Remember Fraggle Rock? The Jim Henson-produced Muppet series, shot in Toronto in the early to mid-'80s, is being turned into a live-action musical feature according to a report in Variety. How successful was it? This CBC children's series regularly drew 1.5 million viewers--at 5:30 in the afternoon! CBC can't even get those numbers with NHL Stanley Cup playoff games anymore.
If you wanted to see Fraggle Rock's original run in the States you had to pay for it; all five seasons ran on HBO. Set to open in 2009, the movie will apparently take the colourful Fraggles--Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red--away from their nicely integrated surroundings and into the real world.
The series had a profound effect on the Toronto creative community with Henson & Associates coming north and training a team of Canadian puppeteers, many still in the business. Some went on to lampoon the conventions of the traditional puppet biz. Puppets Who Kill creator John Pattison is a Fraggle Rock grad, as was fellow PWK and Groundling Marsh puppeteer Gord Robertson as well as comedienne Sandra Shamus. Canadian poets bpNichol and Dennis Lee contributed words and lyrics to several episodes. Gerard Parkes was the Fraggles' resident human pal, an inventor named Doc; his big shaggy puppet dog was named Sprocket.
Me, I'm still waiting for the Chez Helene feature.