Welcome back to My Favorite Muppet of the Day, a series of articles in which I tell you who my favorite Muppet is today. Let’s see… On Monday my favorite was a Muppet Show character, on Tuesday it was a minor character from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and yesterday my favorite was a Sesame Street character. Today I think I’m in a Fraggle Rock mood. So today, my favorite Muppet is Junior Gorg.
In the early episodes of Fraggle Rock, the Gorgs are basically the villains. It would have been easy to make them one-dimensional bad guys, but that’s not what the show is about, so Junior quickly becomes a lovable, eager-to-please goofball. He’s always trying to catch Fraggles, but it’s never really clear whether he knows what to do with them once he captures them. Eat them? Stomp them? Steal their tiny little Fraggle credit cards? Junior’s too good-natured to do any of that.
As the series went on, the Gorgs became more developed characters, occasionally getting their own major episode stories. It would be difficult for viewers to identify with Pa and Ma Gorg, the king and queen of the universe, so Junior became the show’s central Gorg. We’re sad for him when we realize that his dearest friend is a radish in “The Great Radish Caper,” we worry about him when Wander McMooch takes advantage of his naivete in “Junior Sells the Farm,” and we freak the heck out with him when he sees his mom without a head in “The Great Radish Famine.” Who would have thought a pantsless giant could be such a sympathetic character?
As much as I love Ma and Pa, I think Junior is the greatest example of the high-tech puppet sorcery that went into bringing the Gorgs to life. When I watch the show, I never doubt for a second that Junior is a living, breathing fellow, and a frigging enormous one. Have you ever noticed how much energy Richard Hunt brought to each character he performed? Junior is no exception, and Hunt’s vocal performance is perfectly matched by Rob Mills (and later Frank Meschkuleit) inside the shaggy, pleasantly plump costume. Every once in a while we get to see Junior dance, and it’s always a good time for everyone.
So, let’s see what we got here… Junior Gorg boasts an ebullient, collaborative performance, a funny, likeable personality, and — oh yeah! There’s that one episode where he traps the Fraggles in a basket, and he’s sitting on the basket, and he hears Gobo’s voice calling to him, and his eyes go really wide and he says, “My bottom is talking to me!” That cracks me up every single time.
And that’s why Junior Gorg is my favorite Muppet today.
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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com