Friday, September 6, 2013

"Fraggle Rock" Month - Season 1, Episode 11: "Catch the Tail by the Tiger"

As I said before, there are lots of excellent episodes in the first season of "Fraggle Rock", and it almost pains me to skip over nearly half of them.  But we have lots of ground to cover here and I'm only one person, so here comes the first of my favorite-favorite episodes.

By now, the major characters in "Fraggle Rock" have been fairly well-established.  Red is the action girl with something to prove, Mokey is the dreamy introspective den mother who wants the best for everyone, Boober is a pessimist whose life revolves around laundry, Wembly is the innocent fool who's trying to please everyone, and Gobo is... well, Gobo is the leader.  For a long time, that's more or less where Gobo's character was set.  I remember that because of this, I never found him terribly interesting as a kid.

Then we got to this episode, and I finally started to "get" Gobo.  It's one of the first episodes that focuses on the well-hidden vulnerability within our leader of the Fraggle crew.  Now, there had been episodes where a main character was put in a crisis where they had to face their secret fears (as early as the third episode as a matter of fact).  But this one feels different.

For one thing, we learn just how much Gobo secretly worries about his Uncle Matt.  The reality is, Matt's exploring what might as well literally be outer space, a place that's huge and scary and unfamiliar to any Fraggle and downright dangerous, and the danger inherent in his quest has been kind of treated as a nonissue in earlier episodes.  So Gobo is understandably willing to head out into the unknown to find his uncle (a daunting task in itself) and rescue him.  We also see how Gobo's friends react to his stress.  There is a fantastic sequence where they do everything in their power to make him feel more confident about the coming adventure... without knowing he has already decided against leaving.  See, he's painfully aware of the terrifying prospect of leaving the good old familiar Rock for the enormous human world.

This episode also closes out with one of the first really effective tear-jerker moments in the series.  It was one of the first real indications that there'd be a healthy dose of pathos mixed in with the humor of "Fraggle Rock".  This would reach its peak in a future episode...

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