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SYFY WIRE The Jim Henson Company

Jim Henson Company taps Norman Reedus & 'The Dark Crystal' artists for new puppet-based creature series

Will it be set in The Walking Dead or The Dark Crystal universe?

By Josh Weiss
Norman Reedus The Dark Crystal GETTY

Norman Reedus is trading flesh-eating zombies for cute and cuddly puppets in a new (and rather unexpected) collaboration with the famed Jim Henson Company. Variety confirms the longtime Walking Dead actor has teamed up with celebrated The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth artists Brian and Wendy Froud for a family-friendly series featuring "an entirely new universe of creatures." The Frouds will craft the aesthetic and Reedus will supply the bad boy attitude he's cultivated for over a decade with the character of Daryl Dixon.

“Norman Reedus, the Frouds, and the Jim Henson Company coming together to create a show is the mashup of my dreams,” Halle Stanford, President of TV at The Jim Henson Company said in a statement published by Variety. “Norman is an artist, and when I suggested to him, what if we create a series with the Frouds together that explores his love of magical creatures, he was so excited.”

She went on to describe the show as an "urban fantasy," whose goal is "to make hope cool."

Stanford continued: "It will be a magical world. But I feel like Norman is going to help us bring the ‘punk’ back in ‘hope punk.’ I also think that people kind of like that punk in Henson’s legacy. The Muppets were the underdogs, our [Labyrinth] Goblin King with David Bowie was so cool... When you say ‘Jim Henson,’ it invokes something in people. So I’m hoping those that felt inspired by him, like Norman Reedus, will look to us as a new home to create these types of stories that are transformative and entertaining, and having something to say, but also wanting to kind of push the medium of television.”

The mystery project is one several new enterprises hailing from the production banner co-founded by Jim Henson, the groundbreaking puppeteer who gave us the colorful characters of The Muppets and Sesame Street. Just last month, for example, the company rang in a television reboot of '80s classic Fraggle Rock — subtitled Back to the Rock — on Apple TV+. In addition, the company has a hand in Apple's animated Harriet the Spy series and Disney's Earth to Ned faux talk show.

"They are masters in the fantasy world-building space," Reedus said of his creative partners. "I mean, a show about goblins, trolls, and otherworldly creatures? There’s nobody in the universe better suited for that than the Henson Company."

As for the future of the The Dark Crystal IP, a prequel series, Age of Resistance, ran on Netflix for a single season to rave reviews and overwhelming fan support before it was unceremoniously canceled. With that said, the talented folks at The Jim Henson Company are "ready to jump" at a chance to revisit the legendary conflict between the Gelflings and the Skeksis. "The minute anyone would like to jump back into Thra [The Dark Crystal planet setting], it is a world that we will continue to build on and think about,” Stanford said.

While AMC gears up for the final episodes of The Walking Dead, Reedus has kept himself busy, writing a novel (out in April) and lobbying for the role of Ghost Rider in the MCU. Once Season 11 concludes, he'll jump right back into the undead universe in a spinoff centered around Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride).