Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Sprocket


Written by frequent contributor Kyle Mahoney.


Performed by…
Steve Whitmire (head, voice)
Karen Prell (tail, right hand)

First appearance…
Fraggle Rock Episode 101: “Beginnings” (1983)

Most recent appearance…
Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

Best known role…
Big Hairy Monster who guards the hole to outer space; Doc’s pet and best friend; “Zombie Attack” High Score holder

Sprocket is a dog who, in all productions of Fraggle Rock, is the pet and best friend of the “Doc” character. Although Sprocket is a Muppet, to everyone he meets, he is seen as a regular dog. Sprocket is able to do humanlike things that most dogs can’t, such as understand whatever language “Doc” is speaking. He is also a wiz at impressions and is known for his impersonation of Ned Shimmelfinny, during which he growls, chokes himself, then faints.

Though he is his master and spends most of his time with him, Doc is not Sprocket’s only friend. Over time, Sprocket formed friendships with the Fraggles living inside the workshop wall. Although at first he is threatened by them, he soon learns to love the little furry creatures. Sprocket’s first friendly encounter with a Fraggle came about when Gobo saved him from being stuck in the Fraggle hole. After this encounter, Sprocket no longer seeing the Fraggles as a threat, but still does his best to alert his master of their presence.

Sprocket has successfully entered Fraggle Rock twice, once when Doc pulls up the floorboards and Sprocket decides to dig into the caves to look for Gobo. While there he meets all of the main species: Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs, and even Marjory the Trash Heap (who can speak fluent dog). Sprocket returns to Fraggle Rock in a later episode simply by digging into a mound of snow while walking with Doc. This time he, Gobo, and Wrench Doozer all go exploring together.

In 1987, Sprocket accompanied Doc to Grizzly Farms in A Muppet Family Christmas to spend a nice quiet Christmas in the country. After the Muppets arrive, Doc is asks Sprocket if the weird creatures are anything like the Fraggles, to which Sprocket replies with a “kind of” hand gesture. He has a spotlight moment when Rowlf the Dog arrives and the two have a conversation by barking (it helps to know a second language). Later, The Swedish Chef tries to cook Sprocket, thinking he’s the Christmas turkey. At the very end, Sprocket is seen washing dishes with some fellow named Jim Henson, who suggests Sprocket dry.

Sprocket has made many other, non-descript appearances without Doc by his side. In The Jim Henson Hour we learn Sprocket is a member of the OMD, The Organization of Muppet Dogs. And in the Dog City special, Sprocket gets thrown out of a bar. He also appeared with Traveling Matt at The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years to represent Fraggle Rock. Sprocket also appeared in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island as a background Muppet.

Because every man needs a best friend, and every Fraggle as well. Sprocket was the connecting tissue between the world of Fraggle Rock and the world of “Outer Space.” Without Sprocket, the Fraggles never would have been discovered by Doc, and vice versa. Sprocket is important because he is an example of a magnificently performed pantomime character who is both comical and realistic at once. Sprocket is a crucial part of Fraggle Rock, and it’s very hard to imagine the show without him.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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