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by Travis Normand
April 21, 2013

2013 is apparently the 30th Anniversary of the tv show Fraggle Rock.  In celebration of this event, one particular tv channel was airing a marathon of Fraggle Rock episodes.  I used to watch this as a kid and hadn’t seen it in at least 15-20 years, so I decided to set my DVR to record a couple of episodes.  I enjoyed seeing the show again, but really enjoyed introducing it to my five-year-old daughter.

One of the episodes caught my eye — “The Secret Society of Poohbahs.”  I figured it would probably have some humor directed towards secret organizations and/or fraternal organizations like the famous Stonecutters episode of the Simpsons.

I was wrong.  Instead the Fraggle Rock episode conveyed a message that I found to be very odd.

The episode opens with Doc (the only human on the show) entering his workshop.  Doc is upset and is talking to his dog, Sprocket.  Doc enters the room and announces that “I can’t believe it.”  He is clearly unhappy about something and he tells his dog that someone he knows has become a Chipmunk.  Sprocket (a muppet) thinks that Doc is referring to an actual Chipmunk, however, Doc clarifies and says “No, not one of those cute little furry animals.  The Chipmunks, the Royal Order of Chipmunks, one of those secret lodges!”

Doc goes on to say, “Imagine a bunch of grown men dressing up in silly uniforms, and reciting a lot of secret trash.”

Suddenly the phone rings and Doc answers it.  When he answers the phone he is still clearly upset about one of his friends joining some “secret lodge.”  However, the phone call apparently seems to change Doc’s overall attitude, and when he hangs up the phone, he appears to be excited about something.  He then announces, “Sprocket, its wonderful, I’ve been asked to become a Chipmunk!”  Sprocket simply shakes his head and that scene comes to an end.

The rest of the episode involves a particular Fraggle (named Mokey) who wants to join The Exalted High Holy Order of Poohbahs.  This Fraggle shares her desire with a friend of hers who insists that such an organization is “silly” and not worth it.  Mokey goes through with her initiation into the Poohbahs which consists of a few “Trials.”  When the episode ends, it is revealed to Mokey that all of her friends are already members of the Poohbahs (despite them trying to convince her that such an organization is “silly”).

At first, I thought that her friends were just testing her by saying the organization was “silly,” but as it turns out, being “silly” is the premise of the Poohbahs.  In fact, the episode comes to an end with her Fraggle friends explaining that everything the Poohbahs did to her, including the trials, were all acts of silliness.  In other words, the Poohbahs were not a serious organization as Mokey had thought.

So, why are the Poohbahs not taken seriously?  Because, as one Fraggle named Gobo explains, “Lots of us are members (of the Poohbahs) because we like to remind ourselves that a Fraggle shouldn’t take ANYTHING too serious.”

The final scene of the episode consists of Doc returning from his Chipmunk initiation   He is wearing his uniform which consists of a brown robe, a sword fastened at his waist, and a viking-like helmet with Chipmunk ears.  Doc enters his workshop and starts talking to Sprocket again.  He is laughing during the entire scene as he says:

“Hello Sprocket, I am back from my initiation ceremony and I am NOT a Chipmunk.  Sprocket, I burst out laughing in the middle of the initiation ceremony – well it was all so very very silly.  They were very angry at me for laughing and they said I couldn’t become a member and they took away my ears!  Oh Sprocket, you can’t take life too seriously.”

So, as you can see, the message of the episode (or moral of the story) was that joining a “secret lodge” was “silly” and that no one should do such a thing.  Further, anyone who does join such an organization is taking life too seriously, and as we all know, NO ONE should ever take life that seriously.

* * * * *

The following is a 2-minute preview of the episode.  The preview shows the opening scene involving Doc and Sprocket which I mentioned above.  You can apparently watch the entire episode for $1.99.

Below are two pieces of information about the episode that I was able to find online.

[1] From Wikipedia:

In the Fraggle Rock episode “The Secret Society of Poohbahs,” the Poobah name is used for the a secret silly society within Fraggle Rock called the “Poohbas.” Gillis Fraggle serves as tbe Beggler-Beg of the Poohbas, Convincing John serves as the Vanguard of the Poohbas, Red Fraggle serves as the Mind-Reader who sees if a potential member is worthy enough to join the Poohbahs, and the other members are referred to as “Fritz.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Poobah

[2] From Wikipedia:

#57: The Secret Society of Poohbahs:  Season 3, U.S. Airdate: March 4, 1985

Mokey really, really wants to be a part of the Secret Society of Poohbahs, even though Red keeps telling her it’s just a silly club. Then one day Mokey gets a letter saying that the Poohbah’s would like to see her and find out if she’s worthy of being a part of the club. She tells Red of her invitation, only to find out that she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it. She goes back to find out if she can be a part of the society, but when a member called the Mind-Reader knows that Mokey told her roommate of the invitation, she’s immediately rejected, but the Beggler Beg and the Vanguard (who look an awful lot like Gillis Fraggle and Convincing John) say that, if she brings her roommate to verify that Mokey’s legit, she can be a Poohbah. Mokey gets all worked up about this, but when she brings Red back so she can be a Poohbah, Mokey finally learns not to take anything too serious that these Fraggles tell her.

Theme: Taking things too seriously

Note: Convincing John appears for the last time. When looking closely at the Poohbah crowd, you can see Gobo and Wembley in their costumes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Fraggle_Rock_episodes

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