REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
Let's get this out there right from the offing: this writer does not approve of unnecessary prequels. Or sequels. Or Generation X fan service nostalgia fests. But let's put this to one side. Because [SPOILER ALERT] Age of Resistance is f***ing amazing.
The series returns us to that sense of place that was so immersive in The Dark Crystal, while being unafraid to introduce new creatures, new technologies, and new places, expanding the world in an act of exploration, finding hidden parts that were there all along, rather than extra invention. Brian Froud, whose lush character and creature designs populated both the original and Labyrinth, returns to his role but the whole team are clearly immersed in a sense of what made The Dark Crystal work.
The gelflings are a particularly blank slate for them to draw on. They are divided into different clans, each with their own look, cultures and traditions, and the attention gone into the sets and character costumes (each individually tailored) is achingly beautiful. The podlings are also back, as joyful as ever, and there is even (praise Thra) a podling central character! And, of course, the skeksis play a pivotal role and are just as terrifying and grotesque as they should be, with spot-on revoicing (particular shout out to Simon Pegg as the Chamberlain).
As for plot, it is an age where gelfling clans are loyally settled under the rule of the keepers of the crystal, the skeksis, more or less unaware of just how corrupt and malevolent the rulers are. Obviously, given the series' title, a change is coming, but there will be no spoilers here about how or why, though we will say that the plot has nuance, complexity and shades of dark and light, as well as slapstick and toilet humour to both undercut the darkness and keep younger viewers amused.
As fans might hope, Age of Resistance is dark and terrifying, but it draws back from, or finds hope in, that darkness far more than the film did. It is, as it should be, a series for children, imagination fuel for Gen Xers to raise their offspring on, not (purely) to indulge themselves. There only minor flaws are ones carried over from the original film (e.g. gelfling lip-synching) and so are almost more endearing for their presence, but any issues in that area are very quickly eclipsed by a new awe-inspiring set or creature design or plot twist, so who cares!
Age of Resistance is an entirely unnecessary prequel which makes itself necessary by virtue of being f***ing amazing. Go and watch it. Now.