Saturday, 11 June 2016

Fraggle Rock, Season 1 (1983)




Fraggles are a small, fun-loving creatures who enjoy music and singing and playing games.  They live in a series of underground tunnels they call "Fraggle Rock".  They know little of the world outside the tunnels and basically they divide it into two zones: "The Gorgs' Garden", and "Outer Space".

The Gorgs' Garden is a dangerous place for a Fraggle to venture, because Gorgs consider Fraggles to be pests.  I have some sympathy for the Gorg position here, because Fraggles appears to be a bit fuzzy on the whole "ownership" thing and take radishes from the Gorgs.  Fortunately for the Fraggles - who love radishes - Gorgs are as stupid and self-important as they are large, so avoiding or tricking them is fairly simple.

Outer Space meanwhile, is a truly vast and scary place.  Only one Fraggle has been brave enough to venture out in it: Uncle "Travelling" Matt, who regularly sends postcards home to his nephew Gobo, detailing the strange sights he has seen in Outer Space and the even stranger antics of the "Silly Creatures" (that'd be us humans) that inhabit it.

So this is a kids' show brought to us by the Jim Henson Workshop in the early to mid 80s.  It mostly revolves around the adventures of five young Fraggles.  This include the aforementioned Gobo (who is unusually level-headed for a Fraggle), the gung-ho Red, mellow Mokie, morose Boober, and fretful Wembley.

Generally speaking, each episode of the show follows a pretty standard pattern: the Fraggles learn there is some problem or issue that needs to be resolved, a postcard arrives from Uncle Matt that may or may not provide some insight, some singing occurs, and ultimately the characters overcome the challenge thanks to their mutual friendship and support for each other.  The main appeal of Fraggle Rock is not in the plots however, but in the whimsy that pervades the Fraggles' world.  Kids should enjoy the musical interludes and goofy jokes, while adults will probably get a chuckle out of Uncle Matt's postcards (the humour of which I think is often missed by children - or at least it was by this child, back when the show first aired).

Fraggle Rock is less incisive and definitely far less madcap than Henson's earlier The Muppets, but it's a fun kids' show.  Worth a look if you need to entertain the little ones.

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