Review: Back to the Rock S2 – Episode 2 ‘The Twisty-Turny-Thon’

Published: April 10, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

As many fans have noticed, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock has a habit of making the moral of most episodes extremely obvious. The original series was a bit more subtle and more apt to let us draw our own conclusions — but on the other hand, even after 96 episodes of the original series, we silly creatures are still making the same dumb mistakes and having the same ridiculous conflicts. So maybe it’s necessary to drive home the morals the way Back to the Rock does.

The moral of “The Twisty-Turny-Thon,” as sung by Wembley, is “You have to be open to what’s new.” In other words: You’ll be happier if you’re prepared for things to go differently than you expected. Gobo learns the lesson when his budding friendship with Junior Gorg is hindered by that mean old oaf Pa Gorg. Red learns the lesson when Wembley’s antics and persistent gusts of wind stymie her efforts to win the Twisty-Turny-Thon. Barry Blueberry learns the lesson when he unexpectedly has to share the spotlight with another color commentator. And Sprocket learns the lesson when Doc leaves him at home alone and he has to keep himself entertained.

That’s a lot of different storylines with a lot of different characters learning the same lesson! But somehow, they all feel distinct. Gobo’s story is sincere, Red’s is an adventure, Barry Blueberry’s is laugh-out-loud funny, and Sprocket’s is adorable. 

“It’s good to be flexible” is a message that turns up a lot in kid-targeted media, but it’s always a good one to reinforce, for both kids and grown-ups. I don’t mind telling you I sometimes need this kind of reminder. For example, if I really want a burrito for lunch but the burrito place is sold out of burritos, I could allow it to ruin my whole day. But the next time that happens, I’m going to remember this episode and try to be happy with Lunch Plan B (probably pizza).

You know who else could stand to receive this message? The entirety of pop culture fandom! We nerds can be pretty rigid in our thinking, and all too quick to dismiss a piece of media if it doesn’t immediately match our expectations. I’ve come close to giving up on a new comic book series if the first issue isn’t what I thought it would be, and I see a lot of comments online from movie fans who turned something off after the first few minutes for similar reasons.

And this might be hard to believe, but I’ve even seen some comments from folks who refuse to even give Back to the Rock a try because it looks too different from the original series. If they just watched a few episodes, they might love it. But no, they’re missing out on all this stuff because they don’t like Mokey’s hair or whatever.

So yeah, it’s true that this episode delivers the same message over and over again. But that just demonstrates the fact that it’s relevant to all kinds of people, including Fraggles, Gorgs, and dogs.

Oh, and also there are a lot of funny jokes, from Mokey’s “rudey gluey” to the absurd “Boober’s doctor” gag. I’m glad I didn’t have to adjust my expectations for stuff making me laugh!

Strongest Moment: The “I Knew I Was Good” sequence (more on that below!).

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Sherry Contrary! She makes her debut here, and her banter with Barry Blueberry is the funniest stuff in what is, as previously mentioned, a very funny episode. The two of them obviously can’t stand each other, but they grin and bear it while providing commentary for the marathon. This incarnation of Fraggle Rock has generally had less petty Fraggle conflict than the original, so the Blueberry/Contrary tension is a hilarious and welcome development.

Classic Musical Moment: As she confidently sets out to ace the Twisty-Turny-Thon, Red sings “I Knew I Was Good,” a tribute to self-esteem previously sung by Gobo on the original series. The staging of the song here is a hoot — there are so many quick gags happening all around Red as she runs and twists and turns from cave to cave.

New Musical Moment: “Wind Will Guide You” starts out slow and contemplative but becomes bouncy and upbeat, mirroring Red’s mood as she learns to let go of her preconceived notions. And Sherry Contrary’s rendition of some kind of anthem before the race is a silly poke at every dramatic, melismatic singer who’s ever performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a sporting event.

Fraggle Lore: The titular Twisty-Turny Thon is “the most twisty, turny, jumpy, bumpy race in all of Fraggle Rock.” According to the rules, if you don’t participate in the race, you have to pick someone to fill in for you. Gobo picks Boober, much to Boober’s chagrin… because apparently, Boober wasn’t planning to race. But doesn’t that mean Boober should have picked someone to replace him? I’m going to need a ruling from the judges.

Coolest Puppetry Effect: The sequence with Red and Wembley falling off a shaky rope bridge goes by fast, but it’s remarkably seamless. How many puppeteers did that take?

One More Thing…: Fraggle Rock is all about characters from different cultures learning to get along, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see Sprocket befriending a (puppet) squirrel, but I never would have predicted it. We’ve seen all kinds of cave-dwelling creatures on the show, but this opens the door for a whole new world of potential new characters. Sprocket could go on to meet a ferret, or an armadillo, or a capybara!

Okay, One More Thing…: Pa Gorg tells Junior in no uncertain terms that he can’t be friends with Fraggles. But he can’t come up with a good, legitimate reason why… because there is no good, legitimate reason. This is a pretty accurate representation racism.

Click here to twist and turn and thon on the Tough Pigs Discord!

by Ryan Roe –

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