Review: Back to the Rock S2 – Episode 8 ‘Colder Boulders’

Published: May 22, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Imagine you’re seven years old. You were born in 2017. A significant and rather formative part of your life has been spent in the pandemic and post-pandemic world. All of life’s needs and wants are available at the press of a button. The song you want to hear plays through your speaker. The friend you haven’t seen all summer waves from your screen. The food your family craves arrives at your door. This is normal, accepted, convenient and, on the surface, seemingly harmless.

If you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you’re a seven-year-old. It’s far more likely you’re an adult who knows a bit about what life was like before the Internet could give us literally everything for a price. It’s likely you know about climate change, its causes and the different ways that humans have and continue to contribute to it. And are you still ordering the latest Muppets merch online to have it delivered directly to you? Yeah, probably.

So, like Sprocket in this episode, Doc explaining how much carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere just to get a single treat conveniently delivered to their door sounds like a lecture packaged with guilt and shame. Not only that, the lecture is delivered with language as straightforward and zeitgeisty as the echo chamber episode from season one of Back to the Rock. And I’m glad they did it.

When I watched this episode for the first time, I dismissed it as another example of didactic children’s media needing to write to a lesson. But then I watched it again and again, as many children will do, and I’ve come to appreciate the tools it’s giving all of us to understand and engage with a very big problem that isn’t any one person’s fault, yet is all of our responsibility. If you’re still finding it hard to get past the lecture, first of all, congratulate yourself. You are a citizen of the world who knows enough about global interconnectedness to recognize the problem and want to do something about it. Now, let’s look at this episode from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know that.

This is just the type of lesson that is perfect for the Fraggles to teach. They’ve been telling stories about interdependence for over 40 years. The episode begins with Red Fraggle wanting something reasonable: to dive into the pond. A simple pleasure she has enjoyed presumably her whole life. (Minus the goo situation in season 1.) But a change in her environment prevents her from getting what she wants. She changes the Rock in a way that will personally benefit her. In doing so, she disrupts the lives of everyone in Fraggle Rock. Attending to one disruption leads to another, escalating the problems until no one is happy, comfortable or even able to see properly. It’s an efficient and distilled illustration of our present situation with climate change.

Jump over to Doc and Sprocket, where we see the outer space connection. Jump to the Gorgs, where we see how ridiculous it is when one person’s comfort is prioritized. Jump to Uncle Traveling Matt, where we see what happens when we force our ill-considered solutions onto other people without seeing the bigger picture. Now we’ve got a more holistic view of the problem that you could present at a conference. To do that with a global-scale problem in 30 minutes with language and examples that a child can understand is quite the achievement.

But, of course, Fraggle Rock can’t leave us in this pickle. Everyone has to work together to set their home back to rights. And the inspiration and motivation for this is already infused in the episode’s new musical moment which I really wish they’d reprised at the end with altered lyrics just to “seal” the message with its call to action.

I can’t take it for another day
it feels like everyone has given up.
(not given up)

Don’t sit around
waiting for it to change
Cause it’s not going to change itself

It won’t happen any other way
So do the job and do it well

Head banging time!

Strongest Moment – There’s always something special about Icy Joe interacting with Red. Karen Prell plays these two characters with the same confidence and yet they couldn’t be more different. Icy Joe’s no trash heap, but she’s learned a thing or two about the world during her years as an ice cube. Sadly none of those things were telekinesis. 

Weakest Moment  – While the Doozer’s packaging up the oversized strawberries from the Gorg’s garden is adorable and does reinforce the concept of the delivery concerns talked about in the Doc and Sprocket segments, it’s not shown to have any effect within this episode. But hey, any excuse to have Doozers wear the strawberry hats!

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle) – Icy Joe, for her advice, for her understanding of ecosystems, and for her belief in the powers of her mind.

The Grand Return Of… – Glowing baloobiuses! They come in very handy as fog lights.

Classic Musical Moment – “Lost and Found” takes on new life in this episode when considered in the light of a world that’s always changing. But it still has the same effect of bringing everyone together. Plus we get the Storyteller making interjections throughout and I can never get enough Storyteller.

New Musical Moment – “Seal It Up” as mentioned previously is a head-banger of a call to action.

Coolest Puppetry Effect – Have we given any love to the Gorg performers this season? Because the amount of movement and manipulation that they have to do while confined to a suit they can’t even see out of is just astonishing. Pa falling all over himself escaping strawberries while Junior catches them in a basket is lovely choreography.

Darkest Moment – It’s so hot, Marvin’s sweat has become sentient. I’d love to hear theories about what sort of Inception moment this is.

One More Thing… – There’s almost as much commentary of global economic systems in this episode as there was in “This for That.” Just look at who’s laboring and who’s relaxing. And there’s quite a lot of relaxing going on.

Click here to pack boxes like a clown on the Tough Pigs Discord!

by Katilyn Miller –

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