After years of rumors of the return of hit Jim Henson-produced series Fraggle Rock in either series or film form, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock is finally here. We’re happy to report that the series not only matches the spirit of the original but also expands upon it in all the ways a modern-day reboot should.
Here are five ways Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock is a reboot done right:
1. A More Vibrant and Detailed Aesthetic
The original designs of the Fraggle Rock characters and set are iconic, and for the most part, they remain pretty similar, if not improved, here. The main cast looks pretty much the same save for Mokey and to a lesser extent the Doozers, though the new designs aren’t a huge shift and still remain appropriate for their characters.
The classic locations like the Gord Garden, Trash Heap, and Fraggle Rock itself still remain intact, but modern technology has allowed them to be more vibrant in this reboot than the original show. Don’t worry, the changes aren’t dramatic, but the ability to bring more color into this world allows for more visible depth and detail in the sets.
2. Updated Effects (Most of Them Practical!)
It’s been a few decades since the show’s original run, so naturally, the reboot has taken advantage of the new developments in puppeteering technology and media in general. But a pleasant surprise is that most of the updates on the show don’t rely on CGI as much as the ability to do more with the puppets themselves (the way they interact with water is quite impressive to see) as well as things like making use of a wider variety of camera angles.
Of course, there is some CGI used here — most notably to hide the arm rods of the puppets — but it seems the show’s creative team used practical effects whenever possible, which helps maintain the spirit of the original program.
3. Returning Cast Members
Many of the original Fraggle Rock cast members have passed away since the ’80s (or in the case of Steve Whitmire, are no longer on good terms with the Jim Henson production team) but some of those who are still around have returned. Longtime Muppeteer Dave Goelz is back as the voice of Boober and Uncle Traveling Matt, while Karen Prell was on set puppeteering Red just as she was during the show’s original run in addition to voicing the character.
4. Modern Life Lessons
Jim Henson originally created Fraggle Rock in hopes of bringing about world peace. While he didn’t quite achieve that lofty goal, the show did teach a lot of important lessons to kids about cooperation and coexistence with those different from themselves.
Back to the Rock does the same but through a 2020’s lens. It’s not like Disney+’s Muppets Now that was very much rooted in online culture; this show still primarily takes place in Fraggle Rock itself with the only “updated” locations being in “Outer Space” aka the real world. Rather, the reboot deals with hot-button topics in the current world like the dangers of echo chambers and the importance of consent, presenting them in a way kids will understand.
5. Semi-Serialized Storytelling
Television today is different than it was in the 1980s, including the ways in which audiences consume it. While the original Fraggle Rock was shown on HBO back before the VCR was a commonplace appliance (in the days when if someone missed an episode, they missed it) Back to the Rock is a streaming series that will have all 13 of its episodes launch together, available for viewers to watch at any time.
This allows for the show to tell a bit of an overarching story in addition to the ones in each individual episode. It’s not the main focus of the show for the most part, but the creators knowing that people will have access to all the episodes permits this, and it adds an extra storytelling layer to the reboot that the original was unable to utilize for the most part.
All 13 episodes of Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock will be available on Apple TV+ starting January 21.