Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze (Celebs)

By | June 22, 2017

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.

275 thoughts on “Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze (Celebs)

  1. Dave M

    First, nice of Channel 4 to release the first ep a little early (and thanks to @FoxyRhino for spotting it).

    I’m glad it’s back, and there’s a lot of promise, but I didn’t love this episode.

    Two big problems for me:
    – Celebrity version doesn’t work for me. The game show is the entertainment, not the individuals, so I felt the celebrities just detracted from the show. I get a similar feeling from Pointless Celebrities – contestants being centre of attention and interrupting doesn’t work for me. In particular, Louis Spence was a risky choice for show 1.
    – As predicted, it’s 10 games per episode, which just feels a little too short. I suspect there’s no way of getting this up in a modern 1h show, but I suspect people would watch 90 mins. Although maybe if we had a little less ‘we’ve got to get to know the contestants’ at the start and a little less chat, we could squeeze another one in.

    Other thoughts:
    – Were some of the games edited for time? Clock isn’t always on screen and it felt like one or two were trimmed in the edit.
    – Set looks great. Not sure about the LEDs around the frame of the Dome though. Nice effect when it’s in the background, but I’m not a fan in the end game.
    – I like Richard Ayoade and thought he’s a great choice of host, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I’m going to put it down to him being with celebrities and not really giving him the opportunity to be an authoritative maze-master. I want to see him with a civy team.
    – No transitions is a little disappointing.
    – The planets game in Future and spinning discs game in Industrial were very similar. It also looks like there’s a Medieval and Future version of the Mumsey game. So at most 39 new games and probably fewer? Plus when you’re only showing 10 games, having a repeat feels a bit poor.
    – ‘Mins’ and ‘A list’ get annoying very quickly.
    – Like the music and mood music during the games is good when you can hear it.

    So feels like a bit of a miss for me at the moment. I don’t know if I’ll persist with the celebrity ones, but I’ll come back for civilian episodes.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I broadly agree with this and I’ll expand on a few things later on when I’ve got twenty minutes.

      Just to nip something in the bud though because it took me a while to figure it out, ‘A List’ I think is ‘ALIS’ – Automatic Lock In Situation.

      Reply
    2. David

      I did notice what was clearly a version of the old ‘murder mystery’ game in the most recent promo, so we’re down to at least 38.

      Reply
  2. Danny Kerner

    Okay. I feel rather dissapointed by this.

    Number 1 : Axed the transitioning. Why build the exit points if they are not going to be used. Also the exit point to aztec will never have got them there. They would of gone through the pipe. Try to at least be truthful to the goal. You will see what i mean when it comes to Futuristic transfer to Medieval.

    Number 2: A vast majority of Automatic locking games. Almost feels forced for a failure. This means that out of the 10 games played there was at least 50% regular & 50% AL. It also feels rather forced upon them.

    Number 3: It feels slightly cheap after all the build up from the adverts. However the games are pretty cool in terms of rules & design.

    Number 4: There is a game with no time limit. Breaks the legecy of the ethics of the rules of 2-3 minutes guidelines.

    I like how channel 4 have tried to keep it as best original but i can’t quite believe the show anymore.

    (I would advise people to save the above hyperlink as according to the phrasing of the video description “Thanks to O2, you can watch the next episode right here, right now. That’s a whole 48 hours before it’s on C4 ..enjoy!” makes me wonder if its a weekly release.)

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      I must add Richard Ayoade is a perfect maze master. His humou is dry similar to former Richards camera callback.

      Reply
    1. Cheesebiscuits

      I haven’t watched the show yet but the article only suggests that the dome has been moved so the dust from Aztec doesn’t get in the fans. It doesn’t say anything about moving the other zones…

      Reply
      1. Danny Kerner

        But the walls of each corridor connecting the zones are not there. Therefore they are a individual set.

        Reply
        1. Jon

          Either way it’s dispointing they’ve not managed to fudge the transitions, as it would be pretty easy to do with editing and the fact they only have to show a brief few seconds of it rather than a complete sequence.

          Reply
  3. Danny Kerner

    Unrelated to the Crystal Maze, ITV’s new antique gameshow David Dickinson’s Name Your Price! starts Mon 26th Jun @ 3PM BST, for a run of 30 episodes.

    Reply
  4. Chris M. Dickson

    Good rehearsal, everyone, now when do we do the real thing?

    The mood and emphasis were quite different to The Crystal Maze: The Original Series. Then, the focus was on the games and the story of an adventure. Now, the focus is on the team. The editing emphasises this. It’s known that TOS did edit its games, but not nearly so overtly, and once you spot it happening in game one, then I found it difficult not to look out for it happening again and again. The original was a game show, where you watch a game being played; the new version has much more of the elements of a reality show, where you watch a documentary of people playing a game. I wouldn’t say this is inevitable for a reality special, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.

    It’s fine for different hosts to have their own styles, but New Richard was trying very hard to make a lot of different things happen: “mins”, ALIS, situation, the hand, the editing joke (twice), and so on. The old show was knowing and self-aware, but played along with its own jokes; the new version feels ironic and hipster.

    The rhythm feels off, more than anything else, though it might be a little much to expect that to be there perfectly on a first episode. Too little time spent on the games, too much time spent on the personalities. Admittedly TOS did occasionally have games that just misfired – an awful lot of waiting round for teams to figure out what was required to be done, or games that were just plain dull (the metal-detecting sand for combination lock tumblers was always a snorer for me) – and the new approach does seem to minimise that.

    I quite liked the set, and the graphics within the games… even though they didn’t feel organic, were not unwelcome. The games were decent enough, though nothing was a huge highlight. I’m even on board with the idea of a no-time-limit game. The sound effects within the game were appropriate enough, though they did jolt a little and shove you into the “you’re watching a show about people playing a game, not watching people play a game” mode.

    Weird nit-picky nit-pick: I can live without the transitions and I can live without the moat, but why has The Crystal Dome gained the internal rail from the live experience, other than because it’s in the live experience? That added nothing and I think it made the shots of people collecting the tokens less exciting-looking. Sure, there was always a rail in the TOS, but that was never to get in the way or to stop people from collecting tokens from the glass.

    The first series of TOS was pretty clunky in a few ways but they got the chance to make big improvements in the second series, mostly there in terms of the games. Fingers firmly crossed that they can give people with good taste time to really work on this and make a second series of TCM: The Next Generation that plays to the format’s strengths.

    Reply
    1. David B

      I think the rail is partly for wheelchair accessibility. You will notice the wider to the Dome.

      Reply
      1. Mart With A Y Not An I

        Correct. The contestants held onto it as the fans started, please.

        Reply
  5. Brig Bother Post author

    When they did the one-off at the London Maze last year the overarching thought was “it was good for what it was”, a decent stab at a charity edition filmed in a place that’s not actually designed to be filmed in. The new series doesn’t have that luxury – it’s a TV set, so how do we get on?

    I think they’ve done a largely fantastic job of creating the zones, given the size of the studio is probably around half that of the aircraft hangar previous. I’m perfectly happy with the new Futuristic. I think the Crystal Dome looks absolutely spectacular.

    I like most of the games although I’m struggling with the idea that the games are “multi-layered” as the producer has suggested in interviews.

    But there were a number of things I found annoying mainly with the rather jarring insincere tone the show has opted for, we don’t need gags referring to the edit thanks and neither do we really need overt references to pop culture. People don’t watch The Crystal Maze because it’s *cool*, people watch it because it’s *fun*. I thought Ayoade does a pretty good job of encouraging and belittling during the games themselves but outside of that the jury is still out and I suspect we won’t be able to make a final judgement until the civilian episodes start airing. Generally I’m fine with the terminology he’s introducing as part of his officious character.

    I was quite shocked they basically removed all the transitions so the show feels like it’s being made in four completely separate studios, it removes a level of physicality the original had and I can’t agree with it – at least give the impression that something’s happening and use some clever editing. As it is it makes a slight mockery of the epic orchestral music. Given the amount of chat I refuse to accept this has been done for time, you could have squeezed five minutes of content with half the chat quite easily.

    Do you remember when they were rebooting Robot Wars and they suggested it was going to be more about the personalities and human interest and nobody went “oh good” and it’s watched by barely a million? Yeah.

    I’m not sure I understand removing the clock during the cutaways. They were eliding for time 25 years ago, I refuse to believe it’s more difficult to sort in post in 2017.

    Did I miss something or did they let Ore abandon that final automatic lock-in game? Surely the point of the set-up is that you’re not able to do so?

    Also are there really two different “get two riddles right out of three” games? I hope Jarhead is significantly different in some way other than “it stars Adam Buxton”.

    It’s always going to have very high expectations put on it and clearly I don’t feel it’s quite met them. However it’s not rubbish but it’s something I’ll have to learn to love.

    Reply
    1. Alex McMillan

      It feels like this should be a shoe-in for Best New Show this year, but I think it’s missed the mark in a lot of the places you’d suggested. I think starting with several celebrity specials will turn out to be a blunder.

      Reply
      1. Danny Kerner

        All the SU2C were originally scheduled to be broadcast over October. What made C4 change their plans I do not know. Wether the Civilian series has not finished post production and are using the celebrities for padded reasons not to miss a deadline I can’t confirm

        Reply
        1. Jon

          My fear is it’s lack of confidence in the civilian series.

          Reply
          1. Jon

            I’d have one celeb to launch and go try into the civilian series. We know celeb special of gameshows rate better, but I feel they’ll playing all their trump cards rating wise in one go. The novelty factor of it being back will be done with once the celeb specials are done which drives ratings and you wont have the celeb factor.

          2. David

            See also: What’s happened to the audience for Big Brother since Channel 5 put a celebrity season right after it.

          3. James W

            Just thinking, is this the first show to launch (or rather relaunch in this case) with the celebrity specials since 19 Keys? That seemed to be due to a lack of confidence in the format as well.

          4. Mart With A Y Not An I

            Could be wrong – but I’m sure Five Minutes to a Fortune launched with a celebrity special right after the Grand National coverage, before the MOTP version kicked in a 5pm the following Monday.

    2. Danny Kerner

      Also have you noticed there are three different types of clocks used in industrial zone. I would of at least try to keep them all the same. I was right there was 3 games in Futuristic & Aztec, whilst only two in Industrial & Medieval. Hopefully this will rotate throughout the run. I just hope when they pretend transition from zones they use the correct exit, it hard to believe they get to Aztec from a walkway in industrial & run to Futuristic from Aztec when they teleport to medieval. What’s the point of the hole in the climbing wall

      Reply
      1. Jon

        I agree with you on the transitions, as an uber fan. I barely noticed the clocks and I think that’s to make the edit easier. It was the same on 2016 speciail.

        Reply
      2. Matt C

        On which note, I wonder if they’ll change how the get from Medieval to Futuristic? I think it feels a bit wrong to teleport *out*, because there’s no contextual environment in Medieval for that to make sense

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          They’ve literally built the beam across the water from the original although we’ll probably never see it because they’ll go to a break.

          Reply
      3. Jon

        Danny, with regards to the clock, do you really think in Industrial times they would have have went out and shopped for clocks that that were different to each other every time they needed a new one? Every time they bought a clock they’d have a got the best one available to them at the best price. I think this is a point you don’t see. It’s clearly a design point the clocks are different.

        Reply
  6. Chris M. Dickson

    Seeing it without the ads is a bonus and makes me wonder if the live experience will advertise in the breaks of the main show. While there is an advertising code with things to say about that sort of differentiation between show and advertising, I get the impression that it’s so much weaker now, or at least so much more weakly enforced, that such a move might fly.

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      The main sponsor is one plus. I would not be surprised if they sneak in a advertising space.

      Reply
      1. Jon

        I don’t understand what you mean? The rules around sponsorship are pretty strict, if you just mean they might pay for an advert during the show like the advertisers then yes. But they won’t be able to put anything extra in.

        Reply
  7. Danny Kerner

    I can confirm that there is sneaky edits which confirms why the cutaways have no timer. The word game in Aztec was supposed to be 2 minutes in real life. It ended up being 1 minute 37 TV time. (Timed via android stopwatch pressed when the on-screen clock appeared)

    Reply
    1. Jon

      But we know games were edited down in the original too, so that’s nothing new.

      Reply
  8. Will Tennant

    I agree that Richard is a good host, albeit overly awkward in places that sort of removes yourself from watching the show. Walking away from the end credits like he doesn’t care gave the wrong feeling. The ALIS and Mins things are annoying but I feel you would get used to it over time and even become a cult reference very quickly.

    The games though like people have said are very similar to older ones and aren’t necessarily brand new. The 8 Word puzzle is near enough a carbon copy of the puzzle game in Futuristic back in 1990 (though they used numbers too). Turn off the lights to reveal the code is near enough a carbon copy of “Extinguish all the lights” from 1993 but I do prefer this method better. The water puzzle that VP did was ok, but far too simple which just led to alot of waiting, which didn’t really work in the old days with that beaker water puzzle. The block puzzle in Futuristic I liked and assume there’s more than 1 correct solution because it be near impossible to get the right answer otherwise.

    The industrial spinning discs and the planets were too similar as well. Having no time limit for the puzzles was fine for editing purposes but it obviously dragged on for a LONG time. Any ALIS game should have you committed, specially with the adapted wire game, just because you decide to quit shouldn’t give you a reason to leave, maybe they were being generous as it was the charity special.

    I don’t like having no timers on the doors in futuristic, I miss those dials, but I love the set design. Lack of transitions puts a damper on it, but would resort in even less time being played which with only 10 anyway doesn’t feel like an awful lot. Extending it to 75 mins or 90 mins to give each zone an ad break may work far better.

    I’m hoping we don’t see too much more similarities in puzzles in each zone, I almost feel some of the props are of lesser quality than the 1990’s too with crystals being released/unveiled.

    Having Louie there in the first episode I think was a definite no-no, once the show is established again this episode should’ve featured, it was too much of a distraction for the show with too much emphasis on them than the games. There’s nothing wrong with showing off the teams more but people are wanting to see the games and should be the priority.

    Reply
  9. Marcoraymondo

    Had a cheeky look at the first five mins to see how I felt about it – can we talk about the map that has no bearing on the actual maze? Can we have the old map back please?

    Reply
    1. Jon

      Isn’t the map the same as the old map just a bit more glossy?

      Reply
      1. Marcoraymondo

        I meant like in the original series where it was actually indicative of room locations, stairwells etc. This new map doesn’t have any bearing on the locations at all. 🙁

        Reply
        1. Danny Kerner

          In the aztec area there is a tiny markup for piping but very lmited.

          Reply
  10. Jon

    Already posted this elsewhere, but I’ll add these thoughts here.

    The intro was too long, could have cut it down and snook in an extra game somewhere. Richard was good in the introductory chat, but he’s clearly less comfortable than Merchant was, but then that’s he’s whole schtick. it didn’t help the group weren’t as good as on the first special. You’d hope they don’t spend so long on the intros in the civilian series.

    They’ve built all the same exit points as the original and then not even bothered to use them. I don’t think this will bother too many ‘normal’ viewers, but it does add something to the idea of the Maze that everything is interlinked. And if they’re going around in a correct order, even if they have to fudge the transitions it’s worth doing. I think the teleportation is probably what I’d have done to replace the lift to Aztec.

    Think Richard’s going to be an acquired taste, more so than Merchant. For the most part I thought he did a good job. I missed the idea it was his Maze and he lived in Medieval which I didn’t pick up on.

    On the whole a good TV hour. But just felt it was missing some punch.

    Reply
  11. Danny Kerner

    The Good News: The 48Hr advance preview will carry on all throughout the 20Eps run.
    The (Potential) Bad News: You have to be an 02 Customer (Monthly/PAYG)for this to be possible
    Note: The reason i said potentialy is that all of us have been able to currently view the episode wether or not you are 02. If this is due to C4 putting available only for Ep1 through their site to get the offer out there i do not know.

    Official source info:

    Can’t wait until Friday for The Crystal Maze: Celebrity Special? Luckily you don’t have to – for the next 48 hours, we’re giving O2 customers early access to watch The Crystal Maze: Celebrity Special with this offer.
    Just note down your code and enter it when asked. Come back for new episodes every Wednesday from 21.00.
    Data charges may apply, so it’s best to switch to wifi. The episode will only be available until The Friday broadcast. Codes will be available for use until 20:59 on that Friday broadcast date.
    Want to view on your desktop or tablet?
    Go to https://priority.o2.co.uk. If you’re watching the latest episode with O2 Priority 48 hour early access, tell us on Twitter with #O2Priority. But try not to ruin it for those who are yet to see it!

    Reply
    1. Jon

      That’s a very interesting devolopment not just for fans of The Crystal Maze but in terms of it being a new method of monetization for Channel 4.

      Reply
  12. Greg

    Most of what i thought has been said so ill keep this brief

    Pros

    Good games
    Nice production
    Gorgeous set and dome

    Cons

    Sorry but Richard in my view is not right for this show. He would have been better on Bake off and Noel on here.

    Too much chatter, reduce it and you can get another game in.

    Reply
  13. Greg

    Forgot to add as a show i still really enjoyed it and will certainly watch all episodes.

    Reply
  14. Danny Kerner

    Does anyone know if @FoxyRhino got this url due to his 02 priority or wether he found it by chance?

    Reply
    1. Peter S

      I don’t know where he got the link originally, but I can confirm that the ‘offer’ to see the CM early is indeed in the O2 priority app at the moment. It does say, ‘To watch this episode, simply enter your code online’ and the link takes you to a code login page. The page it takes you to after entering the code is an O2 priority branded page though, not the Thanks4 one, so I guess the latter one we’ve all been watching is a one-off.

      I’ve just watched it; I agree broadly with what’s already been posted above and remain to be fully convinced, but I’ll try it again in the coming weeks. It didn’t help that I didn’t recognise many of the ‘celebrities’, perhaps…

      Reply
    2. Simon

      I saw it linked on Twitter yesterday – I’m not an O2 customer.

      Reply
  15. Jon

    Did you Tweet him? I’m an O2 customer but never bothered with having the app on my phone untill now.

    Reply
  16. Daniel Peake

    So, I feel a bit confused.

    I think it’s a show that’s trying to find its feet again. I didn’t really have an issue with the pacing – possibly a little too much waffle. Lack of transitions was disappointing, it made it feel a bit disjointed, but it’s not a dealbreaker though.

    The games were fine, nothing hugely clever but it’s only the first show and I’m looking forward to seeing many more.

    I really like Richard Ayoade, but I didn’t quite click with him here, but having said that, having Louie Spence on the first episode REALLY didn’t help. Don’t think that’ll help much. I’m willing to give him time, though MINS and ALIS can sod off.

    I also don’t like celebrity episodes of The Crystal Maze. For some format they work, but for TCM I was saying “for goodness sake stop talking over each other, shut up and get on with it” – something the civilian episodes probably won’t have to deal with.

    The main cardinal sin I have with the show is it kept taking the timer off the screen. To me that felt like they were playing with the time, and indeed a few of the games were a good 10-20 seconds shorter than advertised. I know that happened in the past, but this felt less honest in some way.

    The “editing” gag is not great, I wish they had not done it, I wish they had have the contestant put the helmet on outside the door and then go in, because it ‘breaks’ up the flow of show and reminds you that it’s TV when done this way. You want it to appear as continuous as possible.

    Overall, I’m still happy to have it back on our screens. I don’t think it is quite as good as the original yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing more shows. Give it time, it will evolve.

    Reply
  17. Daniel Peake

    AND NOW, FOR EXTRA NERDERY:

    I have developed the Peake Skill Score (PSS) as a measure of how well the teams do.

    The score is calculated as follows:
    No. of crystals * (10+(gold/silver)

    The way this works is – they get 10 points for every crystal they score, even if they have to subsequently ransom one back to buy someone out. They then get more points for the ratio of gold to silver tokens that they collect.

    I’ve gone back and forth whether it should be (gold-silver) or (gold/silver) on this measure, and I’ve settled with (gold/silver) because I think it’s slightly better. Imagine a final score of 50 – this could be 250 gold tokens and 200 silver tokens, or it could be 51 gold and 1 silver. I’d argue that 50 and 1 is a much better performance because they’ve weeded out the silver and not just thrown in all the tokens they can get.

    SO THERE. The Peake Skill Score.

    As an indication, the average Peake Skill Score of Series 1 to 6 is 87.3, with most falling in between 50 and 125. The average Peake Skill Score of a winning team is 134.5.
    You can see a handy graph of the Peake Skill Score here, and lots of other Crystal Maze Stats here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VbtJJyLa23E1IwcpQdpfIUS6kKTZ-JFhBKxm8aC2NF4/edit?usp=sharing

    This week’s contestants had a Peake Skill Score of 81.7. Given fewer games per episodes from now on, expect lower Peake Skill Scores on average, to this is likely quite good.

    Huzzah!

    Reply
    1. Weaver

      Thanks for compiling these stats, I might run further tests to see if any zone or any series is associated with victory.

      From a first look, I see Final_Score / Crystals_In_Dome is an excellent predictor of victory.

      If a team could get 12.5 gold tokens per crystal, AND they went in with at least 7 crystals, then victory would be theirs. Otherwise, defeat is assured.

      The relaxed victory condition – 50 gold for a second-class prize – is more likely than not at 8 gold per crystal AND 5 crystals.

      Was it right to determine victory on this challenge, barely related to the previous 50 minutes? For me, it was always an awkward ending, often the weakest part of the show.

      Reply
      1. Mika

        “Was it right to determine victory on this challenge, barely related to the previous 50 minutes? For me, it was always an awkward ending, often the weakest part of the show.”

        (Not sure if “Not growing up with it” and/or “Being more used to Fort Boyard” is behind this, but…)
        This is the one thing that always kinda got me about this show. Especially comparing it to FB where, barring the extremely rare times it’s an outright loss, it’s always celebrating at least some degree of success. Having so many shows have this huge adventure ending up with a “Well, at least you showed up” feels a bit empty and anti-climactic.

        Still looking for a good (lazy) Dark Arts Method to view this version for us overseas people, though, so can’t really comment on this version.

        Reply
      2. Stephen

        Isn’t 50 for second class prize, 100 for first class prize, a return to the first season rather than a relaxation? (And, likely necessary due to the reduction in games and with it opportunity to win crystals)

        As for the ending, that was always the reason I was never sure the show could and/or should return – I just didn’t buy it working in a modern television context, I think I was wrong about that based on last week’s episode, and I thought if it was revived that would need to be changed (And, again, it did feel like I was wrong, although not as wrong as I wish I was)

        …But certainly the likes of Jungle Run – a series of four tasks that are in line with the tasks the team had to do previously, with a time limit determined by how well they’d done on the previous tasks – felt more natural a climax than grabbing foil from out of the air.

        Reply
  18. Tom F

    I noticed a golden banana in the background of the Aztec zone – any bets on that being a low-key Jungle Run reference?

    Reply
    1. Alex McMillan

      Spotted this too! I can only hope that was the intention, a Ruby Monkey wouldn’t go amiss either

      Reply
  19. Chris M. Dickson

    As much as many of the complaints are to do with the inherent compromises made for a celebrity show, I would be all in for 8 out of 10 Cats do The Crystal Maze being much more of a piss-take still – but maybe not until the last series of the new The Crystal Maze…

    Reply
  20. Brig Bother Post author

    I have literally no idea how well this will do tonight, I’ll predict an overnight of 2.5m, although I’d be really intrigued to see a breakdown. If it does that I think everyone will be pleased (the one-off overnighted 3.1m), I think everyone will be a bit disappointed if it comes under 2m (although I would expect that to happen naturally as the run continues) but I would still expect it to consolidate well.

    It is a good reboot if not quite an unqualified success.

    Reply
  21. Ten

    I enjoyed the show, but like many commenters felt something was missing. The original Crystal Maze genuinely felt like a vast interconnected labyrinth, inhabited by mysterious characters and overseen by an enigmatic guardian. This version felt more like Richard Ayoade dicking around with some celebrities on a film set.* Somehow, we’ve lost the world-building that was present in the original.

    Lots of things contribute to this feeling, and most have been identified by other people already – no zone transitions, the “editing” gag causing a fourth wall break, the celebrities not really seeming that engaged with the format, the fitness DVD plugs. I like Ayoade very much but his “lampshading” sense of humour didn’t really build any atmosphere here. I liked the teleporter in the futuristic zone though!

    Using members of the public instead of celebrities may fix some of these problems, so I’ll look forward to seeing that.

    For the record, I like “mins” but not “ALIS”. CONTROVERSIAL!

    * (Indeed, I preferred the Stephen Merchant version and I’m not sure why.)

    Reply
    1. Kester J

      I’d always felt that the conceit that the maze was real was a key part of the show’s appeal (especially to the younger demographic), so it was a real surprise – and real disappointment – to see them not even attempt to maintain it here.

      Did the producers think that kind of earnestness was just too passe? I’m not sure I’d really buy that, as The Cube provides a much more recent example of a show that successfully made a set of what were really fairly simple games into compelling viewing by dramatising the setting, and having the contestants and presenter maintain that fiction.

      I think I’ll be passing on the rest of the celebrity editions, but might check out the civilian show when that airs. Hopefully it will feel a bit less of a need to continually point out how self-aware it is.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I think there’s something in the fiction, RoB took it seriously but not overtly seriously – this is a silly conceit, let’s run with it, then Ed came along and everyone was literally flying through time and space and it turned people off.

        Reply
  22. Jon

    Don’t think it’ll do as well as 2.5 million on a Friday night. I think I’m being positive by guessing 1.9 million.

    Reply
  23. Brig Bother Post author

    Something mildly interesting, because Ayoade takes a bit more of a back seat whilst the games are going on, it’s really obvious when the producer has given some advice in his ear. This was always the case of course, but RoB and to a lesser extent ETP made it look a lot more natural.

    On the other hand Ayoade having a panic attack because they were taking too long was funnier than pretty much any ETP moment.

    Reply
    1. Alex McMillan

      It’s as if the Cosmic Handshake was nothing to you!

      Reply
    2. Jason

      Given the comments about “fast” edits, I wonder if anyone else felt that some of the clues from Ayoade (and thus the producers) were premature to speed the games up?

      Reply
  24. Jason

    I decided to watch it on Channel 4 tonight for the full authentic experience, so a little late to the party!

    When we talked about the special last year, we gave it the benefit of the doubt for what it was – a short-notice, one-off charity production using facilities not designed for a TV broadcast. Sadly, this version doesn’t really do it either.

    It’s a surprise they are going for the reality TV angle because the biggest part – a team of strangers working together towards a goal – is missing!

    As most of the points have been covered in detail, I can keep those brief:
    – 10 games, not 13 or 14
    – Far too many automatic lock-in games
    – Being able to “quit” an ALI game (the canister) defeats the purpose entirely
    – The “no time limit” game, which took *far* too long
    – “Duplicate” games in the same episode
    – 5 standalone sets vs “The Crystal Maze”
    – The Ayoade cutaways that didn’t really fit in with the flow (and must have been filmed later)
    – The frequent removal of the clock and the associated editing (I got the vibe some of the games were “short”, as others have confirmed)
    – Wasn’t convinced by the new incidental music (and I say this as a Richard Jacques fan)

    I wonder if this was the first episode filmed – I feel that Richard Ayoade would find his feet over time, but he needs to relax and stop trying to emulate ROB (much the same as Ed Tudor-Pole trying to stamp his own authority on it and getting it wrong).

    If they are removing three games an episode, the transitions, the game set-up (e.g. helmets) and trimming the game edits – that must be 10 minutes an episode? I can appreciate some of that would go into the ad break, but that is a heck of a lot of filler…

    I hope the non-celebrity versions go better… I’ll give it a few more episodes, if not at least we’ve got Fort Boyard to look forward to!

    Reply
  25. Jason

    It looks like the Radio Times are pushing the new show, claiming Richard Ayoade is “actually even better than Richard O’Brien” (after watching two episodes) [1] and that “none of the games from the original series are coming back” as the producer Neale Simpson talks about all the games they have designed. [2]

    I suspect Frances Taylor should stick to writing articles about Love Island!

    [1] http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-06-23/as-host-of-the-crystal-maze-richard-ayoade-is-actually-even-better-than-richard-obrien
    [2] http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-06-23/the-crystal-maze-how-is-the-new-series-different-to-the-original

    Reply
      1. Jason

        … or “Imperial Weights”, but on water!
        … or “Number Disks”, but with words!

        (etc etc)

        Reply
  26. Brekkie

    Even with the affliction of Louie Spence it’s the best thing that’s been on TV since the last episode. Overall love it and thankfully Richard Ayoade is brilliant. I’ve always been a fan but didn’t know if he’d have the authority to pull it off but I think he does.

    Agree with the concensus about lacking the transitions and it being a couple of games light, but overall a good job though the celebrity specials are completely unnecessary. The show itself it the star attraction and they could have just kept it to one for SU2C in October.

    Also anyone know if the announced Christmas special is a kids version like it used to be?

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      Nope there was 5 Celebrities confirmed so sadly not but I suspect if channel 4 see the age brackets in the viewership ratings are more teens than leans than yes probably might happen

      Reply
  27. Mike

    Review from my non-puzzling other half who didn’t really watch the original series…

    “I enjoyed that a lot more than I thought I would”

    Reply
  28. Jon

    Good point made on TV Forum that the lack of the traditional transitions may have been to accomadte Alex’s disabilities. It’s about the only reasonable explanation for it. Can’t think why the producers wouldn’t want to honour them when the sets are exactly the same.

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      Yeah didn’t think of that. They did say they will be disabled friendly this series and will switch up transitions and adjust games when needed to make it a level playing field

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Then this is a baffling choice of first episode. It’s the one people will tune in for and we’ll show it off by… not showing it off.

        Reply
      2. Danny Kerner

        Also as we have seen all of Futuristic I got a feeling that there is no entry point here so it looks like the starting point will be any of the other three zones

        Reply
  29. Brig Bother Post author

    2.32m overnight I’m reading. It’s washed its face as they say on Bargain Hunt.

    It’s also in the low 2s range I suspected a series might get based on the one-off. It’ll probably consolidate to 3m.

    It’s a good (if not outstanding) start, next week will be telling but I think everyone will be happy as long as it consolidates around 3m.

    Reply
    1. Chris M. Dickson

      But if you consolidate in all the repeats on Challenge and +1 as well, it actually reaches 24 million, albeit over the course of three decades…

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Unfortunately in three decades time they will have been re-edited to have an ad break after every game and nobody can be bothered.

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          The other issue I have I think is that I can’t see the figures going *up* on a weekly basis – the show just isn’t blow-out-of-the-water good, it’s a good (but not outstanding) reboot getting a good (but not outstanding) figure. I would very much like to be wrong but I suspect that this might be the high watermark, I just hope that wherever it settles is enough for an improved series two. I sincerely hope this happens.

          Channel 4 haven’t commissioned this on the hope it might get a little over a million, in a world where Gogglebox can still pull 3m on 10% of the budget, it’s got to work for it.

          Reply
          1. Will Tennant

            Now that they have the set, I doubt they’ll axe it after one series, they’ll utilize it for at least 1 more to fully make use of the set building cost. Not to mention they could go the Fort Boyard route and try and licence the format to other countries this time to generate more revenue.

          2. David B

            I would imagine there is a very decent chance the audience figures will go up as the nights draw in. This audience figure is very decent for a Friday night on a hot summer’s day.

          3. Brig Bother Post author

            The problem is by the time the nights draw in I suspect there will be fatigue – twenty episodes is a long run for this sort of thing and people were getting tired of the games towards the end of previous runs of 13. And that’s not including the fact that many people who watched last night clearly didn’t think it was all that special and can’t be relied upon to watch again.

            2.3m is a good audience, but that’s only slightly above the *minimum* I would expect for a show with loads of goodwill and about 18 months of advertising, most of it by other people for free, with that sort of budget.

          4. Brekkie

            3m would have been my target.

            There are only 3 weeks of Friday night episodes then it moves to Thursday the following week due to the ParaAthletics World Champs beginning on Friday – and then continuing the following week.

            I suspect the 5th celeb special may then air around the time of the other SU2C programmes in the autumn, so it remains to be seen if the civilian ones follow off the back of these or if they hold them back till the autumn.

          5. Danny Kerner

            The 5th Celebrity Special is the Xmas Special. This means if the Civilian series starts up then it will be that Friday.

          6. Brig Bother Post author

            It wasn’t getting 3m. The one-off got 3m in a more favourable slot. This will have been built into expectation.

            Thursday night would have been preferred choice of slot so that’s good.

          7. Jon

            I don’t thin their are tens of other Gogglebox’s out there though. It’s an exception rather than the rule. They still need to pay more to get other shows that slightly come close to that.

  30. Callum J

    I really enjoyed the first episode. Loved Ayoade, a nice big set and great games. Only small complaints would be Spence & the lack of transitions.

    I’m especially looking forward to the episode with Adil Ray & Joel Dommett.

    Reply
  31. Jack H

    I quite enjoyed it. I think we have to watch it and TRY (with great difficulty) to not think of the old series and view it as something new. But nope, even I failed at that.

    Richard Ayoade is actually not a bad host. Some of his asides to camera were amusing.

    I can agree the shedload of celeb specials is disappointing. I find Louie Spence highly irritating and was overjoyed when he spent a large portion of the show locked in. The line ups for future weeks don’t fill me with hope either (Joey Essex, Rylan Clarke etc etc). So I will look forward to the normal joe public episodes.

    The set looks great. It’s nice that Industrial, Aztec, Medieval look pretty much exactly the same. Future is nicely updated.

    The on screen clock issues and the editing have been discussed enough. My niggle is why have they added an extra digit. It will never be used so feels pointless. But that’s nothing major.

    The lack of transitions is disappointing as looking at the recent BBC article. It has been built to be connected.

    The waffle and padding is obvious. Although I did notice that later Tudor-Pole episodes didn’t have any games played until a good 5-6 minutes in to the show.

    The games are OK but I feel they’ve been made a bit easier. People often slate the Tudor-Pole years but I always say the games were some of the best, really challenging and perilous. I feel the games in this new series have gone back to the standard of Series 1-2. Fairly easy.

    Another thing I thought of this week. Richard Ayoade was a contestant on Channel 4’s Big Fat Anniversary Quiz in 2007. Where was one the questions was “Name the zones of The Crystal Maze”. Ayoade’s suggestions included Red light/saucy zone and The Geoff Hurst Zone which also doubles as a chill out room.

    Reply
    1. David

      The Tudor-Pole years absolutely had better games. Part of it is that the Ocean Zone concept (and the odder cell designs like the inside-of-a-metal-blimp one and the ship-pool-cave one) generally led itself to more interesting ideas than the Industrial Zone (which they never really knew how to handle; like, the turntable game from this episode is almost the best Industrial Game ever by default), but even then… like, by that point they knew what they were doing. And for the show to backtrack just feels like an incredibly bad idea.

      Reply
    1. Jon

      Not many hoovers have a blow mode though. Maybe some decent home fans or a Flymo garden vac?

      Reply
      1. Matt Clemson

        Not many hoovers have a blow mode? Well, that just sucks.

        Reply
  32. Chris M. Dickson

    Who, if anyone, other than the lad Dillon worked on, or contributed towards, both the original series and the new version? If this does not quite do the business for Channel 4, who could they get who knows what they’re on about to make as big a jump from series one to series two as happened in the original?

    Reply
      1. Danny Kerner

        If that’s true why are the handrails so compressed making it look smaller

        Reply
          1. Danny Kerner

            I have sent a tweet about this question but I also sent a tweet about the transitions and this is what I got back.

            The studio space available meant we had to build the set differently to the original & means we can now travel to any zone in any order.
            The entire set and dome is also fully accessible for wheelchair users and adventurers with other disabilities. #CrystalMaze

  33. Danny Kerner

    Transitions will now be completely different for this generation. They will now be traveling diagonally as well as the traditional clockwise/anti-clockwise direction

    Reply
    1. Alex McMillan

      Going from Aztec to Medieval is absolutely perverse.

      Reply
      1. Jon

        What you have to remember Alex is, this is a world where people can travel though time and space. So I’m warming to the idea that conestants can travel through the industrial tunnel and up in Medieval. Doctor Who’s daleks changed when they brought so The Crystal Maze can change too.

        Reply
        1. Stephen

          I don’t mind diagonal transitions. I just want the transitions to be consistent between pairs of zones (With maybe the exception of Futuristic always being teleport out since logically that could take them anywhere; Industrial’s tunnel could also logically work that way since there’s a 4 way split in there as well), which I don’t think we’re getting but don’t have any evidence of that yet since we haven’t had the same pair of zones being next to each other yet.

          Reply
  34. David

    Impromptu ranking of the games, best to worst:

    1. Radioactive Turntables
    2. Floating Scales (almost entirely because of Louie’s lock-in and subsequent absence, but still)
    3. Nuclear Rock (excellent idea, but Richard gave away the trick far too early)
    4. Word Wheels (time limit is too short for what it is, but that’s about it in terms of criticism)
    5. Cube Wall (I don’t tend to like games that are dependent on written rules, but there’s a good idea here)
    6. Lights Out (a good idea ruined by editing and bad staging)
    7. Space Walk (given how much they’ve been building it up, what a damp squib; again, Richard, stop telling them what to do so quickly)
    8. Apple Tree (kind of dull and uninvolving in a “we blew our budget, have a cheap filler game” way, but that’s true for most of the Medieval skill games to be honest)
    9. Gutters (wayyyy too easy for what it was; certainly didn’t need to be three minutes)
    10. Executioner (So it’s Mumsey with a mime? Hard pass)

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      EXCELLENT, I want all games ranked by the end of the series.

      I think I would have put Cube Wall a bit lower, I reckon there’s slightly too much going on for people to follow.

      Also I reckon the time limit for Word Wheels is probably fine as once you’ve found a word the rest will *probably* fall into place. Lydia had the right idea with spotting the “…ing” as a hint but didn’t perservere with the other options that presented – there were three ways of doing it and she correctly ruled one of them out as some of the other combinations that made were nonsense, then stopped. Pity.

      Reply
      1. David

        Yes, I’m planning to rank them all as the season progresses, plus maybe add the old version’s games in at a later date to see how this version’s compare.

        I will say there’s a big drop off between Word Wheels and Cube Wall in terms of quality (and these are not set in stone; Floating Scales is absolutely going to end up lower by the end of the season, for example). And then, of course, there’s an even bigger drop between Gutters and Mimesey.

        Reply
    2. Jon

      Executioner is a real drag. I agree lights out wasn’t visually good for the viewer as it was hard to follow.

      Reply
  35. Jon

    Been rewatching the ‘Live Exprience’ epsiode and it stands up pretty well to latest episode.

    Reply
  36. Danny Kerner

    We will be seeing the planet hopper challenge again as Joey Essex is taking this one on. The other 9 we will find out later today

    Reply
  37. Daniel Peake

    I think this week’s episode is much better than last week’s. 100% less Louie Spence certainly helped.

    In terms of the challenge editing, far less time was edited out of the games, only two games had anything substantial taken out. The lazer maze looked amazing (pun mostly intended).

    Main gripes: Cells and challenges currently seem really small. Would like a bigger sense of scale. “ALIS situation” is a tautology, and just also still annoying. I’d also like to hear less from Ayoade during the challenges.

    Still, I enjoyed it much more than last week!

    Reply
  38. Will Tennant

    Don’t want to give anything away but one of the challenges is a direct copy of a classic Fort Boyard game, not to say that’s bad, just would’ve thought a bit more ingenuity involved.

    Far better episode, it should’ve started on this one.

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      We also see the first use of the diagonal transision not once but twice.

      Reply
    2. Thomas Sales

      I can well see why they didn’t. They clearly made the riddle game much easier for this episode, and it wouldn’t make sense to have one episode with a much harder riddle game in the middle of the run.

      Reply
    3. Alex

      If it’s the “crystal on a pipe” one, the idea isn’t *that* direct. The original Crystal Maze had a couple of games just like it (my personal favourite being of the “pipes are on the ceiling, don’t touch the floor or walls, balance on these springy tables” variety).

      Reply
      1. Will Tennant

        I enjoyed the pipe on the ceiling game with the ALIS back in the day, but Fort Boyard did it before then anyway, like one of the early seasons it started?

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Sliding a ring around a set of pipes is as old as Fort Boyard itself, yes, but I enjoyed what they’ve done with it here. I liked the ambience and surprising entrance and exit and use of hatch – perhaps this is what the producer meant by “multi-layered”.

          Reply
  39. Karen

    This week’s was much better than last week, seems to be curbing the worst parts. I’m curious if they gave the celebrities more time for certain games to make it easier for them, some of the time limits seemed way too generous for the game.

    Reply
  40. Brig Bother Post author

    Some really neat game set-ups actually, loved the Industrial menotte one and the fire breathing dragon.

    We got transitions, and they managed to make them look a bit weird!

    Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I expect you see them going up in a lift and then them coming out of the Industrial/Aztec tunnel, on current form.

        Reply
        1. Jon

          I don’t think transitions taking you to any zone is a very un-Crystal mazey idea to be fair.

          I don’t think a lift is going to be the right thing though for today. So I imagine it’ll be some sort of space shape.

          Reply
          1. Brig Bother Post author

            Of course it is – go into a tunnel, you expect to come out of a tunnel. Cause and effect. Consistency is important if you want to feel like a living breathing thing rather than ‘some sets’.

          2. David

            My issue is that the whole reason the zones are set up the way they are (and the reason Ocean didn’t work despite being far superior to Industrial in every other way) is so that any team travelling through the maze alternates between ‘modern’ and ‘historic’ zones. Aztec and Medieval are both delightful but are frankly too similar to be visited consecutively, and Industrial and Futuristic aren’t much better. Maybe I’d feel different if they’d created four different zones for the revival, but they didn’t, so I don’t.

          3. Jon

            Yes I agree with that. I like the idea the tunnel can take you to tunnel in another zone. Just don’t think we should get hung up on the order and it always being the same. I like to think of The Crystal Maze as a tardis like thing.

  41. Thomas Sales

    I’ve got to say that while I can just about put up with ALIS, Ayoade saying “This is an ALIS situation” really grinds my gears, because he’s saying “this is an automatic lock-in situation situation”.

    Reply
  42. John R

    I know it is cheating but the lights game they could just spend the time trying all the number combinations on the keypad since it is only 2 digits…

    Reply
    1. Stephen

      Though there’s no indication it’s 2 digit rather than 3 digit code before starting, at least…

      Reply
  43. Brig Bother Post author

    Another thing I quite odd is that having advertised them pre-series, we’re two episodes in and neither Jarhead nor The Knight have made an appearance. And yet we’ve had Think Of A Medieval Number With Mute Johnny Ball twice.

    There are so many decisions that feel on the face of it as being a bit sloppy. They’ve done loads right and yet…

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      Hopefully the celebrity specials were filmed first so they can iron out the problems before the Civilians entered the Maze.

      I know next week we will see at least 3 more new games including Jarhead, Rolling log & a hidden bridge in Medieval. Plus the entrance point will be at Medieval so we will see both characters next week. We can’t believe that by next week we will be halfway through all the games this series & we are not on the Civilians yet

      Reply
    2. Jonathan

      A very entertaining episode, but yeah the weird decisions. Felt a little heavy on the repeats for a second episode, even though obviously repeating games is a usual part of it. But I’d have thought they’d buffer them a bit more.

      Reply
    3. David S

      I *think* the Executioner is also being played by Jessica Hynes…. Possibly we won’t see the Knight until the civilian series.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I can’t believe they’d have a BAFTA award winning actress being so anonymous. I will check the credits closely.

        Reply

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