"The Bells of Fraggle Rock" is a Christmas-themed episode of the Jim Henson Television series Fraggle Rock, produced as the first episode of the show's third season. It premiered on HBO on Christmas Eve of 1984, and was repeated there each Christmas until HBO dropped the show in 1988. It was then aired in the shows' reruns on TNT from 1988 to 1992, the Disney Channel from 1992 to 1996, the Odyssey Network from 1999 to 2001, the Hub Network from 2010 to 2013, on ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas in 2015 (as a one-shot special; the series itself was not aired on that particular channel), and most recently on HBO Family as of 2018. It was also paired with Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas for a series of screenings for Fathom Events in December 2018.
The workshop is decorated for Christmas, complete with garland streamers and a Christmas tree and a toy Santa Claus. Sprocket is shaking a present with enthusiasm as Doc enters carrying more gifts. They are both excited about the upcoming holiday. Doc goes on to explain about the Winter Solstice to Sprocket, about the time of the year when the weather gets colder and the Earth slows down.
Down in Fraggle Rock, the Fraggles are prepping for their own special holiday festivities, the Festival of the Bells. The rock itself is icy and very cold all around. Fraggles are dressed in warm clothes but are still very active and excited. Gobo stands among them, seemingly depressed and sullen about something. Wembley forces Gobo to join him and the others to help rehearse their part in the holiday festival by wearing the traditional Weeba Beast costume. Boober, Red and Mokey are prepping the costume as Wembley arrives with a still-depressed Gobo. They all put on the costume and rehearse a silly dance, but Gobo is stubborn and doesn't want to participate. The Fraggle horn sounds from the Great Hall, signaling Cantus' arrival, and Red, Mokey and Boober dash from Gobo and Wembley's room toward the Great Hall. Gobo and Wembley stay behind and Gobo starts telling Wembley that he questions the true meaning of this particular holiday. Wembley discusses that, according to the legend of the Great Bell, every year the rock gets colder and starts slowing down, and unless the Fraggles ring their bells at the festival, the rock will eventually stop altogether and freeze forever. Gobo says that nobody has ever seen this Great Bell and questions its very existence. It is supposedly located at the heart of the rock. Gobo takes out a map and Wembley accidentally discovers a cave shaped like a bell drawn on the map. This seemingly raises Gobo's spirits a bit and before he can react further Red returns to retrieve the boys and ends up dragging Gobo against his will back to the Great Hall.
In the Great Hall, Cantus arrives and everyone sings a rollicking festive song. During the song, Gobo makes several attempts to sneak away, but is hindered by Red every time. Cantus announces that the rock is getting colder and is slowing down, thereby marking that the Festival of the Bells should begin. He goes on to recount how the tradition has worked in Fraggle Rock through the ages. But before he officially can announce the start of the festival, Gobo questions him about the Great Bell. Gobo decides he will go find the Great Bell itself so that their special holiday can mean something. Cantus counters him by asking why he should search for something that is actually found very easily. But Gobo dismisses Cantus and leaves for his quest, declaring he will make it back in time before the rock stops and freezes over, also resulting in the festival being delayed.
Doc and Sprocket have acquired a pinata and Doc reads from a book about special traditional festivities celebrated in various cultures and civilizations from around the world and in the past. Sprocket, after Doc blindfolds him, tries hilariously to break open the pinata with a stick so they can find what special goodies await inside it.
Red, Mokey, Wembley and Boober group up around a small fire as the rock seems to be getting colder by the minute. They talk about Gobo and his misguided quest and worry about his judgments, as well as the fact that the rock is slowing down more and more. They worry about freezing. Cantus shows up and says he will go find Gobo. Boober worries for Gobo and Cantus because neither has taken their mittens with them.
Gobo is trekking down a cold, dark tunnel on his way to the heart of the rock, where the Great Bell is mapped. He displays a slightly newfound determination and gets excited over the prospect that when he brings back the Great Bell that everyone will be proud of him. He slips on icy patches while walking along. In another tunnel somewhere, Cantus is searching for Gobo while remarking to himself that he admires Gobo's determination even though he's wrong.
The others have covered themselves up in the Weeba Beast costume by the small fire, the icy wind blowing through them, indicating the rock is indeed getting colder and is about to freeze over. Wembley decides to lift their spirits by recounting one of Traveling Matt's postcards. In the card's sequence, Matt observes a Christmas tradition among Silly Creatures (by hiding inside a gift box). He witnesses a young boy and girl putting cookies and milk by the fireplace and notices stockings hanging from the mantle. After the reading, the others start feeling the cold getting unbearable. Red decides to ring her bell regardless. But before she can reach it, she and the others freeze solid in their tracks.
Gobo is fighting his way through a very cold, windy passage. He loses his map after it is swept away by the howling wind. His spirits drop again as he reaches for a frozen stalactite to hold onto, admitting he can't complete his mission. Cantus finally finds him and tells Gobo to listen. Gobo hears a loud clanging nearby and assumes it's the Great Bell. He runs toward the sound and sees it is a huge metal ring hanging on a cave wall, similar to a door knocker, clanging against the cave wall by the wind. He gets excited once more, claiming he finally found the Great Bell. Cantus, however, is looking skeptical about all this. Gobo pulls on the ring, which opens a door to another cave, ready to find the Great Bell inside. The cave is empty. Gobo is crushed, stating all of this was a lie.
Gobo and Cantus return to the Great Hall. Gobo is devastated to see his friends frozen solid, icicles forming on their faces and bodies. He scolds himself for not finding anything in the center of the rock. Cantus explains to Gobo that he found the center, but not the heart, which Gobo soon realizes that the Great Hall and all the Fraggles are what make the heart of the rock. Gobo suddenly grabs his bell and rings it. This causes the frozen Fraggles to revive and thaw out. Gobo encourages his friends to start ringing their bells and they do, thereby officially starting the Festival of the Bells. Soon, all the Fraggles in the rock are ringing bells throughout, running around and cheering and thoroughly enjoying the festival. While they celebrate, a great, deep bell sounds throughout the caves and tunnels of Fraggle Rock, passageways and tunnels lighting up with a soft warm glow.
Doc is smiling as he watches out his front door and listening to distant church bells musically chiming Christmas carols. Sprocket is still trying to break open the pinata. He finally does, and he and Doc eagerly investigate what they receive. Sprocket gets doggie bone treats and Doc gets a pair of mittens. Doc states that they will have a wonderful Christmas this year.
- "Weeba Weeba"
- "There's a Promise"
- "The Festival of the Bells"
- All of the Fraggle Rock seasons began on HBO at the beginning of January, except for the third season, which began a week early so that this solstice episode could air in time for Christmas.
- This episode ends with a reprise of "There's a Promise" over the credits, a departure from other episodes which features an instrumental/scat version of the Fraggle Rock theme. This marks the first of three times that the regular end theme is being replaced by an alternate song. The other two episodes are "The River of Life" and "Change of Address". The alternate theme is replaced with the standard closing theme in international broadcasts.
- This is the only episode with an alternate ending credits to not feature the Fraggle Rock logo before the credits.
On the 1993 VHS release, the closing credits sequence was removed.
For the UK version of Fraggle Rock, which featured the Captain (played by Fulton MacKay) in place of Doc, this episode's scenes with Doc and Sprocket were replaced with a different storyline in which the Captain and Sprocket wait for their Christmas dinner to be delivered during a storm.
The episode made its home video debut on the Fraggle Rock: A Festive Fraggle Holiday! VHS, distributed in 1993 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The tape also included the episode "The Perfect Blue Rollie". It made its DVD debut on the Fraggle Rock: The Complete Third Season DVD set, originally released by HIT Entertainment in 2007. It was later featured along with "The Grapes of Generosity" and "The Perfect Blue Rollie" on the A Merry Fraggle Holiday single-disc DVD, released by Lions Gate Entertainment in 2009. Its next release was as part of Sony Pictures' Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series 35th Anniversary Collectors' Edition DVD and Blu-ray sets, released on September 25, 2018.
|Actor / Muppeteer||Character|
|Jerry Nelson||Gobo Fraggle|
|Steve Whitmire|| Wembley Fraggle|
|Kathy Mullen||Mokey Fraggle|
|Karen Prell||Red Fraggle|
|Dave Goelz|| Boober Fraggle|
Uncle Traveling Matt
|Jim Henson||Cantus the Minstrel|
- Muppet Wiki: The Bells of Fraggle Rock
- "The Bells of Fraggle Rock" at TV.com
- "The Bells of Fraggle Rock" at the Internet Movie Database