Fox Home Entertainment presents
Fraggle Rock: Complete Second Season (1984)
"Down at Fraggle Rock!"- Boober (Dave Goelz)
Stars: Jerry Nelson
Other Stars: Jim Henson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 12h:00m:00s
Release Date: 2006-09-05
DVD ReviewOne of the major perks of the DVD format is the ability to revisit a 20-year-old movie or TV show. This is even more gratifying when those 20 years takes you back to your childhood, when experiencing a given program is much different than watching it as an adult. Thus, delving into the new Fraggle Rock: Complete Second Season set was a truly surreal experience. You couldn't tear me away when it originally aired in the early 1980s. Sitting down with it now, as a 30-year-old, brought many happy memories back and then some. Through my child eyes, these were a bunch of fun Muppets singing and dancing around every week. As an adult, I finally see Jim Henson's true intentions for this brilliant material, and it's now clear that this was one of the most morally valuable, entertaining projects this creative genius ever produced.
The opening titles, complete with a catchy theme song ("Down in Fraggle Rock..."), take us on a journey through Henson's world, beginning with the lone human character, Doc, and his dog, Sprocket. The latter often barks at what his human companion thinks is nothing, but in reality, it's a Fraggle scampering across the floor. The Fraggles are tiny two-legged creatures that live far beneath Doc's house in their own, cavernous world. Among the Fraggles, a circle of friends exists, consisting of the leader, Gobo, Wembley, Red, Boober, and Mokey. While the construction workers of Fraggle Rock, the Doozers, ensure that this world is always in one piece, the Fraggles must not only contend with Sprocket's curiosity, but with the evil Gorgs as well.
The 24 adventures of this second season begin in Wembley's Egg, where the title character plays Daddy to a baby Tree Creature. We then get a look at Boober's defection to the Caves of Boredom in Boober Rock. This episode teaches a great lesson in being patient, and, after The Trash Heap Doesn't Live Here Anymore, kids learn about jealousy, which Red feels towards Gobo in Red's Sea Monster. We meet Gobo's Uncle Matt in Uncle Matt Comes Home, while Boober's Dream reveals his Sidebottom alter ego, and Mokey and the Minstrels finds her seeking a new hobby.
All Work and All Play is a Doozer-centric installment, while Sir Hubris and the Gorgs focuses on the Fraggles' worst enemies. Sprocket has direct contact with the Fraggles when he gets stuck between his world and theirs in A Friend in Need, and The Wizard of Fraggle Rock forces Wembley into an identity crisis. Halfway through season two, we've yet to come across a bad episode, and that trend continues with the excellent Doozer Contest and Red's Club, which teach some great leadership values. Jim Henson himself lends his voice to one of the show's most endearing characters: Convincing John. In the aptly titled, The Secret of Convincing John, Henson is at his best helping Wembley, who struggles making even the simplest of decisions.
Another one of this season's best, Manny's Land of Carpets, is a great shock to the system for Gobo and the rest of the Fraggles. Gobo comes across Doc's radio, and is mesmerized at the otherworldly possibilities it brings about. The next pair of shows represent the season's only real mediocrities, as Junior Sells the Farm and Fraggle Wars aren't necessarily bad, but just not up to par with the rest. Some more great Gobo action is had in The Day the Music Died, when he rewrites the Fraggles' Glory Song. The self-explanatory Doomsday Soup comes around next, and we shouldn't read too much into new roommates Red and Mokey's A Cave of One's Own. The second season comes to a close with the solid quartet, Wembley and the Great Race, Doozer Is as Doozer Does, Boober's Quiet Day, and Invasion of the Toe Ticklers.
Everything born of Jim Henson faces an instant comparison to the characters he will be forever linked to, the Muppets. Such comparisons are warranted when it comes to Fraggle Rock, as well, but those stop at the blend of live actors and, well, Muppets. In Fraggle Rock, Henson and co. have taken what is technically a small, confined place, and made us believe that the Fraggles live in a vast, sophisticated world that is more than simply underground Earth. The intelligent, subtly educational writing still appeals to both kids, adults, and, now that the series is coming to DVD in seasonal collections, hopefully future generations as well. After revisiting another season of this consistently solid series, I can't wait to turn my daughter into the same die-hard Fraggle fan that I was.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All 24 episodes appear in their original format, and they look quite good considering their age. There's still plenty of grain, but it's never too distracting, thanks to a vivid color palette and good deal of sharpness. The images are actually nicely detailed, and feature nice blacks and contrast. Aside from the grain, these transfers are a marked improvement over other home video incarnations of the show.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also better than expected, featuring a nice, clean overall experience. There isn't much in the way of directionality, bass, or dynamic range, but we're not expecting that here. The crystal clear dialogue and well-blended mix is more than enough. Oh, and good luck getting the great opening theme song out of your head after perusing these five discs.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 214 cues and remote access
Packaging: Box Set
Extras Review: There's a decent collection of extras that reside on the fifth disc. The first is a Special Tribute to Jerry Juhl, and this 36-minute piece chronicles the life of Juhl, who worked very closely with Jim Henson on Fraggle Rock, and is considered a trend-setter in the business. We hear numerous people praise Juhl, from the voice talents behind the Fraggles to his wife, Susan.
The other section of extras is called Exclusive Interviews, but it actually consists of six different featurettes and other supplements. The 13-minute Season 2 Overview blends voice talent and crew interview segments with footage from Fraggle Rock, to go over the story lines and joys of making this collection of episodes.
Docs and Sprockets is 10 minutes of footage showing how the scenes with Doc and Sprocket were shot with different actors for viewing in different countries. This is a very interesting segment with different locations, especially the French ones.
Travelling Matt is a nine-minute discussion on the origins of this character that we see in various locations around the world, while 20 International Travelling Matts is 18 minutes of Matt in those locations. Steve's Home Movie is five minutes shot by Steve Whitmire (Wembley/Sprocket) in the recording studio for Fraggle Rock.
Wrapping things up is a music video for "All Around the World." This six-minute piece also features an interview with co-creator/international producer Duncan Kenworthy, during which he talks more about the great Travelling Matt.
We also get a great booklet that represents Jim Henson's original Pitch Book for Fraggle Rock.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsFraggle fans, rejoice, because your favorite show gets the deluxe treatment again with the release of the Fraggle Rock: Complete Second Season. Now two collections into what will assumedly be five, it's obvious that the show is in good hands. All 24 episodes are here, once again, in surprisingly good audio and video quality, and a separate disc that's devoted to supplements.
Chuck Aliaga 2006-09-06