The Best of Fraggle Rock (in one fan’s opinion, anyway)
Justin H. Piatt - Fraggle Rock began when a man named Jim Henson decided that he wanted to produce a television show that would bring peace to the world. The show premiered on January 10, 1983. While it hasn’t quite brought peace to the world, it has encouraged many to look at the world–look at life–just a little differently. Twenty-seven years later, we still cannot leave the magic.
Everyone has their favorite Fraggle or their favorite episode of Fraggle Rock. Let me share with you a few of mine.
“The Preachification of Convincing John” - To me, Mokey represents good-hearted, well-intentioned individuals who don’t fully understand what it is they’re involved in. Though none of the Fraggles really understand what they’re involved in, Mokey is the one to do something about it. The episode really brings this to the forefront with her misguided, seemingly noble struggle to protect the Doozer towers from destruction. Of course, the best part of Fraggle Rock is that the characters learn and grow, as Mokey does here.
“The Secret Society of Poohbahs” - is such a wonderful, silly episode with perhaps the most important message Mokey (or anyone) could ever learn: Don’t take everything so seriously. It is among my absolute favorite episodes of the series.
“The Secret of Convincing John” - shows Wembley at his most wemblish, and we learn to love him for it as the alternative is entirely unappealing. And I love the idea that Convincing John is just as indecisive as Wembley. The episode overall is a nice reminder to be happy as yourself.
“The Thirty-Minute Work Week” - is a great Wembley episode because we learn so much from it. First, you don’t have to know how to start a fire to be a fireman (and you have to like red suspenders). Second, “Tedium and drudgery are good for the soul.” This is another episode that’s just too silly not to love.
“Gone But Not Forgotten” - Wembley encounters a new creature known as Mudwell the Mudbunny. Wembley forms a close bond with him after Mudwell becomes his caretaker and they find they share a love of obscure, nonsensical games. But this bond is quickly broken when Mudwell suddenly dies, and Wembley must learn to deal with this. The episode is sad, but not without its lighter, funnier moments such as when the other Fraggles try to help Wembley through the grieving process. Wembley finally does learn to deal with his feelings, and in the end, we’re left with hope.
As with Sesame Street, the Fraggle Rock crew was not afraid to teach children about loss. They were honest in showing how a person should feel at such a time, and brave enough to come right out and say that the character was gone. Mudwell doesn’t come back, but the memory of him lives on.
“Space Frog Follies” - A new favorite of mine, I saw the title while researching this article and I didn’t remember it at all. Upon watching it again, I realize it’s such a funny episode. Wembley and Boober’s efforts to keep the frog hidden from Gobo are terribly amusing. The song “Insects Rock” is a lot of fun, and a dance craze I hope catches on someday (considering the episode debuted over 20 years ago, I have the feeling we may have missed the opportunity for an Insect Rock craze). I also appreciate that Wembley recognized the frog’s needs, and fought for its release. Go Wemb!
“Pebble Pox Blues” - Boober faces the greatest evil the world has ever known: contagion. For this episode, Boober, the worry-wart, is paired with Wembley, the impressionable innocent. I love the humor in this episode, which stems from Boober putting the fear of germs into Wembley and Wembley’s over-reacting to the pebble pox. But, no matter how worried or frightened Boober might be, he’s really a selfless Fraggle. His friends come first.
There’s a little Boober in everyone. At times, we all feel as though the only things certain in life are death and laundry. Unlike Boober, however, we rarely find solace from one in the other.
Of course, there’s also a little Sidebottom in everyone…
“Boober’s Quiet Day” - All Boober wanted was a nice, quiet day to himself. Enter Sidebottom. That rascally alter-ego of his makes a mess of everything. You can’t help but feel sorry for poor Boober here. Of course, you can’t help but laugh at poor Boober here either.
“I Want to Be You” - Who can’t identify with that sentiment? Likely we’ve all wanted to be somebody else at one point or another. Karen Prell cites this as the episode when she discovered who Red was. And for good reason! Although this show is about becoming somebody else, much of Red’s personality is revealed because of it. Her competitive nature prompts the whole change in personality when Gobo would rather listen to Mokey than compete. She can be easily frustrated, a trait which pops up whenever her attempts to be more Mokey-ish don’t quite go as she’d like. And my favorite part of this episode? The line: “See the little simple, silly, dimpled, pimpled daughters as they flirt with dirty otters while they…” Well, you get the reference.
The episode also features perhaps the greatest joke of all time. Wanna hear it? Okay. Cover your eyes.
Dark, isn’t it?
“The Gorg Who Would Be King” - Junior is about to become the king of the universe, but he has a lot to learn, and he’ll learn far more than any other Gorg King ever has. Junior is perhaps the youngest of all Fraggle Rock characters… not literally, of course. He is, after all, in his four-hundred-seventies. Anyway, since he is the “youngest,” how fitting that he should learn the most. He gets to understand the harmony of the universe and how “it all fits together.” Richard Hunt gives one of his best performances as Junior in this episode. And Junior’s encounter with the nirvana tree is one of the funniest scenes in the whole show. That lovable idiot.
“The Battle of Leaking Roof” - Comedy gold. Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson have been paired together numerous times, but their combined genius is never more evident than in this episode.
(And, last but not least…)
“Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk” - It’s not really one of my favorite Gobo episodes, specifically, though it is primarily about Gobo. But Red, Wembley, Mokey and Boober’s attempts to rescue Gobo in this episode are hilarious. Wembley’s fight to keep himself from crying over the milk cracks me up every time I watch this.
Okay, now onto the Gobo episodes. I don’t know that it’s possible to choose a singular favorite episode of Fraggle Rock. If I were to try, however, it might be one of the following three.
“Manny’s Land of Carpets” - has a brilliant and incredibly deep, powerful storyline. The Fraggles are invited to “the happiest place in the world” by a mysterious object from outer space. Enthralled by this unique, seemingly mystical “creature,” the Fraggles are willing to follow its every word, even when it seems to want the Rock’s occupants to leave each other. The message, to me, is to use your head. Don’t be blindly led, but think things through and see if it makes sense.
“The Day the Music Died” - One of the greatest things in this world is music. For the Fraggles, it is as important and life-sustaining as water. When Gobo is chosen to write “The Glory Song,” he learns just how true that is. Musical silence is demanded from the Rock’s population, and so the Rock starts to die out. “The Glory Song” turns out to be far more important than Gobo could have ever realized.
There is a condition known as amusia that some people suffer from. Amusia is an inability to hear or respond to music. When I heard about this, it made me realize how precious music is, and how we often take it for granted. That’s what I take from this episode. To quote a button from Hot Topic: “Music=Life”
“The Honk of Honks” - Gobo gets to honk the Honk of Honks! The episode brings together all that makes the Fraggles great: music, humor, a message, singing-and-scatting Inkspots, and snacks. I love the idea explored in the Doc and Sprocket segments: “Those who can’t see.” If you don’t believe in it, you won’t see it, even if it’s right in front of your face. The moment when Doc finally does see Gobo is powerful and touching. And, again, the idea of universal harmony is explored through the Honk of Honks itself. “We’re all a part of everything and everything’s a part of us.” As the Honk of Honks is sounded, it is heard across the “universe.” From silly creatures to Doozers, everyone is a part of the honk that leads to the Song of Songs.
Throughout the series of Fraggle Rock, you’ll see a great blend of the silly and the solemn (“It’s silly to think it’s solemn!”). The Fraggles teach lessons no other children’s show has ever dared. The show is fun and has a beautiful message for everyone.
So, dear readers, I leave you with these words: “Dance your cares away, worries for another day. Let the music play.” … Think about it.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier