Judge Cynthia Boris writes sustainable reviews.
Our reviews of Fraggle Rock: The Complete First Season (published November 9th, 2005), Fraggle Rock: A Merry Fraggle Holiday (published November 16th, 2009), Fraggle Rock: Meet the Fraggles (published May 19th, 2013), Fraggle Rock: Scared Silly (published September 19th, 2010), Fraggle Rock: The Complete Final Season (published November 9th, 2009), Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Collection (published November 19th, 2008), and Fraggle Rock: Wembley's Egg Surprise (published February 22nd, 2010) are also available.
Dance your cares away,
In the early 1980s, Jim Henson created a new puppet TV series for HBO called Fraggle Rock. It was everything we were used to seeing from Henson's company, bright and colorful characters, music, plenty of bouncing, and an amazing attention to detail.
The idea behind the series was to teach children about the importance of getting along, not just on a playground scale but on a global scale. The show dealt with environmental issues, social issues, and the symbiotic relationship of the three central races on the show, the Fraggles, the Doozers, and the Gorgs. Pretty heavy stuff for kids, but they got it and it ran for 96 episodes over five years.
In 1987, Henson turned Fraggle Rock into an animated series for NBC and he asked for the same standard when it came to writing the show. Says co-producer Michael Frith, Henson wanted a cartoon that would bring about world peace. A lofty ambition, but you can't blame the man for trying.
In the special features on this DVD, Frith says they found the issues of going from puppet to cartoon both freeing and challenging. Animated figures could do things you could never do with a puppet, but animation requires a more simplistic form, which meant they had to lose many of the details that made the puppets so special in the first place.
The animated Fraggle Rock is a simpler show but don't take that to mean they were lazy with the production. There's a good deal of depth in the cartoon, certainly more than most people were doing at the time. What's really fascinating are the extraneous details that wander across the screen now and then, like a Fraggle collecting worms in the foreground while the main scene goes on behind him. It reminds me of those mini-cartoons they used to draw in the margins of Mad Magazine. Unrelated to the main story, they're amusing in their own right.
The plot lines of the animated series are actually better suited to today's children than they were in the 80s. Stories revolve around protecting the environment, developing peaceful trade relations between warring neighbors (yes, really), and the series lives on the idea of sustainability, which is such a buzz word these days.
As a writer, I latched on to the episode called "Fraggle Babble." To encourage creativity and free speech, the Fraggles decide that it would be good if everyone in the land made up words to add to the Fraggle dictionary. But you know what happens when everyone speaks their own language, there's no communication, and that puts a few Fraggles in danger when they're set upon by the beastly Gorgs.
There are only 13 episodes in the run and you'll find them all here. Each episode is made up of two 15 minute cartoons with the exception of two half hour episodes. My research indicates that the segments were originally aired in a different mix than you see here.
There are three special features on the DVD. "The Making of Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series" is an interview with co-producer Michael Frith. He covers the basics of how the series came to be and the challenges of moving from one form to another. It was very interesting and he shows off some rare artwork which will please any Henson fan. The "Fraggle Rock Character Galleries" are bio cards for each of the characters. I was hoping for some evolution sketches but there's nothing like that here. The third feature is the storyboard set for the opening sequence and I couldn't get it to move past the first slide, so I can't say more about that.
As far as the quality of the DVD goes, I wasn't impressed. There was a hazy, grainy feeling and the colors could have been brighter and sharper. More than watchable but I was expecting more. The audio is clear and consistent and the navigation screens are cute and easy to follow.
If you're a fan of Henson, pick up this DVD. It's inexpensive and it's part of the legacy. I'd also consider buying this for children under 8 years old. The life lessons are worth learning and it's full of fun characters and enjoyable music.
This court finds Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series to be not guilty,
but we still sentence them to 13 episodes of community service teaching young
children how to make the world a better place.
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