Hot on the heels of the release of Muppets Most Wanted this past weekend, SyFy launches another reality competition show, Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge. Like all other SyFy reality competition shows before it, contestants will compete in creature fabrication challenges every week. Their creations are then put under a screen test and judged by an expert panel of judges.
The panel includes Jim Henson chairman and son of the late Jim Henson, Brian Henson. Beth Hathaway is lead fabricator for K.N.B. EFX Group, which has done work recently on Inglorious Basterds, The Walking Dead, Django Unchained and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Kirk R, Thatcher started at ILM and is currently with Henson. He co-wrote Muppet Treasure Island, and directed television features The Muppets Wizard of Oz, It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Muppets Letters to Santa. He also directs a lot of the Henson online videos, including Bohemian Rhapsody.
The competitors will be mentored by Henson staffers: Creative Supervisor Peter Brooke, Lead Fabricator Julie Zobel and John Criswell who oversees all the design, engineering and building for the technical and mechanical components of all projects at Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The show is hosted by appealing Australian actress Gigi Edgely, who starred in the Henson show Farscape.
The contestants compete for a prize worth up to $100,000, including the opportunity to work at Jim Henson's world-renowned creature shop. They come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some have even had their own fx companies. But all want that coveted position in the Jim Henson company. In the first episode, 'What Lies Beneath', contestants break off into pairs and will create a deep sea creature.
As is the norm with reality competition shows, some teams work really well together and others do not. The usual bickering aside, I find myself to be an advocate of these type of reality shows because they show the work that goes into making all these creatures that I have marveled at since I was a child watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. And if that inspires someone to start creating their own creatures and get into the biz, then I am all for it.
So. This is pretty much Face/Off with Muppets. Considering how popular that show has become over the years and the affinity that most genre fans have with the history and work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop over the past 50 years, this could be another hit for the network and more seasons could be coming.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge airs on Tuesday, March 25 on SyFy at 10/9c and up here in Canada on Space at 10e 7p.
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