Muppets VS Fraggles

17 10 2007

The Muppets are a group of puppet characters created by Jim Henson. Individually, a Muppet is properly one of the puppets made by Jim Henson or his Company’s workshop – though the term is often used erroneously to refer to any puppet that resembles the distinctive style of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters, the term is both an informal name and legal trademark linked to the characters created by Henson.

The word “Muppet” itself was said by Henson to have been created by combining the words “marionette” and “puppet”; however, Henson was also known to have stated that it was just something he liked the sound of, and he made up the “marionette/puppet” story while talking to a journalist because it sounded plausible.

Muppets are typically made of softer materials. They are also presented as being independent of the puppeteer, who is usually not visible – hidden behind a set or outside of the camera frame. Using the camera frame as the “stage” was an innovation of the Muppets. Previously on television, there would typically be a stage hiding the performers, as if in a live presentation.

The Muppets’ popularity has been so expansive that Muppet characters have been treated as celebrities in their own right, including presenting at the Academy Awards, making cameos in Rocky III and An American Werewolf in London, and being interviewed on the newsmagazine 60 Minutes. Kermit the Frog was interviewed early on in Jon Stewart’s run on The Daily Show, guest hosted The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and an April Fool’s Day edition of Larry King Live, and has served as Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Michael Parkinson once famously interviewed Miss Piggy on his UK chatshow. Rosie O’Donnell interviewd Piggy on the first episode of her talk show. They also appeared on such sit-coms and dramas as The Cosby Show, The West Wing and The Torkelsons.

Famous Muppets include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Scooter, Statler & Waldorf, the Swedish Chef, Sam the Eagle and Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. The most widely known television shows featuring Muppets are Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and The Muppet Show. A recurring adult-oriented cast of Muppets (in a setting known as The Land of Gorch) were part of the first season of Saturday Night Live. Other less-popular series have included The Jim Henson Hour and Muppets Tonight. The puppet characters of Farscape, The Storyteller, The Hoobs, and Dinosaurs, as well as from the films Labyrinth, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Dark Crystal, are not considered Muppets, although they were also made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. The Star Wars character Yoda was voiced by Frank Oz, one of Henson’s regular voice actors, and was initially presented in the Star Wars films as a Muppet-like puppet and is often referred to as such in media and reference works; he is not, however, a Muppet and Henson’s organization was not involved in the character’s design.

Fraggle Rock (Fraggles) is a children’s television series with a total of 5 seasons and 96 episodes running from January 10, 1983 to March 30, 1987 on HBO in the United States and CBC Television in Canada. The series was created by Jim Henson, primarily featuring a cast of Muppet creatures called Fraggles, with music by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee.

The vision of Fraggle Rock articulated by Jim Henson was to depict a colorful 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, like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. The “Theme song from Fraggle Rock” was a top 40 pop hit in Britain during the phenomenon.

Fraggles are tiny humanoid creatures, about 22 inches tall, that come in a wide variety of colors 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 live on a diet of radishes and “doozer sticks” (see below). 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 Fraggles in particular; Gobo (Jerry Nelson), Mokey (Kathryn Mullen; voiced in the second Japanese dub by Aya Hisakawa), Red (Karen Prell), Wembley (Steve Whitmire), and Boober (Dave Goelz). They form a tight-knit group of friends, and each has a distinctive personality type.

Within Fraggle Rock lives a second species of small humanoid creatures, the pudgy green ant-like Doozers. Standing only 6 inches tall (knee high to a fraggle), Doozers are in a sense anti-Fraggles; their lives are dedicated to work and industry. Doozers spend much of their time busily constructing all manner of scaffolding throughout Fraggle Rock using miniature construction equipment and wearing hardhats and work boots. No one but the Doozers themselves seem to understand the actual purpose of their intricate and beautiful constructions. Often their building is accompanied by marching songs and various doozer chants. To ensure that they always have a steady stream of work to do, Doozers build their constructions out of an edible candy-like substance (manufactured from radishes) which is greatly enjoyed by Fraggles. They actually want 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.

The series had several episodes that featured a Doozer as a main character, a young female named Cotterpin

At one point, there was a series of Fraggle Rock books, one entitled “The Legend of the Doozer Who Didn’t.” This book details the story of a Doozer who went against Doozer tradition when he stopped working and going to school. According to this book, a Doozer who doesn’t Do in fact becomes a Fraggle.

Outside another exit from Fraggle Rock live a small family of Gorgs, giant furry humanoids standing 22 feet tall. The husband and wife of the family consider themselves the King and Queen of the Universe, with their son Junior as its prince and heir, but to all appearances they are really simple farmers with a rustic house and garden patch. The second episode of the first season reveals that the Gorgs have never actually met anyone besides themselves (“I’ve never met a subject before!”), suggesting that King and Queen of the Universe are self-imposed titles. Fraggles are considered a pest by the Gorgs, as they steal radishes. In one episode it is revealed that the Gorgs use radishes to make “anti-vanishing cream” that prevents them from becoming invisible. Thus, the three main races of the Fraggle Rock universe — Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs — are all dependent on the radishes for their own particular reason. While the King and Queen consider the Fraggles disgusting vermin, Junior enjoys chasing, catching and imprisoning them, much like a boy would lizards and bugs (“Look, Maw! I caught a Fwaggle!”).





One response

22 10 2007

Fraggle Rock.

The theme tune rocks!

‘Dance your cares away,
Worries for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock. ‘

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