myweekxmas35Bell’s Angels
Thursday, December 12

Hey, you think we’ve been cynical about Christmas traditions so far? Well, check out what Gobo does in “The Bells of Fraggle Rock,” a 1984 Fraggle Rock special where celebrating the holidays properly is a matter of life and death…

Danny


Okay, next we’re doing “The Bells of Fraggle Rock.” Have you seen this one before?
Kynan


No, I haven’t… I’ve seen some Fraggle Rock, but not all of them, and not in the right order.
Danny


You haven’t seen any of these so far… Are you sure you’re a Muppet fan? Are you in the right room?
Kynan


I’m not sure. What’s your name again?
Danny


Oh, never mind. Look, Doc and Sprocket are getting ready for Christmas.
Kynan


Oh, he’s fairly well garlanded himself. Look at that.
Danny


Ooh, you know what? I never noticed before — wait, let me back up — the ornaments on Doc’s tree are all little gold-plated tools. There’s a little saw and a screwdriver. That’s adorable. Does noticing that make me like a totally demented fan?
Kynan


No, no, not at all.
Doc “For hundreds of years, throughout history, at this time of year, people have had festivals. Take the Romans — they called their festival Saturnalia. Oh, they had games, and feasts, and presents… sound familiar?”
Kynan


Yeah, that sounds a bit like Christmas, if Christmas included orgies and vomitoriums.
Danny


Insert the obvious joke here.
Kynan


Yes, exactly.

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Danny


So now the Fraggles are getting ready for their own solstice celebration, by climbing into a big “weeba costume” and yelling “weeba weeba.”
Kynan


Well, I suppose it’s better than worshipping bay leaves. What’s the matter with the music here? Fraggle music is usually good.
Danny


I don’t know, I think maybe the songwriters took a Christmas vacation, so they’re just using the demo song that came with the Casio synthesizer.
Kynan


Weeba weeba. I’m not saying that’s not fun, but I have had more fun. The Fraggles seem pretty into it, though, except for Gobo, who’s got seasonal affective disorder.
Gobo “Wembley, haven’t you ever thought about the legend? It doesn’t make any sense!”
Wembley “Sure it does. Listen — ahem. At the heart of the Rock there lies a Bell.”
Gobo “The Bell must ring once every year, once every year when the Rock slows down.”
Wembley “Yeah. That’s when it gets really cold. If the Bell didn’t ring, the Rock would freeze. The Rock would freeze and stop forever! Maybe even longer, Gobo!”
Gobo “Yeah, that’s the story.”
Wembley “It’s not just a story, that’s the truth! Now come on, come on!”
Gobo “Wembley, it’s all a party game! Okay, there’s a lot of fun in it… but what’s it for? Where’s the Great Bell?”
Danny


Check it out, Gobo’s an agnostic.
Kynan


He’s the cranky uncle at Christmas who asks all the kids how Santa could fly around the whole world in one night without bursting into flame. Do they have cranky uncles at Chanukah?
Danny


No, Chanukah doesn’t really have little superstitions for the cranky uncles to make fun of, it’s just candles. Jews just complain about the food and go up to bed.
Kynan


And then they get up early the next morning and start movie studios, and that’s how Hollywood was born.

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Danny


Are we still talking about Fraggles? Look, there’s Cantus. They really pull out all the stops for solstice, don’t they? Jim Henson probably appeared in about three episodes a season, but you can’t keep him away from the big solstice special.
Cantus “All Fraggles the Rock over ring their bells! All together… all at the same time… Our bells wake the Great Bell! The Great Bell rings… and the Rock keeps moving for another year! Now the Rock grows colder… Let the festival begin!”
Gobo “No, wait! Have you ever seen the Great Bell?”
Cantus “Not with my eyes.”
Gobo “Well, then, how do you know it really exists?”
Cantus “We see with our eyes. We know with our hearts. Outside… inside.”
Kynan


Was Cantus always this cryptic? I remembered him as making more sense.
Danny


I think Cantus kind of represents how the Fraggle crew saw Jim Henson at the time. At the beginning, he was kind of more directive, but by this point in the series, he just floats in and out and says things like —
Kynan


Like, “Let’s create a children’s show that brings peace to the world.”
Danny


Exactly. Sort of a zen master Jiminy Cricket.
Kynan


And fortunately John Denver isn’t around to tell Gobo about the special story in the book.

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Kynan


Oh, look at this! Sprocket has a pinata. Aw, look at him, little woojums.
Doc “Hundreds of countries have festivals at this time of the year, Sprocket. I thought, for a change, we’d celebrate them all!”
Danny


Awww. And also this skinny guy with a beard came by and suggested it. Jim Henson is like the Spirit of Multiculti Christmas.
Kynan


Watching Sprocket battle the pinata is one of the great solstice traditions of all time. He’s just a big ball of love. So far my ideal Christmas special is Miss Piggy and Sprocket: A Christmas Together.
Danny


Meanwhile, Gobo’s walking through the tunnels looking for the Great Bell, and it looks like the whole place has been dusted with powdered sugar.
Kynan


It’s deliciously cold!
Danny


And the other Fraggles just shiver and make jokes. This is why I love Fraggle Rock; they can even make freezing to death fun. Now, check this out, this is one of the great dramatic moments of our time. Gobo gets to the cavern of the Great Bell…
Gobo “What… what? The cave is empty! There IS no Bell! It’s all a LIE!”
Kynan


Wow, so the atheists were right after all. Well done, Gobo!
Danny


But then when he gets back to the other Fraggles, all his friends have frozen solid. Sad, really.
Kynan


So the atheists are right, but they’re so determined to prove that they’re right that they end up killing everybody. That’s an unusual holiday message.
Danny


So, to sum up the story so far: The Fraggles are supposed to have a big party. Gobo goes for a walk, while everyone else stands around and complains. Gobo doesn’t find anything, so he comes home.
Kynan


And everyone’s dead. It’s like the David Lynch version of It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey comes home and all his children have starved to death.
Danny


But then Gobo rings his bell…
Gobo “Aw, but what good does ringing bells do? There’s no Great Bell at the center of the Rock!”
Cantus “But there is a Great Bell at the heart of the Rock!”
Gobo “Wembley?… Wembley! He’s moving! It’s working! The Great Bell is at the heart of the Rock! I went to the center… not the heart! The heart is… it’s here! Here! Wembley, Wembley! Ring your bell! The Great Bell is… is my bell! It’s Wembley’s bell! Our bells keep the Rock moving! It’s our music that keeps the Rock alive!”
Kynan


And again with the Philip Glass music. The owls have come!
Danny


Oh, this is so pretty. What’s amazing is how wholesome Fraggle Rock is, but it never feels cheesy to me.
Kynan


Also, nobody gets mad at Gobo even though he almost kills all of his friends.
Danny


Sprocket’s still working on that pinata…
Kynan


No, you can’t let a pinata get ahead of you like that. Take charge of the pinata, Sprocket! Make the pinata work for you! There, now he’s got it.
Doc “Look, Sprocket! Oh, look! Dog bones for you… aw, and a pair of mittens for me! Oh, what a wonderful Christmas this will be!”
Danny


Now, that is one far-sighted pinata maker. How did they know?
Doc “Merr-rry Christmas, Sprocket! Merr-rry Christmas!”
Kynan


Aw. Merry Christmas, Doc! That’s lovely.
Danny


So what did we learn about Christmas today?
Kynan


Solstice.
Danny


Yes, sorry. What did we learn about Solstice? The skeptics are right, and the Earth doesn’t really revolve around the sun after all? It’s all just a big lie to sell more Solstice cards?
Kynan


No, the point is that it doesn’t matter what your festival is based on. It could be anything you like. It’s the fact that you have the festival that’s important. If you believe in love, the whole hippie Christian bit.
Danny


Which we already got on Monday from John Denver and Kermit.
Kynan


Yes, but we didn’t see it dusted with icing sugar, and we didn’t see Sprocket beating the brains out of a pinata.
Danny


Right. Well, let’s say these are your holiday tradition options… John Denver comes over and blathers on about the Nativity all night… Stockard Channing puts on six different accents and sticks candles on your head… You’re forced to gild kumquats and bay leaves and string them on a wire…
Kynan


Or Sprocket comes over and beats on a pinata with a big stick. There’s no contest, is there. Next year, it’s Christmas break in Tijuana.

myweekxmas39by Danny Horn and Kynan Barker

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