Monday, May 12, 2014

Jim Henson does it again...

I am not much on reality television, to put it mildly. I don't keep up with Kardashians, care who survives, or give a F___ about what the pseudo redneck Duck family is doing. I'm also not interested in contest shows mainly because of the contest part.  I love to see artists in the process of making art but hate that it gets  judged. This is true for every show from cooking to dress design except one,  "Jim Henson's Creature Shop."
It's  no surprise that I would like a show where the goal is to create robotic-puppet creatures. That is my kind of process. I have worked with artists of that genre most of my life in one way or another. Also, for full disclosure I am not a completely disconnected viewer, my friend Kirk Thatcher is one of the judges.  You know my admiration for Kirk and the puppets he has created for me in the past.  If not, read the blog I wrote about Kirk by clicking here.
That said here is what I love about the show.  First of all the "contestant" artists are unbelievably talented. They are that rare bread of puppet creator who can do it all from sculpting, molding, mechanics, servos, design and painting.  It is fascinating to see how artists approach a rush project and how their minds work. And because the Jim Henson Creature Shop is the holy grail and state of the art for film ready creatures the mentoring advice they receive is brilliant. 
But mainly the show maintains that Henson class and innovation with Brian Henson, son and heir to the franchise. He is in control without controlling, he is pleasant but never pandering and he is spot on with constructive criticism without ever being mean spirited. It is smart, sharp and never stoops to humiliating anyone's work or process as an artist. The judges look for the "best of the best" and departing contestant are not required to jump into an ego shredder.  
I am addicted to the show which is on the SyFy channel. I DVR them all and have watched a few episodes several times.  So far there is not a person appearing on the show that I would not hire to build a puppet for me.  I'm not sure where you would find it on your cable system but here is a link to the site. Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge.
I have no connection to the show other than watching my friend Kirk and "wanta be friend" Brian Henson. I've never met Brian but he seems like he would be a great guy to know.  
But...Check it out.  For those who like contest shows, reality shows and artisan shows this is one of the best.  For those like me that don't care for the genera, check it out anyway, it might restore your faith in commercial television.  
As you were,
Jay

5 comments:

Unknown said...

I feel sorry for Brian. He is undeniably talented but will never completely overcome the shadow of his father.
Here it is, nearly 25 years after Jim Henson's death and we still refer to him as though he was just on vacation and we're expecting him to walk in at any time.

Gwyn Oswin said...

I just heard about this show a couple weeks ago. I despise reality programming, but the promised glimpse into the Creature Shop made me check it out. Plus, I suspected that, being Henson people, they would not trash the contestants or crush their dreams (which is what I hate most about reality shows). I LOVED it! It's absolutely fascinating. There's nothing else like it on television. It's actually worth your time.

Jeff Martin said...

I LOVE this show and the creativity involved. It's riveting. They are all so talented. What a great concept for a "reality" show.

Pete Biro said...

I love this show. I drive past Henson's studio often and always wish I could pull in and look around. It is really fun to watch them create amazing creatures... something I would love to have done.offl

Dan Christopher said...

The show sounds great - I'll be sure to check it out. When I was about 14, I went to the SAM convention in Boston. In the dealer's room, I met a kid about my age and we hung out quite a bit over the next 2-3 days . His name was Brian. At one point, he said that he wanted me to meet his parents and there was Jim and Jane Henson(the Muppets were performing on one of the evening shows..) - talk about awestruck! Ah, darn..I should've kept in touch....