Why Must Fraggle Rock Get Updated?

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 18 2009 4:02 PM

Why Must Fraggle Rock Get Updated?

The complete Fraggle Rock is now available on DVD in a 20-disc set that, the box promises, contains "over 47 hours of rockin' fun." And rockin' it is. The Jim Henson Co. met my entertainment needs from birth to graduation (at least from elementary school): Sesame Street for the early years, Fraggle Rock once I was ready to move on from the block, then the Muppets, and finally such dark fare as Jim Henson's The Storyteller .

Fraggle Rock makes a great halfway mark it's got fun, silly songs like those on Sesame Street , strong story lines reminiscent of the Muppets, and even a hint of the dark side usually associated with The Storyteller : These creatures dance and sing and look goofy, but they live in a subterranean world, and some must work as miners, and all must struggle to negotiate the differences of the several distinct races of puppets that populate their underworld. An anthropomorphized trash heap is a font of wisdom, introducing child viewers to the concept that good ideas can come from unlikely places (or perhaps this is a sly dig at organized spirituality a wise man as a dump?). The catchy theme song , which has been stuck in my head for a week, even broaches the work-life balance problem: Sometimes you have to "work your cares away," and sometimes you have to "dance your cares away."

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But all is not well in Fraggle Rock. A movie version is in the works (set for release in 2011), which I await with a feeling of unease familiar to my peers who suffered through the godawful big-screen adaptations of Transformers and G.I. Joe . Watching Red and Mokey on DVD is like running into someone I haven't seen since preschool we might not have anything to talk about, but there's a certain glee about being in the same room again. I don't want to find out that my two favorite Fraggettes have become snotty or unsufferable or dull. I trust the Jim Henson Co. more than I do Michael Bay, but I nevertheless find myself wishing that the show would just remain as-is. The JHC has made few missteps in its day, but one is bound to happen eventually, and I can't help but suspect that a big-screen version of the bizarre little Fraggle Rock may be its first mistake of the new decade.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

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