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The Dark Crystal returns: Netflix is making a prequel series for Jim Henson's fantasy classic

The new series will take place among the world of Skeksis and Mystics, long before the events of the film.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Good news for fans of Gelflings, Skeksis, and Mystics: Netflix has just announced a prequel series for Jim Henson’s cult fantasy classic The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance returns us to the troubled world of the 1982 animatronic-puppetry film, to a time when the Skeksis and the Mystics were still bitter enemies and the Gelfling race was caught in the middle.

A new teaser plays up the character design and sense of artistry that Henson put into his famously underrated film, perhaps to reassure fans that all due priority will be given to recreating the rich world they love.

Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me) will executive-produce and direct the series, which is co-written by Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews (Life in a Year) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100). Planned as a 10-episode prequel to the film, the story will feature a lavish ensemble of fantastical characters created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, with Brian Froud, the concept designer for both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, contributing to the prequel’s character design.

In a press release, Netflix described a basic plot that seems to hew closely to that of the original film, with a trio of Gelflings embarking on a long journey to stop the Skeksis from doing something awful.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance returns to the world of Thra with an all new adventure. When three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.

Though the details are a bit sketchy, the key to this series’ success seems to already be in place: Any Dark Crystal revisit would have to return to the time when the Skeksis and the Mystics were unjoined, not only because it’s necessary for sowing conflict, but because everybody knows that the Skeksis are the best part of The Dark Crystal. Sorry, Fizzgig and Aughra. (Okay, fine, maybe the Landstriders get an edge for being the weirdest, coolest form of transport in cinema.)

The broken world that The Dark Crystal presents is utterly fascinating, both in its weirdness and in its sense of despair. You really get a sense through Jim Henson’s vivid imagery that this once-spectacular world has been transformed into a kind of swamp-gothic ruin of itself, poised on the edge of a heat-death. Returning us to a moment when that transformation was still in process holds all kinds of potential for worldbuilding and plot exploration — not to mention cool animatronic puppets.

Plus, it can’t be overstated: Skeksis are awesome.

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