Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Fraggle Rock" Month - Season 1, Episode 18: "The Minstrels"

One of the reasons why "Fraggle Rock" is so acclaimed has a lot to do with the music.  Music had always been part of Muppet productions, whether it furthered the story, helped define a character, or was sung just for fun.  "Fraggle Rock" took Muppet music to a whole new level.  By the time we hit "The Minstrels", the first episode of the show explicitly centered on Fraggle music, we've heard songs written in the style of every imaginable popular genre and even a few unpopular ones.

You probably already know this, but Cantus was Jim Henson's signature character on the show (though he performed a few other characters, including Convincing John).  Henson could only work directly on "Fraggle Rock" a few times, since he was busy with other productions at the time, most notably "Labyrinth".  And Cantus, who only shows up for maybe one episode per season, almost feels like he's entering the Rock from another world entirely.  Now we'd had a couple of mysterious, dreamy moments before in the first season of "Fraggle Rock", particularly in "The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles", "Finger of Light", and "Capture the Moon".  Here we're confronted with a mysterious, dreamlike character

And here I hate to admit it, but as a very young child watching "The Minstrels" for the very first time, I was right with Red in her frustrated cries of "Who IS this guy?"  Weren't older characters supposed to give straight answers?  Or explain everything?  Cantus broke the rules and blew my mind to smithereens.  I'd never seen a character like this before in a kids' show and I wasn't entirely comfortable with him the first time I watched this episode; he was too cryptic and strange.  Of course, by the end I was totally on board with him.  To this day, I think he's one of the best characters on the show. 

The writers of "Fraggle Rock" were in the middle of a streak of amazing episodes.  I was lucky enough to find the old "Fraggles Search and Find" VHS back in college, and I used this episode and the next one I'm reviewing to introduce people to the series.


Grant said...

These posts are great. Keep them coming, please! :)

Trish said...

You're getting one per weekday through the month if all goes well!