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June 5, 2017

What We Want from Netflix’s Dark Crystal Series

Filed under: Commentary,Feature — Tags: — Joe Hennes @ 11:00 am

The biggest news in the Hensonsphere these days is the announcement that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a serialized sequel to the classic Henson film, is coming to Netflix.  Honestly, who saw that one coming??  It’s going to be an uphill climb for the filmmakers considering the fact that Jim Henson isn’t around to involve himself, it’s likely super expensive to build (or re-build) all those puppets, and that the last time anyone saw anything from the world of The Dark Crystal was 35 years ago.

We’ve got a lot of expectations, hopes, and fears about this series, and because all we have to go on is a short teaser, we’re just gonna go ahead and list a few of those out, along with all sorts of speculative nonsense.

Let Puppets Be Puppets

From what we understand, we know this is happening already, but it’s probably the most important aspect.  The Dark Crystal was the first live-action film featuring exactly zero human beings on screen.  When people talk about the movie, the first thing mentioned is always the puppets.  They were groundbreaking, they were beautiful (and often hideous), and they were real.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the success of the entire series hinges on the wiggling dolls.

Practically Practical

It’s not just the puppets – it’s everything.  The sets, the props, the glowing crystals.  We want as many practical effects as possible  Just like how the characters need to feel real, so does their world.  I expect that the series will have a bit of CGI to enhance the action, remove wires, and generally fill in the magic, but I hope it’s used sparingly to give proper focus to those things that actually exist.

Mystics and Skeksis and Podlings (oh my!)

There are so many interesting species, we should probably see a few of those.  The Skeksis are the most iconic, and you kinda can’t have those without their counterbalanced Mystics.  I want to see what happened to the Podlings after the events of the film.  I want to get scared when we see a Garthim round the corner.  Let’s see some of those strange aliens that only got a few seconds of screen time in the movie.  Do we even need to demand more Aughra, or is that presumed?

Let Gelflings Lie

Just a thought – Maybe we let the Jen and Kira’s story end with The Dark Crystal.  We got to see the Gelflings go on an epic adventure and come out clean in the end.  Although it’d be interesting to see what happened to them after the events of the movie, it might be best to let them have their happy ending while we focus on new heroes for the Netflix series.

What’s Old is New Again

Here’s the most difficult thing about sequels.  It has to bring back what we loved about the original, but still be it’s own thing.  We’ll need this series to be everything The Dark Crystal was, but also something we’ve never seen before.  It should be familiar and alien.  Repetitive and unique.  Thankfully, dichotomy and duality are key themes to The Dark Crystal, so they should have this one in the bag.

Elsewhere in Thra

The Labyrinth comic book from Archaia handles one thing very well that I’d hope would reflect on stories like this.  The comics tell stories from the expanded universe without using Sarah or Jareth, and they don’t actually affect the original story at all.  This way, if you like the new stuff, it adds to the original, and if you don’t like it, you can safely ignore it.  Plus, Thra seems big enough to have room for more than just what we’re already familiar with.

Oh Please Just Don’t Be Boring

I admit, The Dark Crystal is far from my favorite Henson project.  Personally, I find it to be a gorgeous film with an especially boring script.  But what if the story was more intriguing and the quality of the art stayed just as high?  That would be a perfect confluence.  And if this new Netflix series pulls it off, it could make me love The Dark Crystal just as much as some of you out there.

A Touch of Jim

It’s hard to guess at what Jim Henson might’ve contributed to a project like this, and we all have different interpretations of what his strengths were.  I’d hope that the filmmakers are all constantly asking themselves, “What would Jim do?” and allowing it to up the ante on the puppetmaking, or add layers to the script, or insert a little humor into the bleakness.  I think Jim would’ve found a way to do something differently than it’s ever been done before.  There’s no way of knowing what that would be, but I hope that the folks behind The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance are looking to reinvent the where in some fashion, which would absolutely make Jim (and Jim’s fans) very proud.

Stay tuned for more information about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance here on ToughPigs!

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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com



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