‘The Crystal Maze 2017’

This is a full review of episode 1 of the new series of The Crystal Maze. If you don’t want to know who gets locked in and whether the whole team make it to the Dome, look away now! If not, then let’s start the fans please!

Now this is the reboot we’ve all been waiting for. It’s The Crystal Maze baby! The gameshow that everyone agreed needed a second chance. Off the success of last October’s Stand Up to Cancer special we have another set of celebrities to introduce the series proper (20 episodes in total with five sets of celebrities and 15 sets of normals) and the much-discussed new presenter Richard Ayoade. The team are familiar as presenters and reality-show fodder; Ore Oduba, Vicky Pattison, Alex Brooker, Lydia Bright and (sigh) Louie Spence. “Society accorded these people celebrity status” intones Richard with much mock seriousness.

Alex Brooker is team captain but easily the most useful team member is Vicky Pattinson Of course she’s got quite the pedigree when it comes to the oddest of odd gameshows, and proven herself to be clever and resourceful. Alex could have done with cloning Vicky.  Louie Spence is best enjoyed during his lock-in i.e. off screen and safely behind a locked door. No one seemed quite sure that they want to spend a hard-fought crystal getting him back. Vicky is bold and takes the initiative in the games and when advising the rest of the team. She has a calming presence and is a clear communicator despite Richard’s teasing about her Geordie accent. “Don’t panic flower” she tells everyone. When I get stressed out I need that on a loop.

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‘Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit’

Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit is a happy little comedy panel show/ game show hybrid which was originally created by comedians Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013, and then transferred to television on Dave at the end of last year. The genial and very recognisable Dara Ó Briain is in the host’s chair, with Steve as Sam acting as team captains, and video game journalist Ellie Gibson as the resident expert. The show invites celebs to join the teams each week to play a series of video games against each other. These days I think the kids just call them ‘games’.

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The presenters’ 8-bit characters

 

I warmed up to this little Bejeweled Blitz gem last year and was happy to see it’s been recommissioned for a second and third series. More proof that with the internet fuelling the mobile revolution and people in all age brackets spending more time in front of screens that gaming is no longer niche.  However Go 8 Bit knows its audience and is fondly retro and a warm nostalgic hug. The panelists are asked to come on and nominate their favourite games to play. They range from the ancient arcade classics to the modern commute time-killers, and from the massive studio franchise to the tiny indie developers. The games are adapted cleverly to make them tv friendly. Studio audience participation is encouraged where the audience bet on which team will win each game and that affects the overall points total.

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‘Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule’

Harry Hill is back! And this time it’s worth watching.

The be-spectacled comedic ex-doctor has arrived just in time to save the human race from alien invasion! He’s showing our new alien overlords that we are useful to have around, if only to laugh at. I’m not even kidding. This is the basic premise for a strange and excitable comedy panel show, interweaved with funny clips of old tv shows, very much in the style of the awesome TV Burp, which, shockingly, finished five years ago.

Last year’s Harry Hill’s Tea Time on Sky 1 was way off point, managing to parcel up the Harry Hill brand without ever once stumbling towards what we enjoyed about him. All specs and grins and huge white collars and no fun. It was too gimmicky and far too dependent on one celebrity providing the fun and games in a very awkward, embarrassing situation. (If you want to see how that’s done with style and aplomb see BBC’s Murder in Successville.)

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“The Crystal Maze for SU2C” – On the Box

Dah dah dah daaaah, dada! Dah dah dah daaaah dah dah dah dah daaaaah! Name that tune! Even written in that shoddy fashion I bet you can guess. Has there ever been a more exciting quiz show theme? I don’t think so.

It’s a welcome return to The Crystal Maze last seen in 1995. This was one-off celebrity special of the much-loved 1990s game show with the aim of getting you to part with your cash for the Stand Up to Cancer charity. Special programmes are on Channel 4 all week, which culminates in a Comic Relief-style live show on Friday night.

David Tennant was mentioned in contention for the host duties, but quickly after that story leaked Stephen Merchant was confirmed. He looked fabulous in his Richard O’Brien outfit, holding hands and running around with the contestants, but just looked plain silly with a shaved head. (However, if he raised extra dosh for SU2C with a sponsored head shave then good on him.) Happily the orignal (and best) host Richard O’Brien popped up on screen at the start to give them a riddle to unlock the maze.

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‘Gladiators’ – Nostalgia Trip

In wich guest blogger Jontosaurus has something to admit…

Jet was well fit. That is how I’m going to start my article – with a whole-hearted confession that yes, I did find her to be the best of all of the female Gladiators. I was probably too young to really understand what to do with my youthful hormones but I understood that Jet was young, attractive and ever so flexible. That was enough for me.

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Jet: the object of many boys youthful hormones!

But I digress- it’s that time again where I delve into the annals of television history with very little protective gear and emerge with another artifact from television’s glorious past. It’s another nostalgia trip and, as you’ve probably worked out for my ever so subtle introduction, it’s the time for Gladiators to be put under the microscope. The show actually earned itself a reboot on Sky in the not too distant past.

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‘The Crystal Maze’ – Nostalgia trip

Take a little trip through four perilous zones with guest blogger Mr Jontosaurus

“Start the fans, please!!!!”

Strap yourselves in, boys and girls, because its time for a nostalgia trip. Let me take you back to a time when health and safety was a fallacy, when a person could go on a gameshow and run the risk of potentially breaking every bone in their body. To a time when all of this risk was just seen as good old fashioned fun. If you shattered your skull, it didn’t matter, because look, you’ve won a microwave and your head was kind of a weird shape to begin with, anyway. I talk, of course, about The Crystal Maze.

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‘Robot Wars 2016’ – The Mechanised Carnage Returns!

Grrr! Arrgh! It’s new guest blogger Jontosaurus! When he isn’t drunk on cider and driving tractors in sleepy old Somerset, the enigmatic and endangered Jontosaurus likes to watch anything with zombies or aliens in it, anything with explosions, or anything with explosions and aliens and zombies all combined. His favourite shows at The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Robot Wars, Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul, and anything with a good story and compelling characters.

He is also writing a sci-fi novel entitled “Deimos Has Fallen” which features aliens, space zombies and explosions. 

Visit him at his blog, but first – why is everyone excited about Robot Wars?

 

Back in the 1990s, we all got a severe shock to the system when the BBC announced a new game show entitled Robot Wars. It was a concept that they had taken from our friends across the pond, who had been televising robotic destruction for a few years already, and they adapted it for British audiences. Series 1 saw Jeremy Clarkson – still an unknown and over a decade away from punching a man in the face over a sandwich – presenting a show, and Phillippa Forester wearing an outfit that wouldn’t look out-of-place in an S&M dungeon as she trundled about the ‘pit’s talking to the roboteering teams and pretending to be impressed by their creations.

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Jeremy Clarkson – original Robot Wars presenter and violence fan

In its infancy, this show was just hilarious – a demonstration of both the brilliance and eccentricity of the teams behind the machines. For every revelation such as eventual champion Roadblock, there were terrible contraptions such as Prince of Darkness, a box on wheels with wooden armour, exposed rubber wheels and a paint job that looked as if it had been done by a five-year-old… whilst they were in a deep sleep.

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