Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

the Children's Museum, 4015 SW Canyon Road, through May 8

H eading to the Children's Museum to see the Mister Rogers exhibit, I tried to clear my mind of all the adult associations that arise when I think of Fred Rogers. First I had to get over Eddie Murphy's "Mr. Robinson" character (Can you say "ho-bag," boys and girls?) and then Christopher Guest and Bill Murray doing the funniest bit ever for the National Lampoon Radio Hour. (Mr. Rogers: Would you like to go to the Magic Kingdom? Bass player: Ah, no. It's too early for me. I gotta drive.) The hardest association to get rid of, though, was the rumor that Mr. Rogers had been either a firebomber or a sniper in the Korean War, and did his syrupy show as penance for his subhuman war crimes.

The biographical timeline that greets visitors to the hands-on exhibit doesn't mention anything about any military time served but says that he went to grad school for child development and attended seminary. Still, it didn't explicitly deny that he wore those sweaters to cover up the gory tattoos that decorate his forearms.

All you need to know is that the show is overrun with sugar-fueled screaming children who don't care about Mr. Rogers at all, and are there only to throw everything on the ground that's not bolted down. The audience at this show was purely insane, crying when I took toys out of their hands and running to their mothers when I hip-checked their asses halfway out of the neighborhood.

The exhibit itself was surprisingly weak. There was a pair of Mr. Rogers' preppy blue tennis shoes under a Plexiglas vitrine, as well as Neighborhood Trolley, also under a protective snake cage enclosure. It wasn't clear if the sets were the originals from the show, but the Make Believe castle and X the Owl's tree looked like they had just been hauled out of some abandoned warehouse. The most telling detail, however, was something that I don't remember at all from the original series--the Love Bucket. Placed out of children's reach, the Love Bucket asked that you "please place items that were in your child's mouth in here." Can you say "disgusting little children," boys and girls? CHAS BOWIE