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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Fraggle Rock - A Friend in Need (34)

As I think I mentioned before, they're finally going to start releasing full season sets of FRAGGLE ROCK and THE MUPPET SHOW this fall. While glad to see them, being a big fan of all things Henson, I have to face the reality that for the moment I'm going to have to pick and choose which to buy (and which seasons in particular). So I figure I should do some re-watching of the episodes I've recorded over the years, plus other assorted Muppet related bits I have, and write about them here on occasion. And y'know, there's something wrong with the fact that I can have access to over 200 channels and not one of them shows any Muppet related stuff other than Sesame Street?

Let's start with FRAGGLE ROCK. This show ran from 1983 to 1987, with 96 episodes over five seasons (though 4 and 5 were half-seasons, so when collected will probably be in one set), plus at least two specials, one "behind the scenes" and one a clip-show of songs from the show. I loved the first season as a kid, but for some reason never could remember when it was on after that (I think it either kept being moved around or was on a channel that would preempt it for sports). Caught it a few times since, fortunately it was on at a convenient time to tape, as well as getting a copy of the final two episodes with the big finale dubbed from someone.

I'm going to assume anyone continues reading past this point is somewhat familiar with the show and use odd words, names and phrases without explanation.

First up, the 34th episode:

A Friend In Need

Rather neatly, picked it at random and it turned out to be one of the episodes directed by Henson (he directed about a dozen, plus did voices of non-regular Fraggles Cantus the Minstrel and Convincing John). This is also a kind of interesting episode as it has the inklings of a warming of relationships between the Fraggles and some of the other species that inhabit their world, the giant Gorgs and the dog from "outer space" (ie, our world), Sprocket. When I finally got a chance to see some of the later episodes I liked how the status quo on the show was allowed to change over the years.

But mostly I just love the main cast, who never really change. They're drawn broadly but very clearly, there are all sorts of little personality quirks that reinforce the basic character niche each one fills, from the way they look to their voices to how they move and especially what they say.

Anyway, the basic plot of this one involves Sprocket chasing a ball through the hole into Fraggle Rock from outer space and getting stuck halfway. Gobo tries to free him, and goes to get something from the Gorg garden to help, but gets caught in a trap. Meanwhile, the other Fraggles go to look for Gobo and think he's been eaten, which leads to a touching moment when Wembley forgets himself and shows some courage. Gobo meanwhile is able to use his wits to gain some sympathy from the Gorg Queen and get released and finish off his mission, along with providing some unintended aid to Doc.

Man, I still love this show. I'm definitely going to pick up at least one season set of it. The basic theme of the inter-connectedness of all things really appeals to me for some reasons, and the weird ways that always comes up on various episodes manages to surprise me far more often than it should.

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