I finally changed my desk at work, so now it doesn’t smell like the bathroom. And I kept my favorite chair. Also, I gave a fantastic presentation on Saturday, and turned in a rather harrowing assignment yesterday. So I’m a bit satiated. And I’ll probably spend tonight getting through disc 2 of Fraggle Rock.
And now I’m ready to start my reviewing.
I really like Muppets, I really like the way they move. I especially love Fraggles because they have such great hair! It waves and moves and has a life of it’s own. I don’t know why motion is such a pet of mine, but it really matters to me. One of the other things I like is the same thing I like about Rugrats. They characters are not used to the human adult world and they come up with explanations for things based on what they can understand, not how things really work. I don’t know if I really like that they’re poking fun and explorers and anthropologists, or it’s just universally good.
The notes in the box set say something like Jim Henson conceived of the fraggles on a long plane flight, and 3 days later he pitched the idea and the work started. He wanted to make a show that would solve the world’s problems (he said it’s better to be ambitious than to aim low). And there are lots of valuable lessons to be learned from the fraggles (which, you know, is my favorite thing about kids shows). But they are a bit more subtle than your usual dribble, and often done differently than you would expect.
One thing I didn’t remember about the fraggles was how much they sing. I mean, I knew the theme song, but I didn’t realize how many original songs there were. And, not giving in to the emerging pressure of 80’s fluff, these songs are very folky. And sticking to that theme there’s Mokey fraggle, at whom I will often yell at the screen, “stupid hippy.” (and apparently others think so too, because she’s the only one without a current doll). And, I’m no hippy, but I like these songs. You can view the lyrics here
I was going to lay out the cast of characters for you, but this page does all the work for me.
In the first episode, Beginnings, we’re introduced to all the fraggles, and we learn Gobo’s Uncle Traveling Matt’s mission in life, to go into “outer space” (read: outside of the fraggle cave, into the human world) for scientific discovery. And he entrusts Gobo with the important task of retrieving postcards from “the room at the end of the tunnel” where Doc and Sprocket live. Gobo is the leader, and his voice actor is also Robin Frog and the Count von Count. Gobo is my new favorite Canadian—and boy is he Canadian, eh? And for those of you who don’t know, that’s the premise of every show. I’ll spell it out for you
1. The Fraggles have an important plot within their cave. Which usually teaches us a valuable lesson.
2. There’s a subplot with Doc and Sprocket.
3. There’s a small sub plot with the Gorgs.
4. There’s always a postcard from Uncle Traveling Matt
Here's an episode list for you
And the lessons begin with episode 2, Wembly and the Gorgs. You see, Wembly (voiced by the same actor as Kermit) is indecisive, and rather than think for himself, he just agrees with everyone he’s around. And when he’s captured by the Gorgs he defers to them, and they make him their pet and treat him really well. But their whims change, as they often do, and they capture his friends. And in a moment of greatness he becomes his own
person fraggle, and saves them all. And we learn a valuable lesson about being your own strong person. But we also learn the lesson that people who are being restricted and controlled don’t realize it until it’s too late, and you don’t realize how much freedom means until you don’t have it anymore--- pretty sophisticated for episode 2.
Ep. 3, Let the Water Run, has the important, yet trite, don’t try to do everything yourself when your friends are willing to help, lesson. But the water making bangers and the Doc bits are really good.
Ep. 4, You Can't Do That Without a Hat, mirrors the Wizard of OZ, I’m sure I don’t even need to explain it to my brilliant readers. But it’s the first episode to feature Boober, who is my favorite, because he always worries about the worst. Worried about taking a plane because it might crash? He’s one step ahead worrying that the earth won’t be there when you get back. His voice actor is also the voice of Gonzo.
Ep. 5, The Thirty-Minute Work Week, is where it really gets good. You see, part of growing up in the fraggle cave is putting in your 30 minute work week. And the time has come for Wembly—the indecisive one—to pick a job. Gobo already gets the mail from Uncle Traveling Matt, Boober does the laundry (the most tedious, boring and safe job he can find), Mookie picks radishes… And every fraggle has the perfect job for his or her fraggle personality. After finding out that none of his friends’ jobs are right for him, he goes to see the great trash heap. And he decides to be a fireman—but the thing is, he’s afraid, because he doesn’t even know how to build a fire. And after some prodding by his friends and a giant push onto stage, he goes to the fire meeting. And as it turns out, none of the firemen know how to build a fire, they just wear funny hats, climb ladders and ring bells. And we learn the value of hard work and that there is a perfect job for everyone. Inspiring I say. I’m sure I’ll watch it plenty when I’m an unemployed loser with a masters degree.
And just when I think things can’t get any better, ep. 6 comes along, The Preachification of Convincing John. One day Mokey, the stupid hippy, decides that eating doozer buildings is the wrong thing to do. Those little creatures work so hard and fraggles just eat, eat, eat. So without asking the doozers how they feel, or what they want, she launches a campaign to stop all fraggles from eating doozer buildings, but since they taste so good, no one listens. So she goes to see Convincing John, aka, Jim Henson, who can convince any fraggle of anything. And after she comes out, convinced that she should always wear cups on her hands, he agrees. And all fraggles stop eating the buildings, and get hungry and grumpy. Meanwhile the doozers build and build until there’s no room for anything, and they’re preparing to move away, so they can build more, when Mokey happens upon a crying doozer child and overhears that they have to move because the Fraggles have become “so cruel” and stopped eating so they could keep building. (in the first episode we see a doozer watching a fraggle chomp on some buildings, and the doozer comments “it’s nice to see people enjoying architecture these days. ”So Mokey tell everyone they can eat again, fraggles rejoice, and never question her decision ( I guess stupid hippies are prone to whims). And we all learn a very valuable lesson about trying to “help” the underrepresented without asking them first.—IF only more people watched fraggles…
This episode really highlights the problem with fraggles and doozers. They peacefully co-exist, but never talk to each other if they can help it. They speak the same language and can communicate, but stick to their own kind. Fraggles play and doozers work. Doozers build, Fraggles eat. They both seem friendly enough. I just don’t understand. The doozers could have just asked the Fraggles to start eating the buildings. Mokey could have just asked the Doozers how they feel. But no, somehow it’s just accepted, even after we all learn valuable lessons.
And that’s disc 1, there are 3 more discs of episodes, 1 bonus features disc, and 1 special best buy CD rom with screen savers and wallpaper