Kids, Adults Will Love To Meet The Fraggles For The First Time Again

Courtesy:  The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Courtesy: The Jim Henson Company/Vivendi Entertainment

Jim Henson was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century.  He was the brilliant mind behind the Muppets, Sesame Street, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and so many other creations.  While he was most well known for the aforementioned creations, one of his lesser known creations celebrates its 30th anniversary this month.  That creation is Fraggle Rock.  In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the beloved children’s series’ debut, The Jim Henson Company has released the entire series on single season collections and a complete thirtieth anniversary box set with the entire series.  The company has also released a special single disc collection that serves as a nice introduction to the world of the Fraggles for today’s younger audiences, while re-introducing them to the generation that grew up with these wonderful underground dwelling creatures in Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles.

Fraggle Rock:  Meet The Fraggles offers six episodes of the classic children’s series on a single DVD.  It is aptly titled as it starts off from the series’ very first episode, “Beginnings.”  It is in this episode that audiences first meet Doc and his dog Sprocket, along with the Fraggles.  It’s through a hole in the wall of Doc’s residence that viewers travel into the world of the Fraggles.  Right from the very first episode, audiences are introduced to a program that is full of enjoyable musical numbers, colorful backdrops, and important life lessons.  The execution of the life lessons through the storylines does so much to make this show so timeless.  One of the best examples of this in this collection comes in the episode, “Red’s Club.”  This episode teaches an important lesson about acceptance of others.  It does this through setting things up through the storyline involving Sprocket being rejected from an elite dog club.  After having been rejected, Doc suggests that Sprocket start up his own club.  Meanwhile in the world of the Fraggles, Red is fed up with always going along with Gobo, and starts her own club.  The problem is that her club is so exclusionary that the one single member that she ends up with is a Doozer.  And the Doozer in question—Cotter Pin—ends up leaving Red’s club, too because of how exclusive it is.  Red ends up learning a very valuable lesson because of her actions.  Doc also learns a lesson in talking with Sprocket about why he couldn’t be in Sprocket’s club.  The lesson is told outright, making it easy for young audiences to understand.  This is the kind of writing existent throughout every season of this classic kids’ show.  This includes all six episodes included in this six-disc introduction to Fraggle Rock.

The writing behind Fraggle Rock is the show’s primary reason for its success.  But it isn’t the only part of its success.  As already noted, Jim Henson did during his life, things that no one else was doing.  The musical numbers which were part of his even more beloved Muppet Show 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still warm. 2 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Mix egg and milk. Sift dry ingredients and gradually add to milk mixture, beat until smooth.

Preheat oil in fry pan to 375 degrees F.

Pour batter into hot oil with a funnel with a ½ “ or ¾” hole. Let batter drizzle into hot oil. Spiraling to create a circle.

Cook about 1 minute, flip over, cooking both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with fruit preserves while still were just as integral to Fraggle Rock.  Even as old as this show is, its musical numbers will still have young viewers dancing and singing along.  It’s another of the show’s elements that sets it apart from so much of today’s children’s programming, even today. 

Fraggle Rock’s writing and musical numbers will entertain audiences of all ages.  There is still one last piece of the puzzle to this show that makes it so enjoyable for any viewer.  That piece is the simplest.  Yet it’s still one of the most important.  That final piece is the originality of using puppets.  Children’s television is at a point today at which so much programming is much the same in terms of its format.  Children are being placed in front of television sets, and for all intents and purposes left to let the television teach them.  Fraggle Rock doesn’t allow that, as audiences will see in this introductory set of episodes.  It’s not one of those shows in which the characters talk to the children.  It forces parents to sit down with their children and discuss the lessons taught through each episode.  It forces parents to be parents and spend time with their children.  This is exactly what children and parents need.  They need to spend time together and bond.  And what better way to bond than on what is an original and timeless program.  If parents and children enjoy this set, they can also pick up the complete Thirtieth Anniversary box set with the show’s entire run.  Both sets can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT1RS/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0X19EM0G0KMXPWH3S33S&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846 and http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BCMT4B6/ref=s9_psimh_gw_p74_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0NFWRPA7QJPVK8VF9MHY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

Fans of Fraggle Rock and Jim Henson’s creations can get all the latest news from the Jim Henson Company online at http://www.henson.com and http://www.facebook.com/hensoncompany

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Being Elmo is fuzzy fun for the whole family

He’s red.  He’s fuzzy.  And he’s one of the most beloved characters on television today.  For those who perhaps haven’t already figured it out who is being referenced here, it’s Elmo!  Yes, Sesame Street’s Elmo.  Elmo is just as well known and beloved–if not more than–Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  And now, thanks to docurama films and New Video, fans and families world wide finally get a glimpse behind the scenes at the man who has made Elmo a house hold name in the documentary, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful, touching look into the life and career of a man who is a star unlike any other.  Kevin Clash is the very body behind Elmo.  His love of the craft and art of puppetry has made what would have otherwise just have been another puppet into a worldwide phenomenon.  Yet in it all, audiences see in this documentary, a man who is entirely humble, and wants only to entertain.  It’s his love for his art that has brought joy to children and adults the world over, including a young terminally ill child.  It’s that same love of performing and entertaining that brought tears to the eyes of not only that child, but to those of Clash himself.  And it’s that same love that has even given Elmo his very own segment in the “new” version of Sesame Street.  That love of the art of puppetry all began thanks to the legend himself, Jim Henson.

Audiences will be enthralled as they experience Clash’s journey from backyard puppet shows to a spot on Captain Kangaroo to his amazing start with Jim Henson’s company after having turned down job offers from Henson himself twice.  Yes, twice.  Most people wouldn’t get a second chance after turning down such a legend only once. But for whatever reason, Henson believed so much in Clash that he gave Clash a third offer.  He offered to let Clash work on his movie, “Labyrinth.”  Clash took the job, and impressed Henson so much that he was offered a spot on Sesame Street.  The story of how Clash eventually became the voice and life of Elmo is just as interesting as the story of how he reached that point.  What’s even more interesting is the impact that he has had to this day as Elmo’s puppeteer.  There are lots of funny moments in that story.  And there’s also an equally touching story of the impact that he and Elmo had on a young, terminally ill child.  Seeing the tears welling up in his own eyes as the little girl smiled while she hugged Elmo will bring even the strongest person to tears, too.

While the documentary about how Kevin Clash came to basically be Elmo is so impressive, one can’t ignore the bonus features included in the documentary.  One might think what could bonus features add to this documentary.  But the bonus features here really do add a whole extra dimension to Kevin’s story.  Audiences learn that a lot of Elmo was influenced by Clash’s own parents.  His parents constantly showed love and support to him.  That love is reflected in Elmo’s love for children.  What’s more, even in public audiences see how genuine Clash is about wanting to make children smile.  It’s another truly touching moment.  On the opposite hand, one of the funniest moments comes when it’s explained that his mother’s love of something as simple as mowing lawns was infused into Elmo.  That childlike love of the simple things in life made Elmo relateable to young audiences. 

Elmo’s relateability to young audiences is wonderfully exhibited in a combination of the bonus features and the final sequence of the documentary.  As the documentary closes, Clash welcomes a young viewer into his office who he took under his wing, just as Kermit Love took Kevin under his own wing years prior.  That young man got his first taste of fame as he joined Clash and the other Sesame Street Puppeteers in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  He was the actor behind the Baby Bear character in the parade.

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful piece of family entertainment.  It does hold a “PG” rating though.  However, parents should note that that is mainly thanks to a clip from the Rosie O’ Donnell Show.  The clip was taking during the height of the Tickle Me Elmo craze.  A star had asked her about getting a Tickle Me Elmo doll.  To that, she joked that she felt like a drug dealer.  Other than that brief moment, “Being Elmo” is an otherwise wonderful documentary for parents and kids alike. 

So much could be written and spoken of this documentary.  But doing so would take entirely too long and would take far too much space.  So audiences would be best to experience it for themselves.  From the story itself, to the equally  entertaining bonus features, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is one of the best documentaries of 2012, if not the best. 

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