Synopsis: Boober keeps having terrible dreams about a fun-loving Fraggle named Sidebottom. When Boober’s friends share his dream and meet Sidebottom, they think he’s the bee’s knees — but perhaps there’s value in balancing party time with boring time.
Original air date: February 6, 1984
Hey, it’s the first Sidebottom episode! Whoopee!
I’ve seen this episode several times, but my earliest experiences with it did not involve watching it on streaming, or DVD, or TV. No, I encountered it via the Fraggle Rock View-Master set, which related the story of “Boober’s Dream” in the form of twenty-one still images with captions.
A View-Master is a “stereoscope,” which means you have to look into it with both eyes open to perceive the 3-D image. Two eyes, working together to make a complete picture. And hey, that’s a lot like Boober and Sidebottom – two very different guys, coming together to make a complete Fraggle at the conclusion of this episode!
But before that, a lot of stuff happens. In fact, on this re-watch, I was surprised at how fast-paced this episode is. Not compared to today’s kid-friendly TV, maybe, but definitely compared to many other episodes of the show. We zip from Doc’s workshop to Boober’s room to the Trash Heap to Boober’s dream world all in the first few minutes.
After hearing about Sidebottom (Boober’s fun side, who he keeps “on the bottom”), Wembley joins Boober in dream space, because that’s something Fraggles can do. (I don’t know about you, but I’d just as soon keep my dreams closed to outside visitors.) Wembley thinks Sidebottom is a hoot, and so do their friends when they all come to hang out in Boober’s rec room of the subconscious.
And why wouldn’t they? Sidebottom is always laughing, frequently telling jokes, and constantly cueing his whoopie cushion (an ornate cushion that goes “WHOOPIE!”) to bop people on the noggin. He’s that guy at the party who’s always on!
But Boober finds him tiresome, and boy, do I relate. I’ve been guilty of talking too much at social gatherings on occasion, but I’m not the type to dominate every party. Boober is disgusted by Sidebottom’s relentless silliness, and I gotta say, I’m on Boober’s side. When I do see one of those “always on” people monopolizing everyone’s attention, I tend to roll my eyes and quietly resent them. The rest of the Fraggles start to see things Boober’s way too, when Sidebottom’s game of “Fraggle Freeze” leaves them unable to move, and thus unable to wake up to the real world.
And yet, Sidebottom is not malicious, which is a smart choice by episode writer Jocelyn Stevenson. Sidebottom doesn’t have bad intentions. His excessive wackiness is caused by his boredom, which I’m sure is true of a lot of kids and adults with similar personalities.
Sidebottom also understands way before Boober does that they’re two halves of the same whole. Boober can enjoy life a lot more if he allows Sidebottom to peek out occasionally, and it’s a nice moment when they merge and Boober does a silly little dance after waking up. Now I’m wondering… After this episode, was Boober written to be noticeably looser and more carefree?
I’d recommend this episode to anyone with a larger-than-life personality who thinks they always have to be the life of the party to be liked. I’d also recommend it to boring jerks like me who are sometimes too quick to judge people like that!
Strongest Moment: I laughed out loud at this exchange early in the episode…
Wembley: “Don’t you think Boober’s maybe more fun than he looks?
Gobo: “I love Boober too, but you know, I think he looks about as much fun as a potato.”
Wembley: “Gee, I always thought potatoes were a riot.”
(Wembley follows Gobo and bonks his head on a pipe.)
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): I can’t decide between Boober and Sidebottom. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because they’re the same!
First Appearance Of…: Sidebottom! (Haven’t you been paying attention?)
Most Classic Moment: All five Fraggles lie in a circle with their heads touching so they can enter Boober’s dream together, all while singing “Dream a Dream and See.” That’s a memorable image.
Musical Highlight: It’s gotta be the aforementioned “Dream a Dream and See.” It’s beautiful… and maybe just a little bit eerie?
Coolest Puppetry Effect: In the dream world, the Fraggles can fly! Or at least float around. We see their lower halves and everything. Also, they’re sort of translucent when they’re floating, which makes everything even more dreamlike.
Darkest Moment: When Sidebottom freezes the Fraggles in the dream, there’s a cut to the Fraggles in the real world, twitching and moaning, presumably experiencing sleep paralysis. Yikes.
Fraggle Lore: The solemn Fraggle oath comes up a few times. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Doc and Sprocket segments are all about Doc attempting to interpret a dream he had about fuzzy creatures who live in a rock and like to swim. “Someday I’ll figure out why I dreamed about these silly creatures,” he says. How about that? We all know the various character groups are linked to each other, but it’s not often we see evidence of it on a psychic level.
One More Thing: In Uncle Traveling Matt’s postcard, he describes a place where shiny beasts close their eyes and share dreams. It’s a drive-in movie theater, and they’re showing The Dark Crystal! Matt thinks it’s “bizarre,” but shouldn’t he find a dream full of otherworldly creatures to be perfectly normal? As 1982 movie releases go, I’d expect him to be much more baffled by Grease 2.
Okay, One More Thing: Boober is not the only TV character with a contrary “other self.” On Taxi, awkward Latka Gravas had smooth-talking Vic Ferrari. On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob Petrie’s nervous brother Stacy had a confident, outgoing persona that only came out when he was sleepwalking. On Family Matters, super-nerdy Steve Urkel had suave, debonair Stefan Urquelle. Who else?
Thanks as always to Muppet Wiki for images! Click here to balance your fun and boring sides on the Tough Pigs Discord!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com