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December 19, 2017

Muppet Christmas Carol: The Fraggle Rock Connection

Filed under: Art,Commentary,Feature — Tags: , , , — Evan G @ 11:41 am

This year, The Muppet Christmas Carol turned 25. Twenty-five years! Can you believe it? Honestly, if you haven’t seen this film yet, you probably should. It’s a very good film, folks.

What’s not to love about it? The story! The music! The characters! Every time one of my favorites appears on screen, I cheer! Oh, I’m not talking about Michael Caine. I’m not talking about Gonzo and Rizzo. I’m not even talking about Kermit and Miss Piggy.

I’m talking about the random Fraggle Rock supporting characters.

That’s right. We here at ToughPigs have spent more than enough time telling you about Fozzie and Sam the Eagle and Bean Bunny and whatever. This year, I am taking control of our Muppet Christmas Carol coverage to talk about the miscellaneous background puppets singing backup to the Ghost of Christmas Present and whatnot. (That’s a Muppet pun for y’all there.) Read along and appreciate what may be the first fanart of most of these guys, and soon you will be ready to tell your friends and family about your new favorite Muppets. Imagine it! Sitting, watching the movie, and interrupting every song to tell your loved ones fun facts about Wander McMooch! That’ll be your life now! In other words, you will have the life of a ToughPigs staffer.

Oh wait. Before I get started, I need to thank the geniuses at Muppet Wiki for helping me get some of this information. Y’all are the true heroes of the holiday season.

Begoony (left) and Mudwell the Mudbunny (right)

Fraggle Rock was always a wild show with tons of weird ideas, but the weirdest was probably Begoony. First appearing in the show’s third season, Begoony was a ratty-looking rabbit creature with a really bad attitude. He was incredibly needy and whiny and made tons of demands for the eager-to-please Mokey. In a plot hook that is unquestionably #relatable, Mokey literally becomes smaller every time she puts her own needs aside to help Begoony. In the end, she learned a valuable lesson about self-care, and Begoony… didn’t appear on the show again.

In this film, Begoony plays a baby who doesn’t like Ebenezer Scrooge, probably because he would never sacrifice his own needs for Begoony’s.

One of his parents is Mudwell the Mudbunny, a big ol’ brown thing with a big ol’ brown nose. Mudwell also only appeared in one episode of Fraggle Rock, but it was an extremely memorable one. Played by Richard Hunt, Mudwell was a creature who lived his entire life in a day. He spent it befriending Wembly and ultimately teaching Wembly an important–and absolutely heart-wrenching–lesson about love and loss.

It’s similarly heart-wrenching that Mudwell’s second appearance is in this film, which is dedicated to the death of his puppeteer. He also appeared in Muppet Treasure Island as the pirate who mourns the death of Dead Tom. Anyway, my point is, when you subject this character to this level of scrutiny you realize he might be the most morbid Muppet of all. Make your friends and family really sad this Christmas by sharing these facts with them.

Murray the Minstrel

Murray was one of the traveling minstrels who accompanied Cantus in his journeys throughout Fraggle Rock. He played a guitar-looking thing. Like all the minstrels and pretty much every Muppet musician ever, he was extremely laid-back.

In this film, he and Mudwell play Begoony’s (possibly same-sex?) parents.

Like many laid-back musician types, eventually he realized he couldn’t make a livable wage busking and sharing life lessons with Gobo, so he went off to teach Kermit how to use Windows in the most classic of all Muppet productions: the book Kermit Learns Windows. I mean, you obviously already knew it, but maybe you want to tell that to your significant other to improve their enjoyment of this film.

Wander McMooch

It’s fairly common knowledge that Fraggle Rock was a show designed to do one simple thing: teach world peace. As a result, very few of the characters were really evil, because that’s not how peace works. The Gorgs, for example, were pretty much just stupid, and even the Poison Cackler was just a wild animal. Wander McMooch, however, was the exception. A slimy, greedy frog man, he really just wanted to get rich and make Junior upset. He stole the Gorg’s castle once. Don’t do that kind of thing!

So it makes perfect sense that in this film, he’d play one of Fred’s party guests who makes fun of Ebenezer Scrooge for being too greedy. I guess it takes one to know one? When he appears on screen, tell your party guests to publicly shame him for stopping world peace. He’s probably why 2017 happened, folks.

Brool the Minstrel

I don’t have much to say about Brool that I didn’t also say about Murray. Another one of Cantus’s merry men, Brool played a standing bass (an impressive feat to do while traveling). Likewise, he also eventually ended up teaching Kermit about computers in the best-selling book Kermit Learns How Computers Work (which yeah, is actually different from Kermit Learns About Windows).

You’ll spot Brool in Muppet Christmas Carol as Wander McMooch’s wife. Be sure to stop the film and remind your family members that this character plays both male and female roles in the Muppet canon.

Inkspot

The Inkspots are pretty much the greatest characters, or at least I’ve felt that way since I first saw the music video for “Kokomo” as a young and impressionable child. Remember when the little weird thing sang the bass part? Young Evan G. does. These small, inexplicably designed things appeared almost constantly in Fraggle Rock, popping up behind cave walls whenever things needed to be more visually interesting; they later migrated to play a similar role in 90s Muppet productions.

Here’s a fun trivia fact you can yell while watching this: an Inkspot is the first Muppet on-screen in both Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island! Wow! Write that one down, please. That’ll impress your boss at the office Christmas party for sure.

Aretha

I love Aretha so much. Aretha is this shaggy, mossy cave creature who was only featured in one episode of Fraggle Rock, and, unlike Mudwell and Begoony, had absolutely nothing to do with the episode’s plot.

Instead, she appeared in a cave and sang a cool duet with Gobo, the super-catchy “Only Way Home” and then disappeared. She sounds like an Aretha Franklin impersonator and looks like a grungier version of Big Mean Carl, and thus, obviously, she is in the running for the absolute best female Muppet character.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about Aretha. She sings some songs in this movie, and you can pause the film and play “Only Way Home” for your party guests when she appears on screen. If you ever build up the courage and fortitude to sit through Muppet Wizard of Oz, she’s in that somewhere too, I guess.

A Dickensian Beggar

We here at ToughPigs pride ourselves on knowing way too much and talking way too much about all the Muppet characters. This is evidenced by the fact that I wrote this article and other people approved it, and also evidenced by the fact that I will one day be the unofficial biographer of the life and legacy of the Beautiful Day Monster. (This colossal, Ron Chernow-sized volume will surely be available in local bookstores someday, as soon as I find time to pen it.)

I bring this up not to brag, but to admit that I struggled to remember the name of this puppet, who appears to sing bad things about Ebenezer Scrooge and, later, does piratey things in Muppet Treasure Island. A deep dive on Muppet Wiki reveals that we have him tagged as “Beggar,” but he doesn’t do a lot of begging. I will note that he has a really cool design that’s inspired by Dickensian-era cartoons, but he isn’t a Fraggle Rock character at all, so I don’t know why I put him in this article.

The Computer Monster

And now, the most important character of all.

This guy. Man, this guy.

So when I sat down to draw these Muppets and write this article, I was sure this character (who I spotted in the opening “Scrooge” number) was a Fraggle Rock minstrel, like Murray and Brool. But he isn’t. Muppet Wiki has absolutely no tags for this character.

I sent the image in a ToughPigs group message, because, look, if anyone was going to be able to tell me the name of this purple fellow, it’d be the folks who record a minute-by-minute Muppet Movie podcast.

We don’t know this character’s name. Nobody seems to.

Some expert digging on my part shows that there is a strong probability that the only other piece of media this puppet appeared in was the aforementioned Kermit Learns How Computers Work. On the cover. Just the cover. Muppet Wiki notes that they look a little like a Mutation, but this is not a good description. We need to do better.

Based on my research, I can only assume this is a monster who loves computers in the same way that Cookie Monster is a monster who loves cookies, Herry Monster is a monster who loves being hairy, and Grover Monster is a monster who loves groves.

And so I have named them The Computer Monster and they love computers. They are my new favorite Muppet and we should all celebrate Christmas with them. Tell your friends that during your next viewing party.

Computer Monster bless us, everyone.

Click here to profess your love for groves on the ToughPigs forum!

by Evan G. – Evan@ToughPigs.com



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