The Hater’s Guide to Daniel Tiger (Volume 1)
Disclaimer: for as much hate as I talk, we actually love Daniel Tiger. Frogson doesn’t really even know there is much TV beyond DT, which is fine by me. It’s such a wonderful, warm show in a sea of overstimulating crap.
But I’m still going to snark the bejesus out of it.
The two episodes covering the birth of Daniel’s baby sister: These are both gold. In the first installment, Daniel’s parents break it to him that he’s going to be a big brother. Mom Tiger is like 38 weeks when they do this. Cruel. In the next episode, it’s birthing time. Mom Tiger obviously has a scheduled c-section or induction because she’s not screaming or writhing on the ground or anything, she just calmly tells Daniel “OK, it’s time for me to go to Dr. Anna’s office so she can help me have the baby” and then happily boards trolley while singing a musical number about all the love in their family. When we next see her, she’s cradling baby Margaret and wearing this cute little teal polka dot hospital gown. It’s like some kind of hospital brochure from 1953. People, I used to volunteer at a zoo. There’s nothing cute about big cats birthing. Trust me. As they leave, Dad Tiger tells Dr. Anna “Thanks” and then solemnly, dramatically adds “…for everything” which made me snort with laughter because you know he’s talking about an episiotomy or something.
Mr. McFeely: Holy crap. Has there ever been a creepier appellation in all of children’s television? No. The guy even looks like he’s on the sex offender registry. If this was real life, you just know there’d be a day where he’d be mysteriously gone from his neighborhood bicycle mail route and “reassigned” to a sorting facility where he’d work the Anthrax detector machine until quietly retiring. It’s like when you read in your hometown newspaper about your creepy 7th grade Earth Science teacher who got busted for provisioning alcohol for the JV softball team and you’re kind of surprised but not really surprised.
“Find a Way to Play Together” episode: This episode grinds my gears because it admonishes the children for playing alone and says playing together is always better. I spent my early childhood much like Stewie Griffin, lurking menacingly in a corner and silently judging my Kindergarten classmates for their intellectual inferiority. So I disagree with this sentiment and think being a loner is great. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a tough sell for the show if Daniel’s friends weren’t insufferable beyond all hope. Have you ever watched Katerina Kittycat at play? She can’t be tolerated. She always wants to play house but then just barks orders and bosses everyone around– I swear I am still traumatized by the human equivalent of that girl from my Kindergarten class.
Jealousy episode: For those unfamiliar or loosely familiar with the show, every episode features a signature jingle that a young child can sing to help his or herself through an emotional challenge. They also come in handy for adults although I CANNOT SPEAK TO THIS FROM EXPERIENCE. I definitely NEVER sing Daniel jingles to myself as a calming mechanism. Cough. They are normally very authoritative and offer a clear guarantee that your problems can be easily solved. When you feel frustrated/take a step back and ask for help or When you can’t get what you want/stomp three times to help yourself feel better. However, the jingle for the episode about jealousy is When you feel jealous talk about it/and we’ll figure something out. The “…and we’ll figure something out” just cracks me up. It’s so hilarious and vague. You just know this is the closest Daniel Tiger comes to acknowledging that sometimes you’re powerless to the suckiness of life. LOLsob.
King Friday: The more I watch, the more I hate this guy. I think my hate peaked in the natural disaster episode, when a large storm wreaks havoc all over the Land of Make Believe. Before the storm starts, Daniel and his family pick up O and Katerina from their tree house so they can spend the night at the Tiger residence, where they’ll have safer structural accommodations. Note that the Tigers live in a beachfront tiki hut with a freaking straw-thatched roof, so this is not much of an upgrade in hurricane conditions. MEANWHILE, King Friday and the royal family are SITTIN’ PRETTY in the neighborhood castle:
Power goes out at the Tiger house and they’re huddling in sleeping bags but you know the Royals are across the street drunkenly playing Wii tennis with Donna Summer blaring. The next day, everyone gathers at Clock Factory Park to help pick up the branches and crap everywhere. Everyone came to work except King Friday, who is there in his usual purple velour cape and instead just stands back and shouts orders at people. There is a tree down and able-bodied King Friday just stands there idiotically while Music Man Stan (hipster small business owner) and Dr. Anna (a chick) step up and clear the tree. Pathetic. He is like the Michael Brown of the Land of Make Believe.
Fall Festival episode: In this episode, Daniel comes to the painful realization that he is terrible at everything. Jingle: Do your best/your best is the best for you. LOL. The children do field day games at school and while Prince Wednesday can deftly leap over a leaf pile, Daniel repeatedly crash lands into it. I repeat, LOL. Daniel also finds out that Katerina can lift a pumpkin and he cannot, which is actually pretty unfortunate considering Katerina is an 8-pound domestic cat and Daniel is a tiger. Daniel looks at the camera and says, “How would you feel if you couldn’t lift a pumpkin?” Daniel, let’s really challenge the spirit of the episode here and admit a difficult truth: everyone else can lift a pumpkin. You’re not climbing Kilimanjaro here.
The show’s focus on neighbors: Good grief. Neighbor this! Neighbor that! Who wants to be this friendly with their neighbors? We just got some new neighbors who moved from the Midwest and I guess people are, like, friendly there? Our kids were playing outside together one day and upon parting, the woman said something like “We should do this again, I’ll just come over and knock on your door!” WOMAN YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING. If you come to my door unannounced I make zero promises about the state of my household. A beagle will introduce himself by shoving his snout into your crotch, I’ll be in a robe, the preschooler will be going potty with the door open, the toddler will be in a diaper playing with an empty milk jug and eating week-old raisins from underneath the fridge. This is the scene you find on a good day.
The end. Roll the It’s Such a Good Feeling Song. I’m quite enjoying this series! If you have any episodes/moments you’d like to see appear in future volumes, please tip me in the comments.