Muppet fans have another reason to rejoice today, with the announcement that the Fraggle Rock reboot series has begun shooting in Calgary.
Muppet fans have another reason to rejoice today, with the announcement that the Fraggle Rock reboot series has begun shooting. The iconic children’s series created by legendary Muppet-master Jim Henson first debuted on HBO in 1983, with five seasons airing before Henson decided to end the series in 1987. Since then, there have been numerous attempts to bring the Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs back to the screen, beginning with a short-lived cartoon version that aired only 13 episodes on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup in the fall of 1987. An animated spin-off starring the diminutive Doozers was slightly more successful, with two seasons produced for Hulu in 2014 and 2018. Several attempts at launching a feature film have failed to launch, culminating most recently with the news last year that a Fraggle movie produced by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt was officially dead.
But the Fraggles remain very much alive, and in 2020 Apple TV+ announced that it had acquired the exclusive streaming rights to reruns of the beloved original series. They would also release a limited series of new shorts, Fraggle Rock: Rock On!, which was shot on smartphones by individual puppeteers in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Those circumstances were fitting for a show that Henson famously and ambitiously created as a means to bring about world peace. The series told the story of the plucky Fraggles, who lived underground and had to peacefully coexist with the tiny Doozers and giant Gorgs, with a healthy helping of songs, life lessons, and explorations of the human world that the Fraggles called “outer space.”
With global peace still on the world’s to-do list, Fraggle Rock is now coming back with a full-fledged Apple TV+ reboot series, which ET Canada reports has now begun production at the Calgary Film Centre in Canada – the same country where the original Fraggle Rock was produced. Although the original filmed in Toronto, The Jim Henson Company’s Chris Lytton said that Calgary was now “the obvious choice” due to the province of Alberta’s attractive rebate program for film production, with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi adding that the city has a “reputation as a world leader in the art of puppetry.”
Perhaps most exciting to longtime fans is the announced return of two original cast members, both of whom will also serve as co-executive producers and are each Muppet legends in their own rights. Dave Goelz, whose list of classic characters includes Gonzo, Bunsen Honeydew, and Zoot, among many others, will return to perform both Boober Fraggle and Uncle Traveling Matt, while longtime Muppet/Sesame Street performer Karen Prell will once again bring to life lovable Red Fraggle. Muppet veteran John Tartaglia, who takes over the central role of Gobo Fraggle that was initiated by the late, legendary Muppeteer Jerry Nelson, will also be a co-executive producer.
The return of Fraggle Rock is just the latest burst of good news for Jim Henson fans, following last week’s well-received announcement that all five seasons of The Muppet Show will finally begin streaming on Disney+ next month. It’s no secret that the Muppets have struggled to regain traction since Henson’s untimely death in 1990 at the age of 53, despite the classic Muppet Show being the most widely viewed show in the world during its original run. Although Fraggle Rock won’t be the same without Henson’s guiding hand, the return of OG Muppet performers Goelz and Prell is a great signal to fans that the new series has the potential to recapture the spirit of the original.