‘The Dark Crystal’ Prequel Is ‘Game of Thrones’ With Puppets

Netflix recently released The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a 10-episode prequel to Jim Henson’s classic 1982 feature film The Dark Crystal. Horror author Christopher M. Cevasco was impressed by the show’s visuals, which rely heavily on puppets and other practical effects.

“There are moments, like in the Fellowship of the Ring movie, or movies like that, where you have these moments where you gasp because you’re astounded by something on the screen,” Cevasco says in Episode 379 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And I feel like I was gasping from beginning to end of every one of these episodes. It was just constantly pushing my ‘sense of wonder’ button six times in every scene.”

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley also loved Age of Resistance, particularly its focus on politics.

“The thing that surprised me the most was how much this reminded me of Game of Thrones,” he says. “There’s political intrigue, shocking deaths, backstabbing. I feel like this show would never have arrived in its current form without the influence of Game of Thrones.”

Fantasy author Erin Lindsey agrees that Game of Thrones was a major influence on Age of Resistance. “Game of Thrones did not invent political machinations,” she says, “but I do think that there has to be some level at which that show informed this show. It doesn’t strike me as a coincidence that so many Game of Thrones actors were cast in this show. So there’s definitely a certain degree of that sensibility here.”

While Age of Resistance is successful overall, there are moments when the show’s moral ambiguity meshes awkwardly with the original film’s archetypal heroes and villains. Science fiction author Chandler Klang Smith felt this was particularly true of the character Seladon, who maintains an inexplicable loyalty to the show’s cartoonish villains the Skeksis.

“It was hard to understand what kind of rationale she had in her mind for her actions,” Smith says. “So there were things like that where I thought the original source material wasn’t really strong enough to support all the stuff that the show was trying to spin.”

Listen to the complete interview with Christopher M. Cevasco, Erin Lindsey, and Chandler Klang Smith in Episode 379 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

David Barr Kirtley on The Dark Crystal:

“I have to confess that I had never actually watched The Dark Crystal before doing this panel, and I guess this is as good a time as any to mention my morbid fear of Muppets. Muppets seriously freaked me out as a kid. One time my mom gave me this Muppet-like puppet that my aunt had bought for me. I didn’t want to admit that I was afraid of it, but it was in this box in my closet, and I would have trouble sleeping at night just thinking about that thing with its giant eyes, there in the darkness, staring at me through the closet door. I don’t know if that’s why I didn’t watch The Dark Crystal. I wasn’t boycotting it or anything, but it was just one of those movies that everybody else watched, and I never did.”

Chandler Klang Smith on heroes and villains:

“It definitely does seem obvious that the Skeksis are the bad guys and the Mystics are gentle and lovable, but there’s also this idea that the Mystics are described as being lost in a mist of forgetfulness. They’re really connected to nature, but almost to the point of not having apparent agency. … [Whereas] the Skeksis are full of avarice and gluttony, and all of these negative traits, but they’re also energized, and they’re really compelled by this quest for scientific knowledge at any cost, which is certainly—in the moral universe of the film—terrible. But I think that there was something interesting, for me as a kid, in the idea that there might be something in the evil part of a person that gives them animation and life, that’s necessary for them to be whole, and that there’s something in pure goodness and passivity that’s lacking.”

Christopher M. Cevasco on Age of Resistance:

“I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with how they connected all the dots from where we end up to where we open in the Dark Crystal movie. There are still some unanswered questions, I think. But at the same time, the danger is that the closer you get to the movie, the more impossible it’s going to be to have any kind of fulfilling ending, because it’s going to have to end with literally every character we know being slaughtered—with the exception of a couple of them, like Aughra. And that would be an incredibly depressing way to end a series, but I kind of feel like they’ve definitely planted the seeds for [Season 2]. And I think I’d be down for another season of it. I don’t know. I guess it depends on what they do with it, obviously.”

Erin Lindsey on Aughra:

“Aughra is one of my favorite characters in anything of all time, but I didn’t love Aughra in this. I loved the performance of Aughra, because she was so true to the original in terms of the voice and the physicality of the puppet and everything, but it was hard to reconcile her with Aughra as she appears in the movie. It’s like maybe Aughra has done a lot of acid and gotten considerably older in the intervening period, which is possible. … But she has a degree of perceptiveness and organization about her that the scatterbrained Aughra of later incarnation—which is also the earlier incarnation—doesn’t have, and I missed that humor of Aughra where you’re not totally sure how plugged in this woman really is.”

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