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October 8, 2010

My Day with the Animated Fraggle Rock, part 3

Filed under: Feature — Tags: — Joe Hennes @ 10:13 am

Part one has come and gone. Part two withered away with the wind. And now part three of my frustrating/excruciating/hilarious/depressing/rectangular day of watching the Fraggle Rock cartoon in one sitting is here!

Will the show suddenly become watchable? Or will it die a horrible, fiery death at the hands of one vengeful Muppet fanatic? Read on, true believers!

17Episode 17 — Mokey’s Flood of Creativity

“Do you ever wonder where the water comes from?” asks Junior Gorg. “Do you ever wonder where the water comes from?” asks Mokey Fraggle. “Yes,” replies Joe, “but I stopped wondering after the episode ‘Let the Water Run‘, and then again in the animated episode ‘The Great Fraggle Freeze’. (Which we talked about yesterday! Good times.) Wasn’t anyone but me paying attention??”

Although everything in this episode is a little too familiar, it’s an interesting twist for there to be too much water, rather than not enough. And by “interesting”, I mean that it just barely kept my interest. I’m still tempted to take another YouTube break. But no, I can see the finish line from here! Just a little further…

18Episode 18 — What the Doozers Did

Wait a minute. This is familiar. Mokey and Wembley are talking about where they think the water comes from. But we’re looking at it from the Doozers’ perspective! How meta! As the water crisis looms (again), Cotterpin Doozer tries to warn the other Doozers about the impending flood.

For the first time since this ridiculous project started, I’m actually enjoying the animated Fraggle Rock. Showing the same story from two different viewpoints is exactly what the real Fraggle Rock was all about. And because of the 15-minute episodes, the cartoon actually has the capability to show two interwoven stories back-to-back. This is the first (possibly) brilliant thing I’ve witness all day. Seeing something clever on Fraggle Rock warms my little heart.

The urge to abandon the DVDs for YouTube is waning. I finally have hope that I’ll make it to the end with my wits in tact!

19Episode 19 — Red’s Drippy Dilemma

I always thought that Red’s 30-minute work week job was to keep the pool clean. But in this episode, she reveals that pool maintenance is also one of her responsibilities, as she has to fix a leaky pipe. Of course, it takes the entire episode for her to actually fix the pipe, leaving me with the desperate urge to relieve my bladder.

It didn’t take long for me to start getting distracted again. I’ve been making a short list of more productive ways I could be spending my time rather than watching this DVD. Among them are checking my e-mail, playing my ukulele, and shouting obscenities out of my window. Those kids on my lawn aren’t going to yell at themselves!

20Episode 20 — Fraggle Babble

Mokey is declared as the best poet in Fraggle Rock and is given the amazing power to create new words for the Fraggle dictionary. Of course, progress is a bad thing, and those silly Fraggles are stuck in their old, conservative ways of using olde English. So Mokey hires Convincing John, who does his only job and convinces everyone to start using the new words. This results in about half an episode of pure gibberish, and then there’s some sort of lesson about not making up words or something. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention.

But I was paying attention to Convincing John, who I think we’d all agree would have been a little too much like a sleazy used car salesman if it weren’t for the amazing performance of Jim Henson. And that’s exactly how he appears in this episode.

Just four more episodes to go and my eyes are starting to glaze over. I want to stop so badly right now, but the end is so near I can taste it! Ew, it’s like licking Styrofoam.

21Episode 21 — The Radish Fairy

Wow, Marv Wolfman (comic book writer famous for The New Teen Titans, Blade, and Crisis on Infinite Earths) is listed as one of the writers of this episode! “The Radish Fairy” aired in 1987, just one year after Crisis on Infinite Earths, so Wolfman was pretty big in the comic book world at this point. I wonder what he was doing writing an episode of the Fraggle Rock cartoon. And I wonder if he thought that the Fraggle universe existed on a parallel earth (Earth-F?).

The episode starts with the Fraggles’ own version of a Christmas pageant, as Mokey, Boober, and Gobo dress as the Three Wise Men and Red descends dressed as an angel the Radish Fairy to reveal the birth of the Great Radish, savior to mankind! I’ll leave it up to you to make the connection to your preferred spiritual tenet.

22Episode 22 — The Funniest Joke in the World

“Two Gorgs are sitting on a barrel full of banoony berries, and one turns to the other and says…” And there you have it. The beginning of the funniest joke in the world. Don’t say I never gave you nothing.

In this episode, the Fraggles fall victim to the funniest joke in the world one by one except for Boober, who has no sense of humor (sigh… again). It’s exhausting in its predictability, and my patience is starting to wear thin. There’s just two more episodes before I can stop and put away this DVD forever. And I have a feeling that they’re going to be two of the longest episodes yet.

23Episode 23 — Fraggle Fool’s Day

Apparently any Fraggle can declare a holiday whenever they want, because Red announces that today is Fraggle Fool’s Day, a day in which all of the Fraggles go to church and avoid eating leavened bread. Seriously, this town needs a mayor.

This episode features a lot of not-so-clever pranks, including one ill-fated joke in which Red and Mokey find themselves in a hot air balloon over the Gorg’s garden. Some calamity ensues, the Gorgs overreact, and it ends with a whimper. At least, I think it does. I have completely overdosed on Fraggle cartoons today, and I am getting closer and closer to dropping off the edge. But we’re moving into the final episode, and I’m just 15 minutes away from washing my hands of this nonsense.

24Episode 24 — Wembley’s Trip to Outer Space

Hey, it’s another Marv Wolfman episode! That guy’s like famous or something.

In this episode, Wembley offers to help all of his friends do different things and is driven insane by the choices he needs to make. The Fraggle doctor diagnoses him with “Wemblyosis,” which is awfully coincidental. Though I suspect he just saw the episode, “We Love You, Wembley” too many times. That, or the doctor needs to have his medical license revoked.

So is the disease named after the act of “wembling,” or was Wembley the first Fraggle to come down with that infliction? I’m thinking about organizing a walk-a-thon to raise awareness of this ailment that affects so many of us.

Thank Frog and all that is holy, because I’m finished! 24 episodes and over six hours of watered-down Fraggles is much more than anyone should ever have to endure. But wait. Special Features? I can’t turn down a bonus track. Damn! I guess the DVDs will have to wait just a few more minutes before collecting dust on my shelf.

specSpecial Features

The first Special Feature is a “making of” with new interviews with Fraggle designer Michael Frith. Even though it’s just about seven minutes long, this is the highlight of the DVD set, because Frith gives us an insight into both the original series and the animated series, and how one led into the other. I could listen to him talk for an hour about this one Henson production that nobody cares about. That’s how much I love these behind-the-scenes featurettes. And seriously, listening to Michael Frith talk about the essence of each Fraggle and how they can be translated into a second television medium is like crack to a Muppet fan. But at only seven minutes, he hardly gives us time to really appreciate his work. So unlike crack, I have avoided the destructive addiction.

The other special features include character galleries and storyboards for the opening sequence. But as interesting as these might be on any other day, I have completely checked out. My left eye is completely closed and I think my right eye is now a grayish-blue. There’s a drool stain on the couch in the shape of Alaska. My bedhead could cut glass. Typing this paragraph just minutes after finally completing my day-long task, I’m finding it hard to remember what I saw today. Something about Fraggles maybe. I think I hate those things.

Thanks to everyone who stuck with me during this turbulent day! And now you don’t have to watch the Fraggle Rock cartoon in one day. It’s been done. You are welcome.

Click here to force yourself to watch cartoons on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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