‘DANCE YOUR CARES AWAY, worries for another day, let the music play…
down in FRAGGLE ROCK!’
After the success of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, it was only natural director/producer/puppeteer Jim Henson should take his knack for creating and bringing to life amazing puppet characters, and create yet another huge hit… cue FRAGGLE ROCK!
Fraggle Rock definitely goes down in TV history for the catchy theme tune, one you could often hear being chanted on the school playground. The little gem of a tune really could be attributed to playing almost as big a part in the success of the show as the mastery of Henson. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be involved in this magical world after dancing your cares away in just the few opening moments!?! In saying that you now probably won’t be as surprised as I was to learn that the song even hit the British music charts, making it to an impressive number 33. But then if you are reading this, you probably already know that!
Fraggle Rock was very nearly as big a hit as its forerunner The Muppet Show, airing 96 episodes across a total of five series’ in countries such as Canada, UK, USA and New Zealand.
Thankfully, it was also re-run again and again, as if it wasn’t for this I surely would have missed out on the Fraggles, the Doozers and those giant furry humanoids The Gorgs, as I was a bit too young to have caught it the first time round. (Yes I was born late in the 80s, I know, how sad for me missing out on in my opinion the greatest era of our time).
The main Fraggle characters were Gobo (leader of the gang, who entertains his friends with stories of his globe-trotting uncle ‘Traveling Matt’ from the post cards he sends to him), Mokey (who is a bit of a hippy who likes reciting poetry and keeps a diary with all her thoughts), Red (Ed says: ‘I was Red growing up!’ Red has big hair, worn in two orange puffy bunches, is competitive, fun and a bit insecure at times), Wembley (the youngest, cheerful and cute, wears a shirt with little bananas all over it) and Boober (worry-wart and hypochondriac).
They all live in ‘The Rock’, which is situated inside Doc’s (who the Fraggles deemed as a ‘silly creature’) walls! They also referred to the outside world as ‘Outer Space’ – something they learn from Uncle Traveling Matt’s Postcards, which Gobo has to risk his life to sneak from Doc’s dustbin each time.
Obviously, as would be the case in a show like this Doc doesn’t notice that these cute little souls are living there, despite Sprocket his beloved pet dog failed efforts to draw his attention to them. However, at the end of the fifth and final series they do eventually become acquainted, becoming firm friends.
As for the Doozers, they were tiny (only six inches tall), quite plump and green, and are the second type of species that live on Fraggle Rock. (I especially love the little wellies that they wear!) The Doozers live for working and spend all their time building construction (for no real reason). The fact the Fraggles end up eating it all makes this exercise even more pointless (bastards)! They build this out of an edible sweet-tasting substance made from radishes.
The third species in the series (aside from Doc and Sprocket) were the Gorgs, a family of three huge furry troll-like beings, which consisted of a father, (Pa Gorg) mother (Ma Gorg) and son Junior Gorg). The family consider themselves as ‘rulers of the university, and dopey Junior is the heir to the ‘throne’. They live above Fraggle Rock.
Fraggle Rock also presented many other little songs sung by the Fraggles that are just as enjoyable. They despite the Fraggles as they keep surfacing to steal radishes from the Gorg’s garden – the Gorgs need the radishes as these stop them from turning invisible.
The theme for each show tended to revolve around the usual messages planted in kid’s TV shows – friendship, confidence, trust, honesty, blah, blah, blah! But one thing not so generic about the show was the way it was built as an international show from the start, this factor doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary until you consider all the scenes shot with humans were especially done for each particular market, so for the UK version of the show the entrance to ‘Outer Space’, which is what the Fraggles call the real world, leads to a lighthouse where lighthouse keeper ‘the Captain’ lives with his dog Sprocket.
In the US and German versions and in the German version of Fraggle Rock, the hole in the wall leads to the workshop of an mad-cap inventor called Doc (not quite the Back To The Future one, but close Lol!) AND in the French version it leads to a former bakery and new home of ‘Doc’, who this time is a chef, and his dog, who looks exactly like Sprocket, is called Croquette. So wherever you were watching it in the world, it appeared as if it was actually filmed it that country!
After the massive success of Fraggle Rock, a series of books followed, which I haven’t actually read myself but from catching up on the programme recently I should imagine that they are every inch as exciting as the program itself and each page filled with as much whimsical joy.
The DVD’s were also released later on in early 2000’s, proving its popularity as people were buying them 20/30 years after the show was originally aired, embracing the nostalgia of a favourite childhood show and perhaps introducing it to future, unknowing, generations.
By Nichola Blake