Monday, March 31, 2014

The Henson Company is suddenly back on my radar and I LOVE IT


You guys, I love everything that has come out of the Henson Creature Shop. Muppets and Fraggles, sure, but also Farscape (which, as we know, I adore), and all those fantastic 80s movies, and even, like, Where The Wild Things Are and the old Ninja Turtles Movies. There's all sorts of puppetry shops around, and some, like the ones in Star Wars, are great enough that you forget they're puppets, but there's something about Henson creatures. Something magical.

I think it's the combo of top-of-the-line skill with a dedication to in-camera and live effects rather than a dependence on CGI, so that there's an organic realness to the acting that comes from the puppets and goes to it. How many times have you heard people forget that Kermit was a puppet* after they started working? Or that Rigel was? Lots, that's how many.

I grew up with a head full of Henson. He basically owned the 80s fantasy genre. And I missed it when they pulled back after his death, when I outgrew Sesame Street and Muppet Show went off the air and Farscape didn't last. It was a wild puppetless tundra.

But now! Now, they're putting out these fancy new editions of novelizations of Labyrinth, Dark Crystal and Storyteller! They aren't out yet, but I'm already itching to get my grubby fannish hands on them. I have the old novelization of Dark Crystal, and I read it so much when I was a kid that it has to be held together with a rubberhand now, because the pages are all falling out. It has stuff that isn't in the movie, internal dialog and backstory and a few other scenes. I can't even tell you what it means to me that I can hold these movies in my hands in book form--well, that I will be able to, once they're published.**

And on top of that, we've got the next new Muppet Movie, AND we've got the Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge on SyFy! I'm a little wary of SyFy all the time***, but the one episode I've seen of this one so far seems to be right--the people really look like they care about the brand and know what it looks like and how it works, and the camera and editing work lingers just enough that we get that connection to what the shop has done before. The host, Gigi Edgeley was on Farscape and so she really understands the working side of these creations, and seems to have a real connection with the company, too. Sure, there's a few bitchy people, but creatives tend to get that way under stress, and it didn't seem like too much in the pilot--annoying, but not so much as to ruin enjoyment of the show, and less than there usually is on, say, Face Off or something.


So basically, I'm just SO GLAD that they're back in the fandomverse. I'm looking forward to this show launching new projects--wouldn't it be amazing if they did it that way? Use these people trying to get a job with them to work on new, big, ambitious projects like they used to do back in the day? It'd be a nice change from a world increasingly full of CGI slickness, it'd tie into the current nostalgia boom, and it'd push the limits of what pupeteered acting can do again--and that would be amazing. Scifi shows could use more actual physical aliens, and fantasy shows could use more weird little creatures.

I could most definitely use both!



Notes:
*Most recently, I've heard it from Tom Hiddleston, making him even more adorable than ever before. Which I didn't think was possible.
**I've requested them for review, but who knows if I'll get them...
***They canceled Farscape! They made Stargate into something too close to Battlestar Galactica! They didn't pick up Firefly! They have so many bad competition shows ::coughDifferentWorldscough::!
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