A few weeks ago, the Jim Henson Company posted a video on YouTube, which they called “DrDoozer.com – #1.” It was a remix of the Fraggle Rock theme song, and it seemed to be a promotional thing for a new website. At that time, there was nothing on the website at that URL, so we were left to wonder and speculate: Would it be a new online medical advice column written by Flange Doozer? An internet pharmacy selling really tiny pills? We had no idea.
And then, earlier this month, the site was finally activated, and we learned the astonishing truth: The purpose of DrDoozer.com is… to sell overpriced T-shirts! At least, that’s what all the evidence points toward. Let?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s check out the site and see.
The whole site is done in Flash, and it’s quite pretty, even if it slows my browser down a bit. It’s set up as a cave in Fraggle Rock, with a bunch of Doozers apparently in the middle of their latest radish-based building project, and various Fraggle remixes play in the background. It’s almost interactive: You can move your mouse around and zoom in a tiny bit, and scroll left and right a tiny bit — just enough to make you frustrated that you can?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t do more, really.
Oh, and the buttons! You can push buttons on the upper corner of the screen to make the cave darker and brighter! A lot of us watched Fraggle Rock when we were kids and dreamed of being puppeteers, but somewhere out there there’s a weirdo or two who always longed to be the lighting director. Well, this feature of the site is perfect for them.
So why is it called “Dr. Doozer” anyway? Maybe the About section will have some clues for us:
“Dr. Romanelli, known and respected for bringing new energy and a fresh spin to classic beloved brands, reinterprets one of the gems of The Jim Henson Company, Fraggle Rock. Dr. Romanelli pursued this project because Fraggle Rock is something that resonates deep in his DNA as a fond childhood memory and was excited about resurrecting and putting a fresh spin on these loveable and zany characters now as an adult and new father.”
Okay, so this Dr. Roman-numeral guy is a designer. Still, why “Dr. Doozer?” Wouldn’t people be more likely to respond to a campaign that actually had the word “Fraggle” in its name, considering the Fraggles are kind of the main characters and the show is kind of named after them? But I suppose they couldn’t resist the alliteration. Okay, so what else can they tell us?
“Enjoy this new ground breaking fantastical presentation of Fraggle Rock that will make you want to dance your cares away and save your worry’s for another day.”
Seriously? Save your “worry’s” for another day? I already had my doubts as to whether this Romanelli character actually had his doctorate, but now I know for sure he’s not an English teacher.
Clicking on “News” on the left side of the screen brings up some stuff about the “Kitson Launch Party!”, although there’s no explanation what that means, or when it happened, or what a “Kitson” is. This is where you’ll find some cool photos of Doozers posed in what appears to be a store window…
I notice Cotterpin’s not included. She’s probably out joyriding and knocking over mailboxes with those irresponsible Fraggles.
Then there’s the “Kitson Guest Pics” gallery, which is where this whole thing becomes especially baffling. A lot of celebrities came to this party,which presumably was held to launch the new line of Fraggle merchandise, and many of them posed with Red Fraggle (The good news here is that Red was performed by her old pal Karen Prell). Some of these “stars” were brighter than others, but I think we can all agree that Paris Hilton is not a person we ever wanted to see associated with Fraggle Rock in any way.
The “Media” section has some music videos of the remixes, but more importantly, it has several original clips of songs from the show. All this remixing and crazy merchandise and Carmen Electras is pretty disorienting, so it’s nice to just click and enjoy stuff like the Doozer knitting song, and “Come and Follow Me.”
The other link on the side of the page is for the Store. This is it now, the purpose of the whole shebang — to sell Fraggle merchandise designed by this Dr. Ravioli. The prospect of new Fraggle stuff to buy is certainly intriguing… So, how is it?
This shirt is all right. The design is about as good as some of the better fan art you might find on the web. But I nearly choked on a Doozer stick when I clicked on it and found that they’re asking for $45 for this thing. Consider this: Right now on Amazon, the individual Fraggle Rock season sets are selling for around 25 bucks each, so you could have 48 episodes of the show for just a few dollars more than one blasted t-shirt.
I’d love for Dr. Roman-candle to explain to me how these shirt designs constitute “ground breaking” or “fresh.” They’re just pictures of Fraggles that look like 60s rock band posters. And as far as I can tell, each one has the Dr. Romanelli name or logo on it, so the dough you spend on them earns you the right to advertise the good doctor whether you want to or not.
A much better option is the Fraggle dolls available for $25, which seems more reasonable, and there are puppets for only — wait a minute, what’s this?
It’s two of our favorite characters, Red Wembley and Yellow Wembley! Wow, I love Red Wembley! I can’t wait until puppets of Mokey, Boober, and the Trash Heap show up as “Purple Wembley,” “Green Wembley,” and “Garbage Wembley.” Hey, take a closer look at that Red puppet, if you dare:
I have a feeling you’ll be seeing her again in our next Ugly Toy Pageant. Who you suppose hit her with that frying pan?
So who is this crap for? Fraggle fans should be getting excited about new stuff, but instead most fans are either a) responding with complete apathy, or b) complaining about how much it costs and how silly that whole launch party/publicity event was. So that leaves normal people, but how much do they really care about Fraggles? And will they be so impressed to see pictures of Stephanie Pratt from The Hills posing with Red that they’ll run out and buy things? Furthermore, does Stephanie Pratt even like Fraggle Rock? Would she recognize Junior Gorg if she ran into him at the grocery store?
You know, it was only a few years ago that the Jim Henson Company owned the Muppet Show characters. Even in those dry periods when there were no movies or specials being made, they could always count on merchandise. As long as they kept licensing Kermit and Piggy dolls, folks kept buying them. But then they sold all those characters, and once that was all over and done with, they looked around and said, “Uh-oh! We just sold our most beloved and recognizable property! What now?” The answer, it seems, is to squeeze every cent they can from their best-known remaining franchise. I love Fraggle Rock dearly, and I’d love to see it embraced by the public at large… but there must be a better way than this.
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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com