Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “All Work and All Play”

Published: February 23, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: Cotterpin Doozer doesn’t want to work all day like the rest of the Doozers. When she leaves Doozer society to live with the Fraggles, she meets Red and learns why being a Fraggle might not be the answer for her after all.

Original air date: February 20, 1984

Have you ever felt like an outsider? I realize that if you’re reading this, the answer is probably yes. So many of us in the Muppet fan community have expressed how the Muppets provided a sense of belonging when nothing else did. After all, where else do pigs, bears, frogs and others work together to put on a show? There’s a place, a job, an understanding for everyone.

The Fraggles’ whole lives revolve around a similar social structure where everyone is encouraged to dance, sing, work (for 30 minutes) and have fun in their own way, even if that involves laundry or starting a cult. Not so with the Doozers. The Doozers’ social structure is as rigid as their towers. There are expectations placed on every Doozer to learn certain rules, perform certain acts and grow up to be builders. But Cotterpin Doozer doesn’t want any of it.

While we as silly creatures have as many possibilities for joy as the Fraggles, there are just as many situations in which we find ourselves feeling like Cotterpin. Strict parents, a school that only supports one way of learning, living in a cultural hegemony that denies basic rights, all of these make running away to live as a Fraggle sound very appealing. Cotterpin feels more kinship with the Fraggles than she does with other Doozers. She wants to listen to rumble hums, draw hexagonal bridges, and race to the whistling tunnel.

More than wanting to be a Fraggle, Cotterpin takes action to become a Fraggle. She leaves the Doozer Dome. She walks right up to Red Fraggle and they run off to do Fraggle things together. Cotterpin is immediately presented with the difficulties of fitting into Fraggle society, but she persists until she reaches a line she can’t cross. In her case it’s swimming. If we ran away to Fraggle Rock, we’d probably have to give it up when we didn’t fit in the caves. And so we have to return. But what’s most important for Cotterpin and us, is that we accept ourselves and don’t accept a prescribed life. We continue to act and discover our own sense of belonging and happiness.

Strongest Moment –  Red and Cotterpin’s visit to the rumble bugs and the song they sing. Such a wonderful way to bring these two together and find a way they can both have fun.

Weakest Moment ­–  I’m afraid the Doc and Sprocket sections don’t do much for me in this episode. They mirror the Fraggle plot in that Sprocket wants to be a horse instead of a dog. And good on Doc for supporting his dog’s desire. But while Sprocket is incredibly happy to be a horse before he realizes he has to eat hay, he gives it up without further comment. While this echoes what many kids do with their imaginary play, I think the writers could have done just a little bit more with that.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle) – I contemplated changing this section to Most Valuable Doozer so that I could heap praise on Cotterpin, but I decided to leave it and give it to Red. You might expect Mokey to be the Fraggle most likely to befriend a Doozer. After all, she’s the one who took Flange out to the Gorg’s garden in The Great Radish Famine. Other than being impossible for Kathryn Mullen to perform both of them, this episode allows Red to grow a bit by overcoming her preconceptions of the Doozers as boring and accepting Cotterpin for what they have in common.

First Appearance Of… – So many Doozers! Though Cotterpin technically appeared in “The Great Radish Famine” as a child, this is her first episode as a fully formed character. But we also get Wrench and the Architect as well!

Most Classic Moment – The Doozer Ceremony of the Helmet is forever etched in my brain with all the Doozers turning out on the town green in their adorable hats with a Doozer-sized organ blowing bits of vapor out of it. It’s a tableau fit to be immortalized in art.

Musical Highlight – “Yes, We Can” is the song the Doozers sing during their helmeting ceremony. It’s a call and response from the Architect to the initiates and then the already be-helmeted Doozers renew their own vows. Not only is it catchy as heck, but it’s a wonderful illustration of Doozer culture. And, I have to point out, for all of those people who didn’t like Jack Hammer’s talk-singing performance in Back to the Rock, this is sung similarly and no one complains. Doozers are not the over the top performers that the Fraggles are.

Coolest Puppetry Effect – It’s only a small moment of puppetry and probably a bigger moment for the lighting and set crew, but when Red and Cotterpin are running down the cave tunnel, we can’t see Cotterpin. She’s out of frame because of her size. But we do see her shadow appear on the cave walls which helps us visually know what’s happening while further contrasting just how different Fraggles and Doozers are. Very thoughtful.

Doozer Lore – The Doozer Who Didn’t is mentioned in this episode as a cautionary tale to Doozers. They should avoid laziness and frivolity or else they’ll turn into a Fraggle. Fraggles being the antithesis of Doozer culture.

Obscure Character Watch – The rumble bug background creatures never appear again in this Fraggle Rock, but will be reused in The Song of the Cloud Forest and in Back to the Rock.

One More Thing…  – Cotterpin likes hexagons! And as we all know Hexagons are the bestagons.

Okay, One More Thing… – Even though the only clothing that the Doozers wear are gloves, boots, helmets and tool belts, for some reason when they’re not wearing them, the effect of their nakedness is still quite stark.

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by Katilyn Miller

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