The story opens with Sprocket playing some game on an archaic computer and Doc comes shivering in through the door. He comments on how cold it is: “and though the seasonal metamorphosis moves me in mysterious ways I still mourn the loss of nature’s abundance.”
Sprocket shoots him a confused look.
“The Garden,” Doc explains. All of the plants in the garden have died because of the frost of Autumn. “At least we still have Lucinda,” but unfortunately, Sprocket hasn’t been keeping up with his duties to take care of Lucinda, the plant. Sprocket feels badly about Lucinda, but Doc reassures him that “Lucinda is a hearty specimen,” and isn’t dead yet. They need to continue to water her and also talk to her. Doc says he read it in a book called: “You’re Okay, and Your Plant is Okay Too.” So he begins telling Lucinda his whole life story while Sprocket giggles on the floor.
In Fraggle Rock, a social event is taking place. Fraggles pair off and sing to each other in something called a Duet-a-thon. It’s a “very meaningful event” in which each Fraggle picks “the perfect partner with which to blend their voice in song.” Mokey has picked Red. Mokey views the duet-a-thon as “a meeting of minds,” and “a harmony of souls,” they’ve written a song that illustrates their friendship.
But Red sees the event as having a different significance.
“[It’s] a really neat contest that we’re going to win!” She proclaims proudly.
Even though Red and Mokey are roommates and best friends, and had apparently written the song ahead of time, they have different ideas about the content of the song.
Red wants it to be about a great warrior slaying dragons who turns them into something called Doozer dust. Mokey doesn’t want to sing about something so violent.
“Violence? What has dragon slaying got to do with violence?” Red asks.
Rather than argue, Mokey turns to Wembley and asks him what he and Gobo will be singing about. Wembley is horrified to realize that he doesn’t know! He and Gobo hadn’t actually talked about what song they are doing.
“I’ve been so excited about the duet-a-thon that I completely forgot!” He cries.
Wembley’s words immediately resonated with me as I’ve often thought that we think too much about something (positively or negatively) and we forget to actually experience it.
Wembley runs back to his room to talk to Gobo but he’s in the middle of writing a song. He needs a word to rhyme with treacherous. Wembley suggests lecherous, but Gobo tells him it’s not a word. Maybe that’s because the act of being lecherous is a foreign idea to the Fraggles so they wouldn’t have a word for it.
At that moment, Uncle Travelin’ Matt appears at the top of the stairs at the mouth of the cave. He wants Gobo to sing the duet with him. He says it will make him the proudest Fraggle in Fraggle Rock and begins to sob. Wembley sees this and, even though Gobo tells Matt that he already has a partner, says that Gobo should sing the duet with Matt. Wembley leaves the cave saddened. He’s fighting back tears and a Doozer comes up and lends him a empathetic ear. Wembley tells her he is sad because “I did what I was supposed to do, which was what I didn’t want to do but I knew I had to do and now I don’t know what to do.”
The Doozer says that she understands and assures Wembley that “it happens to the best of us. Of course not me, because I’m a Doozer with a very positive outlook on life.”
“I used to have one of those,” recounts Wembley.
“But that’s because I never take no for an answer,” the Doozer explains.
“Never,” she says. “If one road is blocked I take another. If one building is finished I simply start another one. If one drawing is no good I make one that’s better . . .”
Wembley has already gotten the idea and leaves her to continue listing off examples.
As he’s considering the things the Doozer told him, he bumps into Boober and the idea shoots immediately to Wembley’s head. He’ll sing the duet-a-thon with Boober!
But unfortunately, Boober hates the duet-a-thon. “It makes me really tense and I get nervous thinking I might lose.”
That’s such a pessimistic and defeatist way to look at things. We put the limitations on our own abilities. If we say we can’t do something, we probably won’t be able to. Also, one shouldn’t spend their time worrying or feeling anxious about things. Most of the things we worry about never happen.
“You might win,” Wembley interjects.
“That makes me ever more nervous!” Boober shouts.
A female Fraggle, Tosh, comes up behind Boober and Wembley and coughs. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Of course you’re not, Tosh,” Boober gushes and it’s the first time I ever remember Boober exhibiting the overzealous, overly interested, giddy traits of someone who’s enamored with someone. Tosh asks him to sing with her in the duet-a-thon. She even wrote a song for Boober and her to sing together.
It’s called: the sun shines in the sky like a rhubarb in a pie.
“What a sentiment,” gasps Boober. “I have never been so moved in my entire life.”
“So you’ll be my partner?” Tosh asks.
“Of course I will,” Boober exclaims jumping up and down, holding Tosh’s hands. “I love the duet-a-thon.”
Nothing like the opposite sex to bring you out of a funk, eh Boober?
So Wembley needs to find someone else to be his singing partner for the duet-a-thon. And cue musical number.
“One does not make company. I walk alone cause there’s only me.”
Wembley gets emo for awhile.
“I sing alone, but it’s meant for two.”
At the end of the song he begins crying again and the same Doozer from before sees him and tries to help him. They get to talking and the Doozer (you finally learn that her name is Cotterpin) discovers that the duet-a-thon is about singing. And she says she loves singing and that she’ll be his partner in the duet-a-thon.
So they begin writing a song together but both are disagreeing about what song they should sing about because Wembley wants to sing about Fraggle stuff and Cotterpin wants to sing about Doozer stuff.
“We may be different, but we’re still friends, right?” Wembley points out.
They finally agree to, instead, sing about friendship.
“You’re pretty smart for a Fraggle,” says Cotterpin.
“You’re pretty fun for a Doozer,” replies Wembley.
So they begin writing their song about friendship.
Meanwhile, Gobo has told Matt that he thinks that he should sing with Wembley but then Matt wants to sing with Wembley. The gang gets together and they’re all switching partners or saying they’ll drop out so that they can work it out that Wembley will have a partner. And they keep shooting around combinations of Fraggles but in the end Gobo says that the plan still leaves Wembley without a partner.
Wembley is walking down the cave after just leaving his practice with Cotterpin and singing as he bounces around happily. He bumps into Matt who informs him that he has the “honour” of having Matt as a duet partner. Wembley explains to Matt that he already has a partner and starts on his way to the Great Hall to sign up for the duet-a-thon. Matt runs off in search of Gobo.
Wembley signs up and the Fraggle taking down names is astonished when he tells her he’s singing with a Doozer.
The female Fraggle is outraged: “This is no time to play games . . . I’m trying to organize an important event here.”
Wembley insists he’s not playing games. “I want to sing with Cotterpin.”
“But that’s ridiculous,” the Fraggle taking down names says with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You can’t sing in the duet-a-thon with a Doozer.”
(The way the Fraggle says Doozer leaves me feeling dirty.)
“Well why not?” Wembley to me, is a creature of unrelenting optimism and child-like naiveté and to someone of that mindset the sentence ‘you can’t sing in the duet-a-thon with a Doozer’, is in itself ridiculous.
The Fraggle taking down names doesn’t come up with a very convincing reason why he can’t. “Because this is Fraggle duet-a-thon. That’s why! The duet-a-thon is a fine old Fraggle tradition. And you can’t just go changing the rules for a Doozer. Why it’s truly the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.” And he laughs.
Wembley is shocked. “Well, if this is a fine old Fraggle tradition, maybe I don’t want to be a Fraggle anymore.”
I think we’ve all been there, where we see injustices being done for the sake of tradition and it makes one ashamed of the culture we belong to.
Meanwhile, in the Doozer city, Cotterpin is talking to other Doozers about the duet-a-thon but they don’t think it’s a good idea. They’re worried Wembley will forget about her.
“My mom and dad said you can’t never trust a Fraggle.” [grammar police: that means you can.]
“They’re just too silly to depend on,” says another.
“My mom and dad told me Fraggles lie all the time.”
“And they forget everything they say, right after they say it.”
“My mom and dad said all Fraggles hate Doozers.”
“And they don’t care what we feel at all.”
“My mom and dad sai-“
“Will you be quiet!” Cotterpin interrupts them. “You drillbits don’t know what you’re talking about.”
(drillbits: euphemism or racial slur?)
“We just don’t want to tell you we told you so when the Fraggle lets you down.”
And immediately Wembley comes running down the cave towards them to let her know that she can’t be in the duet-a-thon because she’s a Doozer.
“We told you so!” And the Doozer drive away on their Doozer stick road in their awesome 3-wheeler.
“They were right,” Cotterpin sobs. “Fraggles do hate Doozers.”
Wembley tries to convince Cotterpin that it isn’t true and that the reason she can’t be in the duet-a-thon is because it’s just for Fraggles.
“So much for friendship, huh?” Cotterpin gets on her 3-wheeler and starts to drive off.
He pleads for her to wait and tells her she has “just as much right as anyone else to sing in the duet-a-thon as anybody else. And I’m gonna go back and tell the other Fraggles that a duet-a-thon without you in it isn’t worth having.”
“You think they’ll believe that?”
“Of course they will, because Fraggles don’t hate anybody!”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Cotterpin scoffs before driving away.
“We don’t hate anybody,” Wembley says to himself. “I know that’s true. It’s gotta be.”
He goes to confront the other Fraggles:
“I’ve got something to say about stuff, and it’s this: the duet-a-thon is supposed to be fun but I don’t see how it can be if it means leaving someone out.”
“You’re not talking about a someone . . . you’re talking about a Doozer,” the Fraggle says Doozer again as though it’s a naughty word.
As Wembley’s confronting the Fraggles, Cotterpin rolls up on her 3-wheeler in time to hear him say: “So what! Cotterpin’s as good as you and me, maybe even better cause she helped me when no one else would.”
“Well that doesn’t matter. The duet-a-thon is just for Fraggles. That’s the way it’s always been.”
And then Wembley says something so wonderful, I had to smile. “Well I’ve got news for you. Just because something has ‘always been’ doesn’t make it right.”
He turns to the crowd and asks them: “Does it?”
And they all shake their heads.
“And if my friend can’t be in the duet-a-thon I don’t wanna have anything to do with it!”
Gobo agrees with Wembley and says if Cotterpin isn’t included, he doesn’t want a part of it either. And then Red and Mokey express their agreement and pretty soon the entire crowd of Fraggles is on board with Wembley.
They begin chanting: “We won’t sing! We won’t sing! We won’t sing!”
Rather than include Cotterpin, the Fraggle who was taking down names suggests cancelling the duet-a-thon.
“I’ve got a better idea. Instead of cancelling the duet-a-thon and making everyone unhappy, why not just let Cotterpin sing?”
And finally the Fraggle who was taking down names has a change of heart: “Well, that’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!”
Cotterpin goes to tell Wembley how impressed she was with what he’d said and they sing in the duet-a-thon together.
I think this is a wonderful story and provides lots of wonderful concepts to think about and consider applying to our own lives.
The episode ends back with Doc and Sprocket. Doc has fallen asleep while attempting to tell Lucinda the plant his life story. We wakes to hear Sprocket singing (in a way only a dog can sing) and sees that Lucinda is back to her healthy planet self. He inquires how Sprocket managed to rejuvenate the plant and Sprocket continues singing.
“You sang to her? Of course, that’s the solution. You know there’s something magical about music. There really is!”