Christmastime with Mister Rogers (lost holiday TV special; 1977)

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Tv week 01.jpg

Cover of an issue of Chicago Tribune TV Week advertising the special.

Status: Lost

Christmastime with Mister Rogers was a 1977 TV special directed by J. Philip Miller and starring Fred Rogers that was initially broadcast in December of 1977. The special was based on the popular PBS children's TV series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and was one of the few pieces of Mister Rogers content to be produced during a hiatus of the shows production between 1976 and 1979.[1] The special was designed to not only celebrate Christmas traditions but also Hanukkah traditions, with consideration even being given towards those who celebrate neither holiday.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The special opens with Mister Rogers walking through his neighborhood, greeting several of his neighbors as he does so. On the way home, he receives a package from Mr. McFeely which he is instructed not to open until he returns home. Upon reaching home and opening the package, Mister Rogers finds a new pair of sneakers and a Christmas card from the McFeelys.

Thankful for this present, Mister Rogers talks about how he wants to give his viewers hope this holiday season, and how this special is his gift to them. Three carolers sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" from outside Mister Rogers' window before he receives a call from Mrs. McFeely telling him that Mr. McFeely will soon be stopping by. Mister Rogers reminisces about the various special people who have visited his neighborhood throughout the years before Mr. McFeely arrives on his way to the rehearsal for the annual holiday get-together.

At the rehearsal, Mister Rogers meets Stephanie, a young girl whose family Mr. McFeely mentioned wouldn't be able to make it due to car trouble. Stephanie shares her disappointment at this fact with Mister Rogers. Meanwhile, Officer Clemmons details a dream he had where all the members of his travelling choir lost their voices as their bus broke down. The group was helped out of this predicament by the Music Man, a magical musician who sang "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" as Officer Clemmons fixed the broken bus, and who also provided the choir with the ability to perform without instruments. As the choir performs, Officer Clemmons sings "Silent Night".

Mister Rogers returns home with Stephanie, who laments the struggle of waiting for things you are looking forward to. At home, Mister Rogers is visited by Mrs. Hamilton, who wants to borrow some eggs. Mister Rogers doesn't have enough eggs, so Mrs. Hamilton puts in a call to borrow some from Chef Brockett before leaving just as quickly as she arrived. After she leaves, Stephanie makes up a story about the Music Man helping Mrs. Hamilton find eggs after her stubborn hens refuse to give her any.

Meanwhile, Mister Rogers opens a gift from a friend, a banner for the Neighborhood Trolley with "Merry Christmas" written on one side and "Happy Hanukkah" written on the other. Mister Rogers takes out a dreidel and spends some time talking about Hanukkah traditions as he sings "I Have a Little Dreidel".

As this is going on, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, Lady Elaine shares her frustrations with Handyman Negri. No presents are to be opened until King Friday gives the word, and Lady Elaine has only received one gift. As Mr. McFeely arrives to deliver more presents, Handyman Negri and Lady Aberlin go off to help him, leaving Lady Elaine all alone. Upon discovering that none of the delivered presents are for her, Lady Elaine turns everything in the Neighborhood upside down to show her anger at being left out. The only thing left as it was is the Music Man, who uses his magic stick to keep himself upright. The Music Man then gives Lady Elaine an ice skating experience (a gift that does not need to be wrapped), before Lady Elaine allows everything to be returned to normal. Later, when King Friday gives the word (the word being "Slopperydozafanoondapuck", which means "what a difference one person can make"), gifts are allowed to be opened throughout the Neighborhood. Lady Elaine is the first to open her gift, which she discovers is a Christmas decoration that all her neighbours assisted in making.

Back at the house, Mister Rogers talks about different families' holiday traditions, be they Christmas, Hanukkah, or anything else. Regardless of what (if anything) is celebrated, Mister Rogers suggests that all presents between people are a sign of love.

Meanwhile, Stephanie makes up another story about the Music Man, wherein he finds himself in a remote village where a young boy has gone missing. The Music Man assists the boy's father and sister in finding him by climbing to the highest point they can find and singing "My Sheep Were Grazing". The young boy overhears this, and by following the voices of his father, his sister, and the Music Man, he is able to find his way home.

At the get-together, everyone sings "Joy to the World" while Stephanie prepares for her performance. Before going on stage, she is overjoyed to find that Stanley Clay has arrived with her family. Stephanie then proudly performs her dance on the stage as everyone sings "The Friendly Beasts".

Returning home, Mister Rogers concludes the program by wishing his viewers good memories of the coming holiday season and hoping that they'll be able to look for all the ways people have of showing that they love them.[2]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The special was initially broadcast at 8:00 PM on December 20th, 1977,[3] and was allegedly rebroadcast every Christmas day after that until 1982. But for unknown reasons, the episode has rarely if ever been broadcast after this point, with no home recordings being known to exist as a result. The Mister Rogers fansite The Neighborhood Archive is known to possess a full copy of the special (providing screenshots and a detailed summary of it on the site), but they have not publicly released it (presumably over legal concerns), leaving the special lost.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood[edit | edit source]

Bumpers[edit | edit source]

PBS[edit | edit source]

PBS Kids[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]