This week’s Fraggle Rock review was written by ToughPigs friend and collaborator Meagan Barbeau! Meagan also illustrated several designs for the ToughPigs TeePublic store, including “Manhattan Melodies,” “The Mallory Gallery,” “Miss Bogen County” and more! Thanks Meagan!!
Original air date: January 31, 1983
One by one, each of the Fraggle Five is getting a spotlight episode. First Gobo as the leader, then Wembley, Red, and now – in “You Can’t Do That Without a Hat” – onto Boober, my personal favorite of the Five (you’ll have to stick around a couple more episodes to see Mokey’s). Great setup for the show, and as Anthony mentioned last week, we’re getting to know their world by getting to know them.
Boober was hardly seen at all in the previous episode, so it’s nice to see him front and center in this one. And although we’ve seen glimpses of it, most prominently in “Wembley and the Gorgs”, in this episode we really see the extent of Boober’s superstition and anxious tendencies, and the way it affects his relationships with his friends.
Boober tags along with Gobo to the Fraggle hole to retrieve Uncle Traveling Matt’s postcard, but his anxiety paralyzes him when it’s time to whistle a signal to Gobo, putting his friend in harm’s way. He decides it’s time to address his paranoia and goes to the Trash Heap for advice. She tells him to always wear his hat, which is great news at first, as he already does that! However, when Boober inevitably loses his hat, much like when he lost his lucky walking stick a couple episodes prior, he becomes even more anxious. Of course by the end he realizes his hat doesn’t actually bring him bravery, and he gets his favorite accessory back before the credits roll. Oh and meanwhile, Doc is trying to scrape a barrel or something…
Although the show handles the topic with lightheartedness and humor, and in a wonderfully written, age appropriate way, this is just one of the many times Fraggle Rock tackles a difficult but relatable subject. And for me personally, it hits even closer to home. There’s no way around the parallels to Boober’s character, particularly this episode, and living with OCD and anxiety. OCD is kinda like being really superstitious. And when your symptoms start affecting the people you love, that’s when you really know it’s time to do something about it. That’s exactly what Boober goes through in just the first few minutes of this episode, and it’s kind of crazy to see him go from this realization, through the roller coaster of emotions and growth in the 20 minutes that follow.
There’s some really strong Boober-centric episodes later in the series, especially once Sidebottom gets introduced, so I’m excited for those, but I think this episode is a pretty good start to introduce the character. Dave shines as the character, adding in little mannerisms that are just so endearing.
Strongest Moment: The scene where Mokey gives Boober the “hat” she made has some solid, funny lines (“Give me ten minutes, tops”), and little moments like the kiss on Boober’s nose that I just love.
Weakest Moment: I don’t like the idea of the Doozers speaking in unison; that feels weird, and I’m glad that didn’t continue to be a thing.
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): Certainly it’s Boober, in all his paranoid, anxious glory.
First Appearance Of…: I believe this is the first episode that shows Boober without his hat! And even without it, you still can’t see his eyes, which I love. Dave Goelz apparently loves those eyeless characters and so do I.
Most Classic Moment: Boober asking the Blustering Bellowpane Monster “Is that your nose or did you swallow a trumpet?” Dave’s line delivery is hilarious.
Musical Highlight: Gunge banging it out on the harmonica during “Without a Hat”. Not the first time he plays it, but it’s always a treat, especially since the instrument’s about as big as his head.
Coolest Puppetry Effect: I kinda love the tiny Fraggles they use in these early episodes for scenes in the Gorgs’ garden. Usually they’re used pretty minimally, which makes sense, as they move less naturally and more robotically. However, the scene near the end of this episode uses them really well; Boober and Gobo are running from Junior Gorg, and they’re connected by Boober holding Gobo’s tail, then they run into one side of a barrel, Boober pops his head out, then they run out the other side of the barrel. It just looks pretty great all together, and is the kind of thing that just wouldn’t be done these days.
Darkest Moment: Other than the ongoing plot point of Boober anticipating his own demise, the part when Mokey starts hitting the Doozers on their heads out of nowhere, without warning or consent from the Doozers themselves. Luckily they seem pretty okay with it, but then Gobo says “I knew these Doozers were good for something”. Ouch, they live here too and don’t hurt anyone, and also they make your favorite snack! Show some gratitude and empathy, dang it.
Fraggle Lore: Apparently Fraggles love meetings. That holds up though, considering their meetings seem to turn into songs and go off-topic quite easily. And to call the meeting, they blow a huge horn in the Great Hall.
Obscure Character Watch: The Blustering Bellowpane Monster!
According to the wiki, his guy was built by Sal Denaro to be used in The Muppet Show, and was modified a handful of times. This episode of Fraggle Rock is one of the few times it appears with the “trumpet nose”.
There’s also a couple of creatures sitting near the Fraggle hole, at different points in the episode. I haven’t had luck finding names for either of them, but the design of the second one kinda reminds me of Chopped Liver.
One More Thing…: Why is there a random dog in the mall? In Traveling Matt’s postcard scene, he appears to be in a food court in a mall, and after receiving a donut, a random dog just wanders up and takes it. Who’s dog is that? Why is it wandering a building? I’ll be waiting by my trash can for a postcard with the answer to these burning questions.
Okay, One More Thing…: When Boober takes his hat off for the first time, in front of the Trash Heap, there’s a split second right before the cut where you can see Dave’s hand holding his arm rod.
Click here to play hatless on the ToughPigs forum!
by Meagan Barbeau