Fraggle Rock: A Merry Fraggle Holiday
Fraggle Rock is a magical place that exists just beyond everyday reality, where the silly and carefree Fraggles live alongside small industrious Doozers - who never stop building their intricate constructions, huge fearsome Gorgs - who grow delicious vegetables and attempt to rule the world from their ruined castle and a talking Trash Heap - who delivers nonsensical but useful advice to Fraggles.
The world of Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock is far from the sunny urban buzz of Sesame Street, where many of Henson's most beloved Muppet characters dwell, or the frantic, backstage shenanigans of The Muppet Show, the classic variety program starring Kermit, Miss Piggy, and other icons of children's television. In Fraggle Rock, humans and Muppets live in different worlds. So different, in fact, that the Fraggles--small but diverse creatures who live in a cavernous land behind a wall in the shop of a tinkerer named Doc (Gerry Parkes)--regard the realm of flesh-and-blood people as "outer space."
Fraggles and people live apart, but the order of things is shaken up when the series' central character, Gobo, can't talk his determined uncle, Traveling Matt, from being the first of his kind to explore the great unknown. Matt leaves Fraggle Rock with a promise to get word to Gobo about how things are going. Thereafter, Gobo has to find a way, from time to time, to fetch postcards from Doc's trash can (Doc can't figure out why missives from someone named Uncle Matt keep turning up in his mailbox) by dashing into the tinkerer's warm workshop, avoiding not only Doc's eyes but the suspicions of his wonderful dog, Sprocket. (Doc mutters occasionally about boarding up a hole in the wall that serves as Gobo's door. When he finally does so, mid-season, it poses a crisis for Gobo, who is caught on the wrong side.) While Traveling Matt sees what people are like, Gobo and his fellow Fraggles--Red, Wembley, Boober, Mokey, and others--have adventures (and some misadventures) of their own, trying to get along, learning to say what they mean and how to avoid making the same mistake twice. Over time, they begin to ponder the big questions of their world and lives, questions that have an ethical subtext that can easily be appreciated by young viewers. Such as: Is it okay to eat elaborate structures built by Doozers, small construction builders whose materials apparently are so tasty? Should one ever trick a friend so seriously the latter actually grieves? Helping the Fraggles with these tough issues is all-knowing Marjory the Trash Heap, guru of garbage and life lessons. Not helpful by any stretch are the problematic Gorgs, giants who want to enslave Fraggles and who consider themselves royalty of the universe (such as it is behind Doc's wall). Each busy episode is designed to impart wisdom to kids, but they are also as funny as one might expect from the wisecracking Muppet Factory. Bonuses include recent interviews with cast and crew of the 1980s show, as well as a documentary about Henson. --Tom Keogh