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Arcade in the Sky Blog: Down with Fraggle Rock

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Down with Fraggle Rock

As some of you may know, I've recently gotten Netflix, and I've been going back on my list of shoulda-seen flicks. While going through my list I came across the boxed sets of Fraggle Rock. I decided to watch the first episode again this past fateful Saturday morning, and before I knew it, I had to watch all 96 episodes.

To understand the fascination, I need to take you back to my childhood. Before I was into cartoons, or anime, or comics, or D&D, there was the Muppet Show. I remember learning the days of the week and how to tell time, just so I could know when that show was coming on. But there was another show from Jim Henson, but it was only available on HBO. None of my friends or family had this mystical channel, save my Aunt. Everytime I would come to visit, she'd have a few new episodes saved on VHS, and these were the greatest treats I could ever have. The Muppet Show was great, but it had a lot of filler with pop songs and talkback with the special guest star, most of whom I was too young to know. Fraggle Rock took place in its own world, with all the characters and humor self contained. In fact, people from any generation could pick up the show today and it would be just as relevant and magical.

Though each episode was only 25 minutes, it packed a ton of content. The sets and lighting were always busy and intricate. There were always original songs to sing, and the stories and themes were always layered. There's be a wrap around story with Doc and his dog Sprocket, the main story and a vignette of "Uncle Traveling Matt" all of which would be linked in some anecdotal way.

The brilliance of the show was its construction. The show had world layered on top of worlds, and the premise was based on the relationship between those worlds, not a specific plot or character. Because of this, you could enter the show at any episode and still receive the core message of understanding and tolerance that the show was preaching. Unlike some modern shows (I'm looking at you, Dora) they don't bash you over the head with a lesson, they just show you these fantastic worlds interacting, then let you draw your own conclusions. The fraggles are mysterious creatures that live in the walls, and see our world as "outer space", they live alongside doozers whom are just as small to fraggles as they are to humans. On top of that, there the race of Giant Gorgs, whom see themselves as the centers of-and rulers of- the universe. The fraggles are no bigger than mice to them, and get treated like so many pests. The relationship between them is the ultimate allegory. It could be a stand in for race, class, nationality, or creed. Each group is egocentric, and doesn't truly realize how they depend on the others, and in turn are depended on by them.

This is one of the most satisfying shows I've ever seen. During the course of the series, all possibilities and angles are dealt with, and there is a very satisfying final episode that always bring me to tears. Anyone who has Netflix needs to see this whole show NOW, and if you don't have Netflix, go grab the boxed sets!
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