Do you like scratches? I don't! by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
Fraggle Rock was a popular series from Muppet creator Jim Henson, about a group of "Fraggles" that lived underground, sang songs, and enjoyed life. The series ran for 4 years, and HIT Entertainment released seasons 1-3 on DVD from 2005-2007 after some volume releases did quite well. Now the complete series, all 4 seasons, has been released by HIT and their distributor Lionsgate. Is this worth upgrading to? Read on...
The Packaging Fraggle rock comes in a brightly-colored box featuring the Fraggles and some of their friends. There's a plastic front on the box that must be removed to get at the binder which holds the DVDs. The front of the binder is covered with a plastic rock that has "Fraggle Rock" carved into it. It's held closed by a magnetic flap that sits under the top cover. Opening the flap exposes the 11 page binder holding all 20 discs.
While the binder looks nice, there are some obvious problems with it. The fake rock on the front of the binder doesn't allow the binder to sit flat on the desk, and I kept worrying that I'd dent the plastic if I pushed down at all. The pages of the binder hold two discs each, with the discs sliding into cardboard sleeves. 12 of the 20 discs had some scratches, and 10 of them were absolutely covered in scratches (see the disc 2 photo below). You see, there's a major flaw in the packaging; the discs in the lower slot come loose during travel. EVERY one of the discs in the lower slot were loose, and I spoke to 2 other reviewers and they confirmed the same thing. Once again we have shoddy packaging that damages the content people are buying.
The set features all 96 episodes of the series on 20 discs. Seasons 1-3 have been previously released on DVD, so I'm going to focus on season 4, since that's the "exclusive" material on the set. There are all 24 episodes from season 4 on 4 discs, plus a bonus disc containing other material, including:
Behind the Rock - The Inner Gorg (23:15)
An interview with the performers inside the Gorg costumes.
Behind the Rock - Designing the Puppets (5:57)
An interview with the puppet makers.
Silly Creatures Speak - Season 4 Overview (26:52)
A look back at season 4 with some of the people behind the series.
Silly Creatures Speak - Directing the Fraggles (5:42)
An interview with Eric Till and George Bloomfield.
The Sounds of Fraggle Rock - Let the Music Play (14:56)
An interview with Phil Balsam and Dennis Lee.
The Sounds of Fraggle Rock - Dance Your Cares Away (10:44)
The evolution of the theme song.
A Fraggle Celebration - You Cannot Leave the Magic (6:14)
Excerpts from the last day of shooting.
A Fraggle Celebration - Celebrating Fraggle Rock (15:24)
Excerpts from the wrap party.
The set also comes with a poster map of Fraggle Rock inside the box.
To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?
HIT and Lionsgate have fans captive with this release, since right now it's the only way to get the fourth season. It's possible season 3 sales dropped off, and HIT, wanting to finish the series, decided it was best to release the complete series than nothing at all. Though it stings fans who just need one season to complete their collection, and are forced to repurchased seasons 1-3 just to get it, at least the season is out there. Fans are also able to sell off their season sets if they desire, though there are some non-DVD bonus items that came with those sets which fans may want to hold onto. Then there's the issue of the horribly scratched discs. I don't know what quality control companies have these days, or what constitutes a "pass," but this packaging is an epic failure in functional design. I'm sure it looked good on someone's desk, but these sets get shipped and the discs become loose. They could have easily created a set that contained 10 double-slim cases inside, and they wouldn't have any problems with scratched discs at all, but they had to go for a "cool" yet functionally deficient package instead.
Is it worth your money to upgrade so you can get the fourth season, but also going through the hassle of getting scratched discs? That's up to you to decide.