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Down in Fraggle Rock

Ah, the television of my youth! ┬áDo television shows these days even have theme songs you can memorize the lyrics to? I don’t know. At any rate, with the arrival of the much-hyped ’90s resurrection on TeenNick, I guess I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. But not for Clarissa Explains it All, Salute Your Shorts, or even Doug. Nope, I’m going further back than that.

Netflix Instant is a treasure trove of children’s programming, and I was pretty excited when I discovered that they have the entire run of Fraggle Rock available. I fired up the first episode in no time, rocked out to the theme song, and then realized that almost all the Fraggles are jerks.

Yes, it’s true. And not only are the Fraggles jerks, but some of the supporting characters are jerks, too. Needless to say, this revelation was a huge disappointment to me. I mean, it never feels good when you revisit something from your childhood, only to find out that it’s semi-unpleasant. Alas, alack, that’s pretty much what happened here.

Gobo is the leader of the Fraggle pack and, as such, the biggest jerk of all of them. He’s pretty arrogant, and he’s a bit of a bully as well. He’s consistently careless when it comes to his friends’ feelings, and he has completely uneven expectations when it comes to the way Fraggles should treat each other; essentially, Gobo should be treated well by everyone, but shouldn’t be responsible for treating anyone else with all that much kindness. The other two male Fraggles, Wembley and Boober, aren’t nearly as bad as Gobo; however, you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with them. Wembley has a hard time making his mind up about anything and doesn’t have much of a backbone, while Boober is sort of a grump. All that said, if I were forced to pick a Fraggle favorite, it would be one those two.

Red is sort of Gobo’s female counterpart. She’s loud, somewhat brash, and also pretty self-centered. Her roommate, Mokey, isn’t as loud, but she’s still pretty into herself. She’s kind of an activist and a hippie-esque figure, but the way in which she gets behind a cause suggests a real shallowness. Consider her the Lindsay Bluth of the Fraggles.

Up in “Outer Space,” which is how the Fraggles refer to our world, Doc is such a neglectful pet owner that you have to wonder if Sprocket would be better off going it alone. These two are like a proto-Wallace and Gromit, except Doc doesn’t have the daftness that Wallace has. He’s just kind of a grumpy curmudgeon who lets his dog get beaten up by a cat, and forgets to feed him or deliberately withholds food. Not exactly dog owner of the year. Sprocket endures this abuse in relative silence. He deserves a better home, and he knows it! He also knows there’s nothing he can do about it!

At the other side of Fraggle Rock is the Gorgs’ garden, which is (you may have guessed) inhabited by Gorgs. Gorgs aren’t too bright, and although they’re huge, their lack of intelligence makes them pretty much harmless. They’re not quite smart or cunning enough to be mean. Instead, they’re just bumbling. Just beyond their garden lives the Trash Heap, who is assisted by two weird rodent-type things. They’re not such nice types, those rodents. They pretty much mock anyone who comes by to consult the Trash Heap (she’s an oracle), but I guess they sort of get a pass because they’re clearly meant to be comic relief. In that way, they’re like Statler and Waldorf. But they have far more annoying voices. Finally, I admit that I wouldn’t say that the Trash Heap is a jerk. It’s hard to decide, though, whether she’s senile or just enigmatic.

Gobo has an Uncle Traveling Matt, who sends him regular postcards while he explores outer space. I guess he’s pretty harmless, and mostly just silly. He also wears a pith helmet and has interesting facial hair, so he gets a pass.

Now, I’ve only watched the first few episodes of the first season, so it may be that things change and the Fraggles grow out of their jerky personalities. I don’t know! I do know, though, that at least when it comes to the first season, my memory did the Fraggles an injustice.

Have you ever revisited something from your childhood only to find out it was completely different from the way you remembered it?

 

By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at http://www.icametorun.com.

6 replies on “Down in Fraggle Rock”

I was SOOOO excited when I deemed our daughter old enough to watch Fraggle Rock (this was when it was merely just out on DVD) and ended up twice disappointed: Minibelle didn’t like it at all, and frankly neither did I. It’s not that they’re jerks so much as *I* turned out to be some sort of muppet purist. The Muppet Show, pre-Elmo Sesame Street, and the first three Muppet Movies (I only *like* the first one, but I accept the Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan). Anything else “muppet” is hugely disappointing to me. This included Brian Henson’s revisited Muppet Show, Farscape, or anything else. But that’s my baggage.

My biggest disappointments? He-Man, for one. Orko is insufferable. The only saving grace was that I re-watched it with Minibelle overseas and in a foreign language, which was cool.

Also, Dungeons and Dragons (the Saturday morning cartoon), which turns out to be unwatchable as an adult and Thundarr the Barbarian.

Yeah, the Doozers. Some significance might be coded into the names of both the Doozers (They “do,” or build and create) and the Fraggles (they fragment, or even just frag, and destroy what the Doozers create). Life of a Doozer must be similar to living in Tokyo with 6 benevolent, yet destructive, Godzilla creatures.

Rewatching He-Man and She-Ra, I notice a lot of Germanic and Aryan symbols throughout, as well as some stereotypes that I’m not totally comfortable with. That an the scantily cladness.

My 5 and 7 year old daughters have discovered She-Ra on Netflix and LOVE it. At first I was so excited because, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be She-Ra so bad I can STILL taste it. But now, I can’t believe I used to watch that crap! And what’s with the clothes (or lack of) they wear? But then, it was the 80’s, so I guess skin tight body stockings, and extremely high-cut underwear were “in”. Now the Thundercats, well now, that’s a different story!

Oh, man. I’m a huge muppets/fraggles/etc fan, but haven’t rewatched Fraggle Rock (it’s in my queue!) and now I’m a little concerned! Although, I kind of remember thinking the Fraggles were deliberately imperfect, so we could learn from them? Also, I know I was definitely a jerk as a little kid, and I’d hazard to say I’m not alone in that. Maybe that’s why I identified with the Fraggles so much?

I’m pretty sure I was a jerk as a kid, too. But as far as Fraggle Rock is concerned, keep it on your queue! Your opinion could be entirely different from mine, and you could offer a rebuttal. Or just relive memories from your childhood.

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