Thursday, 9 March 2017
Fraggle Rock, Season 4 (1986)
I've remarked previously on the different interpretations of how many seasons Fraggle Rock had, so let's just say that this is the last 24 episodes of the show, as that at least is fairly uncontroversial.
However you count the seasons, it's pretty clear in the last dozen or so episodes that the creators knew the show was winding down. The status quo that's endured for the preceding 80 episodes suddenly starts getting shaken up, with significant shifts in the relationship between Fraggle and Doozer, Fraggle and Gorg and even - gulp! - Fraggle and Silly Creature. Heck, even Uncle Traveling Matt returns to the Rock, marking an almost total end to the 'postcard' sequences that have appeared in almost every episode of the first three seasons.
There's also a marked shift toward tackling more ambitious or off the wall ideas. A couple of episodes here have some genuinely sombre moments (The River of Life and Gone But Not Forgotten specifically), while we also get diversions into a Sam Spade-esque flight of fancy and some surprisingly overt statements of the Fraggles' essentially communist social structure. It's a bit like they figured "oh well, they can't cancel the show again!".
This is not to say that the existing formula of silly humour and exuberant songs is entirely jettisoned. In fact I'd say some of the songs in this season are among the show's best, and there are plenty of funny scenes to be found as well. The show's just bit richer and more varied in these final episodes, making it probably my favourite of the four boxed sets.