Every now and then a company makes a hideous mistake in the pursuit of maximizing shareholder value.
Twelve publishers rejected J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter manuscript. I would be willing to wager that each of them has moments when decision makers wake up at 2 o’clock in the morning in a cold sweat, screaming “What the hell was I thinking‽”
Gail Berman, the former president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company, was the one who pulled the plug on “Firefly” because “[it] was a big show, a very expensive show and it wasn’t delivering the numbers.” Similarly, Fox cancelled J.J. Abrams’ amazing series “Fringe,” again for the same two reasons: falling ratings and an expensive production budget.
Popularity doesn’t matter. Quality doesn’t matter. Ground-breaking content doesn’t matter. All that matters is those eyeballs on ads.
So let’s talk about Henson Studio’s breathtaking return to the world of Thra, a re-imagined prequel to the original “The Dark Crystal.” The first (and now only) season ran for ten episodes, and fans were delighted – everyone I know who resonated with the show was waiting for a continuation of the saga with bated breath.
And then, despite the show being awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program – 2020, “88% fresh” ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and universal acclaim from Metacritic, some yeast-headed executive at Netflix made the decision to “un-renew” the series, and I’d bet a buffalo nickel that the reason was “not making enough money.” The original film was only modestly received when it was first released back in 1982; it earned $41 million at the box office over a production cost of $25 million, but later gained a cult following when it was released to VHS. I have not been able to find production costs for Age of Resistance, but I guess revenue and ratings led the bean counters to conclude that it wasn’t worth the investment.
This is an absolute catastrophe. My poor little Deet; I fell in love with her and now Netflix is going to leave her wandering around in the wilds of Thra, consumed by the Darkening.
How could they? A show that absolutely captured the magic and beauty of the original, and added to it with new layers of technology and beautiful storytelling. I tell you this: If I ever get hold of the person who was responsible for the decision to cancel this series, they will think that being attacked by a thousand Garthim looks like a picnic with Miss Julie’s Romper Room class. Jumping H. Jehoshaphat! My heart is broken and I summon legions of Mandalorians and Chaotic Evil Paladins to wreak vengeance!
The only glimmer of hope on the horizon is a statement by Lisa Henson, the executive producer:
“We know fans are eager to learn how this chapter of ‘The Dark Crystal’ saga concludes and we’ll look for ways to tell that story in the future,” said executive producer Lisa Henson. “Our company has a legacy of creating rich and complex worlds that require technical innovation, artistic excellence, and masterful storytelling. Our history also includes productions that are enduring, often finding and growing their audience over time and proving again and again that fantasy and science fiction genres reflect eternal messages and truths that are always relevant. We are so grateful to Netflix for trusting us to realize this ambitious series; we are deeply proud of our work on ‘Age of Resistance,’ and the acclaim it has received from fans, critics and our peers, most recently receiving an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program.”
Now from where I stand, she’s being phenomenally charitable to Netflix, but I’m hopeful that Henson Studios can find a way to continue the saga in another environment before I go the way of all the world.
The Old Wolf has spoken.