Dance your cares away, and worries for another day

 

My Memories

Oh #dance your cares away (double-clap), and worries for another day….# How could you forget the catchy theme music to Fraggle Rock. I remember the Fraggles getting advice from the talking rubbish heap, being caught and then escaping from the ugly Gorge Junior. I also remember the monotone Doozers building things all the time with those clear plastic scaffolding. The Fraggles used to love the radish patch and they also used to lye down next to each other and dream share. Oh how I adored Fraggle Rock.

 

The Concept

Fraggle Rock was created by Jim Henson. His vision of Fraggle Rock was to depict a colourful and fun world, but also a world with a relatively complex system of symbiotic relationships between different ‘races’ of creatures, an allegory to the human world, where each group was somewhat unaware of how interconnected and important they were to one another. Creating this allegorical world allowed the program to entertain and amuse while seriously exploring complex issues of prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, environment, and social conflict. Fraggle Rock generally refused to over-simplify any individual issue, instead simply illustrating the consequences and inherent difficulties of different actions and relationships. The show was a worldwide hit just like its sister shows Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  

The series was produced with the intention of being aired in varied forms internationally. The human ‘wraparound’ segments were shot separately for each nation, so that the child viewer could always relate to the world of the program.  The series has appeared now in over ten countries and languages. In the British version Fraggle Rock is a rocky sea island with a lighthouse, the actual location shown is St. Anthony's Lighthouse located near Falmouth in Cornwall.  The wraparounds featuring the ‘The Captain’ who lives in the lighthouse along with his faithful dog Sprocket, who sometimes sees the Fraggles but never seems to get his owner's attention in time. The rock is known as Fraggle Rock by the humans.

Music was central to Fraggle Rock. Every episode featured two or three songs.  Several episodes were primarily about music, such as Red Fraggle trying to find ‘her song’ for the Fraggle Medley, or the effect of music on the breaking of winter or the presence of light in Fraggle Rock.

 

Developing The Rock

On 3rd April 1983, Jim Henson flew on concorde from London to New York. During the flight he filled a notebook with a number of ideas about the show as they had been formulated during a previous series of meetings. At this point in the show's development, the future Fraggles were temporarily called ‘Woozles’. However, Jill commented in his notes that this name will very likely be changed. Even at this early stage of development Jim had created 3 different character groups; Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs. His overall theme for the show was described as ‘peace and harmony’. 

He wrote, “I want to make this world a lot of fun to visit. It is a high-energy, racous musical romp. It's a lot of silliness. It's wonderful. However, the second thing that we're doing with this show is saying something. The show has a direction and a point of view.  This will be beneath the surface, and if anybody becomes aware of it, we will have missed.  What the show is really about is people getting along with other people, and understanding the delicate balance of the natural world. These are topics that can be dealt with in a symbolic way, which is what puppets basically do all the time".  In a later insert, he added: "The world of the Woozle will have its own natural balances, although these will be rather insane. But still we will make the point that everything affects everything else, and that there is a beauty and harmony of life to be appreciated."

 

In its development phase, Fraggle Rock was first known as ‘The International Children's Show’, and one of the main points of the project was that it was to be custom-designed for international co-production.  Jim was enthusiastic about his project but still had a few questions: "What will the show be about?  What will make it a special?"  Shortly after, he answered those questions himself.  Coming across a newspaper headline describing some new atrocity of man against man, he decided on the shows theme would be world peace. Jim was single-minded about the real reason for doing the series. It was for the world, for the audiences in all those different countries that had been joined together by The Muppet Show. 'We're not doing this to make money or just to be back on television', he insisted, 'It's got to have an idea'. He was talking a lot at that time about the arms race and how crazy it was.  By the time, later on, when it came down to five people creating the series, he knew exactly what the idea was.  He sat the team down in his front room in Hampstead and said their task was to create a series that was going to stop war in the world. When everyone had stopped laughing, picking themselves up off the floor, and saw Jim was serious, they started to talk about what it meant.  Obviously, if you were going to change the world's ideas about how to resolve conflict, you had to start with children.  And so they began their work.  Needless to say, Jim didn't delude himself into thinking he could create a television show that could actually prevent wars, but he did sincerely believe that he could produce a program that would help sow the seeds of pacifism in the minds of the world's children.

A couple of meetings in London led to a core group of people who then brainstormed in Jim's house in Hampstead during the summer of 1981. "We had already decided that there were going to be five main characters, and they'd be living in this underground world but would leave it sometimes for our world," one of the team recalls. "It was during this time that we came up with the names.  Jerry Juhl, for example, named Wembley because he was reading in a newspaper about some event at Wembley Stadium. "Fraggle Rock's setting, by the way, is based in part on the limestone caves of Bermuda, where one of the team lived.  One of the problems the team had was thinking of a good name for the little guys who worked all the time. Workalots? - Too obvious.  Drudgies? - Too much attitude. Rgllmzaxpoops? - Too hard to spell. The name Doozers was thought up during a walk on Hampstead Heath.

 

 

Woozle to Fraggle

At first the characters were called the Woozles, which no one liked very much. One of the team remembered a bunch of Muppet Monsters from the 1960’s called Frackles. When the "ck" was softened to "gg" - it won the vote. Fraggle Hill was a suggested name for the show, but it was deemed too wimpy, so Fraggle Rock was chosen and the rest is history.

 

A Blast from the Past

The Philosophy

The Fraggle Rock philosophy can be summed up by saying that while each episode would provide plenty of entertainment, it would also teach a meaningful lesson without being too heavy-handed, and always related to the central theme of promoting the idea of peace. The show often focused on the problem of the moment faced by one or other of the main characters, and is framed as a parable with a strong moral. These parables, however, are always amusing and never ponderous. "We want to deal with situations that children encounter, and to work through them in a way that will be helpful and at the same time completely entertaining," was Jim's description of his agenda for the show.

 

 

The Characters

Fraggles

Fraggles are tiny humanoid creatures, about 22 inches tall, that come in a wide variety of colours and have tails that bear a tuft of fur on the end. They live in a system of caves called Fraggle Rock that are filled with all manner of creatures and features, and which seem to connect to at least two different worlds that exist in different dimensions of time and space. Fraggles live a very carefree life, spending most of their time playing, exploring, and generally enjoying themselves. They have an endless supply of energy and like to sing, dance, wear silly hats and swim. They live on a diet of radishes and doozer sticks.

 

 Gobo is the leader, un-usually level-headed and practical for a Fraggle, and prefers to be in control of most situations.  He plays the guitar and often goes on trips to explore the lesser known tunnels of Fraggle Rock, apparently more out of a sense of obligation from being Traveling Matt's nephew than from personal inclination.

 

Mokey is highly spiritual and artistic, who is usually quiet, contemplative and likes to recite poetry. She is the optimist of the group, trying to see the best in everyone and everything, and comforting her friends when no such ‘bright side’ can be found.

Red, in direct contrast to her best friend Mokey, is exuberant and athletic. She is one of the best swimmers among the Fraggles. She is highly cynical of her friends plans and ideas and often teases Gobo about his Uncle Travelling Matt, occasionally yawning while he reads the postcards. Red, like Gobo, also wants to be in control, and there is often friction between them over who should be the one in charge.

 

Wembley, Gobo's best friend, is nervous and pathologically indecisive. This is mostly because he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Saying 'yes' to someone means saying 'no' to someone else in his eyes. In later episodes of the series Wembley works with the fire department as their siren. The Fraggle Rock fire department, however, does not put out fires - it starts them! Or at least they would, if any of them knew how to.

 

A Blast from the Past

 

Boober's cardinal trait is depression and worry, and his favourite activity is washing socks. Fraggles, however, do not seem to use footwear most of the time so this seems a little odd! Boober is almost always negative, and displays hypochondriac tendencies.

 

 

Fraggles have the ability to share dreams. If they touch their heads together before falling asleep, one can enter the dream of the other Fraggle. More than one Fraggle at a time can enter a single Fraggle's dream, provided all the participants' heads are touching. The series focused on one group of Fraggle friends: Gobo, Wembley, Red, Mokey and Boober. They form a tight-knit group of friends, and each has a distinctive personality type.



Fraggle mythologists glorify the Fraggles as a noble race that has reached the pinnacle of civilizaion.  Music is said to be the Fraggles most elevated art form, and Fraggles are reported to be superb physical specimens, possessed of great athletic prowess combined with the grace of dancers. That's what the mythologists say. The truth is that the Fraggles subterranean world is in fact inhabited by cute little Muppet creatures who sing in squeaky voices and frequently bump their heads as they make their way through the stone corridors of their homeland.

 

 

Doozers

Sharing the Fraggle Domain are the Doozers, who are tiny, hard-hatted construction workers, who are perpetually and purposefully on the go, like an army of ants, building an interconnecting network of crystalline towers constructed primarily of radish dust. The Fraggles are completely non-plussed by the Doozers, but the two species manage to coexist without friction, even when the Fraggles eat Doozer architecture. In fact the Doozers rely on the Fraggles appetites. If Fraggles didn't eat Doozer towers, the Doozers would soon run out of room to build.

 

 

Doozers are 6 inches tall, or knee-high to a Fraggle. Doozers are methodical, thorough, plodding and single-minded.  They spend most of their waking hours building.  Often their building is accompanied by marching songs and various Doozer chants. No one but the Doozers themselves seemed to understand the actual purpose of their intricate and beautiful constructions. Often their building work was accompanied by marching songs and various doozer chants. To ensure that they always had a steady stream of work to do, Doozers built their constructions out of an edible candy-like substance, made from radishes, which was greatly enjoyed by Fraggles. They actually wanted the Fraggles to eat their constructions because ‘architecture's supposed to be enjoyed’ and also so they can go on to build again. This is essentially the only interaction between Doozers and Fraggles; Doozers spend most of their time building, and Fraggles spend much of their time eating Doozer buildings, which they think taste like marshmallows. They thus form an odd sort of symbiosis. The symbiosis was part of an episode where Mokey called upon the Fraggles not to eat the Doozers' constructions - because they spend so much time making them. Fraggle Rock was quickly filled with constructions and the Doozers had no space left to build. After running out of space the Doozers finally decided that it was time to move on to a new area because the Fraggles would not eat their construction, and there was even a tragic scene with a mother explaining to her daughter about how things don't always work out but that they would find a new place to live where their construction would get eaten. Overhearing this convinced Mokey that they didn't mind that the constructions were eaten, because this enabled the Doozers to build ad infinitum. As a result, Mokey frantically rescinded her prohibition and encouraged the Fraggles to ravenously eat the structures just in time to encourage the Doozers to stay.

 

Gorgs

The Fraggles known world extends to a neighbouring garden inhabited by three ugly, giant Gorgs. Pa, who considers himself King of the Gorgs. Ma, his Queen. And Junior, their son and only subject, who was regarded as the prince and heir. Gorgs are huge - ten times the size of a fraggle. Pa claims that at one time their clan ruled the universe, but to all appearances they were really simple farmers with a rustic house and garden patch. The Gorgs, represented primarily by Junior, do their clumsy best to catch Fraggles when they attempt to get the radishes in the Gorgs garden.  The King and Queen considered the Fraggles disgusting vermin. Junior has been known to actually succeed on catching them, but they always manage to escape or be set free. 

 

 

The Trash Heap

Also in the Gorgs kingdom is Marjory, an oracle-like talking trash heap, and her two companions and sometime assistants, a pair of raffish, rodent-like creatures named Philo and Gunge. Fraggles always come to Marjory for advice when they have a question. She also had some magical abilities, telepathy and the ability to teleport items or Fraggles.

 

 

Philo & Gunge

The heralds of the Trash Heap, they often introduced her as the ‘all-knowing, all-seeing Trash Heap!’ Their main job was to provide humour, bad jokes, and puns. Although Gunge professed to be the brains of the pair, neither ever really proved to be a great help. They watched over the Trash Heap; if they left for a long time she would begin to die out. When she was finished speaking, they would announce ‘The Trash Heap has spoken! Nyeah!’ 

 

 

Outer Space

Our world is where we find the Captain, who was the only human in the show. He lives in the lighthouse with his inquisitive muppet dog Sprocket.  Also out here somewhere, is Traveling Matt - Gobo's Uncle, who is busy exploring our world, or Outer Space as he calls it.  Outer Space is connected to Fraggle Rock through a hole in the wall in the lighthouse, so this is where he sends the postcards for Gobo. Unaware of the existence of Fraggles, the Captain throws the postcards in his paper basket, where they wait for Gobo to come and get them.  Fetching Uncle Matt's postcards is considered one of the bravest things a fraggle can do, seeing as Sprocket has set out to catch them and luckily for them, Sprocket's too big to fit in the hole, and the Captain’s always too busy to notice his attempts to draw his attention to the invading strangers.

 

Minor Characters

The Beast of Bluerock, The Blob, Cantus and the Minstrels, Convincing John, The World's Oldest Fraggle, The Invisible Gargoyle, The Plants of the Cave Of Boredom/Forgetfulness, Sea Monster - The Last of the Lilly Creatures, The Poison Cackler, The Spider Fly, The Terrible Tunnel, Toe Ticklers, Wander McMooch, Merggles, Mudwell the Mudbunny, Sprocket and the Captain, Ditzies, Marlon Fraggle, The Storyteller, and Large Marvin.

 

The Future

In September 2005 it was announced that The Jim Henson Company had begun work on Fraggle Rock: The Movie, with the aim of a release in 2009. The story is said to involve the original Fraggle characters.

 

 

Did You Know???

In its early development the Fraggles were originally called Woozles

The first episode aired on 10th January 1983

The show lasted for 5 seasons

An animated Fraggle Rock series was made in 1987. Some of the episodes were based on the live-action stories. However, the animated incarnation of the show was generally considered to be poorly-written and lacking in the charm which defined its live action counterpart.

The show was originally filmed on a Toronto soundstage, but later moved to Elstree Studios in London

Each episode was 25 minutes long

96 episodes were made in total

The theme song of Fraggle Rock was a top 40 pop hit in the UK during the phenomenon.

The name of one of the Fraggles, Traveling Matt, is in fact an in-joke, as the special-effects technique for combining objects (such as spaceships and starry background) is known as a travelling matte.

The three main races of the Fraggle Rock universe were Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs. All were dependent on the radishes for various reasons.

 

Unanswered Question

How did Boober see when he didn't have any eyes?

 

 

Theme Song

Dance your cares away,

Worry's for another day.

Let the music play,

Down at Fraggle Rock.

 

Work your cares away,

Dancing's for another day.

Let the Fraggles play,

We're Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red.

 

Dance your cares away,

Worry's for another day.

Let the music play,

Down at Fraggle Rock.

 

Famous Phrases

"Look, Maw, I caught a Fwaggle!" – Gorg Junior

 

Cool Videos

Simply click on the links below to watch the show via YouTube 

 

Intro Sequence

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSDeoO-j3G0

 

Doozer Contest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr_zwgEdm4c

 

The Gorg Who Would Be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rszRvo8IaE4

 

Uncle Matt Comes Home

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAw8VKBbjpM

 

Wembley’s Wonderful Whoopie Water Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu_2SruOiMs

 

References

 

Fraggle Rocker Fan Site

www.fragglerocker.com

 

Wikipedia – the free online encylopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraggle_Rock

 

The Muppet Newsflash

http://muppetnewsflash.blogspot.com/  

 

Postcards from Traveling Matt

http://mattfraggle.blogspot.com/  

 

Chris' Fraggle Rock Page

http://www.punchandjewelry.com/legacy/html/frindex.htm

 

Elin's corner of Fraggle Rock

http://home.no.net/fraggel/fraggelmain.htm




Control the music above

 

LEGAL NOTE - This is a fan page dedicated to capture the spirit of the children's programme Fraggle Rock.  No copywright attempt has been made for the text, images, music and videos contained with this page, and referencing has been made and acknowledged where possible.  The text has been used for information purposes and has been modified into my own words, not directly copied.