By this point in the season, I worry there isn’t too much else to say about Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock. How many times do y’all want to read the ToughPigs gang say that it’s basically the perfect modern Muppet production? I mean, look, it is. Back to the Rock literally makes me cry. So much skill and love went into its production. I’ve told my fellow ToughPigs that this show feels like a miracle, and I stand by that take.
Chances are, by now you’ve figured this out too. I love this show, and I’m so glad I finally get to write about it here.
Months ago, when I threw my hat into the ring to review this episode, I hadn’t seen a single episode. I chose it simply because I figured it would feature the Trash Heap (a personal favorite character and a personal style icon). Also, I chose it because I figured going next-to-last would give me time to stew over (pun intended) my thoughts on the show as a whole.
Unfortunately, I kind of trapped myself, because this episode doesn’t work on its own at all. Describing its individual plot is really simple: Marjory is sick, Boober has to help her, Boober makes a special soup for all the different races of Fraggle Rock, Marjory gets better. But this episode is also a huge denouement for basically every single plot point the show has been building so far, and that’s more complicated to talk about.
Through the simple plot, Boober instigates the solutions to the Craggles’ and Merggles’ problems. Cotterpin and Doc solve each other’s problems (without realizing it). And everyone agrees to help the Fraggles – fixing the waterfall is the only obstacle that remains.
It’s amazing how confidently the show builds all of these different plots and solves them all so quickly without making anything seem too abrupt or unimportant. But reviewing this episode feels tough; it basically requires you to review the whole show. Which, I might remind you, is a miracle.
So here’s some isolated thoughts on the episode as a whole before I dive into our subcategories. I love how many episodes this season deal with Boober working through his anxieties and insecurities. He becomes a much more rounded character instead of being a punchline. In the original show, he obviously had his moments, but there were many episodes where he was just a nervous gag. In Back to the Rock, Boober feels like the heart at the center of the show, which is appropriate given Dave Goelz’s legacy.
I love how Cotterpin is the one who gets to interact with Doc, even if it’s always indirectly. She’s such a good bridge between the worlds and I hope we see more of that in Season 2. I mean, I also hope we see Season 2.
And I love the world of the Rock so much. The show was always about interconnectivity, and I love how overt this episode makes that point. I loved getting to know the new characters, and re-meeting the old characters.
And speaking of worlds, the Trash Heap’s world is a beautiful new set. What can I say? I love miracles, but I also love trash.
Strongest Moment: As I said, I love the moment when the plots start resolving, especially Cotterpin’s revelation. I like how central she has been throughout this season. It goes a long way to making the Doozers feel more important than just a neat puppetry effect.
Weakest Moment: In theory, the Merggles are good because of how they help flesh out the connections of the world. But I find their surf-lingo to be annoying, so any time they’re on screen I’m just kind of irritated.
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Absolutely Boober, but we do get some good Uncle Matt material here as he destroys a Foo Fighters concert.
Classic Musical Moment: The official Apple and Henson accounts have been promoting this show’s classic musical moment pretty heavily. At the end of the episode, we get a full music video of the Foo Fighters and Traveling Matt singing “Fraggle Rock Rock” from Season 1 of the original show. It’s a fun performance and well-staged. I’ve never been super-crazy about that song, which always felt more specific than the best Fraggle Rock songs are. Here, that’s particularly apparent, because Dave Grohl is singing about things Gobo, Mokey, Boober, and Red are doing. I’m willing to excuse this because Fraggle logic says anyone knows anything as long as they’re singing about it. Remember how in “Catch the Tail by the Tiger,” they knew about tigers and taxes when singing? Like that.
New Musical Moment: “Put it All Together” is good because it’s a Dave Goelz spotlight, but it isn’t one of my favorite songs from the series at all. It’s fine!
Darkest Moment: Hoo boy. Pa Gorg is genuinely scary in this show. I hope we see more of Junior on his own in Season 2, because this abuse is really hard to take.
One More Thing: Who would I be if I didn’t shout out Begooney, one of the random Fraggle monsters who later appeared in Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island? He’s here, now named Bongo, and terrorizing Boober instead of Mokey. I’ve always loved his fun rabbit-y design and I’m glad to see him.
OK, One Other One More Thing: How good are the Boober’s sous-chef Inkspots? I love them.
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by Evan G