Fraggle Rock: 40 Years Later – “Mokey and the Minstrels”

Published: February 16, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Synopsis: Mokey leaves Fraggle Rock behind to join Cantus and become a Minstrel, which is easier said than done.

Original air date: February 13, 1984

Ya know, when I was much, much younger, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I have pages and pages of drawings and doodles of Muppets, Calvin and Hobbes, Scooby-Doo, and also my own characters and comics. But at a certain point, I realized there were people who were my age, but way better as artists than I was, and I eventually gave up on that. I still like to doodle to this day, but I’m not any better than I was. I bring this up because if I had applied this episode’s lesson to my own life, I maybe could have actually achieved something in the world of art.

As the episode begins, Mokey runs into Cantus and the other Minstrels. A Muppet Movie-esque miscommunication leads her to believe she’s been invited to join them on their noble quest to unite the rock in song. She believes that by liking music and dressing for the part, she has all that she needs. She also claims to hear the “inner ping” that Cantus says all Minstrels hear, but it’s not clear whether she does hear it or if she’s convincing herself that she does.

And so, Mokey leaves her friends and ventures off with the Minstrels. But, she gets a reality check pretty quickly — she doesn’t quite understand their ways and methods, and there’s a test she must pass despite hearing the “ping.” Her test is to sit in a cave until she hears its “song.” And while she does manage to crack the code, Mokey realizes she’s in over her head and misses her friends. But Cantus, the good dude that he is, assures her that one day she could become a Minstrel if and when she’s ready to put in the work.

And that is where Mokey succeeded and I failed. While she recognizes her faults and, as the episode ends, shows she has learned something, I was only able to accomplish the former. As she “succinctly” puts at the conclusion, “Now, I can do all the work I need to do before I do all the work I need to do.” Failure is a natural part of life, but what’s important is what we learn from it and find work to improve.

Oh yeah, and Doc and Sprocket are here too, but they factor in the episode less than usual, only appearing at the beginning and end. But, their plotline ties into the message pretty well too. Doc finds a second-hand saxophone and believes that by studying every aspect of the instrument, he’ll be able to play it. Of course, with no practice, he sounds bad. But as he and Sprocket put on a record, he admits he can now appreciate those who have the talent he lacks.

And that’s “Mokey and the Minstrels,” which has a good moral, some great songs, and Boober bringing up that he once heard a “squd” instead of a “ping.”

Strongest Moment: When Mokey returns to the rock, she and Red have a sweet, understated reunion. It’s played very well.

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Gotta give it Cantus. He’s a Fraggle, right?

Most Classic Moment: The presentation of the “Lose Your Heart” song is terrific, even if I have no idea what the song’s actually about.

Musical Highlight: “Music Makes Us Real” is a great number and gives us a bit of insight into the other members of the Minstrels who haven’t really even spoken before. They don’t get much development, but it’s a start. Unfortunately, we don’t see any of them again until the penultimate episode, oops!

Coolest Puppetry Effect: When the Fraggles play “Rock High,” the performers pretty much just toss armatured Fraggle puppets into the air. I believe they’re jumping!

Darkest Moment: Maybe not dark, but seeing the Fraggle Four despondently trying to continue their lives without Mokey is pretty sad.

Fraggle Lore: I guess we get some Minstrel lore, in that there’s an “inner ping” required.

One More Thing: One of Cantus’ “Cantusisms” is “All is all, is is,” which is pulled straight from Jim Henson’s experimental TV production, The Cube. What a fun reference that is, and I’m sure Jim appreciated it.

Okay, One More Thing: So, the record Doc plays at the end is a jazzy version of “Lose Your Heart.” Are we to assume that the Minstrels managed to hear the song somehow from Outer Space? Are they truly just a cover band? 

Click here to listen to the water song on the Tough Pigs Discord!

by Shane Keating

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