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A television show that would bring about world peace. That was Jim Henson’s vision for ‘The International children’s show’ that would eventually become Fraggle Rock. Henson was not under the delusion that a children’s show could create peace on earth, but he wholeheartedly believed that each episode of Fraggle Rock, while being entertaining, would also be based on one central philosophy of peace. What is remarkable about the show is that the meaningful sentiments of each episode are not preachy or sickly sweet. It’s a credit to Jim Henson and the creative team behind Fraggle Rock that the show, while classified as a children’s show, could not only teach young viewers meaningful lessons, but also be entertaining to teenagers, parents and everyone in-between.
 
Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season

Series


Fraggle Rock revolves around the adventures of five Fraggle friends, Gobo, Wembley, Boober, Red and Mokey. Each Fraggle has their own unique personality and while they are all friends, because they are all so difference, there are many opportunities to explore their friendship conflicts. Gobo is the brave leader of the group who has modelled himself after his explorer Uncle Travelling Matt. His major task each day is to venture out into outer space to retrieve his Uncle Matt’s postcard. Gobo often clashes with sassy Red, whose playful whimsy creates a sibling rivalry with Gobo. Next is the sardonic and paranoid Boober whose one pleasure in life is doing laundry. Boober provides most of the humour in the show with his one liners and dry demeanour. The remaining funnies in the show are provided by the bumbling indecisive Wembley. If a scene contains both Boober and Wembley you know there will be laughs a plenty. The gang is rounded out by free spirit Mokey. She is slightly older than the rest of the group and often acts like a mother towards Boober and Wembley and an older sister to Gobo and Red. She writes poetry, paints and is the voice of reason. With these five characters, the heart and soul of Fraggle Rock is created.

While the Fraggles may be the centre of the show, there are many other important characters in the universe of Fraggle Rock. Firstly there are the Doozers who live within Fraggle Rock with the Fraggles. Doozers are miniature little creatures around knee high to a Fraggle. They are single minded and only live to work. They build elaborate doozer constructions which are eaten by the Fraggles. Outside of Fraggle Rock, referred to as outer space by Uncle Travelling Matt, lives inventor Doc and his dog Sprocket.  These two strange creatures are the major obstacle that Gobo must overcome every time he tries to get his Uncle Matt’s postcard. On the other side of Fraggle Rock live Ma, Pa and Junior Gorg. Ma and Pa believe they are King and Queen of the universe, although their Fraggle catching obsessed son Junior is their only loyal subject. In the Gorg’s garden resides the oracle of Fraggle Rock, Majory the trash heap. The Fraggles travel into the Gorg garden in times of crisis or indecision for Majory’s insightful advice and guidance. Fraggle Rock is a fantastical, mesmerising world inhabited by all these very different creatures who often have to learn to co-exist.

Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season
For a debut season it is surprising how well crafted and strong, both visually and structurally, all the episodes are. Characters and plot elements are swiftly established and it only takes an episode or two to be transported into this fantasy world. Each of the five Fraggle characters also has their own prominent storylines that explore their problems and relationships. Although it is impossible to try and pick out some favourite episodes, one episode stands out as particularly precious and memorable. In Marooned Boober and Red become trapped in a cave-in and must face the possibility that their friends may not be able to rescue them. For a children’s show to deal so poignantly with death without being heavy handed or depressing is nothing short of amazing. I remember crying uncontrollable the first time I watched this episode as and kid and I couldn’t help but cry when I watched it again over 20 years later. This episode is also singled out in the special features as being particularly important. In fact, Dave Goelz, who voiced Boober Fraggle, reveals that when he and Karen Prell, who voiced Red, were filming a tender scene in the cave- in, some members of the crew began to cry. I think that pretty much sums up why Fraggle Rock is such a special and remarkable television series.

Fraggle Rock is enchanting for so many reasons and if I try to write about all the reasons this show is magical, I will end up writing a book.  A very, very long book.  More than any other TV show from my childhood, I fondly remember watching Wembley decide to become a fireman, Mokey standing up for Doozer rights and Boober using Wembley as a clothes line. I never had one favourite character; one week it would be Wembley, another it would be Boober and the following week Red. All the Fraggles have their appealing moments and as a group this electric gang are a very entertaining dysfunctional family. Every generation has their cherished children’s show. But I think my generation won out by growing up with Fraggle Rock. Now of course every person would have a soft spot for a show they fondly remember wasting hours in front of the TV watching, but Fraggle Rock seamlessly blends catchy sweet songs, humorously flawed characters and life lessons into a wonderfully entertaining and memorable half hour show. What is more marvellous about this show is how watchable and entertaining is for grown up kids. Although I have always adored the show, I was afraid that watching the complete first season as a twenty-something would ruin the magical memories I have of watching it as a child. But this show is charming and addictive whatever age you are and not just for nostalgic value. There are so many things to marvel at about Fraggle Rock. While The Muppets may be more popular and Sesame Street is the long running juggernaut of the Henson empire, Fraggle Rock is the jewel in Henson’s crown and a children’s show about peace is more relevant today than ever.


Episodes


Beginnings
The fraggely adventures of Gobo, Red, Wembley, Mokey and Boober begin with Gobo’s Uncle Travelling Matt’s discovery of a land beyond Fraggle Rock, which he deems ‘outer space’. Uncle Travelling Matt decides to leave Fraggle Rock and explore the outside world, leaving his nephew Gobo behind.

Wembley and the Gorgs


The supposed rulers of the universe, the Gorgs, capture Wembley when he ventures out into the Gorg garden. Wembley manages to avoid being thumped by the Gorgs when he becomes a loyal servant of King and Queen Gorg.

Let The Water Run


Red is all ready for her spectacular swim show until an unexpected drought hits Fraggle Rock. Uncle Travelling Matt’s postcard from outer space provides a solution. Red and Gobo must find a rain making device known as an umbrella. Can Red and Gobo save the show with some ‘outer space’ advice from Uncle Travelling Matt?

You Can’t Do That Without a Hat


Boober’s paranoia is getting the better of him, so he ventures out into the garden to seek the advice of the trash heap oracle Majory. She tells Boober he will be just fine as long as he has his hat. But in a moment of new found hat confidence, Boober manages to lose his magic hat.

The 30 Minute Work Week


It’s time for Wembley to decide what his job will be at Fraggle Rock. It’s a big decision for indecisive Wembley so he seeks the advice of the trash heap.

The Preachification of Convincing John


Mokey’s musings about the life of the Doozers lead her believe that Fraggles shouldn’t eat the beautiful Doozer constructions. But Mokey’s new found stance of Doozer’s rights causes chaos in Fraggle Rock.

I Want to Be You


Red is beginning to feel unwanted around Fraggle Rock as Mokey seems to be getting all the attention. Red’s solution is to become exactly like Mokey.

The Terrible Tunnel


An ancient legend exists in Fraggle Rock about the Terrible Tunnel that makes Fraggles disappear forever. No one really believes in the tunnel until Wembley manages to find it.

The Lost Treasure of The Fraggles


Red and Gobo find an old treasure map and set out on a quest to find the lost treasure of Fraggle Rock. Trouble is the map leads them inside the Gorg’s castle.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk


Gobo’s routine trip into ‘outer space’ to fetch his Uncle Travelling Matt’s postcard turns into a frightening experience when Doc boards up the Fraggle hole, trapping Gobo in the outside world.

Catch the Tail by the Tiger


Gobo starts to get worried when his Uncle Travelling Matt’s usual postcards stop arriving. Having made a promise to his uncle to venture into the outside world if the postcards stop arriving, Gobo realises he must leave Fraggle Rock to look for his Uncle.

The Finger of Light


The World’s oldest Fraggle tells the Fraggles that a new ruler must be chosen. Candidates for the position must pass over the dangerous Echo Hole where a finger of light will shine down on the new ruler.
Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season

We Love You Wembley


Wembley falls in love with a Fraggle named Lou. After some advice from Mokey, Wembley goes to the trash heap for help and manages to make all the Fraggles fall in love with him.

The Challenge


Gobo has always been the undisputed leader and decision maker of the Fraggle gang, but when one of his decisions rubs Red the wrong way, she challenges his position as leader.

I Don’t Care


Boober is give a lucky charm blanket by the trash heap, but the other Fraggles manage to destroy it. Boober’s anger leads him to the highest court in Fraggle Rock to seek justice.

Capture The Moon


Once a month, a magical object know as the moon appears in the pond of Fraggle Rock. Gobo decides that he wants to have the moon all the time and seeks out to capture the moon.

Marooned


On his birthday Boober is trapped in a cave-in with Red. Although the two don’t usually get along very well, facing death makes them re-examine their relationship.

The Minstrels


Some travelling musicians arrive at Fraggle Rock to present an ancient Fraggle tradition, the medley. But the performance is put in jeopardy when Red, in search of her song, steals the musicians’ magic pipe.

The Great Radish Famine


The civilisation of Fraggle Rock is put in danger when all the radishes from the Gorg’s garden disappear. The shortage of radishes not only affects the Fraggles, but the Doozers and the Gorgs also depend on the radishes.  Can these very different creatures come together to save themselves?

The Garden Plot


Fraggle Rock is being attacked by both the outside world and the Gorg world when Junior Gorg starts tidying up the garden and begins destroying Fraggle Rock. While in frustration of never being able to catch Gobo, Sprocket the dog begins hammering at the Fraggle hole which leads from the outside world.

Gobo’s Discovery


Gobo decides to abandon exploring because he never wanted to be an explorer. It was his Uncle Travelling Matt who wanted him to be an explorer. But Gobo changes his mind when an invisible monster moves to Fraggle Rock.

Mokey’s Funeral


On her daily trek to the Gorg’s garden to get radishes, Mokey discovers Junior Gorg has set up a trap to catch Fraggles. Instead of going to her friends for help, Mokey devises a plan to fool Junior Gorg. But her friends fear the worst when they see Junior conducting a funeral for Mokey.

The Beast of Bluerock


Best friends Wembley and Gobo have a major falling out when Wembley refuses to go on an adventure to Bluerock with Gobo.

New Trash Heap in Town


The Trash heap needs a holiday so she tries to get the Fraggles to find wisdom within themselves instead of coming to her for advice. Problem is, the Fraggles misinterpret the message and decide a very unique Fraggle must become the new oracle. Fraggle Rock has a new trash heap, Mokey!

Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season

Video


Presented in the standard televisual 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Fraggle Rock looks better than it ever has before. Colours are vibrant and saturation good. The quality of the visuals does vary from episode to episode, with some looking especially vibrant and clear, while others appear slightly muted with occasional moments of ghosting. There is nothing major here to complain about. The picture could have been approved upon, but maybe not. Overall picture is crisp and clear with only the occasional evidence of grain. For a television show from the early ‘80s the presentation could have been a lot worse and would still have been acceptable.

Audio


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack always provides clear and audible dialogue with no sync issues. As mentioned, one of the best parts of Fraggle Rock are the songs. While the show, particularly with its musical content, could have benefited from a 5.1 surround mix, the stereo mix showcases the songs strongly. This is not an outstanding track by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets the job done.

Extras


Firstly, the packaging for this set is worth a mention, if not a rave. Packaged in an embossed book style box set, this set has been lovingly designed and is very impressive. A lot of time and attention has been paid to make this set look special. The Fraggle Rock logo, all the Fraggles and two doozers are embossed on the front cover and each of the five discs is devoted to one of the five Fraggles, with the menus similarly themed. The box opens with a lid, which is unusual for a box set and there is a pocket which contains the notebook. Outrageously dazzling!

Instead of collection of small, sparse extras like TV spots or mini featurettes, there are two lengthy, well produced features on this first season release. Firstly, there is a nicely compiled 60 minute interview session with many of the creative minds behind Fraggle Rock, including the creators and the main puppeteers/voices of the characters. The creative panel includes Co-Creator/Producer Duncan Kenworthy, Co-creator/Writer Jocelyn Stevenson, Producer Lawrence S. Mirkin and Co-Creator/ Creative Producer Jerry Juhl. The artists’ panel includes Karen Prell (Red Fraggle), Dave Goelz (Boober Fraggle) and Steve Whitmire (Wembley Fraggle). Jerry Nelson (Gobo Fraggle) is interviewed separately. While there are a few cast members absent, those interviewed are well spoken and provide plenty of information about how the show was conceived and the creative process. They also recall some poignant moments on set as well as pay tribute to the late Jim Henson. This feature also benefits from conducting interview panels, instead of the usual individual interviews. The interviews are divided into 10 separate segments each addressing a different aspect of the show such as ‘Origins,’ ‘Music,’ and ‘The Writing Process.’

Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season
The second extra is an almost hour long ‘80s behind the scenes documentary hosted by Jim Henson. This feature is highly informative and because it offers both behind the scenes footage and interviews with almost all the puppeteers, a new documentary isn’t really necessary. Of course, what is really special about this documentary is that the man himself, Jim Henson, is front and centre hosting.

But the best, and likely most treasured extra included in this box set is a replica of the Hertford Castle Shorthand note book Henson used to conceive Fraggle Rock. The details of this notepad are nothing short of astonishing.  Scribbled on the front cover, in Henson’s barely legible handwriting, is the date April 3 1981 and the title The Woozle World. Henson’s notes cover both sides of the 29 page note pad and the attention to detail is glorious. The scribbles, crossing out of notes, plans for the training of puppeteers, are all presented in this small notebook making it a precious addition to this set.

Overall


The release of Fraggle Rock would not have been possible without the collective voice of a devoted fan base screaming for it to be released in season sets. What Fraggle fans have received is simply awesome.  I don't see how any fan could be disappointed in this release. The packaging is gorgeous, the video and audio presentations of the episodes are great and the extras are both interesting and well presented. Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season is an Amazing, Brilliant, Marvellous, Wonderful, Fantastic, Awesome, Magnificent, Superb DVD release. I’m running out of positive adjectives, so just go buy it.


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