The Religious Side of the Rock
The Hidden Christian Lessons of Fraggle Rock.
The Poobahs Have Acheived a State of Arrival!
Catchy title, huh?
Well, you saw this and you were probably wondering what Fraggle Rock--that wonderfully done show with the Muppets from the 1980's--has to do with Christianity. Well, nothing actually; when Jim came up with the age ranking of the show, in fact, he said was for kids "older than Sesame Street, but not reading Playboy yet." But, actually, if you look closely at each episode of the 96 episode series, you can find hidden Christian lessons in each! Some are more along the lines of symbolism, while others can work as full fledged examples! So grab a radish and enjoy our look into the religious side of the rock.
Two Things You Should Know
--If you have not seen some of the episodes we discuss and don't want us to spoil it for you, wait and watch the episode first, then come read our plot.
--These are not meant to take the creations of Jim Henson and use them for religious purposes (which you can actually get in legal trouble for). This is just simply a Christian's review of one of Jim's three big shows (the other two being "The Muppet Show" and "Sesame Street").
In the series premiere of Fraggle Rock, Doc (played by Gerry Parkes) and Sprocket (a dog Muppet played by Steve Whitmire, who also does Wembley Fraggle for the show) move into "an old deserted room" which Doc wants to turn into his new workshop. Meanwhile, down in Fraggle Rock (clap-clap), Uncle Matt (played by Dave Goelz, who also does Boober Fraggle for the show) has reportedly just finished charting "the last uncharted sections of the caves of Fraggle Rock." He then finds one more tunnel, which "appears to be blocked...very strange..." Back in our world, Doc sees a box up against the wall and moves it. And it just so happens to be the blockage that was keeping Uncle Matt from entering our world! He writes in his journal...
"Some magic force has penetrated the very substance of Fraggle Rock! There is an opening now, and I can gaze into Outer Space! There it lies--strange and mysterious, just as the legend said it would. The final frontier for Fraggledom."
(Try saying that last sentence five times fast.)
In a dissolve effect, we cut to Gobo Fraggle (played by Jerry Nelson, who also did Architect Doozer, Pa Gorg and Marjory the Trash Heap for the show) in his room, gently strumming a few melon-rind-guitar, when suddenly Uncle Matt comes in with a "hup! hup! hup!" When Gobo inquires what's going on, Matt reports on his recent discovery of the entrance to Outer Space (which, if you haven't figured out by now, is our world), to which Gobo is skeptical to believe. Despite this, Matt gathers up his maps for Gobo to "have for safe keeping," and then runs elsewhere in the rock to get--uh, something else (the show never says). Meanwhile, Gobo stays behind and reads a coincidentally convenient piece in one of Matt's book about the entire Fraggle world and the behavior and lifestyle of Fraggles.
"The Center of the Universe is of course that marvelous land known as Fraggle Rock. It is thus called because it is a rock and Fraggles live there. Fraggles are a noble race: curious, dignified and intellectual. They represent the very pinnacle of civilization and culture. The Fraggle is, of course, the best of all possible-known creatures."
As this passage is read, a long shot drags on in the Great Hall (the sort of Central Park or City Hall of the rock) to show different types of Fraggles being...well, "Fraggly." After this long shot comes an opening melody in which the Fraggles just basically sing about having fun, being number one and that it's time to play. After the song, we see a shot of Boober walking along reading a book, and being followed by Wembley, who notices Red Fraggle (played by Karen Prell) tugging a vine. Red looks over to Wembley and bets that she can get from that spot to his room (which he shares with Gobo as a roommate) without touching the ground. Red then swings off before Wembley can say anything. And, true to her word, she swings in without touching the ground; she just crashes right into the entering staircase (to which Gobo calmly replies "Oh, hi, Red."). We here Wembley frantically asking if Red fell this way as he runs in, tripping over Red and falling himself. Gobo replies, "Uh, yeah, sorta that way." Then Boober comes in, heading warning to all, as he's just read in his book of superstitions that it brings bad luck if you tug your tail.
Wembley: Unlucky to do this? (Tugs his tail)
Boober: Don't do that! It'll bring death and pestilence!
Wembley: Death and pestilence? Just from doing this?! (Tugs Boober's tail)
Boober runs off screaming at Wembley and chasing him, leaving Gobo laughing and Red lying on the floor with a pretty bad migraine.
We then cut to a close-up of Uncle Matt, reassuring Gobo that just as he said, he's found Outer Space and that he plans to explore it. He then performs a final song with Gobo, "Follow Me," which went on to be probably the most famous non-theme song from the show. Gobo then is shown the entrance to Outer Space, and--unfortunately for him--learns that he must go out into the first room (Doc's Workshop) every few days and pick up postcards from Matt which talk about the things to see in Outer Space. Gobo tries to make clear to his Uncle that despite his love for him, he refuses to go out into that room, and that nothing in Fraggle Rock could force him to. But then Matt just simply replies, "Thank you for promising me." (To which Gobo can't say no). Matt then says his good-byes (and tells Gobo to think of him as "Uncle Travelling Matt" henceforth) and departs into Outer Space.
His first encounters include Doc (from whom he hides behind some boxes), Sprocket (from whom he runs), a car (by which he is startled), a yellow fire hydrant (which he runs into and apologizes for bothering) and "an army carrying deadly weapons" (four or five boys in baseball uniforms and carrying bats). Not thinking Gobo will believe any of the stuff that has happened to him, Matt simply writes "I'm fine."
Meanwhile, Gobo mopes around the Great Hall, despite the attempts of Wembley and Mokey Fraggle (played by Kathy Mullen, who also did Cotterpin Doozer for the show) to cheer him up. It is obvious that he's worried, petrified and scared, both for Traveling Matt's safety and for him--and having to face "the hairy monster" (Sprocket). He hums "Follow Me" to himself as he goes to see Marjory the Trash Heap (and is almost thumped by a Gorg--but more on those mountainous creatures later). When Gobo arrives, Marjory comes to life after an introduction by Philo (played by Dave Goelz) and Gunge (played by Richard Hunt, who also did Junior Gorg and many minor characters for the series). She then sings a half-blues, half-rock-n-roll song saying that she's seen all the troubles in the world (troubles, pain, woe). When Gobo spills his beans, Marjory says not to worry about monsters and to get some friends to back him up, after which Gobo thanks the trash heap and leaves.
The next thing we know, Gobo is finishing telling Mokey, Red, Wembley and Boober about Uncle Matt's encounter with Sprocket and how now Gobo has to do it. Afterwards, Boober suggests "crawl under the covers and moan and whimper." Mokey, however, offers a better suggestion: "On to Outer Space!"
When the Fraggle five arrive, Gobo spots Sprocket's red, rubber ball (or, as Boober coins it, "The Hideous Round Thing"), which rolled in when Doc through the ball Sprocket's way and Sprocket missed, allowing it to roll behind the wall. He then walks out, and finds that not only is Doc gone, but Sprocket is fast asleep, making the postcard collecting seem easy. He slips over towards the garbage, only to zip behind a box when Doc comes in, declaring "Mail call!!" Sprocket wakes up to come see what he has gotten, which includes "this month's issue of 'Puppy Dog Tales.'" He then is puzzled to find a postcard labeled out to Gobo Fraggle, which he throws in the trash. He then goes outside, leaving Sprocket happily reading while Gobo slips over, grabs the card and makes a run for it.
But suddenly, Gobo is unable to move, because Sprocket has him by the cardigan. Gobo shouts for his friends to do something, when Mokey decides to grab "The Hideous Round Thing" and toss it out, which Sprocket goes after, allowing Gobo to zip into the hole in the wall. They then triumphantly run back to the Great Hall and all go to Gobo's room to chat about the day's festivities. Mokey exclaims about how exciting is.
Boober: "It's always exciting in Fraggle Rock...that's what's with the place."
When Gobo needs help and is not sure what to do, he goes to the smartest being he can think of for advice. The lesson here is a great piece of symbolism for how we should react to self-proclaimed crises. Marjory the Trash Heap is sort of like God in Fraggle Rock, being an all-knowing oracle who loves the Fraggles and is always willing to assist them in their times of need. We need to be like Gobo and run to our rock and refuge (his being Marjory, ours being God--as believers in Christ) and trust that what he says is the right thing to do. For more on this virtue, look up these Bible verses:
-2 Samuel 22:3
-1 Peter 5:7
Another hidden virtue can be found in the fact that Gobo's friends are willing to back him up, despite their fears (we're talking about you, Boober). They go up to this new, unheard of world to be Gobo's back-up in case anything goes haywire. That's how brothers and sisters in Christ should act; we need to stick together when one of us needs help, because we are the body of the church. For more on this virtue, look up 1 Corinthians 12.