Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze

Fridays, 9pm,
Channel 4

Episodes available to watch  from Wednesday night on Thanks 4.

It’s the show that has repeatedly come top of “shows they ought to bring back” lists, well 22 years since it was last properly on it’s now a reality as new Mazemaster Richard Ayoade leads a group of five adventurers around the Maze, testing their skills in a bid to win crystals, each one worth time in the Crystal Dome.

The remake begins with a run of celebrity specials.

Hoo boy, I think it’s likely you will have an opinion on this so do add yours in the comments below.

271 Comments

  1. It’s clear that at least some of the games have had decent money spent on them. The Crystal Dome looks like it uses similar sorts of air blowers to the live experience, rather than the entire floor being a fan as in the Original Series, and this somehow feels less constructed. There are some corking tiny set-piece visual effects that never used to be there.

    And yet the new show irritates me, even though the second episode was rather better than the first. (The number of repeated games from episode one to episode two doesn’t help, even though I have a strong suspicion that if you were to compare S01E01 and S01E02 of the original show to the new version, bearing in mind the number of games they have to choose from, the new show probably does OK.) I know that I should not form an opinion before the civilian editions, for the celebrity ones cannot be truly authentic.

    Clearly I am getting old. Old old, as opposed to old, which I was 15-20 years ago.

  2. Brig Bother says:

    Game repeats. We can check this out on Marc Gerrish’s site, S1 eps 1 and 2 shared 8 games of fifteen. Not counting the kids specials so effectively comparing eps 2 and 3, S2 8 of 14 (?), S3 just 1 of 15, S4 7 of 15, S5 4 of 13 and S6 just 1 of 13. So maybe the criticism is fair. Although maybe not. An issue possibly if you record all the celeb specials in one block, with the civvy eps you can order the episodes any way you like with any cell configuration.

    I’m not entirely sure what the fuss is about to be honest, I thought the games repeated well and we got a decent set of new ones many of which were better than ones used last week.

    I’m not sure 40 is sufficient for a run of twenty, but it’s a bit early to say. I certainly don’t think they’re a problem right now.

    • Matt Clemson says:

      As it happens, I’m just finishing off the second series of The Adventure Game from the DVDs, and… while Series 1 was fine, there would be some *strong* opinions about the reuse of content in series 2 if it were new today!

      • Brig Bother says:

        Yeah, I enjoyed S1 a lot – it got better as it progressed (Especially when they cut out the rubbish computer bit) but it’s surprising and interesting. S2 with basically the same puzzles every week rather less so, although it does have a cracking and quite weird final ep for being different.

  3. Jon says:

    Now The Adventure Game that would be one interesting reboot. Could be a good vehicle for Vic & Bob?

    • Alex McMillan says:

      My on-the-record opinion is that Alex Horne’s Adventure Game could be something really quite special.

  4. xr says:

    I’m an episode behind, and my first reaction is that of befuddlement.

    Aoyade’s presentation is just flat out wrong. You’re trying to resurrect a show where children drive the ratings so you go for cool and detached? A driven action adventure where the host seems loathe to move or speak and actually puts errant moving players in their alloted space with a stick? His comedic sensibilities also seem to be mismatched: improvisational “yes and…” would go much further than observational or topical humour. And then there is the introduction, where he apparently couldn’t be bothered to learn two things for each person. Watching the purported master of his domain slowly read eyes down is the epitome of fun.

    Lighting seems to be often off, with the industrial zone looking particularly flat and hollow (temperatures?), and the lovely sculpting work in Aztec not achieving its full effect. While these seem like failures of execution, the Crystal Dome is just designed oddly. Shiny floors, pillars of light and the Blue Curtains of Vacuous Respectability? Can we have some contrast? In the original, the Dome was the beacon in a dark terrible sea, a natural endpoint; with much of the light filtering through it, it defined and owned the space. This is now only achieved during the end credits, when the camera finally gets close and the lights go wild.

    It’s kind of unfair, as this largely reflects technology changes and purported improvements, but the sound is just immersion shattering. Everybody sounds like they are on a morning talk show, irrespective of what the size, openness and defining material of the space is (supposed to be), which wasn’t the case in the original. All zones could use more ambient noise and occasional effects, and I could do without so much overbearing music. I could also use more natural audio of the physical interactions, or at least better blended effects; I actually laughed loudly when the “plug in the fished keys” effect played in Aztec.

    The planet hopping game was a hilarious concept and a nice design that keeps interest to the end; the grabber game seems a vast improvement in the don’t close the circuit genre due to the variety of mistakes it makes possible. The reverse apple picking was a perfect amusing task. If you are going to run games without time limits, you need to provide some other incentive for action; fear, pain, fatigue, instability, anything or people are going to do the sensible thing: take for ever to finish.

    It may be too early to tell, but game design seems to be too close to the original. Given the success of the original, that shouldn’t be a bad thing. Except The Cube has happened, and escape rooms have happened, and video games have spent billions of dollars perfecting game design patterns. We now know how to articulate spaces so that they are instantly decipherable, or how to efficiently and wordlessly communicate mechanics. Given the start from scratch, not taking advantage seems a missed opportunity.

    Again, possibly much too early, but this seems to apply to the whole effort in general. They could have gone for, say, Angkor Wat, Bladerunner, a zeppelin casino and the inside of Jonah’s whale, or exactly recreate a slightly bubbling triangular pool in something called an Industrial Zone because apparently the energy, adventure, wonder and sense of place of the original flow through it. The set seems exactly as remembered, but the spirit seems to have suffered. Who knows, maybe it gets better.

    • Brig Bother says:

      I think they absolutely made the correct decision in opting for the four original zones to start off with (although yes I think Ocean is an honorary original zone, it was there longer than Industrial, I think they’ve been hamstrung by the Live Experience here although I think they’d have had trouble doing it justice with the space they’ve got), I think it’s important with a revival of a show like this to establish you mean business before abusing the trust of your audience.

      That said I think there are some great places they could go in Series Two – I love the idea of Setzer’s Final Fantasy 6 Casino Zepplin as a zone. The others I’ve seen suggested that I like are Ancient Greece and Victorian (which you could still make Industrial if you were smart about it).

      • Alex McMillan says:

        Currently working on a little design project re-imagining The Crystal Maze with four entirely new zones; Carnival / Wild West / Polar / Roman

        I must say I found it quite a struggle to think of four different themes that weren’t incredibly similar to one of the five which have already been used.

        • Alex S says:

          They all sound good, although Carnival wouldn’t really fit into the heading of a ‘time zone’, but then again neither did Ocean really.

          • Brig Bother says:

            Interestingly the follow-up to The Crystal Maze was going to be called The Magic Carnival, but it didn’t go anywhere.

            Ocean isn’t much of a timezone but it is heavily 1920s.

          • Jon says:

            Carnival could if it was set in a different time.

            Projects seems really interesting look forward to seeing it.

          • David says:

            I don’t think you could get four more time zones without them feeling derivative of what we already have. You can’t do another futuristic zone, and a contemporary zone wouldn’t work, and an ancient zone would be too similar to Aztec (there was a story once that if the original version did another season, they were going to replace it with Egyptian, and… why bother?), and Medieval already kind of doubled as Renaissance. Like the only real time-themed zone that could work is, like, 1980s Retro World, and then you’d still need to find another three.

            I think if you were going to do a full redesign, you’d probably be better off doing location-based zones. Like maybe American, French, Chinese, and a tropical island.

            • Stephen says:

              The zones have a distinct sense of place as well (if not more) than time. Ocean isn’t just generic 1920s but a sunken 1920s ocean liner. Futuristic isn’t just generic futuristic, but a derelict space station with a quirky AI (now iPod new with no AI), Medieval isn’t just generic medieval, but the bowels of a castle, Aztec is defined more by place than by time, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what time period it was meant to be, and Industrial… Generic factory setting? Honestly Industrial is perhaps the hardest of the original five to get a read on what it’s meant to be.

              The reason to replace them would be to keep things fresh visually, and perhaps help spark ideas. There are only a certain amount of game concepts that can fit into even the broad definition of ‘Aztec’ the show uses, or ‘Medieval’, or ‘Futuristic’ (Which, I was reminded earlier today, included ‘wiring a plug’ back in the day), which means I don’t think you need to start considering it until at least S3 of the revival, and the original managed 6 seasons with just one zone replacement so I’m not sure the general audience actually needs it.

              For what it’s worth, if I were to be replacing the zones, I’d do it one at a time, do it by bringing back Ocean, replace Futuristic with Alien (sort of a fictional alien planet – I actually quite like what the crystal maze experience did with Future and think that that’s distinct enough from what to work as well), Aztec with a tropical rain forest setting, and maybe Medieval with Roman, though Medieval is the hardest to come up with a decent replacement.

  5. My head is saying that talented people have made a solid effort to improve the format while remaining true to the original, in the context of the time and financial constraints that they face in this day and age and the changed tastes of the viewing public, with genuine improvements like properly showing the solution techniques to games that the teams didn’t get right, the idea of having separate entry and exit doors for at least some of the cells, and ensuring that the game can be played by more people than previously was the case.

    My heart, so far, isn’t really feeling it.

    • Brig Bother says:

      It’s an ALIS (Automatic Lock In Situation) and it feels like the producers are dropping too many balls.

    • Alex McMillan says:

      I do think it will come together a bit more with the civilian episodes, Channel 4 are the ones dropping the ball here I’d say. It feels like they could really nail a second series with the quality of life suggestions people have.

      I’m hoping the comeback of Crystal Maze inspired the return of Raven to a degree, and we may see an adventure game-show resurgence in the UK. We’re just really missing Jungle Run & Adventure Game now, no?

      • Weaver says:

        …and Now Get Out of That, originally from the early 1980s, and repeated on UK Horizons circa 1999.

        Two teams face a course of survival, engineering, ingenuity, bravery, and puzzle. There’s a modest theme to explain why they’re doing what they’re doing.

        Bernard Falk commentated on the show, in an early example of snark and arched eyebrows.

        The 1984 series starts at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o1ePKGUzbE

      • Jon says:

        Not sure the budgets in kids TV or memories of the format with the target audience exist to bring back Jungle Run, however for ITV 2 if they decide they want their own version of Celebrity Crystal Maze it might have a chance to come back as a celebrity show for adults. Since ITV presumbly own the format as I think it was made by Granada.

        That said many of todays parents may have been target audience at the time, which would help things along and if international sales of the Crystal Maze happen, it may also spark ITV into action.

    • David says:

      But IS it an improvement to be showing the answers to the puzzle challenges? I mean, if it’s the last time we’re going to see the puzzle and nobody’s ever won it, sure, prove it’s not impossible or whatever, but surely part of the fun is playing along?

      Actually I’m really surprised they haven’t found a way to turn the puzzles into a play-along app or something similar.

      • Jon says:

        Considering the old Crystal Maze mobile app doesn’t seem to exist anymore, I think it’s very likely they ended the contract and they are looking into a new partner for app as we speak.

      • Stephen says:

        It’s actually a return to what they did in S1 (I think) of the original with the ‘turn a triangle into a cross’ style floor games in Medieval.

  6. Brig Bother says:

    2.04m for ep 2, a bit of a fall but still pretty good.

    • Jon says:

      Think the celeb eps will be around the 2m mark with the non celebs above 1.5. Think Channel 4 will be pretty happy with that. Although in future it may result in only celeb eps.

    • Would you be inclined to believe that the O2 Priority link would be most likely to be used by hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of viewers per episode? (Surely not hundreds of thousands, but you never know…) You would expect Channel 4 to be able to have an exact count and add them to the nominal total, and also presumably some more precise demographics, as well as e.g. if there’s a specific point where people stop watching.

      • Brig Bother says:

        I would guess at low five figs gradually dropping to low four figs as the series progresses. I think after the initial novelty it will pretty much be nerds bothered enough to seek it out and I expect even most of them would be happy to wait until the broadcast proper.

    • Stephen says:

      Is that 2.04 with or without +1, both figures are sometimes reported (And in the final figures, BARB has tables for both)

  7. Jon says:

    Well a totally different target audience, so that in itself won’t bother Channel 4.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Bollocks, all the cool kids watch Gardener’s World.

      • Brig Bother says:

        In fact to be less facetious, the slot average is 2.2m and whilst the first ep had a slightly higher share of 18-34s than average, without the numbers in front of me (likely to be in tomorrow’s Broadcast), it tends to be older people who make the effort so I’d expect that stat to look a bit less impressive taking minus 300k into account. Hopefully it’s making it all back on catch-up but the figures tend to correlate.

        The point is I don’t think anyone need panic or anything, but the idea that this is some sort incredible success is wide of the mark. It’s doing pretty well and hopefully by Christmas it will still be doing pretty well, but they have not spent all the money on it in the hope it will overnight a little over a million.

  8. Jon says:

    A few annoying questions now…

    Did Chatsworth/the producers add any elements to the format from Jacques Antoine intial idea to turn Fort Boyard into The Crystal Maze? As in do/did they have any ownership of the format?

    I’ve often heard it said it’s legally classed as the same as Fort Boyard.

    Who owns the Chatsworth back catalogue of rights and formats now, did they ever do any totally original formats? Is it all with Banijay?

    I wonder if Mumsey (and Ocean) is classed as something Chatsworth added to the format so isn’t included in the rights Banijay had access too one of the reasons they went with Industrial.

    • David B says:

      When you licence a format, any changes you make are often rolled into the daddy format. So, for instance, you’re welcome to come up with new twists and challenges for the Mole, but they then become part of the Mole format and other licensees of the format can use your changes for their own local version.

  9. Jon says:

    What you say does worry me, if it’s performing below the slot average. When you say slot average is that for Channel 4 and could that be artificially by Gogglebox which is a format in a hundred and does the slot average include +1?

    • Brig Bother says:

      Yes and yes, but you don’t get to discount Gogglebox because it doesn’t fit the narrative. There’s a reason it’s on Friday night because that’s where C4 chooses to load their entertainment hits. Not to mentionbthat GB is in decline.

      It’s doing better than the TFI Friday revival but I’m not doing a jig of joy unless it’s still doing 2m in six-eight weeks.

  10. Brig Bother says:

    From C4 Press:

    “Ep1 of #CrystalMaze consolidated 3.4m /14.1% share, nearly 1m 16-34’s, making it the #1 programme on C4 for 16-34’s so far in 2017”

    Well there we are, ep1 consolidated even better than I anticipated, let’s hope they keep it up.

    • JonathanEx says:

      C4 Press weren’t good at threading tweets, but there were two more of note:

      Ep2 of #CrystalMaze landed just over 2m overnight but is already up to 2.7m/12.5% share and 821k/22.1% share for 16-34’s with catch up 3/4

      Since Love Island started only 3 shows against it have got over 20% of youngs. England v France, and both eps of #CrystalMaze. Yehaw! 4/4

    • Stephen says:

      3.43, specifically. 1m timeshift is ridiculously good for non-drama, yeah – Was expecting more like 500k.

      (12% drop off in overnights between season premier and second episode isn’t bad either, as I understand it, particularly this time of year, and usually that’s the biggest week to week drop unless, say, Major Live Event happens opposite. We’ll see how it does overall, but that’s looking like a hit, and around 800k higher than the live sporting event C4 had on that week according to BARB’s figures: 3.43 for The Crystal Maze (including +1), 2.69 for Formula 1, a few other shows slightly over 2m)

      The gogglebox spinoff lead in, Gogglesprogs, incidentally? 1.09, so huge increase in viewers for The Crystal Maze, while the lead out, The Last Leg, 1.96 (All my figures coming from BARB’s public site)

      • Brig Bother says:

        As usual, great (and by great we mean roughly in line with episode one expectations) though it is I warn as ever that one episode is not a trend. There was a point where Babushka looked like a hit!

        It was the 45th highest rated broadcast all-in last week, according to this interesting but genuinely terribly designed website – 12th in terms of A16-34, third if you only count Love Island and Corrie once:

        https://www.thinkbox.tv/Research/Barb-data/Top-programmes-report

        • Stephen says:

          Indeed – Ratings can collapse, and what’s going to be especially telling here is what happens with the first regular episode.

          Front loading celebrity specials makes trying to predict what this is going to do long term trickier than normal for the first episode of a new show and overnight for the second (Which, for many in the audience, this will be) – If it works for Channel 4, then this will have caused people who wouldn’t have given the regular episodes a look in to get into the show and keep going with the regulars, if it doesn’t then instead of an episode 16 (or whatever – Is it all 5 celebrity specials first or are they saving one for Christmas? I forget) boost it could be a complete ratings collapse around episode 6.

          The only real info we have is the Episode 1 consolidated (Helpfully put into a full weekly chart by that site), along with what C4 are happy to leak which includes the Episode 2 overnights (The 12% drop I mentioned). Though if Channel 4 weren’t happy with the figures so far, we wouldn’t be seeing them talk about how good it’s doing for them in the demo.

    • They should do a series.

      Evidently overnight ratings are practically irrelevant these days and Ratings Bear can be warded off indefinitely by waving the stick of consolidation, for any show with any sort of traction whatsoever among online viewer types.

      Does The Chase do significantly better ratings when Wimbledon is on and so there is no Pointless against it? (Except possibly on Challenge, if they have any wit to them…)

  11. Danny Kerner says:

    It’s a great Crystal Maze this week, however its not suitable for minors.

    • Daniel Peake says:

      It is a fun one. Glad it’s back… even if I still wish it was using the original theme and not tweaking the game clocks quite so much.

      Episode 1 was the worst of the three in my opinion. Wonder why they led with it.

    • Danny Kerner says:

      8 I REPEAT 8 new games this week including 2 great games that certainly had a fort boyard styling to them.

      This one should of been the debuting episode to the run.

      • Danny Kerner says:

        In terms of games total we are now at 23 games meaning we have already seen half of the total games and we are not even on the Civilians run yet.

        • Danny Kerner says:

          Also they seem to want the contestants to fail this time round as there are a hell of a lot of Automatic lock in situations (ALIS) 8 so far & we know there will be more soon.

      • Stephen says:

        I think the foggy bridge was my favorite ‘reverse game’ to date, a concept I do enjoy but usually comes down to ‘conceiving of a means of locking the contestant in a space with occasional times the contestant misses that the crystal is available and starts playing the game before grabbing the crystal’ which this one didn’t do.

  12. Brig Bother says:

    The new games this week are largely really good. The laser maze looked impossible until you realise they’re effectively loads of gullotines.

    I still can’t make my mind up on Richard. I still find the meta-humour a bit unsuitable. I can’t help but feel the show would feel a bit less cheap if he didn’t keep pointing it out. I can’t tell if he actually wants to be hosting this or not and it’s quite a buzzkill. On the other hand his interactions with the contestants genuinely make me chuckle.

    I really liked the gag they’re clearly setting up with the Knight as love interest, although it’s a pity it’s another riddle to enter the Maze.

    • Will Tennant says:

      Is it me or are the games in this episode, either too hard or too easy? It seemed that motherboard game should be harder than it actually is. The mini escape room is classic Crystal Maze but was there any reason to make it effectively an Automatic Lock-In? In fact overall there’s way too many of these ALIS, even when they’re not. If you don’t win, you’re locked in sort of things.

      Loved the piano game, and bit of poor editing on the slippery log if anyone caught it.

      • Danny Kerner says:

        Yeap the lighting & we saw you camera man.

      • Danny Kerner says:

        Also they seem to like the box rising method of revealing the crystal this episode. I’m sure there is more inventive ways of revealing the prize. E.g sliding wall.

      • Simon says:

        The last game does seem to have a bit of a design flaw in that after two fails, you can just bail out even if you are halfway across the room but otherwise a good episode.

        There does though seem to be a lack so far of classic Crystal Maze, person has no idea what they have to do moments (apart from maybe the light-extinguishing game)

        • Danny Kerner says:

          There Should be a reaction timer so if you are not on a podium or back in a safe position if it involves other terms of lock in it should count as a strike failure.

          • Jon says:

            Or just you can’t leave via the floor?

            This weeks episode I think is by far the best so far. Richard seemed a lot more settled into the role. The knight was really good and the team really enjoyed it once they got used to her, glad they utilised her more than just in her home zone. The new games were really visually pleasing and they went the proper way to Future, although it’s a shame we never really saw how they got in.

            I think it’s the best team yet too.

    • Jon says:

      I’m really starting to warm to Richard, he’s quirky enough to be a Crystal Maze host, he’s funny in the way Channel 4 seem to what for this new version with all the pop culture references yet he’s his own man and isn’t trying to be like those who went before. I think he’s perfect.

      I’m guessing every team on the new version gives themselves a name hence why we get that team name graphic after the run down. My guess is this episode was filmed further into the recording than the first Celeb specials shown.

  13. Danny Kerner says:

    Week’s 4 Celebrity Lineup:

    Red: Stacey Solomon
    Yellow: Andrea McLean
    Green: Spencer Matthews
    Blue: Tom Allen
    Purple: Joe Swash

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214062977508672&set=a.10213703982654025.1073741830.1238933653&type=3&theater

    • Danny Kerner says:

      Note: Next weeks Episode will go online 24hrs earlier (Tues 11th @ 9:01PM) than the current system due to sports event on the Fri so will air on Thursday for what i believe is one week only.

  14. David says:

    Week 2 game ranking:

    1. Lasers (good idea; wish we’d seen it in full)
    2. Space Walk
    3. Floating Scales
    4. Lights Out
    5. Toy Shop (I’m not sure the theme works – how is a sponge a toy? – but it’s a pretty classic complete-the-word-chain game)
    6. Pipe Maze (Too short, really, meaning the bulk of the challenge is “how quickly can you unscrew this trapdoor?”)
    7. Apple Tree
    8. Toolbox Generator (Oh. Look. Another Industrial game that’s just a time-consuming version of open-the-hatch. Zzzz.)
    9. Mimesey
    10. Dragon Totem (I know Aztec had a dragon puzzle in the old version – and a dinosaur puzzle, too – so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there, but TOTEM POLES?!)

    Overall:
    1. Radioactive Turntables
    2. Floating Scales
    3. Nuclear Rock
    4. Lasers
    5. Space Walk
    6. Word Wheels
    7. Toy Shop
    8. Pipe Maze
    9. Lights Out
    10. Cube Wall
    11. Apple Tree
    12. Toolbox Generator
    13. Gutters
    14. Dragon Totem
    15. Mimesey

    I agree with other posters that the difficulty here is all over the place, and never in the right places (which to be fair is both something the classic version was also guilty of sometimes and which, also, is still somehow less frustrating than every single new Boyard game for the last five years basically being “Do this tedious-but-‘funny’ activity several times to fill a tube”), but really a lot of that could just be fixed by not having as many signs and/or hosts telling them explicitly what they need to do. (Also? Two weeks in and we haven’t seen any of the old-style “Objective = [Crystal hatch]” signs. Perhaps they could compromise with something semi-obtuse like “Twelve words = [Crystal hatch]” for the word wheel game or something.)

    Another thing I’m getting sick of? “The games are multi-layered!” being code for “we stuck the sign/crystal on the front wall so players don’t see it immediately!” It’s such a cheat, and it’s so so so boring to see it done over and over and over. There’s literally no reason you couldn’t stick the sign for Floating Scales underneath the sandbags on the back wall, you know?

  15. A better episode than last week, which was better than the week before, and genuinely impressive in parts. I don’t know to what extent the lasers were graphics – if none at all, that feels like quite a technical feat – and whether there were also graphical additions on the motherboard game. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re graphics or not; if they are graphics, well done to the show for taking the time and effort to include them.

    The criticisms remain as true as ever, though: way too much in the show that isn’t the games, and the rhythm remains off. This is a show that doesn’t need nearly as much hosting as they’re giving it; there are only a certain number of pieces of information that you need to know between each game, and there’s a natural order. Maybe you give a count of the number of crystals, then you get the right contestant to the right door, then you announce whether the game’s an ALIS or not, then last thing you announce the time limit, then go.

    I should be enjoying this far more than I am.

    • Brig Bother says:

      I’m fairly confident the lasers are all real, they’re just lots of single beams moving up and down – it initially looks overwhelming but the pattern and layout are fairly easy.

      Similarly the motherboard just looks like a lighting effect. Still though.

      • David B says:

        In both cases, it’s a lot cheaper to do these things for real than use graphics. The motherboard effect is only a piece of rope light.

  16. Alex McMillan says:

    Rainbow Piano is one of my new favourites

    • Brig Bother says:

      I enjoyed this a lot, although the puzzle bit seems a bit simple. I’m interested to see how the time plays out if they forget the tune though.

      I really liked the giant motherboard concept as well although if it was me I’d have them going round the course several times. I’ve always had a fondness for ratrun elements, for some reason.

      • Matt C says:

        The design of Rainbow Piano makes me think that they’ve got a version where some of the lines switch over one another for a tougher puzzle, if they need it.

        • Matt C says:

          …or indeed could easily make it harder just by making it so the puzzle pieces don’t easily order into columns. There’s potential there.

  17. Brig Bother says:

    1.74m all-in last night I’m informed. The overnights have gone from pretty good to OK in three episodes.

    But everyone keeps telling me it’s brilliant so I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.

    • Matt C says:

      I wondered if this one might be impacted by the tennis on 1, but Murray wound up just in time, so I guess the only effect that would have would be people wanting to see the post-match talk.

      • Brig Bother says:

        Well Peter Kay was up slightly so there might have been some residual effect. Love Island up slightly on last Friday too, but only 100k which can’t explain all of it.

        Basically it’s 600k down on the premiere. Some dropping is to be expected (although if the show were really good it would be word of mouth success and rising), the question is where will it level out? It consolidated higher than expected week one but can we expect that to continue? Edit: I’m informed 3.1m total for ep2, so it’s put on about the same amount.

        Next week it’s on a different day so that’s going to hit it, but at least it’s got a good excuse.

        I think whilst the game content of the show is pretty sound they’ve shot themselves in the foot several times with the tone and direction. It’s actually quite an abrasive watch – Chris is right about rhythm, I think this has a flow issue.

  18. David says:

    Week 3:

    1. Balls – Balls. Balls balls balls. Clearly this is going to be one of those games that’s designed not to be won, but the aftermath is the best thing this revival has given us yet.
    2. Wet Log – Prevented only from being #1 by all the “this is SUCH GREAT TELEVISION!” Rylan’s-ego-babying going on.
    3. Radioactive Turntables
    4. Vanishing Bridge – The small-scale ruins it.
    5. Piano – I’m okay, for now, but I feel like this would be much better if the sequence was (1) build the piano, (2) memorise the tune, (3) repeat the tune.
    6. Mystery – Bizarrely easy, perhaps because they’ve had to cut down on how much of the room is usable in order to do the opening turntable thing.
    7. Shards – We already have a far better laser game in Futuristic.
    8. Alphanumeric Pairs – I knew thinking the Industrial revival generally being Not Totally Naff was a bad omen. This strikes me as something that got rejected for the 1990s version.
    9. Motherboard – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
    10. Gutters

    Overall:
    1. Radioactive Turntables
    2. Balls
    3. Wet Log
    4. Floating Scales
    5. Nuclear Rock
    6. Lasers (Maze)
    7. Space Walk
    8. Word Wheel
    9. Toy Shop
    10. Vanishing Bridge
    11. Pipes
    12. Piano
    13. Lights Out
    14. Mystery
    15. Cube Wall
    16. Shards
    17. Apples
    18. Alphanumeric Pairs
    19. Tool Box
    20. Motherboard
    21. Gutters
    22. Totem
    23. Mimesey

    I think what I’m realising is how dull a lot of these games are this time around. Like sure, having to deal with all the other misfiring is bringing them down, but how many of these games would you honestly rate at above a 7/10? I’m only at about four, and even that’s being generous at the moment.

    • Brig Bother says:

      At some point I’m going to formulate why you’re wrong and that the games are in the main visually quite interesting and fun to watch but I’m very much enjoying the lists so far.

      Balls at the top? Really? It’s a one-player version of Four Cords from Fort Boyard which was boring as anything.

      • David says:

        I think that’s my issue, to be fair. Even by this show’s standards, there are an awful lot of games where the visual appeal is significantly higher than the quality of the game itself.

        I’m sort of grading these on a curve, which may explain Balls being so high. In terms of entertainment value, I feel like a spectacular catastrofail plus a solid 30 seconds of premature ejaculation jokes (feat. Muttley) was much more entertaining than three minutes of Rylan putting plugs in their sockets.

        Rainbow Piano: I think it’s almost TOO clever, in a way. I have the same kind of issue with it as I did with the challenges on that terrible revival of Aussie Mole, where it seemed they spent more time making the challenges ‘clever’ than they did on making them ‘good’. Like there are good ways to do multi-part challenges within the constraints of this show’s format (the maze-within-a-maze challenges of the old version, for example), but I don’t think this is one of them.

        Disappearing Bridge: My issue isn’t the game itself, which I agree is good, it’s just that it feels like they wanted the Foggy Bog to be much more impressive than it is, which I don’t think is possible when the entire game takes place within a one-foot-by-ten-foot section of the cell immediately adjacent to the wall. It feels like it should be longer and go around a corner or SOMETHING, is kind of what I’m getting at.

        • Stephen says:

          Visual appeal works once. Without a solid game, that’s interesting each time it’s played, no amount of visual appeal is going to last (with the exception of the water chamber in Aztec, no matter the quality of the game, those will always be entertaining, which I think is why those games tend to rank highly in people’s minds more than every other) because visual appeal works once (Not always the first time it’s played – but once you’ve seen the visual appeal a game has to offer, you’ve seen the visual appeal the game has to offer)

          That isn’t to downplay the importance of visual appeal – Television is a visual medium after all, but while each episode needs a couple of games with strong visual appeal in them, so you need enough games with that strong visual appeal to mix and match them across the 20 episode run, a solid underlying foundation is more important, imo, than a strong visual appeal, since a strong underlying foundation will work every time the game’s played compared to the once of strong visual appeal.

    • Alex McMillan says:

      The reason that the Rainbow Piano game goes memorise -> rebuild -> recite is so the player is more prone to forgetting the pattern as they fix the piano. It also means they have to time manage how long they want to have the tune play before they start rebuilding. I think its genuinely onenof the cleverest games I have seen on Crystal Maze.

      Also, I really liked Motherboard, surprised it has ranked so poorly.

      • Stephen says:

        For me Motherboard’s main issue is that it’s more back and forth than I’d like – I’d prefer it if it were a one way circuit for the contestant (And you could probably manage to make it as a one way circuit by using the right kind of gates) where some of the things to insert are within the circuit which the contestant could miss, but I do agree that it’s quite a good game as is, though not as good as the Crate Maze game .

        Can’t agree with the disappearing bridge’s ranking, way too low – Best game of its type we’ve seen across all 7 seasons because it both fixes the usual issue with the reverse games of the contestant trying to play the game before getting trapped in it (Which, so did Mystery) while having a more creative setup than the usuual conceit of locking the contestant into a room within the cell.

  19. The quantity of content in each of the games feels a little light to me. This isn’t quite the same as saying that the games are easier than they used to be, but in games where you have to do one thing several times, I feel like you would previously have had to do that one thing more times than appears to be the case these days. Someone more energetic than me can work out percentages of games won, lost and locked in in the previous series and compare them to the very small sample we have so far.

    I have a suspicion that this may be deliberate to avoid some teams making it to the Dome with very small numbers of crystals, but the number of tokens collected per player per second also seems well up so far, possibly due to dome size or, perhaps more likely, airflow strength and patterns. It’s very easy to say “Ahhhhhh it’s easier than it used to be” with remakes, but at least there’s more likely to be evidence these days.

    In other news: happy birthday, Brig!

    • Matt Clemson says:

      I agree, but I’ve noticed that the games where that’s the case would be *fairly* trivial to bump up the complexity (I think one that I particularly thought it for was last week’s ‘find the tool to open the box’ one) – I’m wondering if perhaps civilians will have an extra step that the celebrities don’t?

      • Stephen says:

        Possible – also quite easy to jiggle the time allotted, at least in 30 second increments between 2 and 3 mins – some games changed lengths during their season in the original, after all.

        As for the number crunching, fortunately http://crystalmaze.marcgerrish.com/series/index.htm has already done it for the classic show, so we only need to do it for the current one. Which Dan’s spreadsheet is keeping track of and is low enough quantity to do just look up the numbers we’re interested in and calculate. 19 in 30 games (63.3%) won, with 4 in 30 games (13.3%) ending in lock ins, compared to the classic series of:

        S1 – 50.8% wins, 6.3% lock ins
        S2 – 42.3% wins, 4.5% lock ins
        S3 – 52.2% wins, 8.5% lock ins
        S4 – 43.3% wins, 6.0% lock ins
        S5 – 47.8% wins, 7.1% lock ins
        S6 – 52.2% wins, 6.0% lock ins

        Total across all seasons of classic maze: 48.0% wins, 6.4% lock ins.

        Basically, if what we’ve seen turns out to be representative, they’ve squeezed the middle so more ‘interesting’ results happen more often – both lock ins and crystals won. I’m not sure I mind that, actually, particularly with the reduction in game quantity and reduction in team size.

        • David says:

          My concern with this is it makes the divide between ‘they should win this, probably’ games and ‘there’s no way in hell anyone will ever win this’ games too stark. There really does need to be a middle ground to disguise how blatant it is. When you look at the classic version, or at Fort Boyard, the games that tend to be most remembered (aside from the obvious ones like Mumsie and the murder mysteries) are the ones that sort of fall into the ‘complex, but not complicated; hard but not difficult’ middle ground. It is absolutely harming this show, for example, that it will take a miracle to either lose the gutter game or Mimesey or to win the nuclear rock game or the disc-and-balls game. Like, sure, have some absurdly easy and horrifically tough games to act as a failsafe against anticlimactic results, but it feels like almost every game at this point is one or the other, and we’ve seen almost 60% of what’s on offer at this point.

  20. James W says:

    There was a question asked on the TV forums over the weekend, and I wanted to share it here in case anyone had any insight (rephrasing slightly). In the old show, was there any fall back if a team ended up with 0 crystals or faced having all players locked in. After pulling apart the various home computer tieins their contingencies are rather basic (0 crystals is automatically rounded up to 1, the final player cannot be locked in regardless), but I wondered if there was a formal rule?

    • Brig Bother says:

      It wasn’t serious but Richard O Brien suggested on Going Live once that he wanted a show where everyone got locked in and they’d have just ended the show there.

      I never thought of trying to break the computer game in this way, good stuff.

      • James W says:

        The DOS version specifically codes for the issue, instead of saying “you’re trapped”, it actually changes it to “nearly trapped” instead.

        The various pub machines have different rules, only one actually uses players (with each game assigned to a player, and the dome being divided into six columns representing each player’s space). In that case it will always leave the last player safe if needed (as you can choose whether to buy out players). With every other version you don’t have a team, so a lock in results in an immediate buy out, with you not going below 0 at any point.

        I know I keep saying it, but there is a pretty sketchy emulation of the old Barcrest Pub machines in MAME, but I keep meaning to try to fix up some massive timing issues with it that can cause the internal code to crash horribly. It’s just about playable enough to fiddle with, though.

  21. John R says:

    If you get no crystals on the more recent pub quiz machine version you get one thrown in. The actual games you get a crystal for completing but if you complete with 10 seconds or more left on the clock you get awarded a bonus crystal – depending on its mood it can give you 30 seconds, 45 seconds or 1 minute for games.

    Usually best off going for a fiver in the dome but again depending on mood it can chuck in less gold tokens or a higher amount of silver tokens to screw you over.

    I was literally addicted to it at one point, although the novelty wore off as there is obviously a finite amount of games (and some are repeated with different zone themes). The problem with playing it these days is the quiz machine hardware in the pubs is mostly knackered particularly the response and accuracy of the touch screen!

    • James W says:

      Has to be the old trackball ones for me I’m afraid – I once had a long email conversation with one of the developers about how Malcolm Heyworth wanted to approve everything they did, so I presumed they were working to vaguely official rules.

      I’ve never really looked at those versions, but I gather they are just PC executables, so I might try to track them down and take a look.

  22. Will Tennant says:

    Just watched the newest episode, few new games including Jarhead’s first appearance.

    One of the new games which I’m going to call Gutter Stacker is very similar to an idea I thought of except it involved using trains instead (i’m a sucker for that train game in the original series), and I can’t remember if I submitted that idea in a letter to them or not :-p

    • Brig Bother says:

      I liked the gutter stacker and the sliding plank game. I don’t think the clocks are going to go down as one of the all time classics.

      I can see why they saved this one for the one that everyone’s going to miss because it’s on a different day.

      Knight > Jarhead. I thought there was going to be some interplay there but there wasn’t.

      Still think the host pointing out how shit it is is a spectacular backfire. If he can’t be bothered with it, why should we? For another 16 episodes!

      • Danny Kerner says:

        Yeah that may be a huge gamble there. If you feel the host is not on par with the show it will sink through to the viewership ratings. Also we have not seen the entrance point from Aztec. If they are trying to save it until the Civilians they are taking a bit of a risk there. I do hope the rumoured zipwire is true as that’s all that is keeping me watching as I am slightly disappointed in this revival. I was holding onto hope that the riddles were complicated but so far they are on par with GCSE styled questions. Where are these false answered riddles.

      • Alex McMillan says:

        The thing that really irks me is Ayoade probably *adores* being the host of The Crystal Maze, and his persona is playing up the angle too much. ROB always had an element of deprecation of the whole thing (“Where they could win something…quite ordinary!”), and if Ayoade just took it down a couple of notches the whole show would feel a lot more earnest.

        • Brig Bother says:

          There’s a brilliant quote someone wrote on a forum along the lines of RoB clearly took the show seriously whilst affecting not to and Ed didn’t take it seriously whilst affecting to and didn’t quite convince as a result.

          Ayoade doesn’t seem to take it seriously nor bother affecting to for comic effect which is OK up to a point but gets wearing. When Merchant was doing similar schtick it was OK because it was a one-off nostalgia trip but as I said at the time you couldn’t sustain a whole series of it.

          Amusingly the thing that I think has worked best is that of the will-they/won’t they relationship between Ayoade and Jessica Hynes’ Knight which seems to be being played relatively low-key and straight despite being the most contrived element of the whole thing!

    • Danny Kerner says:

      Firstly I’m going to call your game idea gutter ball as it’s essentially is that. A one chance game and if you mess up its in the gutter. Great design and idea as it makes you think and judgement needs to be spot on before you commit.

      Secondly bit of a weak episode this week in terms of flow however we did get three new games including the introduction of Jarhead. It takes the total of games to 26 however I’m fearful out of the remaining 15 episodes and only 15 games left it will be one new game a week. This means a hell of a lot of repeated games, more than Brig prediction of 5 appearances a game.

      Finally i liked the setup involved with Jarhead and slightly concerned with no time limits on all riddle games as that was not the true ethos of a pressure game, but I do wish Richard creates a back story around how he found Jarhead.

      • Danny Kerner says:

        I must add that does the buyback system feel a little bit forced what with the fact that everyone must face two games. Its almost as if they know they will be safe for the finale whatever happens. I’m expecting a 3-4 crystal outcome be alot more possible sadly.

        Hopefully they will go back to the drawing board and think 90’s. People randomly selected for the recordings and make anyone play the game. As the categories also feel like they are placed on a person. Rylan gave the game away when he said producers told him “I’m glad you were chosen for this as it’s the water one”. This morning last Friday

      • David B says:

        Do the math. 5×10 + 15×11 games played = 205 showings.

        205 / 41 different games = 5 plays per game.

        It’s impossible to be any higher!

  23. Steve says:

    are all the episodes going to be celebrity ones ? If not do we have any idea how many will be celebrity ones ?

  24. Danny Kerner says:

    Sadly due to all the sports C4 is showing means that the Crystal Maze will not be shown again until August. Day & time yet to be finalised.

  25. Much of grace comes from knowing that even if something has been done one way for a long time, if it gets done a different way, then the other way might be just as good even if it’s not the way that you’re used to.

    Much of high standards comes from knowing that while that might be true in theory, there’s often damn good reason why that’s not the case in practice.

    Tom Allen got a very favourable decision not to get locked in, there’s good internal logic why you relinquish a crystal to the cell where the prisoner was kept, there’s good internal logic why the host is gung ho about leading the teammates through the transitions from zone to zone and there’s good dramatic internal logic in the music for The Crystal Dome being edited to different lengths from week to week, depending on the number of crystals won, so that the dramatic conclusion to the music comes at the precise point where the time runs out.

    How did this week’s team do? Well, who cares? We learnt that someone’s girlfriend is a stickler for good timekeeping and that’s the real reason for watching the show. That, and a few jokes about a TV show from another channel altogether.

    Grumble.

    • Brig Bother says:

      But it’s just television Chris and lacking any sort of consistent internal logic makes for a better show. It’s just facts.

    • David B says:

      Re: the lock in, the internal rule was you could bang on the door on 0:01 and be let out. I think that was fairer than the slightly elastic policies of TOS.

      • Brig Bother says:

        But it looked lousy!

      • Will Tennant says:

        There’s banging on the door at 0.01 and there’s banging in the door where most of your body is covered in water, taking you another 5+ seconds to get out.

        He wasn’t ready to get out, if it was anyone shorter they would never been able to reach it. Should be a rule that banging at the door at 0.01 if you’re reasonably able to get out while the door is opening. It just made bad editing again of which the past couple of episodes have been more apparent. Also really hating the incidental chimes that go when they win a crystal, like we don’t know they’ve won one!

        4 ALIS in 10 games? in TOS you’d be lucky to see 1 sometimes 2 in one particular week, some even got 0!

        • David says:

          Yeah, it should be something like “if you could reasonably get out in time if the door was left open instead of having to wait for Richard to open it for you, we’ll let you out”.

        • One of the things I can remember a school colleague saying about s01e01 of The Original Series was an opinion that all the games should be set up as automatic lock-ins. In truth, he went further still, and suggested that all the games should either be crystal or lock-in, rather than automatic lock-in games where you can still bail out while having made insufficiently many errors but without having won the crystal.

          It’s probably not an improvement on reality, but it’s not an idea worth dismissing out of hand. If we were to rezone the maze completely, how about having one zone being distinctive in gameplay terms by being composed entirely of automatic lock-in, crystal-or-lock-in games, while making automatic lock-ins rare (or non-existent?) elsewhere? (The most obvious guess for a theme here would be Hell, but anything is possible…)

  26. Brig Bother says:

    1.1m / 5.8% last night, ouch. With the caveat that it was on a different day, although god knows why you schedule a four episode run with the final ep on a different day to the others.

    Probably the most damning thing was Naked Attraction doing better after it.

  27. xr says:

    The crystal lift boxes are in most cases a bad idea, because they remove the aim from sight. Players used to make a beeline for the crystal box, read the clue below, perform and then rush back as the clock was ticking down. Depriving the players of this strong visual guidance leaves both them and viewers flailing at the start and end of the room. Also, crystals are better looking than chipboard.

    Physical games often suffer from the cramped space and set sturdiness, particularly rehashed old games. A commonly fit man can, for example, jump 2m from standing. Watching a tall professional athlete awkwardly slot planks instead just looked ridiculous (ep3, Med). Physical games need to allow for, and reward, athleticism to both avoid being boring and breaking immersion by highlighting unmentioned rules. In other words, they need to be designed to work best within their obvious natural constraints.

    Motherboard and Memory Piano are both excellent. Both futuristic laser mazes look awesome.

    I feel an itch to rework a lot of the games, but I’m unsure it’d make for riveting reading.

    • Will Tennant says:

      I agree seeing the crystal in perspex glass just looks more appetizing than hidden away. It makes sense to hide in the pyramid for when it’s constructed, but other ones like the apple game and the piano would work well with it.

    • David says:

      It seems obvious a number of the games are going to be reworked for the civilian contestants anyway. Like there were multiple closeups of the Aztec pyramid base in this last episode that implied it’s going to have another four-piece level for players to assemble, and I’d find it easy to believe the apple game is going to have more apples given how many empty branches they seem to end up with, or that the riddle games are going to get time limits, and so on.

      I do think it’s more likely games are going to be made harder than easier, because… like, if you only have ten games an episode, it is ABSURD how many of these keep ending with over a minute left in their time limits.

      • Danny Kerner says:

        I do hope so in regards to the riddles as it was too easy to win. If they keep these for season 2 (8 for loyalists) I do hope they use all three riddles and keep 2/3 to be released with crystal and introduce 3/3 extra crystal so then the 11th slot on the board can be used throughout the whole series and not just Celebrities.

  28. David says:

    Week 4:

    1. Wet Log
    2. Planks (Decent idea here, but I feel like it would be stronger if it was set up so you couldn’t use the same plank twice in a row to cross the grid quickly)
    3. Balls
    4. Lasers
    5. Mystery
    6. Gutter Ball (As with many of the worst TCM games, it’s a whole lotta standing around waiting for something to happen; it feels like there are a LOT of this type of game this time around)
    7. Apples
    8. Pipes
    9. Clocks (Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!)
    10. Jarhead (so it’s Mimesey with added gurning? Hard pass)

    • Brig Bother says:

      I wonder if there’s a way of doing Planks so you’d be forced to come back using a different route, like if a plank got removed, or something.

      I like Gutter Ball, it’s literally a physical representation of a Stacker machine from an arcade which tickles me.

      • Matt Clemson says:

        Wasn’t there a similar game in the classic series (perhaps that assault-course-in-a-room?) where on getting the crystal, one of the stepping stoned recedes into the wall meaning you need another exit.

        I really like Gutter Ball as a game, although I’m not quite convinced it’s great telly. Having the risk/reward mechanic of ‘are they lined up well enough for me to have a go?’ is brilliant when weighed up against the remaining time, but constant retries are a bit frustrating to watch. Maybe that’s the point, though? I was certainly shouting at the screen when, with ~20s left to go, he had what looked like a *maybe* good enough setup, and reset it.

        I will say Gutter Ball is appealingly mechanical, which has been perhaps a little lacking of late.

      • Cheesebiscuits says:

        There should be. Say you continued moving into the bottom right and up to the top right. Then you can come across another plank which you can move two to the left bringing you back in contact with the original path.

        As it is two spaces away it would be unreachabke on the way there.

    • Jarhead amused me, but it did seem to me that Adam Buxton was using his gerybaboona accent; had I been playing it, I very much doubt that I would have been able to avoid adding “…OR SUTIN” to the end of my answers.

      On a related question that is nevertheless slightly different, if you were at the live The Crystal Maze attraction and were introduced to a cell, which of the The New Generation games would you most want to play? (Not quite the same thing as the best game, but not far off!) I think I’d most like the chance to play the dangling planets game. Sure, there’s a fall hazard and I guess it’s a tiny bit dangerous, but that never shied them away from a couple of the other bumpier games from The Original Series in the London original.

      • Will Tennant says:

        When I went on launch night to the London one, I only got to see 2 new games (though apparently there was more). I was lucky to play one of the new ones which was a LED light maze using switches to direct the light “current” from one point on a column, twisting it around to the end to activate the door for the crystal.

        Very simple looking but had a good sort of vibe to it. I did complete it in like 25 seconds though if that so didn’t get to see how many false ways there was :-p

        Still need to go to the Manchester one but living up in the north east of Scotland, travel is a bit of a problem

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