Apple TV+ is trying to give Disney+ a run for its money with its slate of kids’ programming that also appeals to parental nostalgia. The streaming service boasts a Ghostwriter reboot and a new Peanuts series, Snoopy in Space. They’ve also revived and reimagined Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson’s iconic Muppet show from the mid-80s.
A new episode of Fraggle Rock: Rock On! drops on Apple TV+ each Tuesday. The brand-spanking series features a gaggle of familiar Muppets, like Gobo, Red, Boober, Mokey, Wembley, Uncle Traveling Matt and the ever-industrious Doozers.
Intriguingly, the pilot episode of Fraggle Rock: Rock On! is loosely coronavirus themed. Each Fraggle is self-isolating, alone in their separate caves. But “Doozertubes” are delivered to their homes (picture the Fraggle version of Zoom), and they’re able to join together in song.
The show itself was put together remotely, too. After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down film and TV production in March, the Fraggle Rock: Rock On! creators opted to make their show in isolation, much like many late night hosts.
“In accordance with the COVID-19 ‘Safer at Home’ guidelines, Fraggle Rock: Rock On! is all shot on iPhone 11 phones from the homes of the production team and individual artists from all over the US,” Apple said in a statement.
In normal times, a statement like this would be a transparent marketing ploy to promote Apple’s phones and original content in one fell swoop. But under current circumstances, it seems pretty scrappy and savvy. And dang, the iPhone 11 footage makes those Muppets look amazing.
I have so many production questions about “Fraggle at Home.” Does each puppeteer have a fuzzy cave backdrop in their home or are the Muppets inserted in post? How far in advance is each episode written and filmed? I would’ve guessed it’d been taped ages ago, when the reboot was first announced.
But let’s not spoil the magic. Remember, it is a show for children. But the fact that the Fraggles are also grappling with coronavirus in their subterranean world is fascinating and kind of reassuring. If nothing else, the new show is a glimmer of the creative work that’ll likely come out of the pandemic, and it’s a pretty neat first look.