Well, I decided to follow Mark Hamill on Twitter just in time to hear his version of the Skeksis Scientist’s voice as he plugs the Dark Crystal panel at San Diego Comic Con.
It’s a perfectly good generic Skeksis voice, but if I listened to it out of context, I’d never be able to identify it as the Scientist specifically, because it doesn’t sound very much like Steve’s version. At first, I was a little disappointed about that, but then I realized that there’s a perfectly good Watsonian explanation for it: The prequel takes place centuries before the movie does, and in that time, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that the Scientist’s larynx could have completely deteriorated.
Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out that if the powers that be wanted to recreate the original voice, there were avenues available by which they could have done that. And no, I don’t JUST mean hiring Steve back, although that was certainly an option (and, of course, would have been my preference). One of the puppeteers who worked on the prequel series is Warrick Brownlow-Pike, who performs a character on Sesame Street named Gonger, whose voice is very similar.
I hate to say it, but from where I’m sitting, it rather seems like a blatant attempt to shoehorn a big-name talent into the cast at the expense of the character’s integrity. I’d be more annoyed by it if they had hired anyone other than Mark Hamill, but since it is him, it’s hard to be too upset by it because he’s so awesome.
Incidentally, I don’t remember all that Steve said about The Dark Crystal at his OCon Q&A, and unfortunately, I find that my notes aren’t helping me that much. If I remember correctly, he did express surprise that they were making another Dark Crystal installment (for lack of a better word), and he didn’t think that Jim Henson would have done it because he didn’t like to look back on things (which, by the way, I think he intended as more of an observation than a criticism). Which is a valid point, but at the same time, the world of The Dark Crystal is such a deep and richly detailed setting that I feel like there’s so much more to explore. The movie barely scratched the surface of its potential, so personally, I think it makes sense to revisit it.
Steve told me later that he actually doesn’t watch a lot of puppet productions, which totally makes sense to me because regardless of how much you enjoy your job, you don’t necessarily want to do the same thing in your downtime, which is part of the reason why I don’t post here as often as I used to. But he said that he is planning to watch the prequel series because he knows that people will ask him about it.
As I understand it, Age of Resistance is, at the very least, inspired by the series of recent Dark Crystal novels. Last month, I read the first one, Shadows of the Dark Crystal, in which the Skeksis falsely accuse two innocent Gelflings of deception and treason in order to cover up their own corrupt deeds, a laughably implausible scenario with no real-life parallels whatsoever. *ahem*
I drafted this entry last night but held off on posting it, and now I’m glad I did because video of the entire SDCC Dark Crystal panel dropped shortly thereafter. Mark Hamill is, of course, hilarious and charming throughout and does the voice again towards the end. But what is most impressive to me is that he wastes no time in graciously acknowledging Steve as the originator of the role with the very first words out of his mouth.
Another highlight is that he criticizes the process of having voice actors perform their roles in isolation from one another and “micromanaging” their performance while the producer and director are sitting there on stage with him! You can only pull off a ballsy move like that when you’re an actual frickin’ Jedi.