‘Meet the Fraggles'
In many ways, “Fraggle Rock” remains the redheaded (well, sometimes yellow- or purple-haired) stepchild to “The Muppets” and “Sesame Street,” ubiquitous and enduring franchises inhabited by similarly colorful critters dreamed up by puppet pioneer Jim Henson.
“Fraggle Rock” aired on HBO from 1983-87, so even among people who grew up in that era, your childhood exposure to the musical population of Henson's underground civilization largely depends on whether your family had cable at that time. My husband's family did and mine didn't, so he views the quirky Fraggles with a nostalgic fondness that I can't hope to achieve.
For fervent fans of the show, a 21-DVD “Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection” box set recently debuted on the same day as “Meet the Fraggles,” a single-disc six-episode collection that makes a fine entry into the tunefully entertaining puppet series, even without the benefit of bonus materials like making-of featurettes or behind-the-scenes interviews.
“Meet the Fraggles” starts with the series' first episode, which introduces the Fraggles, a carefree Muppet-like species that lives by the credo “Dance your cares away/worries for another day,” which happens to be the opening line of the show's catchy theme song. The other residents of their underground realm include the tiny industrious Doozers (an impressive puppeteering feat for that pre-CGI era), the giant bullying Gorgs and a sentient wisdom-dispensing trash heap named Marjory. In the opening episode, the intrepid Traveling Matt follows a tunnel that leads into Outer Space, AKA the human world, via a hole through the basement workshop of aspiring inventor Doc (Gerard Parkes) and his expressive puppet dog Sprocket.
While Traveling Matt explores the human world, which involves close encounters with sheep, drive-in movies and ice cream cones, he shares his experiences with the other Fraggles via postcards his mild-mannered nephew Gobo picks up in Doc's shop.
With its kaleidoscopic characters, well-crafted rock songs and gently delivered life lessons, the Fraggles still appeal to youngsters, especially those like my 6 ½-year-old and almost 3-year-old, who already have met the Muppets.
— Brandy McDonnell