the storyteller reboot

The Storyteller, the imaginative 1980s TV series created by Jim Henson, is ready to tell a new tale. The Jim Henson Company, Fremantle and author Neil Gaiman are teaming for a Storyteller reboot which will once again adapt fairy tales and folklore with puppetry. While there’s no official home for the rebooted series yet, it’s being developed for binge-watching audiences. 

Deadline broke the news about the Storyteller reboot. Per their report, the Henson Company, Fremantle and Neil Gaiman’s new take on The Storyteller “will create a mystical world combining various fairy tales and folklore. It will be updated to work ‘for the binging kind of viewer’ of today.” Of the new series, Gaiman said:

“Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know…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.”

“Jim Henson was always ahead of his time,” Gaiman continued:

“He found ways to retell folk and fairy tales for a televisual generation. The original The 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.”

The original series debuted in 1987, featuring a framing device involving a “storyteller (John Hurt) sitting by a fire telling each tale to both the viewers and to his talking dog who acted as the voice of the viewers, and was written in a language and traditional style in keeping with old folk tales.” This new take appears to be making the storyteller a more active participant in the narrative of the show.

“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 for Fremantle. “We are honored to be working with Lisa Henson and her illustrious 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.”

Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company, added:

The Storyteller has been a longtime favorite for our fans who appreciate the beautiful artistry and faithful visualizing of these classic tales.  It has always been a special project for me as well, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept…Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. It is especially exciting to have Neil’s reimagining of the series brought to life by our Creature Shop, allowing us to share these classic stories with a whole new audience all around the world.”

This sounds very promising. Gaiman is a wonderful writer, and combining his writing with the puppetry of the Henson Company is sure to result in something special. This also takes Gaiman even further into his conquest of television. In addition to the Starz series American Gods, which is returning for its second season, Gaiman also has the upcoming Amazons series Good Omens under his belt.

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