It's the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational episode of The Unenthusiastic Critic yet, as Michael and Nakea discuss Jim Henson and Frank Oz's 1982 film The Dark Crystal.

First, we're talking about the unparalleled legacy of Jim Henson, and how the Muppets shaped our formative years. Then—in anticipation of the new prequel series from Netflix—we're watching The Dark Crystal, a labor of love from Henson that was not particularly loved by critics and audiences. Is The Dark Crystal a misunderstood masterpiece, or was it a rare misfire from the late, great Muppet master?


0:00: Prologue: from The Muppet Show
0:46: Preliminary Conversation: Jim Henson & The Muppets
18:10: Interlude: from Sesame Street
18:43: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion
24:32: Interlude: Original Trailer for The Dark Crystal
26:40: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Discussion
51:33: Outro and Next Week's Movie
53:16: Postscript, from The Muppet Show

Notes and Links

—Movie Reviewed: The Dark Crystal (dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz, Jim Henson Productions, 1982).
—"Bert & Ernie Go to the Movies" from Sesame Street Episode 2260.
Statler & Waldorf clips from The Muppet Show episodes 208 and 320.
—References: Jim Henson: The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones; "Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street," Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, National Bureau of Economic Research; "How Sesame Street Started a Musical Revolution," Melena Ryzik, New York Times; Reviews by Vincent Canby, New York Times, and Richard CorlissTime.
—Find additional episodes, leave a comment, or make a donation to support the podcast at
Email us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (Suggestions of movies to watch for future episodes are very welcome.)
—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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2 thoughts on “THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982)”

  1. You inspired me to watch the original which I had somehow conflated with “Willow.” I’m glad I revisited it, but agree with you two. It was still nice to noodle on vintage Jim Hensen. Being a bit ill last night, the podcast was great company. I then watched 5 minutes of the new netflix series. BLECH.

  2. Hi Michael and Nakea,

    It's been awhile since I've dropped in. I finished binge-watching the Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance and had a great time. It really lends itself well to allegorical readings of contemporary society and recent events in the news: class struggle, feminism/female empowerment, environmental issues, truth and authority…. The list goes on. Some of it is very thinly veiled, and some of it is just my own willingness to read more deeply than necessary into a really richly told story and finely rendered world. (I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid, but then again, I enjoyed the story that the original movie was trying to tell.)

    The 10-episode arc really allows for some great world-, character- and lore-building—much more than the original 90 minute movie. It would be interesting to hear your reaction to the new Netflix series, especially in light of some of the criticisms of the original movie. Be warned, the first 3 or 4 episodes form a lengthy exposition, but the build-up to the second half of the series is rewarding.


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