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The Woozle World

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Woozle

Woozle World was Jim Henson's original concept and pitch for Fraggle Rock. Henson and the development team used the term Woozle to describe the characters and world because they needed to call them something; the name was not meant to be permanent.

From the start, the show was conceived as an international endeavor. As described in Henson's original concept notes, seventy-five to eighty-five percent of the show -- the Woozle segments -- would be the same in all versions, dubbed for each coproduction, while the remaining fifteen to twenty-five percent -- the outside world segments -- would be locally produced and edited into the master show. Options to subtitle, dub, or produce a location segment were also offered for each coproduction.

One of Henson's ideas was for the show to be extremely variable from episode to episode, capable of ranging from a tightly scripted plot to a series of sketches with a central theme. More similar to Fraggle Rock were The Woozle World's two basic concepts: to be silly and entertaining, and to have an underlying message of understanding others and living in harmony.

Henson also envisioned creating new Muppet characters for the show that would have the same kind of appeal as Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo. He added, "We will not create anybody with Miss Piggy's kind of appeal -- nobody should try."

The location for the international segments was termed Home Base and the English/American version is described as a tiny, cluttered room, populated by an "old codger" (either a man or woman) who spends their time puttering around and talking to their dog, a Muppet dog named George, but mostly referred to in Henson's notes as "the dog." The dog, who would communicate with elaborate pantomime, would become Sprocket, while the "old codger" would evolve into the North American production's Doc. Along with Doc's occupation as an inventor would come a change in the Home Base setting into an inventor's workshop. Jim Henson describes the dog as "bright, warm, and lovable" and the human character as "warm and lovable, but you probably wouldn't call him bright." He goes on to explain that the human is so pre-occupied with other things that they never notice the Woozles.

The Woozles, the eponymous species of the show, would eventually evolve into the Fraggles. Their Woozle hole was located under a cabinet and had a door on it, unlike the Fraggle hole which was located in a bare wall and had no door. Just like the Fraggles, the Woozles were cute, fuzzy Muppet creatures who lived underground. However, there were some key differences. Woozles lived in burrows, and instead of Gobo, Red, Boober, Mokey, and Wembley, the show focused on a family of Woozles: "Ma and Pa Woozle, a couple of kid Woozles, one of which is probably our main character. Then there's Grandma Woozle and a few baby Woozles that are ever so cute and adorable." Henson's describes Woozles as goofy, enthusiastic, fun-loving, musical, not too bright, but loving, like the Fraggles. He also suggests that there could be dozens or even hundreds of Woozles in existence, and they occasionally gather to listen to the Head Woozle, similar to the Fraggles' custom of gathering at events where The World's Oldest Fraggle presides.

The Woozles and the Fraggles also share a love of music and the philosophy that when a problem arises, you should sing about it. Woozle music is described as "rousing foot stomping, hand clapping type songs that make you want to join right in." Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee would later be responsible for creating Fraggle Rock's signature music, including several songs that would fit this description.

While there is no direct Woozle equivalent of Uncle Traveling Matt, one of the main ideas of the show was that of a brave Woozle who ventures out into our world and brings back a manmade object for the Woozles to misinterpret.

The "back door" of the Woozle World leads to another outdoor world, in which live the Giant Wozles, predecessors to the Gorgs. Like the Gorgs, the Giant Wozles consist of a mother, father and son, and they were conceived as full-body Muppets. However, unlike the pompous, bullying Gorgs, the Giant Wozles were friendly, but dim-witted.

The Wizzles were the prototype Doozers, living beneath the Woozles and coming out into the Woozles' world through Wizzle holes, creating a concentric series of worlds. A concept of interest that never made it into Fraggle Rock was the idea that, to illustrate the relationship between Woozles and Wizzles being equivalent to the Giant Wozles and Woozles, scenes involving the Wizzles would employ full-body Woozle puppets and Muppet-size Wizzle puppets. The Woozle-Wizzle relationship also greatly differed from the Fraggles' and Doozers' peaceful symbiosis -- Woozles thought of Wizzles as pests and would try to exterminate any Wizzle they saw. The Wizzles' own world was just as complex as the Woozles', and the Wizzles in turn were giants to a microscopic species called the Squeegles.

Other inhabitants of the world include the Trash Heap, originally a male who was paid for his advice in rusty tin cans, and "fearsome creatures who live in the woods."

The concept notes, written on April 3, 1981 (on Concorde from London to New York), were reproduced as a "Replica of Jim Henson's original notepad" for the Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season DVD set.

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