Netflix & # 39; s new Dark Crystal reboot reaches back to Fraggle Rock

There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the mess you could see. Every Friday The edgeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by sorting the overwhelming amount of movies and TV shows over subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.

What to watch


& # 39; The Gorg Who would be king & # 39 ;, a 1987 episode of the HBO children's series Fraggle Rock, and one of the last episodes from the show's original five-season run. The story follows Junior, the prince of his giant race, falling back to the size of a Fraggle and getting a lesson from the much smaller species about what it means to be part of a community. Credited to screenwriter Laura Phillips and director Terry Maskell, "The Gorg Who Would Be King" delivers a clear moral message aimed at an elementary school audience. It is also a meaningful exploration of Fraggle Rock& # 39; s interconnected ecosystem, where Gorgs, Fraggles and the small work creatures of the Doozers live symbiotic.

Why watch now?

Because Netflix is ​​debuting The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance this weekend.

A prequel to the fantasy film by Jim Henson from 1982 The dark crystal, the new 10-episode series tells the story of how the problems of the planet Thra began when a species known as the Skeksis began to control the mystical powers of the world at the expense of the more peaceful, elf-like Gelflings. With a mix of puppetry and CGI – and with an all-star voice cast with Mark Hamill, Anya Taylor-Joy, Eddie Izzard, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs and Simon Pegg – the show offers a rich imaginary universe, such as the decor for a story with real sociopolitical resonance.

This new Dark crystal series could restore the reputation of one of Henson's more problematic projects. Henson, a restless artist and a cunning businessman, thought as a teenager how he could make money with his puppet show and sold his services to local TV channels and advertisers as early as the mid-1950s. Towards the end of the 1960s, he was a regular on national network broadcasts, and used his fame to pitch more ambitious but potentially unmanageable ideas, including the kind of elaborate fantasy epics that would evolve into The dark crystal.

The chorus of "no" Henson was partially inspired in response to his more serious pitches The Muppet show, a successful series about underdog entertainers with big dreams. The success of The Muppet show and The Muppet movie reopened some doors that were closed to Henson. But when he poured in much of his new influence The dark crystal, the film was greeted with lukewarm reviews and purely respectable cash registers. It was a fervent cult audience, but it wasn't Henson's hawker and franchise starter.

Henson found other outlets for his imaginative obsessions. In 1983 he launched with his team Fraggle Rock, an expensive international co-production, and one of the first prominent examples of a non-broadcast network (HBO in the US) that buys original programming from top talent. Although aimed at children, the series also appealed to older Henson fans. In Fraggle Rock& # 39; s attractively designed and well-thought-out universe, the fun title characters and their Doozer helpers live in a network of caves, nestled between the kingdom of the huge, gurgling gorges and the workplace of a human hobbyist named Doc (and his super fun dog, Sprocket, an amazingly realistic creation from Muppet).


The typical Fraggle Rock episode is like a lighter version of The dark crystal, with quests with low stakes that chart the subtly balanced culture of these characters. In & # 39; The Gorg Who would be King & # 39; Junior learns that according to tradition he will become the new ruler when the last leaf falls off the Nirvana tree. He decides to avoid his duty by eating the leaf, but he shrinks immediately. Junior is recorded by the Fraggles – not much more than garden pests by Gorgs – and his new friends teach him about their way of life where no one is in charge and instead everyone moderates the behavior of their friends by making soft jokes at their expense when they screw up.

Photo: HBO

For who it is

Parents of small children and fans of DIY fantasy.

Unlike all ages The Muppet show, Fraggle Rock was aimed at children who were slightly older than one Sesame Street public but not old enough for that The dark crystal. Like almost all Henson productions, the show features such well-developed characters and handy dolls (with floppy duster) that adults who appreciate fine craftsmanship don't mind watching their youngsters. In "The Gorg Who would be King", Laura Phillips even inserts a Rolling Stones reference when the conscious trash Marjory says to Junior: "You can't always get what you want … but you might find that you get what you need. "

Each episode contained several catchy numbers; in & # 39; De Gorg who would be king & # 39 ;, it is the spicy anarchist anthem, & # 39; you can never be the boss of anyone else & # 39 ;. The thoughtfulness of Fraggle Rock remains impressive. In this episode, when Pa Junior chastards about his ambivalence to become king, he snarls: & You don't have to understand the universe; you just have to rule it! ”That is a funny rule, largely because it goes against the central philosophy of the Henson studio. Henson felt the way to create amazing art – and live a valuable life – by paying attention to the smallest details. Everything is important because everything works in harmony.

Where to see it

HBO Go and HBO now. The dark crystal is available on Netflix.

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