Sometimes you need to save your worries for another day.
American Puppeteer extraordinaire the late Jim Henson’s 1983 debut of Fraggle Rock gave life to a gorgeous, silly, colourful bunch of Muppets, that not only hilariously sung out of tune but also taught us humble perseverance and true connectedness. You see, the Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs take their time and live life from moment to moment, yet they all have a place in the organised chaos that is the magical Fraggle Rock world.
This month NITV will bring back a remastered version of the dynamic, shaggy, musical, boppin’ and wild characters to our screens, that will prove a delight for both children and adults alike.
In a magic world where a complex interconnected network of underground caves are home, where life is fun and creative but not void of issues, Fraggle Rock will introduce a new generation to old beloved characters including Gobo, Boober, Mokey, Wembley, Red, Uncle Travelling Matt and the legendary ‘oracle’ Marjory the Trash Heap.
Ahead of its time, Fraggle Rock, unlike the original Sesame Street or The Muppet Show, was set out from the get-go to appeal to an international audience and saw the creative scope of world-wide partnerships collaborate to bring the series to fruition.
Fraggle Rock was co-produced by British TV company Television South, Canadian – British Corporation (CBC), American pay-TV company Home Box Office (HBO) and Henson Associates (Jim Henson Productions). The series was ground-breaking in that it was broadcast to over 90 countries in over 12 different languages and ran from 1983 to 1987.
"The magic is always there, as long as we keep looking for it", says Uncle Travelling Matt of Fraggle Rock.
Fraggles, the adorable puppets, represented outlandish beings that stood an 18 inches tall, were differing colours, with differing hairstyles and possessed markedly different personalities yet never shied away from trying to understand each other and work together. Doozers were four inches tall and directly contributed to the running of Fraggle Rock, they were ‘doers’, whilst the Fraggles were explorers and dreamers. The Gorgs were to be feared, always trying to capture a fraggle. They all lived in interconnected societies of diverse Muppet creatures and generally adapted to changing environments and encounters — lessons that fittingly cross-over into the real world.
Hip Hip Hooray – we’re going to dance and sing all day! the Fraggles sing joyously (and out of tune) when having worked together constructively, yet not without conflict, to solve a problem.
NITV’sAcquisitions Manager, Anusha Duray believes Fraggle Rock is important for the channel due to the symbolism explored in the series that directly relate to forging forward in our ever-increasing multicultural society. Despite being developed 30 years ago, it is still relevant today.
“I feel that no-one has said it better than creator Jim Henson himself, when he referred to Fraggle Rock as being accessible to all ages," Ms Duray explains.
"He said ‘the program used fantasy creatures as an allegory to deal with serious issues such as prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, the environment and social conflict.'"
At a time when deeper truths within broader vital issues are surfacing across the globe; of truth-telling and treaties on the table in this nation, with communities generally becoming more fractured under the weight of human greed, technological development and prejudice — it’s time for a simple yet effective re-injection in the form of Fraggles, to reintroduce values seemingly long forgotten.
“We each lead ourselves, and we all lead each other,” says Mokey Fraggle.
Fraggle Rock explores themes of true interconnectedness, so much so, that respecting each other comes down to the very survival of the Doozers, the Fraggles and the Gorgs. It also recognises that the health of the environment is paramount to wellbeing and highlights privilege and selfishness (of the Gorgs) lead to destruction.
“The most sophisticated people I know, inside they are all children,” Jim Henson once said. And therein lies the key to a beautiful balance; keep hold of the ‘magic,’ like a Fraggle would, but be diligent like a Doozer because as Boober Fraggle says, “Tedium and drudgery are good for the soul.”
Fraggle Rock airs Weekdays, 5pm on NITV
Kate L. Munro is a Gamilaroi journalist, specialising in the Aboriginal arts sector.