When Syfy fans get together, the number one complaint I typically hear is that fans would rather have more original scripted content than unscripted content. Syfy may not have the budget to do as many scripted programs as viewers would like, but the cable network’s newest reality competition series actually sounds pretty cool, although not necessarily in a science fiction way. Syfy has signed on with the Jim Henson Creature Shop for a brand new competition series called Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge.
That title should kind of give you an idea about what to expect from the reality competition series. Syfy announced this week that Creature Shop Challenge will follow ten-aspiring “creature creators” who will be given a series of challenges and tasked to create a variety of creatures of both the mechanical and creative variety. Over the course of the 8-episode season, a set of judges will wittle the competitors down, until only one is left to win the final challenge, and thus the big prize. The winner of Creature Shop Challenge will receive a $100,000 prize and a job at the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
Due to how complicated it can be to create both fanciful and mechanically sound creatures, I’m assuming that the competition will be similar to shows like Project Runway in that basic competence with puppets and animatronics is needed to compete, although the press release for the new series doesn’t explicitly state this. It does say that three mentors will be around in the competition studio each week to help contestants with the details. Those mentors will be designer Peter Brooke, mechanization and animatronics master John Criswell, and fabrication and artistic specialist Julie Zobel. Additionally, Brian Henson will serve as the lead judge during the competition. He’ll also executive produce, alongside Lisa Henson, Joseph Freed, and Rob Bagshaw.
About a year ago, Syfy put together a development slate that included a series called Darkfall about a world in which magic rules. The Jim Henson Company was behind that project, but unfortunately, it never moved forward at the network. It seems that the cable network and the Jim Henson Company were eventually able to figure out another way to work together, and Creature Shop Challenge was the outcome. I’ve never been a fan of most of Syfy’s reality programs, but this one might be worth tuning in for. The new competition series is set to hit Syfy at the beginning of 2014.
The Jim Henson Company is actually going to have a big year in 2014, thanks to Disney putting together The Muppets… Again!, which will feature appearances from Christoph Waltz, Ray Liotta and more, and will also hit theaters early in 2014. Then, there’s the Syfy reality TV series. And the Museum of the Moving Image in New York is putting together a Jim Henson exhibit filled with almost 400 puppets that is expected to open late next year.
You can learn more about the Jim Henson Creature Shop, here.