I love me some Muppets. Seriously; my first date with Chip was going to see Labyrinth in the theater (the man knows how to woo a girl). I still feel sad when I think of Jim Henson’s death. I actually look forward to watching Sesame Street every day, and I loooove when Elmo shows up on the Daily Show. And one of the best shows full of Muppets is definitely Fraggle Rock.
For those who don’t remember, were too young (fuuuuck) or, you know, had lives or whatever, Fraggle Rock ran from 1983-1987 on HBO, and was the first HBO original series. I remember how excited I was before it even came out, and I remember sitting down with my mom and grandma to watch the premier. And I loved it and watched every episode for the first several years. It was pretty popular – it didn’t have a toy empire like Sesame Street, or movies like The Muppet Show, but there were tie-in books, some Happy Meal toys, and a short-lived animated series.
The show was about a race of funky little underground critters named Fraggles. They play and sing all the time, and have adventures in their elaborate network of caves, which opens on one end to the Gorgs (giant hairy creatures that think they’re the King, Queen and Prince of the Universe) and on the other end to a doddering eccentric scientist named Doc and his apparently hyperintelligent dog, Sprocket. There are 5 main Fraggles (Gobo, Mokey, Wembly, Boober, & Red. Can you say it as fast as the theme song?) and one (Traveling Matt) who has gone out of Fraggle Rock and into “Outer Space” (the real world) to learn about “The Silly Creatures” (humans). He sends postcards that Gobo steals from Doc (who throws them away). There’s also a talking pile of trash that gives bad advice, a Fraggle who can convince you of anything (I think I dated that one), and Dozers. I don’t even know where to start with them; they build elaborate constructions for the Fraggles to eat, and every now and then they’d have tiny green drama.
The fact that it completely fucking vanished from pop culture for more than a decade is weird. I mean, by the end I was outgrowing it – or maybe we didn’t have HBO anymore – so there are a handful I haven’t seen, and I didn’t watch the animated series. But for many, many years, if you brought up Fraggle Rock, people gave you a weird blank look or only kind of vaguely remembered stuff about it. Even though technically, it was syndicated on both TNT and the Disney Channel, damned if I can find anyone who watched it. The DVD release didn’t occur until 2005, but it wasn’t until Netflix started streaming it again that people started going all oh yeah, Fraggles, I remember that shit.
Rewatching it with the boy has been quite an adventure. I didn’t remember how many songs there were – the show averages about two songs per episode by my count – or how scary parts of it can be. I regularly wind up distracting him with a toy so he doesn’t have nightmares about the cave creature, or the terrible tunnel, or that sea monster thing.
E’s too small to have questions about Fraggle Rock, but I’m not. Admittedly, I haven’t explored things like the Muppet Wiki or any of the Fraggle Fan Sites a few seconds of Googling got me, so there may be answers out there. But fuck that, if I wanted to do research I’d be writing about a topic that mattered. So here they are, questions that pop up immediately when I watch the show. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or add your own Fraggle Bafflements (Frafflements? Fragglements?).
First off. I’m not questioning what Fraggles (or Gorgs or Dozers etc) are. I’m perfectly comfortable with fantasy creatures in a fantasy world. All good. But then there’s that hole in the wall of Doc’s house, and the plumbing that clearly runs through Fraggle Rock, possibly even out into the Gorg’s kingdom. So where the fuck is Doc’s house? Is one of the walls built against a giant rock? Is the Gorg kingdom on the inside of a mountain that just happens to be connected to a house? Is that structurally sound?
Did the plumbers who worked on Doc’s house know about the Fraggles? There are ancient Fraggles, and the Fraggles clearly have built some kind of religion around the water pipes. How long have the Fraggles been there? So do they just have a super short lifespan? How old is that plumbing? What if a pipe bursts? Or if there’s an electrical problem? You can clearly see the wiring in the wall – is it a crawlspace? That attaches to an elaborate network of underground caves? Is that drinking water safe with the Fraggles swimming (and undoubtedly pissing) in it? Is that why Doc is a crazy man who talks to his dog all day? Does Doc pay the water bill for the Gorgs?
Is the hole in the wall some kind of dimensional portal? How did it get there? Did the Fraggles build it? Did something on the human side of the wall build it? Sprocket is too big to fit through, but what about smaller animals? Could Fraggle Rock become infested with raccons? What about insects? There’s clearly insect life down there, can those get out too? What keeps the worlds separate? Is Traveling Mat going to be Patient Zero in some kind of interdimensional plague?
Why does nobody react to Traveling Matt anyway? He’s out in the real human world and people are just like, yep, there’s this tiny weird looking creature, no worries! Isn’t it likely he’d be grabbed and studied? Wouldn’t that maybe be a good thing? The discovery of a complex (and possibly ancient) species of sentient life on earth? Or from another dimension, with a handy portal in some dude’s house?
What about the Gorgs? Clearly they never leave their tiny property, which is why I suggested it might be inside a cave. But they have a garden, which means they get sunlight, so shouldn’t their kingdom be visible on Google Earth? Or is it something else? Is it little creepy sparkle-ghosts like inside Fraggle Rock that make the light? Does that grow edible vegetables for humans too? Are the vegetables the Fraggles eat the same kind that grow on our side of the wall?
How does a species sustain itself almost entirely on radishes? And how the fuck do the Dozers turn radishes into glasslike building material? That seems like some pretty impressive technology right there. Is depression rampant among the Dozers since their entire purpose is to build things for the Fraggles to destroy? Or have they discovered Nirvana? Why does everyone speak English? Is that because their world butts up against Doc’s house?
Who the hell lived in Doc’s house last? And isn’t Doc concerned about throwing away misdelivered mail? Shouldn’t he mark it return to sender, or go to the post office, or waylay the mailman, instead of committing daily federal offenses? Shouldn’t he pay attention to his dog freaking the fuck out about the infestation of mysterious creatures that live in the giant fucking hole in his wall?
What makes the trash heap sentient? Why is there always the exact same amount of garbage there? Does she talk to the Gorgs at all? If there are only three Gorgs, where the fuck did they come from? Who built all their stuff? Do they also only eat radishes? Does Fraggle taste like chicken?
I think I’ll stop here for now, because the more questions I ask the more I have. Like, would Paxil help Boober with his problems? Does Red have ADHD? Why do Fraggles wear clothes? Does Ned Shimmelfinney know about the dimensional portal? Did Fluffanella ever go through the wall?