I had relatively high expectations for this Fraggle Rock reboot and those expectations were pretty much exceeded. It’s a bit of a bummer that we’re essentially back to square one continuity-wise (which I understand), but what we’ve gotten has the spirit of the old show while doing a lot of new things we’ve never seen before. Some of the topics addressed on the original show are, unfortunately, still relevant and continue to be addressed in this new iteration, but this particular episode is definitely based on events from the last few years.
See, Mokey has a dream one night in which she learns that something extraordinary is going to happen. She’s delighted when her dream actually begins to come true – the Merggles (a species of mermaid-like Fraggle we were introduced to in the old “Beyond the Pond” episode) are about to do their once-in-a-literal-blue-moon migration dance and everyone in Fraggle Rock is going off to witness it. Mokey’s takeaway from this is that her innermost feelings are right and she should trust them over silly things like “facts” and maps. This ends up sending her down the wrong path to the Merggle cavern and she winds up trapped in a literal echo chamber. Gee, sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?
I don’t know if I ever would have pegged Mokey as a potential Q-Anon believer, but I can think of a number of episodes from the original series where Mokey’s well-meaning sense of self-righteousness has gotten the best of her (“The Preachification of Convincing John” or “New Trash Heap in Town”), so it’s not totally out of character for her to act this way. But it’s also hard to discuss character consistency in what is ostensibly a completely new timeline.
Anywho, Mokey soon finds that having her own incorrect assertions fed back to her again and again doesn’t ultimately help her, and eventually, the rest of her Fraggle friends save her…only they’ve missed the migration ceremony. But Mokey still has the feeling of something wonderful happening and sure enough, they’re able to witness something never seen before because nobody has ever stuck around afterwards to see it – the birth of new baby Merggles, an event that resembles one of those Esther Williams water extravaganzas. So Mokey learns there’s a time for both facts and feelings, and we learn (hopefully) how not to turn into crazy conspiracy Internet people.
Meanwhile, we get two subplots that are somewhat related to the Fraggle story. First, the Architect and Cotterpin go looking for new places to find radishes and learn kind of the same thing the Fraggles do, but in a much less interesting/entertaining way. What I liked more was Doc and Sprocket live streaming baby sea turtles hatching. Lilli Cooper and this puppet dog are so danged delightful to watch together. Their dynamic might not be as funny as the original pairing, but their relationship is still endearing as hell and I wish there were more of them in every episode.
This was the episode that made me really go “Hey, this show’s really good!” Its message was pointed and modern, yet done in a way that didn’t feel out of place in the show’s own universe. And wouldn’t you know it? It was written by Jocelyn Stevenson, who wrote many great episodes of the original series. This episode reminded me of other very targeted stories like “Manny’s Land of Carpets” or “Fraggle Wars,” and I think it would fit right in beside them. I look forward to season two, where we can expect an episode about a Doozer Dome insurrection or some such.
Strongest Moment: It’s not super related to the plot, but Traveling Matt’s escapades on an ice rink are fun. The postcard segments in general on this show are so funny.
Weakest Moment: The subplot with Cotterpin and the Architect felt very slight. It kinda boils down to “Cotterpin has a feeling she’s right… and then is” without any interesting conflict.
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): This a Mokey-centric episode, but I wanna use this spot to shout out Red Fraggle and Karen Prell. She feels exactly the same as she did on the 1980s show and it’s so great to see her active like this again.
The Grand Return Of…: This episode brings back not only the Merggles, but the World’s Oldest Fraggle and his sidekick Henchy, who is now a female character. She doesn’t get repeatedly bopped on the nose, though.
Coolest Puppetry Effect: During Mokey’s tense reprise of her song, we get this crazy tracking stedicam shot. It turns out that Donna Kimball is both puppteering Mokey and operating the camera!
Fraggle Lore: We learn that factual Fraggle knowledge is contained in the Fraggle Folio of Facts. Hopefully it’s not a Wikipedia situation where anybody with a pencil can add to it.
Special Appearance By: Yeah, celebrity voices are a thing in this now, which I probably should have expected. In this episode, Patti LaBelle voices the Queen of the Merggles, which leads to the following…
Classic Musical Moment: The Fraggle plot ends with a reprise of “Shine On Us Now” (originally from the episode “Capture the Moon”) by the Queen and company. And boy, Patti absolutely slays it.
New Musical Moment: The episode’s original song is by Mokey, backed by the various stone faces carved into the Echo Chamber. It’s another neat way of getting some random beings of the caves to provide backing vocals.
Darkest Moment: I’m sure some younger viewers might find the Echo Chamber kinda spooky (spooky…).
One More Thing…: What’s up with the fact that we only see Pa and Ma Gorg from behind widows and walls? It kinda dampens the Gorg family dynamic when they can’t really share the screen together effectively.
Okay, One More Thing…: So, Mokey’s new Marge Simpson-esque look, huh? At first, I was certainly surprised by it from that early teaser we saw. But then that became the thing every fan comment seemed to glom onto, and they were mostly negative responses, so I stopped caring.
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by Shane Keating