The Neighborhood Archive Forum

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood => Episodes => Topic started by: ƃuɐɹǝɯooS on May 19, 2017, 07:41:22 PM

Title: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: ƃuɐɹǝɯooS on May 19, 2017, 07:41:22 PM
New here, so I hope I'm not violating protocol by putting this in the "Episodes" section. My questions regard the prime-time special that aired in, I believe, 1981, that dealt with the topic of violence in the news. I remember seeing this special when it aired, and the absolutely incredible, anomalous instance of a death in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. If I remember correctly, it had to do with a magic tree that could talk, and that got a lot of attention from the neighbors as a result. At some point, a larger, more clumsy tree became jealous and struck the little tree, causing its death. The lingering image I have is of Handyman Negri carrying the dead tree with a grave expression on his face.

My questions:

1) Am I the only one in the world who saw this and remembers it? Because no one I know knows anything about it, and the Family Communications people denied any knowledge of it when I was in a position to ask them. (Was a television journalist dealing with children's programming for some years.)

2) Does ANYONE have a recording of this? I think there's an excerpt on the official Fred Rogers site, but it's only a short clip with virtually no sound.

Thanks for any insight on this.

Title: Re: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: ladyelainefairchilde on May 20, 2017, 08:05:54 AM
I know which special you are talking about which aired in primetime way back in 1981. Only information i have on that is the following listed here.

Mr. Rogers talks with children about the violence they see in the news. He suggests discusing scary things with adults.
In the NOM, on Lady Elaine's news program, Harriet Cow tells about a walking talking tree. After the tree is stolen, Lady Elaine and Producer Edward look for it. Producer Edward finds the tree dead. Lady Elaine reports on the news about the tree. Producer Edward learns that a big tree killed the smaller tree. The killer tree is jailed. Mr. Rogers emphasizes that this has been makebelieve. He talks about the importance of verbalizing feelings and not doing harmful things.

Title: Re: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: ASchuelke on May 20, 2017, 08:39:05 AM
Here's a video
Title: Re: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: ƃuɐɹǝɯooS on May 27, 2017, 03:02:11 PM

Thanks. For decades, I've been telling my brother about this episode and he just thought it so incredible an occurrence in the Neighborhood that he didn't believe it. The Internet didn't cooperate for a long time, presenting no information on it. I'm just hoping that at some point it will resurface. It isn't as if the news has become less violent over the years.

Again, if anyone out there has a full recording of this episode, please let me know — even if it's 2025 when you stumble on this. : )
Title: Re: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: Chad123 on April 16, 2019, 09:28:00 AM
The special premiered on May 25, 1981 (Memorial Day, when most parents would be there to watch with their kids).
Title: Re: "Violence in the News" Special
Post by: Tame Tiger_143 on July 22, 2019, 03:26:15 PM
Hi, neighbors! I'm new to the forum, though I've "listened in" from time to time. I'd heard of this episode, but its only broadcast was well before my time. I'm curious whether any further information is available/has come to light. since this thread started...?

Tim, given that you have most of the other "Talks to Parents" specials now logged in the episode guide, is there any particular reason you haven't been able to view this one?

It appears to be archived on video at the University of Pittsburgh library, if you it look up on their catalogue or on WorldCat. Interestingly, Michael D. Long summarizes and writes about the special in some detail in his book "Peaceful Neighbor", which I read recently. Based on what he has written, Long must have viewed the episode--probably at Pitt. Still, there are lots of small details I'd be curious to know... for instance, if the anthropomorphic trees were actual characters or puppets, who portrayed/voiced them?

The Pitt catalogue entry lists the only neighbors as Betty Aberlin and Maurice Woods. You can find scattered information on the web about a black American actor from NY named Maurice Woods, who passed away at a young age in 1983 (two years after the MRN special). None of sources, including an NY Times obit from '83, mention MRN, but as it's an obscure special that almost no one remembers, so that's hardly conclusive. Going back to Michael D. Long's summary, he mentions a one-time character named Edward, a black newscaster who helps Lady Elaine report on the tree murder. In fact, Long describes the Edward character carrying the dead tree, just as the OP describes Handyman Negri doing, while none of the sources have any mention of Joe Negri being in this episode.

I don't wish to impeach the OP's memory, but it would be incredibly easy, having seen the special only once as a young child, to forget about a random, one-off character as one's memory tries to fill in the blanks decades later. So my current "theory" is that the late Maurice Woods plays Edward while Joe Negri is likely not included in the special at all, with OP's memory banks quite understandably associating the Edward part with the much more familiar Handyman.

That said, I hope more info about the special becomes available. Ideally, all of these programs should be available for families to view. However, based on the descriptions, part of me is glad the "Violence in the News" special NOMB segments have not leaked online. The intent was parent-child viewing, and it does not sound like something one would necessarily want very young kids to stumble across out of context or without appropriate guidance.