Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Fraggle Rock" Month - Season 2, Episode 8: "All Work and All Play"

Identity has been a major theme so far here in Season Two of "Fraggle Rock".  We've already talked about Boober and Sidebottom.  I will let a more knowledgeable/qualified person discuss the apparently genderfluid nature of the Trash Heap in "The Trash Heap Doesn't Live Here Anymore".  And in the (considerable less heady) episode just previous, "Mokey and the Minstrels", we learned that wanting to be something hard enough doesn't necessarily mean you get to just be that thing you want to be.

And in some respects, today's episode appears to underline that point in red crayon.  It is a hell of a lot more interesting and moving, though.  First of all, this is the very first time we get to enter the hidden world of the Doozers.  Turns out they had a tiny city tucked away within the walls of Fraggle Rock all this time, and we finally get to go inside and meet these little bug-gnome creatures on a more intimate level.  Up until now, the Doozers have always been kind of alien, but this episode sets out to make them more endearing.

I like how Flange from "The Great Radish Famine" is still kind of our emissary into this world; that's great continuity that is!  But the hero of this episode, and in fact the Doozer we will be primarily familiar with for the rest of this series, is his daughter Cotterpin.  As an important side-note, if you've been paying careful attention to this series so far, you'll notice that Cotterpin is our fifth well-rounded female major character in a series full of awesome female major characters and Goddammitsomuch mainstream fiction writers, look at how easy this is!!!

Anyway, Cotterpin is "different".  She's never really been interested in building towers out of radish candy sticks.  Cotterpin, much to the consternation of her parents who are both builders and wish for her to be a builder too, wants to draw in her Sketchbook instead.

Oh, tais-toi, mon coer... 😪

The problem is, building towers out of radish candy sticks is kind of the defining trait of the entire Doozer species.  So Cotterpin decides, instead of going through with Doozer Confirmation, that she'd rather be a Fraggle when she grows up (oh, honey child...)  She has some reason to think this could happen; there is an old Doozer legend where a Doozer who stopped working and started playing all day transformed into a Fraggle.  Now, Cotterpin befriends Red during this misadventure and it is basically the most adorable thing ever.  (Not least because Cotterpin shares a voice/puppeteer with Mokey.  Subtle and awesome, that.)  Red loves to swim.  Doozers are physically incapable of swimming.  And Cotterpin realizes in shame that she'll never be as awesome as Red -- but Red promises there's no reason they can't stay friends.  And excuse me while I turn into a blubbering wreck.

Anyway, Cotterpin returns to the Doozer city in deep shame and has a long talk with an adult Doozer.  And here's where a brilliant episode has its most wonderful moment, since it isn't her father or her mother that she meets upon returning.  It's the Architect, the leader of the Doozers.  And while he has been an authoritative figure towards Cotterpin so far in the episode, here he says that he's realized that he and she have an awful lot in common, and... and...

Aw, damn, here we go again:

I hope you like that .gif; we're going to be seeing it a lot in this series.

Season two, it turns out, has many episodes that further the overarching plot of the series, notably "A Friend in Need" and "A Cave of One's Own".  This one, by far, is the best of them all. 

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