You need never steal again. Simply ask and you will receive." For anyone with a biblical background, this phrase is quite familiar—it can be found in the Gospel of Matthew: "Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you."

15. BREAK DANCING

You've seen the memes, but have you seen the episode? Mister Rogers breakdances in Episode 1543.

16. EPISODE EDITS

On a few occasions, portions of episodes were reshot and the original versions were replaced. In the original broadcast of Episode 1589, Mister Rogers uses the term "Soviet Union" when telling viewers of Tatiana Vedeneeva's upcoming visit. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, new audio of Mister Rogers saying "Russia" was dubbed in. The original version of Episode 1696 includes Mr. McFeely delivering a laser pointer to Mister Rogers. When parents expressed concerns over the use of a device that could potentially cause eye damage, the scene was replaced with one where Mr. McFeely delivers a toy ball.

17. THE NEIGHBORHOOD MODELS

Every kid who ever watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood wanted a set of Neighborhood of Make-Believe models of their own. Mister Rogers takes a close look at these models on Episode 1602.

18. KING THURSDAY

King Friday XIII ruled over the Neighborhood of Make-Believe for as long as any of us can remember. Prior to Friday's reign was that of his father, King Thursday. King Friday shares a picture of his father on Episode 1531.

19. YO YO LABELLE

On a children's show that featured a talking purple panda and a tiger who lives in a clock, the most bizarre character shows up in Episodes 1589 and 1590. Yo Yo LaBelle is an extra-terrestrial visitor to Make-Believe who only speaks by using the words "me" and "thee."

20. THE FINAL EPISODE

After nearly 900 Neighborhood episodes spanning portions of five decades, Mister Rogers leaves his television house for the last time on Episode 1765.

As the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood marathon continues, feel free to visit The Neighborhood Archive for notes and details on these episodes and more!

[All images property of The Fred Rogers Company]

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New Jersey's Anthony Bourdain Food Trail Has Opened

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Before Anthony Bourdain was a world-famous chef, author, or food and travel documentarian, he was just another kid growing up in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Food & Wine reported that Bourdain's home state would honor the late television personality with a food trail tracing his favorite restaurants. And that trail is now open.

Bourdain was born in New York City in 1956, and spent most of childhood living in Leonia, New Jersey. He often revisited the Garden State in his books and television shows, highlighting the state's classic diners and delis and the seafood shacks of the Jersey shore.

Immediately following Bourdain's tragic death on June 8, 2018, New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty proposed an official food trail featuring some of his favorite eateries. The trail draws from the New Jersey episode from season 5 of the CNN series Parts Unknown. In it, Bourdain traveled to several towns throughout the state, including Camden, Atlantic City, and Asbury Park, and sampled fare like cheesesteaks, salt water taffy, oysters, and deep-fried hot dogs.

The food trail was approved following a unanimous vote in January, and the trail was officially inaugurated last week. Among the stops included on the trail:

  1. Frank's Deli // Asbury Park
  1. Knife and Fork Inn // Atlantic City
  1. Dock's Oyster House // Atlantic City
  1. Tony's Baltimore Grill // Atlantic City
  1. James' Salt Water Taffy // Atlantic City
  1. Lucille's Country Cooking // Barnegat
  1. Tony & Ruth Steaks // Camden
  1. Donkey's Place // Camden
  2. Hiram's Roadstand // Fort Lee

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

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