17 Fun Facts About Fraggle Rock

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

In 1983, Jim Henson unleashed a new kind of family entertainment on the world with Fraggle Rock. The series, which lasted for five seasons, told of a trio of species—the fun-loving Fraggles, the work-loving Doozers, and the oafish Gorgs—who dwelled in a series of interconnected, subterranean caves. The show, and the new world it created, were a global hit with silly creatures (that’s Fraggle-speak for “humans”). Here are 17 things you might not know about the beloved series and its cast of characters.


Carrie Bradshaw, Tony Soprano, Nate Fisher, Jimmy McNulty, Selina Meyer, and Rust Cohle all owe a debt of gratitude to Red, Gobo, Wembley, Boober, Marjory the Trash Heap, and the rest of the Fraggle Rock cast. The show was HBO’s first foray into original programming, and as such was “critical to the network’s development,” according to the network’s executive vice president of corporate communications, Quentin Schaffer, who also worked on the original Fraggle Rock press team.


Though it was most definitely a Jim Henson production, from the get-go Fraggle Rock was intended to be viewed by a global audience. The series was one of television’s first international co-productions; it was developed by teams in New York and London, taped in Toronto, and broadcast in 90 countries and 13 languages.


After spending time in Moscow in 1984 to shoot Jim Henson Presents with Russian puppeteer Sergey Obraztsov, Henson became very interested in bringing his programming to the Soviet Union. Following successful screenings of both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth at the Moscow Film Festival, Henson was able to sell Fraggle Rock to Russian television, making it the first American series to be broadcast there. The fact that the Berlin Wall fell just 10 months later was not lost on Henson and company. “We always joke that Fraggle Rock led to the end of the Cold War,” shared Henson Company archivist Karen Falk. “By the end of the year, as the show’s lessons of tolerance and understanding wafted through the airwaves, the Berlin Wall came down.”


Whereas the bulk of Fraggle Rock viewers are familiar with Doc the inventor and his dog Sprocket, that wasn’t the case with every audience member. In order to connect with its specific audience, the “human” segments of Fraggle Rock changed with the show’s location. While viewers in America, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scandinavia, Spain, and Eastern Europe know Doc and Sprocket, British audiences got to know The Captain (a retired sailor played by Fulton Mackay) and Sprocket, who live in a lighthouse. In France, Doc is a chef with a dog named Croquette and the action takes place in a bakery.


Though the total number of missing episodes varies from source to source, the original recordings of many of the British segments with Fulton Mackay went missing years ago. Various media outlets and fans of the show have set about staging appeals to the public to share their VHS tapes of the original series so that the U.K. version of the show is not lost forever.


“It was a kind of ecology,” Fraggle Rock writer Jocelyn Stevenson shared of the show’s environment. “These groups of characters were actually dependent on each other but didn’t know it.” Henson’s mandate for the show, according to Stevenson, was “to create a show that will stop war.” Still, “We weren’t in any way political. We were advocates for joy and people getting on.” 

“For decades, those involved with Fraggle Rock have chuckled self-indulgently about its purported mission, which was, supposedly, ‘to save the world,’” adds producer Michael Frith. “But perhaps that’s not as ridiculous as it might at first blush sound … Fraggle Rock‘s simple ambition [was] to open kids’ eyes to the interconnectedness of all things and the unassailable fact that their own actions would have consequences.”


According to Frith: “The audience we were reaching for was one that we felt was, at least where television was concerned, massively underserved—the ‘mid-kid,’ beyond Sesame Street but not yet, as we so succinctly put it back then, ‘reading Playboy’; still able to become lost in the magic of fantasy and music and storytelling … all in an impossible world brought to life by brilliant puppetry.”


Though the series spoke to “mid-kids” (and big kids) around the world, it really connected with creative types. “[It is special] because the show has this completely original world, and everything is interconnected in that world—and it has its own logic, but is alternative,” says Lisa Henson, Jim’s daughter and current CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “When people learn about Fraggle Rock, they leap in with both feet and immerse themselves in the lore. We feel that because the Fraggles have this special philosophy, and because they love music and resolve differences differently from humans, it in some ways appeals to artists and musicians; maybe more than even the other Henson characters. We have had musicians from every kind of band, from hip-hop to alternative and bluegrass, [say] the Fraggles were the characters that spoke to them.”


In early versions of the script, the Fraggles were referred to as Woozles. That name was abandoned when Henson and his team realized that Winnie the Pooh already had creatures known as Woozles. At one point the series was being developed under the title Fraggle Hill, but that was abandoned, too (for sounding “too British”).


Traveling Matt’s name is a play on “traveling matte,” the effects technique that was used to create his segments, wherein two or more images are combined into one. Gobo is another piece of film industry jargon; they’re devices used to control the shape of light emitted from a source.


Sure, it’s catchy. But the Fraggle Rock theme song ended up becoming a bona fide hit—at least in England, where it reached number 33 on the British music charts. (Clap, clap.)


Though Boober’s ending line of “down at Fraggle Rock” is the best-known version of the theme song, five different endings were recorded—one with each of the main Fraggles delivering the final line, with the intention that the openings would rotate between episodes.


Though the Internet wasn’t yet a feature in everyone’s home at the time of Fraggle Rock's premiere, the show's creators wanted to ensure that whatever media entered the entertainment realm in the near or far future, Fraggle Rock could be a part of it. “We very consciously did not invent Fraggle Rock just ‘as a television show,’” producer Michael Frith says. “Our intent was to create a many-layered and complex universe that would resonate in any medium. The hope was simply that wherever it emerged it would have some lasting impact.”


Like so many other series before (and after) it, Fraggle Rock’s popularity eventually led to an animated version of the series—albeit a short-lived one. In 1987, NBC premiered a cartoon version of Fraggle Rock in its Saturday morning lineup. It lasted just one season


In 2012, Ben Folds Five debuted their video for “Do It Anyway,” which featured Red, Gobo, Wembley, Boober, Mokey, and Traveling Matt in starring roles.


In addition to the original series being available via DVD and streaming, on April 25, 2014, Hulu launched its first series for Hulu Kids: Doozers introduces a new cast of Doozers to the Fraggle Rock universe.


In September 2005, The Jim Henson Company announced its plans to adapt Fraggle Rock into a feature film, with plans to release it in 2009. In the decade since, the project has gone through a series of ups and downs. But on the heels of the wildly successful new Muppet movies, it finally appears as if the Fraggles are headed for the big screen. In March, Variety announced that the Fraggle Rock movie is indeed happening, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to produce and star in it.

“The first screen personas I ever loved were Henson creations, first on Sesame Street and then on Fraggle Rock,” Gordon-Levitt said. “Jim Henson’s characters make you laugh and sing, but they’re also layered, surprising, and wise. From Oscar the Grouch, to Yoda, to the Fraggles. I’ve never stopped loving his work, even as a young frisky man, and on into adulthood. Collaborating with Lisa Henson makes me confident we can do something that Jim would have loved."

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29


This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28


The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24


Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19


If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275


The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24


Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Facts About Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt's Home

Theodore Roosevelt's Long Island home has 23 rooms and more books than you can count.
Theodore Roosevelt's Long Island home has 23 rooms and more books than you can count.
J. Stephen Conn, Flickr // CC by NC 2.0

Fleeing Manhattan for the country is a tradition that wealthy New Yorkers have partaken in for centuries—and our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, was no exception. Starting when he was a teen, TR and his family would retreat to Long Island for the summer, and as an adult, he built his own home there: Sagamore Hill, which became his permanent home after his presidency. In honor of what would be TR’s 162nd birthday, here are 10 facts about Sagamore Hill, of which Roosevelt once wrote, “there isn't any place in the world like home—like Sagamore Hill.”

1. Sagamore Hill was built near where Theodore Roosevelt spent his childhood summers.

Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York, first served as a refuge for a sickly TR in his youth. He’d hike, ride horses, row, and swim—generally engaging in the “strenuous life” and beginning his lifelong love affair with nature. The family home was known as Tranquility, and was situated two miles southwest from the future Sagamore Hill mansion.

2. Theodore Roosevelt bought the land for Sagamore Hill in 1880.

The same year he married his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, Roosevelt purchased 155 acres on the north shore of Long Island for $30,000 to build a home. Situated on Long Island Sound, the site is home to a wide variety of habitats, from woodlands to salt marshes, as well as plenty of ecological diversity, thus giving Roosevelt much to observe and document.

3. Sagamore Hill wasn't supposed to go by that name.

The home that would become Sagamore Hill was originally going to be named Leeholm, after Roosevelt's wife Alice. However, following her tragic death shortly after giving birth to their daughter, the property was renamed Sagamore—according to Roosevelt, after Sagamore Mohannis (today more commonly known as Sachem Mohannes), who was chief of a tribe in the area over 200 years earlier. Sagamore is an Algonquian word for "chieftain."

4. Theodore Roosevelt had very specific ideas for the layout of Sagamore Hill.

Among his "perfectly definite views" for the home, he would later recall, were "a library with a shallow bay window opening south, the parlor or drawing-room occupying all the western end of the lower floor; as broad a hall as our space would permit; big fireplaces for logs; on the top floor a gun room occupying the western end so that north and west it [looks] over the Sound and Bay." Long Island builder John A. Wood began work on the Queen Anne-style mansion (designed by New York architecture firm Lamb and Rich), on March 1, 1884. It was completed in 1885, with Roosevelt's sister, Anna, taking care of the house (and new baby Alice) while Roosevelt was out west in the Dakota Badlands, nursing his grieving heart.

5. Theodore Roosevelt delivered campaign speeches from the porches of Sagamore Hill.

Theodore Roosevelt addresses a crowd of 500 suffragettes from the porch of his Sagamore Hill home around 1905. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It was one of Roosevelt’s greatest wishes for the Sagamore Hill home to possess "a very big piazza ... where we could sit in rocking chairs and look at the sunset," and so wide porches were built on the south and west sides of the house. Roosevelt would use the piazza to deliver speeches to the public, and it was here that he was notified of his nominations as governor of New York (1898), vice president (1900) and president (1904).

6. Sagamore Hill was Theodore Roosevelt's "Summer White House."

Roosevelt became the first president to bring his work home with him, spending each of his summers as president at Sagamore Hill. He even had a phone installed so he could conduct business from the house. But by 1905, Edith had had enough of TR usurping the drawing room—which was supposed to be her office—to hold his visitors [PDF], and of his gaming trophies and other treasures taking up space. So the Roosevelts constructed what would become the North Room. "The North Room cost as much as the entire house had," Susan Sarna, curator at Sagamore Hill, told Cowboys & Indians magazine in 2016. "It is grandiose." Measuring 40 feet by 20 feet, with ceilings 20 feet high, it was constructed of mahogany brought in from the Philippines. The addition brought the total number of rooms at Sagamore Hill from 22 to 23.

7. Theodore Roosevelt met with foreign leaders at Sagamore Hill.

Roosevelt stands between Russian and Japanese dignitaries in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1905. On September 5, they signed the Treaty of Portsmouth, ending the Russo-Japanese War and earning Roosevelt the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize; he was the first American to win a Nobel Prize of any kind.Photos.com/iStock via Getty Images

In September 1905, Roosevelt brokered peace talks between Russian and Japanese dignitaries, which led to end of the Russo-Japanese War. But before the peace talks (which took place on a yacht in the Navy yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire), Roosevelt met the negotiators—from Japan, Takahira Kogorō, ambassador to the U.S., and diplomat Jutaro Komura; and from Russia, diplomat Baron Roman Romanovich von Rosen and Sergei Iluievich Witte—at Sagamore Hill. TR earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

8. Sagamore Hill has a pet cemetery.

Roosevelt’s love of animals was passed down to his six children, who adopted a veritable menagerie, including cats, dogs, horses, guinea pigs, a bear, and a badger. A number of those beloved companions ended up in Sagamore Hill's pet cemetery; among them is Little Texas, the horse TR rode on his charge up Kettle Hill during the Spanish-American War.

9. Life at Sagamore Hill was lively.

The atmosphere at Sagamore Hill was a boisterous one. According to the National Park Service, Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge complained about how late they stayed up, how loud they talked, and how early they woke up. Eleanor Roosevelt, Roosevelt’s favorite niece, too, recalled a constant barrage of activity during her visits. The children partook in all manner of outdoor activities, and Roosevelt was known for abruptly ending his appointments in order to join them.

10. Theodore Roosevelt died at Sagamore Hill.

Roosevelt passed away on January 6, 1919 at Sagamore Hill. Edith died there on September 30, 1948, and five years later, Sagamore Hill was opened to the public. In 2015, a $10 million renovation of the house was completed; 99 percent of what can be seen at the home today is original—including thousands of books, extensive artwork, and yes, 36 pieces of taxidermy.

Shortly before Roosevelt died, he asked Edith, “I wonder if you will ever know how I love Sagamore Hill?” and thanks to the extensive work done to restore his home, we all can.