While others spend restless nights worrying about the economy or the war in Iraq, I lay awake fretting over the future of The Jim Henson Company. I don’t want to live in a world where Jim Henson’s Muppet wonderland no longer exists, but as CGI slowly and inexorably takes over everything, for better or more often than not worse, it’s becoming harder and harder for the artistry of Muppetry to find a place in it.

Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the most well known, beloved Muppet figures were sold off to Disney some time ago, in the hopes that it would free the Henson Company up to return to being the creative innovators they once were. Unfortunately, no one has showed up to see any of their amazing innovating. Raise your hand if you’ve ever watched Farscape for instance. Well you should, it is perhaps the greatest science fiction series in the history of television. Mirrormask? Who saw that? Almost no one.

What I’m getting at here is that the Jim Henson Company is starting to fade away, and it needs some saving. Luckily, they have a new project and one that sounds as if it has tons of big time potential. Variety says they’re making Muppet noir. It’s called Happytime Murders and it’s a film noir in the comedic detective genre. Think Double Indemnity, but with all the visual wizardry and flair of a typically wonderful Henson project brought to bear on it.

Happytime Murders is another step in their attempt to create content for adults. That’s right, they’re doing this specifically for adult audiences so don’t expect amusing musical numbers with dancing chickens. Like any good Henson movie though, both Muppets and humans will be used together in live action wit and parody. The script, tells the story of a Muppet detective solving a string of murders around the set of a children’s show called the “Happytime Gang”. The perfect setting for a puppet to catch a killer.

Will this be the one that finally brings Henson back to the forefront? It has a shot. It certainly sounds more accessible than some of their other more recent attempts at finding adult audiences. That has to help. I’ll clutch my Kermit doll and sleep a little better tonight knowing that maybe there’s Henson hope on the horizon.

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