As an artist (and as a human being, because who isn’t?), I love being inspired in surprising ways. Something out of the blue will your turn your head just a bit. And like a gemstone catching the light, you see a new color in the world. What shouldn’t be actually surprising is the great Jim Henson’s too short-lived fairy tale series has struck such a chord. I’ve just finished watching the series on Amazon Prime, and ready to rewatch with a sketchbook in hand. And so here is my gushy little meditation.

*cue the intro music*

Jim Henson’s The StoryTeller has been a recent delight to me. The music, the weirdly wonderful creatures, the old world tales, etc. (I think it was the talented Benjamin Schipper who first mentioned it to me.) Then whilst hunting down clips on YouTube, it hit me that I had actually seen an episode or two when I was 5 or 6. Something about its had always stuck with me that I was still curious about, and had finally tripped over it in broad daylight.

Jim Henson’s vision and execution was magical. And Anthony Minghella’s screenplay, incredible. The fact that so much was hand built gave warmth and charm to the spectacle. Of course hand-built creatures and prosthetics would play a major role because we’re talking about the greatest puppeteer and animatronics.

“Jim was enchanted by the idea of a television series that remained true to the subtlety and metaphoric richness of ancient stories. He and Lisa brainstormed the concept of the series, basing all of the episodes on authentic folk tales. The result of a strong literary research team joined with the magical visual effects and animatronics produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, The StoryTeller is a rare combination of ancient tradition and modern technology artistry.” (Muppet Fandom Wiki)

Wowing people with Hollywood grandiosity wasn’t the point and I love that!

Telling a story with hands-on craftsmanship —that down to earth essence— was what captured me and probably all its other fans. And this was all amplified by my slightly haunted childhood memories (I say that in only the best way), making it completely enchanting to rediscover as an adult. (Also very fun to recognize several British actors throughout.)

Not every episode is my favorite, and I wouldn’t recommend them to your children without you looking into the content for your own family’s standards. It’s not for everyone. Yeah, they’re often weird. The trolls kinda terrified me as a kid (and, honestly kind of as an adult?) BUT. I have found some living fairytales, and if you get some of the fun out of them that I did, please let me know. I’d love to fangirl with you.

As an example of the writing, there’s this one line from “Hans My Hedgehog”, that runs through my head and I just have to share: “He was well on the way when he heard a sound that was a bitter sound and a sweet sound all at once, a music that began like hello and ended like goodbye.” With writing like that, and in John Hurt’s storytelling voice too, who could resist? That there are only 9 fairytales is unfortunate. I wish it hadn’t been cancelled when it was, but that makes them all that more special.

I’ve not seen anything like it before, and I wish I could see more. It’s got my creative juice bubbling, and boy am I thanking the Lord for Jim Henson and his crew!