Jim Henson’s The Storyteller was a series that retold various European folk tales, particularly ones considered obscure in the U.S. Henson combined a cast of actors and puppets for the story retellings. The series featured John Hurt in prosthetics and make-up telling these old folk tales to his puppet dog that acted as the point of view of the audience at home. The series had 1 season of 9 episodes and a spin-off of Greek Myths that had 4 episodes. But why is everyone talking about a puppet show that aired on the BBC in 1987? And what does Neil Gaiman have to do with it? If you guessed reboot, you’re absolutely right.
“The Storyteller has been a longtime favorite for our fans who appreciate the beautiful artistry and faithful visualizing of these classic tales,” said Lisa Henson in a press release announcing the reboot. “It has always been a special project for me as well, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept.”
The series will be produced by Fremantle, who is also currently producing the second season of Gaiman’s American Gods for STARZ.
The Storyteller will be updated to work “for the binging kind” of viewer of today, Gaiman said.
“Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know.,” he said. “Who was the Storyteller, why was he telling these stories, was he a goblin, what kind of creature? What I’d love to do is an inside story that’s as long as the outside story. We’re going to find out a lot about who the storyteller is, we’re going to find out things we don’t even know that we don’t know. We’re going to begin in a Northern kingdom where stories are forbidden and where the act of telling a story is liable and can get you imprisoned or executed. If you put a storyteller into that situation, things would need to start getting interactive.”
“The Storyteller has always been a special project for me, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. I feel like if Neil were an actor, he’d have to play (the Storyteller) because he embodies what the storyteller is, a skillful wordsmith who can entertain people with the power of the story itself, and not to mention he also memorizes it all in his head.”
Lisa Henson has known about Gaiman’s love of The Storyteller since their first meeting in 1991 when she worked at Warner Bros. Over the years, the two bonded over their deep knowledge of folklore mythology.
“The original Storyteller was a brilliantly written, directed and told set of stories. It’s a terrifying and inspiring task to reinvent what Jim Henson did for the golden age of television we are in right now, and I’m honored that The Jim Henson Company would entrust me with the task of bringing back the storyteller and his magical stories, and sending him out into the world for a whole new round of tales,” Gaiman said.
Gaiman and Henson would not say which fairytales they are planning to tackle. “We have our eye on lots of them and one of the things that was brilliant (about The Storyteller) was, they would take little known versions of well-known fairytales because every story comes in various different versions, and I think that’s definitely something that I would love to keep going,” Gaiman said.
Added Henson, “it gives the story the feeling of familiarity, but it’s also very different.”
You can also find The Storyteller novels and the graphic novel on Amazon from a variety of different writers. No casting news has been reported yet.
“We would love to have John Hurt as our Storyteller, but alas, he’s no longer with us. But absolutely the actors from the original Storyteller series, bringing them back would be a marvelous thing to do, and we really did have the cream of the crop,” Gaiman said.
“There is currently nothing like The Storyteller in the television landscape and the themes these stories will explore are even more critically important today,” said Dante Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment, Fremantle, North America. “It’s a real joy to work with Lisa and The Henson company to bring their esteemed property back to television, and to be yet again partnering with Neil on another project that will further showcase his brilliant narrative power.”
As to what kind of networks and platforms Fremantle plans to target, “what we’re interested in doing is making sure it reaches the broadest audience possible, that’s really the key for us,” Di Loreto said.
What do you think? Are you excited for the reboot? Do Henson muppet shows still excite the way they did years ago? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!