May your days be merry and bright … The luminous joy of Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock’s “Night of the Lights”

(courtesy Muppet Wiki (c) The Jim Henson Company)

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It’s the Night of the Lights, the most Fraggily holiday of the year, and the Rock is filled with songs and cheer. When Jamdolin (voiced by Daveed Diggs) encourages Wembley to make a special wish, the Fraggles head out on an adventure to find the brightest light and, maybe, the true meaning of the holiday. Jim Henson’s fun-loving and musical Fraggles — Gobo, Red, Wembley, Mokey, Boober, and new Fraggle friends — have returned for all new adventures about the magic that happens when we celebrate and care for our interconnected world. (courtesy Muppet Wiki)

If you’re a Fraggle, and honestly wouldn’t it be delightful to be, how do you handle the injunction to rage, rage against the dying of the light?

Well, for a start you don’t rage at all because you are a Fraggle, but you handle all the encroaching darkness, in fact the darkest night of the year, by putting lights, lots of lights, everywhere, a festival known rather fittingly as Night of the Lights.

It’s luminously alive and colourful and the festive highpoint of the year for the Fraggles who first came to the outside world’s attention way back in 1983 when Fraggle Rock made its way to our screens, and our hearts which didn’t realise just how much we needed the sunny upbeat loveliness of these subterranean dwellers.

Now back on our streaming screens in Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, which was preceded in 2020 by Fraggle Rock: Rock On! shorts, which premiered on AppleTV+ in January this year, the Fraggles are as irrepressibly delightful as ever, and never more so than on Night of the Lights, a holiday which everyone in the vicinity of the titular geographical home seems to celebrate including the happily workaholic Doozers, and the lumberingly imperious Gorgs, who, it must be said have a rather lavish way with light decorations.

On this most special of nights, Gobo (John Tartaglia), Wembley (Steve Whitmire), Red (Karen Prell), Mokey (Kathryn Mullen), and Eeyore-level pessimistic Goober (Dave Groelz) are all understandably excited (well, Goober is somewhat sort of “please just let me get through the night” excited) and ready to party.

Especially when travelling musician Jamdolin (Daveed Diggs) turns up, brings some music (two original songs “Night of the Lights” and “Magic Be With You”) and hippie-joyful vitality and gets everyone right in the mood, something that not even Goober’s aversion-generating root cake can bring down. (Poor guy – he goes to all the trouble to make it and no one wants to eat it; some serious Christmas fruitcake vibes are at play here.)

How could the night get any better?

Well, for one thing Mokey gives Red, her bestie a gorgeous piece of very personal artwork as a Night of the Lights gift, a beautiful artistic statement and expression of friendship that looks even more beautiful with light beneath it (naturally given the occasion), the exchange only tarnished for Red by the fact that she hasn’t got a gift to hand back.

Suddenly though none of that matters when the oldest Fraggle alive, all Gandalf-ian cane and wizened beard and inability to occasionally remember where he is going and why, arrives to tell them that he knows of the greatest and most wonderful light of all.

On a night when lights are everywhere and no one can conceive of them getting any brighter, it’s impossible think that light could be brighter anywhere, and so, duly intrigued and bubbly in their excitement – the capacity of the Fraggles for near-endless enthusiasm and joy is one of their more appealing attributes – the intrepid Fraggles, including Goober whose Night of the Lights wish is simply to survive it, set off to see their much-hyped mystical sight.

It would be churlish to spoil the surprise which is as stunningly beautiful as promised, but suffice to say that brightest light of all is so lovely and awe-inspiring that it stills everyone to reverential silence, except when they are telling each other how much they mean to one another, and yes, that even, rather miraculously, includes the Gorgs.

This being Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock there is, of course, a teaching element, courtesy of Uncle Travelling Matt (Dave Goelz)who goes to see how widespread the Night of the Lights is.

Turns out, thanks to us seeing people celebrating Kwanzaa, Christmas, Diwali and Hannukah with family and friends, that it’s hugely widespread, a welcome point of commonality that is mirrored in Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock‘s “Night of the Lights” where everyone is brought together by the majestic light show they are privileged to witness.

With Sprocket also making a brief appearance, along his new owner Doc (Lilli Cooper) – Doc was originally played by the delightful Gerry Parkes who sadly passed away in 2014, along with the plum tones of Marjory the Trash Heap (Jerry Nelson) and her two heralds, Philo and Gunge (Dave Goelz and Richard Hunt respectively), Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock‘s “Night of the Lights” is a warmly spirited festive joy that speaks of unity, love and friendship and the soul-restoring transcendence that comes from spending time with each other and stepping away from the everyday to lose ourselves collectively in something altogether magical.

Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock “Night of the Lights” is currently streaming on Disney+

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