Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock gets a reboot, introducing kids to puppets

Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock, a reboot of the hit children's series which aired from 1983 to 1987. PHOTO: APPLE TV+

SINGAPORE - If you are a 1970s or 1980s kid, you might remember watching Fraggle Rock.

No? Then surely a picture of its colourful characters - puppets with floppy hair, ping-pong ball eyes and puff ball-tipped tails - would trigger memories.

The musical, an iconic children's television show created by the late American puppeteer Jim Henson, ran for four seasons from 1983 to 1987.

A reboot of the original series, Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock, made its 13-episode debut on Jan 21 on Apple TV+.

The Fraggles are a fun-loving group of furry cave dwellers designed by Henson to entertain while encouraging an understanding and embracing of diversity.

Accepting differences, in oneself and others, is a recurring theme of the series.

But a lot has changed in the world of kids' entertainment since Red, Boober, Wembley, Mokey, Gobo and other Fraggle friends first sang and danced on air. Will today's children embrace the puppet-centric show?

Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock's showrunners Matt Fusfeld and Alex Cuthbertson, who also executive produce, are feeling hopeful.

Speaking to The Straits Times over a video call, Fusfeld, 43, acknowledges that children - including his own nine- and six-year-old - get plenty of "distractions" from the likes of smartphones and online games.

"Roblox looms large, for sure. But there's just something timeless, magical and undeniable about puppets. When kids get their eyes on them, they'll be like, 'Oh my god, this is otherworldly.' It's not even like animation."

He adds: "I can see how transfixed my kids are when they see them. So Fraggle Rock is like a real world compared with Roblox, which is just a computer game, really."

Cuthbertson, 41, also has two kids aged three years and nine months. Being parents, both are concerned about the content that children are watching these days, including on YouTube, and take pride in the research that they put into the series.

"If we were approaching a theme or a subject in a particular episode, we always met with an expert to talk about how to depict it in really responsible ways," Cuthbertson says.

Red, Gobo, Boober, Mokey and Wembley in Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock. PHOTO: APPLE TV+

While they hope that fans of the original series will feel connected to the reboot, they are just as excited about getting a new generation of young viewers to fall in love with Fraggle Rock.

Each 30-minute episode provides ways for parents and their children to bond.

Fusfeld says: "If a family would sit down and really immerse themselves in this world - without looking at their phones - and talk about the joy, the silliness and the comedy for half an hour, I can't think of anything better than that."

The complete first season of Fraggle Rock: Back To The Rock is streaming on Apple TV+.


Ice Age is back too

Crash, Eddie, Zee and Buck in The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild. PHOTO: 2022 DISNEY ENTERPRISES, INC

Also making a comeback to woo young viewers is the Ice Age franchise. Its first movie was a box-office hit in 2002. Four cinematic sequels followed, as did a number of television specials.

Its latest is The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild, a Disney+ Original movie that will debut on the streaming platform on Jan 28.

Buck Wild, a one-eyed swashbuckling weasel introduced in 2009's Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, headlines this new adventure.

He rescues prankster possum brothers Crash and Eddie (both first appeared in Ice Age: The Meltdown, 2006) and lets them tag along as he attempts to flee a dinosaur named Orson and his raptor posse.

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