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Thursday, May 26, 2011

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE ANIMATED SERIES



STATS:
1987-1988
Created by Jim Henson, et al.

WHA’ HAPPENED?
This spin-off to the much-beloved Fraggle Rock is a half-hour series; each episode is split into -minute stories (much like the oft-repeated Nicktoons model).

Plagiarists

All of the same characters are back, along with some new background characters…

Um. What ARE these?

Unfortunately, the songs are mostly gone, as is the famous Muppet spirit. In its place, we have animation like this…

“Look, Ma. I caught a Fwaggle.

Sure, this looks like the Junior Gorg that we know and love, but there’s just something… wrong with him. I can’t place my finger on it, and I wouldn’t want to because it looks diseased.

WHAT YOU SAY?
“We’re going to the Gorg’s garden to fetch a radish.”

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
The original Fraggle Rock is beloved the world over. It was filled with great songs, impressive puppetry, and pure, good-natured fun. It had a message of inclusion and acceptance that seemed much less rote than other children’s entertainment.

Yeah, we’re all equal… blah blah… race… blah

That was the original. This is the short-lived animated spin-off, which had all the same ingredients, but just didn’t work. It has now been swallowed up by Muppet Babies and forgotten by time and space.


Suck it, Moki. We have a cult following.

Also, I’m doing a retrospective on the whole series for our sister-blog horribleTV, which kind of tells you my general attitude toward this program.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
While the original series put its characters in serious peril and moral dilemmas, this one replaces the danger and high stakes with boring chase scenes and subpar animation.

I mean, seriously, what ARE these?

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Why does every Fraggle look so surprised all the time?

What? Another rock?

OK. IS IT GAY?
Actually, yeah. Before I starting writing this post, I figured that I would totally tear into this show because it’s so inferior to the original. And it is. But it retains a lot of the original’s inclusiveness and sense of equality among all the characters.

Let’s take a look at the gender dynamics of this show. Rather than being submissive love interests and helpless damsels, the girl Fraggles (particularly Red) are usually the strongest and bravest of the bunch. In the first episode alone, it’s the she-Fraggles who plan expeditions into the Gorg garden, rescue their friends, and lead the group discussions when everyone starts panicking.

And the male characters are similarly unaware of the Saturday morning clichés. Take Boober, for example. He’s timid and shy (and hard-working and loyal), and he doesn’t fit into the archetype of the male adventurer. Here he is doing all the other characters’ laundry:


It seems like the world of the Fraggles is completely unaware of our society’s gender norms. And that is a very gay-friendly place to be. Even though this isn't nearly as good as the Muppet-tastic original, it still has some positive messages for the kids. To pay tribute to our fellow fabricated Americans, I give this show two Bert and Ernies.

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