Last week, our own Joe Hennes wrote about the questions he hopes The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will answer. Most of these questions concern world-building and mythology. If Henson wants some tips on how to effectively expand the world of The Dark Crystal, they should draw inspiration from another of their 1980s projects: Fraggle Rock.

Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal were in development at Henson during exactly the same time period. They debuted less than a month apart. Frankly, conceptually they’re pretty similar. They’re both set in fantasy worlds where various species depend on each other to exist. They’re both about characters who explore those worlds. They both have a bunch of oddball creatures running around.

But the tone of the two projects couldn’t be more different. Fraggle Rock is joyful, lively, and endlessly entertaining. The Dark Crystal is slow, ponderous, and sleep-inducing. Luckily for the film, the stunning visuals are enough to sustain it for 94 minutes. That definitely won’t be true for ten hours of television. So here are eight lessons that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance hopefully learned from Henson’s all-time best TV show.

  1. Give the Gelflings individual personalities

The biggest problem with The Dark Crystal movie is that Jen and Kira are only defined as “dullard” and “has wings,” respectively. They’re a bland black hole at the center of the narrative. Fraggle Rock didn’t have that problem. All five main characters were vibrant, multi-faceted characters. I used to say that the best way to improve Dark Crystal would be to replace Jen and Kira with Gobo and Mokey. What I really hope is that Age of Resistance replaces them with characters who are as distinct as the Fraggle were.

  1. Explore culture one episode at a time

The Dark Crystal introduces us to four different societies – Gelflings, Skeksis, Mystics, and Podlings. In the movie, we don’t have time to learn much about each one. The TV show should have more time to explore them, and I hope they do it by taking advantage of TV’s best feature – the standalone episode. Fraggle Rock did this so well, devoting episodes to specific traditions among the Fraggles, Gorgs, or Doozers. All of those episodes added up to a world that felt rich and real.

  1. Show us how the cultures affect each other

In The Dark Crystal, the connection between the the Skeksis and the Mystics is treated as a big twist in the final act. Going into the TV show, we already know that they’re two halves of the same species, so I hope we’ll get explore how it affects each species and how they interact. Fraggle Rock was great at this, often showing how actions by the Gorgs, Fraggles, or Doozers affected the others.

  1. Teach us the geography of Thra

Fraggle Rock always went out of its way to remind us where we were in its fictional world. We could picture how to get from the Great Hall to, say, Doc’s Workshop or the Gorgs’ Garden. This gave the universe a lived-in feel. Hopefully, Age of Resistance will develop its world with that same care.

  1. Make use of memorable guest characters

Some of Fraggle Rock’s best episodes focused on characters who only appeared once, such as Skenfrith, the Spiderfly, and the Last of the Lily Creatures. Not only do these characters make the world of the show seem larger, they also serve as a breather from the usual stories. On a more serious show like Age of Resistance, these breaks from the ongoing story will be especially welcome.

  1. Use more music

In The Dark Crystal, we get hints of the musical traditions of a few cultures. The first time we see Jen, he’s playing a flute. The Podlings have a musical celebration in one of the movie’s most heartwarming scenes. The makers of the show should lean into that. Let them sing actual songs and play actual music, like the Fraggles did dozens of times over the course of their series.

  1. Don’t be afraid to be funny

Fraggle Rock is often a very funny TV show, but you know what else? You could say the same thing about every really great series. Even some of TV’s all-time darkest shows, like The Wire and Breaking Bad, knew how to use humor really well. The Dark Crystal movie decidedly did not. Hopefully the makers of Age of Resistance remember that comedy is a great way to advance story and character.

  1. Do Trial by Stone more like the Secret Society of Poohbahs

That episode was hilarious! Do it like that instead of like the boring movie The Dark Crystal!

Click here to tell me I should just rewatch Fraggle Rock instead on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Anthony Strand

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