Jeff Rients said, “I could probably get a post out of the strange ecology at work in [Fraggle Rock], but if someone else want’s to tackle it, please go ahead.”
All right, I will — in my own way, of course.
I watched a good bit of Fraggle Rock when I was younger, thanks to it airing on terrestrial CBC, which was carried on the local cable system, since northern Vermont’s on the US-Canadian border. I don’t know how much I was paid attention to the ecology presented in the show, but it couldn’t have been much, because I revisited the show a couple years ago and got it all twisted around in my memory.
There are four key elements in the cycle of life in Fraggle Rock — the place, not the show — doozers, fraggles, gorgs and radishes. They have a relatively complex web of relationships in the show, but my foggy brain made it much darker.
The Memory Cheats
For years, the way I remembered it was like this: doozers, the little green guys in hard hats, harvest radishes, using the material to build structures, tools and everything else used in their lives. Fraggles, the slightly larger little guys who sing and dance all day, snack on the radish-based constructions whenever the mood strikes them. In addition to keeping themselves alive and sufficiently energized to sing and dance all day, the fraggles’ actions also ensure the doozers have space to build continuously, as doozers lack the wherewithal to destroy their own work.
Meanwhile, the gorgs, big, hairy, galumphing human analogues, do two things. They raise vegetables, thus providing the doozers with raw materials via radishes, but also eat fraggles as a protein source. The gorg’s waste, organic and otherwise, all go into the trash heap, Marjory, a living, thinking entity who is the fraggles’ source of wisdom and guidance. In this scenario, fraggles are not only consumers, but the consumed. And their remains wind up in a trash heap, providing an agglomerated font of wisdom for the community.
This is wrong. And it’s unsurprising it’s wrong, because that’s awfully grim for a puppet show meant to teach children how to learn and share and junk like that.
The Way Things Are
A couple years ago, I revisited Fraggle Rock and was surprised by how things actually work down in the Rock.
Yes, doozers build things out of radishes and fraggles eat those things in a symbiotic relationship. And in addition to doozer structures, fraggles also eat raw radishes; indeed, it constitutes the basis of a great many of the meals they create, up to and including radish beer. However, gorgs regard fraggles as vermin, not food. Ma and Pa Gorg spend a great deal of time setting Junior Gorg the task of getting rid of the fraggles infestation. And the vibrant fraggle population just out of a gorg arm’s reach is a testament to Junior’s ineffectual efforts. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article notes that certain episodes of the series imply the surplus of fraggles is atypical in the gorgs’ world. Maybe it’s because of Junior’s ineptitude or maybe the Rock is the central colony of fraggles from which all others disseminate. They get the wandering fever, as Uncle Traveling Matt did, only eventually settling down.
So all three populations are in competition for the radishes, each with their own use for them. The doozers build, the fraggles eat and the gorgs make a cream to stop themselves from vanishing. The gorgs have an advantage in that they have agricultural skills. The fraggles can eat doozer architecture or go get their own from the gorgs’ garden. And the doozers . . . well, the doozers probably have their own means of harvesting radishes, probably in a more discreet way than sending Mokey out into the garden.