Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season

According to the liner notes, Jim Henson was just about to begin filming The Dark Crystal when he began taking notes for what would become Fraggle Rock. Henson was looking to produce a series that would resolve conflicts and bring the message of peace to his most important audience: children. Fraggle Rock may not have been the world-saving wonder Henson hoped it would be (obviously), but it certainly had the right idea. Produced by the CBC in Toronto, Henson's series was conceived as an international co-production, dubbed in 13 languages for 90 countries, including the Soviet Union in 1990, making it the first American series to break through the Iron Curtain. Originally called The Woozle World, Fraggle Rock centred on the world of the Fraggles — a subterranean muppet species that live to dance, sing and work 30 minutes each week. Led by the adventurous Gobo, Wembley, Red, Mokey, Boober and the other Fraggles dance their cares away while learning important life lessons such as individuality, love and friendship. Even though the structure gets a little predictable, it's hard not to get caught up in the rays of sunshine and cheerful tales. Henson and his team build a universe that operates outside of the human world, which is represented by inventor Doc, his dog Sprocket and "Travelling" Uncle Matt, Gobo's uncle who braves human contact. The Fraggles fall in the middle of a hierarchy between the ogre-like Gorgs, who live up above, and the Doozers, the little workaholic crew who dwell in the caves with the Fraggles. These three species are interdependent, which is easily seen in "The Great Radish Famine," where the lack of radishes threatens the existence of all. There's almost too much to chew on in this inaugural set; besides the 24 episodes there is a bonus disc with exclusive and exhaustive information about Henson and the show. New interviews with the show's cast and crew provide plentiful knowledge through anecdotes, clips, photos and drawings. Highlights include the feature on music, which explains that the show was not a musical but instead was filled with musical people, as well as the crew's memories of Henson, who was known as the "great appreciator." Also included is a documentary from the '80s hosted by Henson. Along with these fascinating featurettes comes a replica booklet of the notepad Henson kept to jot down ideas for the show. This is a comprehensive collection that any nostalgic adult or parent should own. (Hit, www.hitentertainment.com)