Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “Boober’s Quiet Day”

Published: June 7, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: Boober plans on having a nice, quiet day. Unfortunately, Sidebottom returns to help with that, resulting in a web of lies that spins out of control.

Boober floats through space in a teacup as Sidebottom talks to him.

Original air date: June 4, 1984

Wait, this isn’t the episode when Boober goes to the caves of boredom? Darn. Then is this the one that introduces Sidebottom? It has to be, right? No?? Then what else could it be?

Oh no. Oh nonononononononono. Please don’t tell me I signed up for the one with…

Tosh Fraggle and The Old Roma Lady.


Welp. I am not the right person to be writing this review, but I’m the person who’s here, so here we go.

Throughout this episode, the Fraggles use a particular G-word that we don’t really use anymore. No, not Gorg. Everyone says Gorg. Every day. My doctor called me a Gorg twice this morning. The word I’m talking about is the most common exonym for Roma. While the Roma community was against the word long before this episode was written, the rest of the world didn’t give diddly squat squat doodly whap bomp until quite recently.

This is probably, in part, because the stereotypes seemed to take on a life of their own. I don’t think the Fraggle we meet in this episode (whose name is just “The Old [REDACTED] Lady”) was meant to suggest that there are different ethnicities among Fraggles. Different accents, sure, but they don’t usually mean anything. Gobo is no more from Canada than Wembley is. As a kid, I saw a Fraggle with golden hoop earrings and a tambourine as no different from a wizard Fraggle wearing a pointy hat, an explorer Fraggle wearing a pith hat, or a pirate Fraggle with a pirate hat and talking pet lobster. The aesthetic and culture seemed to be part of the job, and nothing more.

Boober in disguise as the Old Lady comes face to face with the Old Lady herself. Gobo looks skeptical.

In October of 1982, Fleetwood Mac’s hit song “[REDACTED]” was all over the radio, and that was a sentimental expression of the experience of being a traveling musician struggling to get by. I think that’s the best context in which to view this episode of Fraggle Rock, and not just because that album is probably the greatest of its decade, which is the best decade for music, objectively. It’s because Fraggles look at someone like The Old [REDACTED] Lady as a figure to celebrate, not to hate, because spreading music and magic with the world is what they’re all about.

Much like with the minstrels, the Fraggle writers didn’t reckon with the historical context of the language they used to describe the creative spirit they admire. The effects of that are not good, but I think the admiration still shines through.

Tosh gives Boober the leash for her beast.

Strongest Moment: The first interruption to Boober’s quiet day comes from Tosh, who asks Boober to babysit her pet beast. At first, the beast is an offscreen joke, and I liked it that way. Later in the episode, they surprise us with the reveal that they actually did build a beast puppet, and it’s a thrilling surprise.

Weakest Moment: For me, the weakest moment is Boober and Sidebottom’s closing summary of the story’s moral. That’s the moment when the episode can explain what good all this offensive nonsense was for, and with a strong enough message, I might have been able to shrug it all off. Again, we’re talking about a show from 1982, whereas Netflix produced a show called [REDACTED] as late as 2017 with the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac song for its theme song. But the moral isn’t coherent enough to be worth it.

The point of the episode is that there are no harmless little lies, as they always spiral and grow. Also, the point of the episode is that, if you don’t want to be assigned work by your friends, you need to forcefully tell them no, or else it’s all your fault that they did that without really asking. Also, the point of the episode is that you need to homogenize the different components of your personality, or else you’re repressing part of yourself, which will eventually lead you to do bad things. Most if not all of these are questionable individually, but the way they’re put together is kind of cacophonous, making it hard for me to forgive the episode’s other shortcomings.

Sidebottom and Boober travel through the caves of the rock together.

Musical Highlight: There’s only one song in this, besides the theme song, and it’s loaded with the same problem as the rest of the episode. So I guess my answer is “Fraggle Rock Theme”? But that’s not really fair to “I Sniff the Rose”, which I loved as a kid. It was one of the few songs I bothered to memorize all the words to, and once I sang it to my best friend at the time, who leapt away upon hearing me sing the words, “I kiss a friend”.

One More Thing: I guess part of why that song resonated with me so much is that my personality is organized in much the same way Boober has organized his. In school, I was quiet and reserved, but in different company, I would become wildly silly. Today, I largely keep to myself at work. None of my coworkers know I write for a Muppet fansite. Online, I blow swoopfoomers and give my ToughPigs colleagues The Black Spot. I’m glad I knew from a young age that I needed an outlet for my chaos energy, and I’m glad I found one.

So I can’t help but enjoy Boober finding his outlet here. I just wish it wasn’t seen as a problem that his personality is organized the way it is. Indeed, if not for the problematic elements, I think we’d all be pretty happy to see that the mild-mannered Boober has a knack for taking on a drag persona and improvising a little cabaret. Had this episode been able to decide what it was about, it probably could have found a way to celebrate Boober’s complexity as a boy who sometimes – but only sometimes – likes to express his feminine side, without framing the “sometimes” as a failure to integrate the different parts of himself, and without framing his drag performance as the height of his dishonesty.

Okay, One More Thing: One of the best examples of this kind of personality organization is, funnily enough, puppeteers! Heck, even the writers on a show like this are becoming all sorts of wild characters and letting their silly sides out in an organized way. And that’s not a problem worth making an episode to criticize – it’s why we have Muppets! It only becomes a problem when these indulgences in reckless silliness are handled so carelessly that they harm others, and that only happens when they make something like… well, this episode. It’s when they get so caught up in the fun of playing a part that they don’t stop to question if it’s a part they should be playing.

That makes this episode contradictory, hypocritical, and downright shameful. It’s too bad I love it so dearly.

Boober jumps, revealing Dave's sleeve.

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by J.D. Hansel –

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