Well, the best-laid plans of Fraggles and frogs often go awry, I suppose. I had a whole Fraggle Friday feature all planned out…and then I developed a migraine, with its attendant photosensitivity, which means I can’t turn on a light to see my notes, at least not without feeling as though a Doozer with an ice auger is standing on my head trying to bore its way into my skull.
So instead, let’s focus on the night when the lights went out in Fraggle Rock: episode 218, “The Day the Music Died,” aka The One With the Ditzies.
Brief synopsis: Gobo is chosen to write the Glory Song, but has trouble concentrating with all the noise and music going on in Fraggle Rock. The other Fraggles agree to keep quiet and stop singing, but then the lights of the cave start going out, which makes all the Fraggles fall irresistibly to sleep. It turns out that the light in the Fraggle caves comes from tiny, bioluminescent creatures called Ditzies, who are suddenly and inexplicably dying off, causing the caves to become dark. Gobo and Wembley fight off the soporific effects of the darkness to try to find a solution. After repeatedly failing to correctly interpret some VERY OBVIOUS HINTS from the Trash Heap and one of Uncle Matt’s postcards, Gobo does the Fragglish thing and takes out his guitar and starts singing. And it turns out, that’s exactly the right thing to do, because the Ditzies feed off of music. Singing and playing music revives the Ditzies, which brings light to the cave, which wakes the Fraggles up from their darkness-induced torpor. To top it all off, the resulting song becomes Gobo’s Glory Song (see above).
“Shine on Me” is one of the very best Fraggle songs, in my opinion. I often sing it when I’m feeling down about something. But this episode also has the “Stuff Samba” which deserves special mention:
I read once that the writers on Sesame Street purposely write sketches in such a way that they give the children watching ample opportunity to use critical thinking and figure out the answers to questions or problems before the characters reveal the answers. While it no doubt helps to develop critical thinking and self-esteem in the young viewers, it sometimes makes the characters themselves seem kind of stupid. I bring this up because I don’t know if this episode was written according to that same principle or if they just didn’t have enough story to fill up the available screen time and had to stretch it out, but in either case, Gobo really seems unforgivably stupid in this episode. Gee, Gobo…the Trash Heap sings you a song about doing the things that Fraggles always do, and you don’t see that that means singing? What does she have to do, tattoo it across your nose for you?
One really sweet little moment just before the song starts that I somehow never noticed until just this minute: when Gobo tells the Trash Heap that the Ditzies are dying, Philo and Gunge look at each other and simultaneously sigh in sympathy. Awww…
(And speaking of sympathy, don’t worry about me and my migraine; this one is relatively mild, and as long as I keep the lights off, I’m totally fine).