Most of us in our 30’s and 40’s associate our very early childhood with two TV shows; Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street. They were educational, fun and wholesome. But there was another show out there that attempted to teach things like teamwork, honesty, being nice and other positive behaviors, all using familiar looking Muppets and catchy songs. That show, of course, is Fraggle Rock. The HBO show of the 80’s somehow managed to capture the hearts of children around America, despite not being easily available to those of us without the premium cable subscription.
No matter how much you loved the show when you were 5 years old in the early 80’s, the show isn’t entertaining as an adult. It’s not meant to be and if you find any of the lessons useful as an adult, then you might need more help than an 80’s children’s TV show can offer. I realized quickly I was not the best audience for this show and so I quickly had to bring in some experts on children’s television, my four and five year-old sons.
I would have to assume that anyone picking up this set would be inclined to do the same thing I did; present it to your kids with the enthusiasm you had when you were their age. I’m almost disappointed to report that while my boys sat through the show, I would hesitate to say they liked it. They appreciated the cute Muppets and they like the theme song, but after a couple of episodes, they were bored with the content and the repetitive nature of the show. The true sign of how much a young child enjoys a TV show is whether or not they ask to watch it again and sadly, neither of them have mentioned Fraggle Rock since we tackled four episodes together a few weeks ago.
As for me, I realized that I probably thought the same thing as they did when I was their age. Fraggle Rock was never something I begged to watch or memorized the schedule of (when we did have HBO). I loved the opening theme song and enjoyed aspects of it, but in general, it was a take it or leave it show. Watching it as an adult, I was more impressed with how elaborate the show is and how cool it was to watch a show with actual Muppets and intricate backgrounds as opposed to CGI. It also offers some nice life lessons through some pretty cool characters. I’m not sure if it was the HBO influence or just the time period, but there are a few jokes and nods thrown into the show that only adults would get.
I know Fraggle Rock is immortalized in the hearts of many adults today and I don’t want to be dismissive of that fact. The show has many great qualities, chief among them the fun looking Muppets and the surprisingly catchy songs. As far as this impressive Blu-ray set goes; if you’re a fan of the show and it holds a special place in your heart, then picking it up is a no-brainer. But if you look back fondly on it and want to show it to your kids, you might want to watch a couple of episodes online first.
Video: If you have some realistic expectations for Fraggle Rock, you should be fine with the video transfer. But temper those expectations because the show is over forty years old. That said, the video quality can be a little rough, especially on larger, high quality screens.
Audio: The audio, on the other hand, sounds great and works very well.
I can admit that it doesn’t take long getting into this exhaustive list of special features before I started liking the show a lot more. Kudos to Sony for investing so much time and resources into this how and assembling this incredible batch of features.
Every episode has a fun sing-along option.
Down at Fraggle Rock: Behind the Scenes (48:25): Jim Henson takes us through Fraggle Rock in this original featurette from the 1980’s.
Music (11:45): This is an interesting look at how big a part the music played in each episode.
Jim (8:20): The show’s creator gets a nice featurette talking about his touches on the series as a whole.
Marooned (5:20): The “marooned” episode gets a focus, proving that there was a lot more to this episode than I originally thought.
HBO vintage promos
Traveling Matt Segments (18:20): The adventurous character gets a highlight reel of sorts.
Season 2 Overview (13:50): Key differences between the first and second season are discussed.
Docs and Sprockets (10:25): A look at the different iterations of these characters across the world.
Traveling Matt (9:00): Here we get a discussion about how complicated the character was for the writers and how he evolved over the course of the show.
Special Tribute to Jerry Juhl (35:45): The head writer gets a very nice tribute piece that talks all about his influence and philosophies on the show.
Season 2 Credits
Season 3 Overview (31:05): Like the earlier featurette, this one looks at the differences the show went through in the third season.
Production Design (12:35): This is a very nice look at how intricate the set designs were and the tricks they used to bring them to life.
Doozer Design (11:40): The all work, no play characters get a fun featurette talking about how they were used in the series.
Scared Silly: Art Imitating Life (9:45): The voice actors talk about having fun on set.
Interviews with Michael Frith, Kathy Mullen, Gerry Parkes (31:45): There are three separate interviews from the co-creator, voice actor and character actor respectively. All are fun and unique takes on the show.
Elctro-mechanical Puppetry (13:20): A lot of the movement in the show was electrical in nature and this featurette looks at how they did it.
Gorg Design (11:55): This covers the physical performance involved with bringing the Gorgs to life.
How the Trash Heap Came to Be (4:40): The trash character gets her own featurette.
Behind the Scenes (8:00): This is told from the animated show’s perspective and how it grew from the live-action series.
Final Season Overview (26:55): Again, a look at how the final season differed from the previous seasons and how it came to be.
Designing the Puppets: An Interview with the Puppet Makers (6:00): A quick look at how some of the characters were physically made.
You Cannot Leave the Magic: Excerpts from the Last Day of Shooting (6:15): A behind the scenes look at the last day of shooting.
Dance Your Cares Away: The Evolution of the Theme Song (10:45): I think almost everyone knows the theme song, even if they haven’t seen the show. The best part here is seeing some alternate versions.
Let the Music Play: An Interview with Phil Balsam and Dennis Lee (14:55): Separate discussions with the show’s songwriters.
The Inner Gorg (23:16): The actors inside the costumes talk about what it was like inside the suits
Celebrating Fraggle Rock: Excerpts from the Wrap party (15:25): A random collection of scenes from the wrap party.
Directing the Fraggles (5:45): Two of the show’s directors talk about the show.
From the Archives: Additional Interviews (9:40): Various cast members interview various characters from the show in these lighthearted interviews. Five in total.
Final Season Credits
Life on the Set: Moments with Jim Henson (1:55): Two minutes of Jim Henson outtakes.
The Today Show Segment (4:48): Katie Couric interviews Traveling Matt.
Fraggle Songs (51:35): Almost an hour of stapled together musical numbers.
Doozer Music (16:20): Songs about Doozers.