Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “Doomsday Soup”

Published: May 10, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: Boober accidentally concocts an invisibility potion that seems too good to be true. On the one hand, invisibility. On the other hand, rock quakes.

Original air date: May 7, 1984

Post-it notes, potato chips and penicillin. What do they all have in common? Your first thought might be that this Fraggle review is brought to you by the letter P. While that’s true, the more relevant answer to this episode is that all of these things were invented by accident. And in this episode, Boober joins the ranks of famous inventors by throwing out his failed rutabaga gumbo and his yeasted laundry. He can’t be providing lackluster laundry or substandard sustenance. He has a reputation to uphold  But in combining the two, he accidentally creates a topical agent of invisibility! Though he’ll have to work on a better name if he has any chance at marketing success. 

Or perhaps not, because who wouldn’t want invisibility? The other Fraggles immediately think of a great use for it: going out to the Gorg’s garden to get radishes. Unseen and therefore safe. It’s the best invention ever and there’s no way this could ever be a bad thing.

Alas, there is always another way to look at the people and things around us. Like Ma, who sees the junk in the Gorg castle and decides it needs to be cleared out while Pa wants to keep it because it’s of value for him. But just because something can be helpful doesn’t mean people won’t also use it in harmful ways. You know what else was invented by accident? Dynamite. A very practical explosive that sadly also has applications in warfare and likely the inspiration behind this episode.

Boober was never convinced that the invisibility mixture was a good idea, and his pessimism is proven correct when his bucket of laundra-gumbo causes a rock quake. Suddenly, Boober must get over his fear of going into the Gorg’s garden if he wants to save his home. Not only does he have to overcome the fear that led to the creation of the gumbo in the first place, he also has to fight his friends, who overwhelmingly want to keep it. That’s no small hurdle to overcome. But Boober is ready to take that gumbo to the ends of the world to stop it from doing harm. Luckily the Gorgs take care of it for him, apparently enjoying a nice spicy gumbo.

The episode uncharacteristically ends with Boober outright stating a moral. “If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.” And while that’s true in this case–since the mixture was inherently unsafe regardless of use–even without the rock quakes it would only be a matter of time before someone thought to turn the invisibility toward mischievous or even nefarious purposes. A lesson we can all see today. Take social media. On the surface, a great way to bring people together and yet often used by individuals to hurt others. So we must learn how and when to use the tools we have to create a better world.

While Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, couldn’t feed his invention to Gorgs, he did establish the Nobel Prize in an attempt to lift up the good being done in the world. Which is why I’m here to call for the establishment of the Boober Prize. It shall be awarded to a most deserving pessimist who has embraced the philosophy of soul-strengthening tedium and drudgery. That’s something we can all agree the world needs more of.

Strongest Moment – When Boober marches out into the Gorg’s garden with the bucket-o-gumbo on his back and determination in his heart. His moral compass is strong enough to overcome his ingrained fear.

Weakest Moment ­–  While the Uncle Traveling Matt sequence starts out strong–calling fast food restaurants silly creature shrines–the plot doesn’t quite go anywhere related to the story at hand. It’s a classic setup of misunderstanding, with an adorable image of Matt waving racing flags that ends feeling a little extraneous.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle) – Absolutely Boober. What a mind! What a spirit!

Musical Highlight – All the lyrics in this episode were written by Tim Wynne-Jones instead of the usual lyricist, Dennis Lee. And they’re still catchy and filled with fun wordplay. I think I most enjoyed “A Fraggle You Can’t See” with its hand-clapping, partner swinging, steel guitar. Plus, Wembley does this amazing full-body wiggle dance at the end that you must see.

Coolest Puppetry Effect –  I find it adorable when the Fraggles do choreography. And during “Dump the Stuff Out,” Gobo and Wembley do a little synchronous side-to-side shuffling during the chorus that really makes this song fun and just that extra bit challenging.

Darkest Moment – During the rock quake, the Fraggles are quivering and sliding and holding on for their lives. But even scarier are the poor Doozers who are standing atop their less secure towers. And you hear them yell, “Hold on, Socket!” The threat of this potion is no joke.

One More Thing…  – Why doesn’t the bucket holding the invisibility gumbo disappear?

Click here to award me the Boober Prize on the Tough Pigs discord!

By Katilyn Miller –

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