Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze Series 2, Part 1 probably

By | June 7, 2018

Fridays, 9pm,
Channel 4

And so we come to this, the pointless second series of the botched up revival of The Crystal Maze, and rather brilliantly rather than take on board the criticisms of the various first series’ of the show that saw four million eagerly expectant viewers tune in for, only for 80% of them to give up, to all intents and purposes it sounds like they’ve doubled down on the elements everyone complained about – so Channel 4! Needless to say we look forward to not enough (30 in this run) new “multilayered” games you can easily recreate at home, therefore losing any sort of aspirational element of watching them on TV and playing fewer games so we can get to know the personalities of the contestants, many of whom have already done reality television and whose personalities we’re already aware of anyway.

Still, that Richard Ayoade’s perfect isn’t he? So sarcastic!

Channel 4 have scheduled this against Love Island.

It largely doesn’t matter if this series is critically better than the last one – people aren’t going to flock back to it. Still, let us know what you think in the comments.

59 thoughts on “Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze Series 2, Part 1 probably

  1. Alex

    Are you trying to audition for Richard’s role, there? You’d work well as an acid-tongued Master of the Maze that genuinely hates that people have turned up.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      “YOU WEREN’T VERY GOOD AT THAT, WERE YOU?”

      I’m auditioning to be the new Boyard, Master of the Fort.

      Reply
      1. Mika

        “Don’t worry Crystal Maze, that was a tough one, but let’s regroup and see if we can’t get past the next one. There’s still time! Let’s see what the next challenge is.”

        I’m auditioning to be the new Fort… co-host? Coach? Cheerleader…?

        Reply
        1. Will Tennant

          If I was a host I’d just use split-personality for cheap puns

          Will….
          Yes Will….
          Start The Fans Please!

          Terrible I know.

          Reply
  2. Will Tennant

    Interested to see how well/bad it does compare to Love Island, it is a different demographic after all.

    Still thinking this would work better at the tea time slot in Summer Holidays, it can’t get any worse in viewership can it?

    Curiously I’ve made (rather slapdash) some old zones on Halo 5 to mess some random friends with puzzles because Forge Mode is awesome! Might record an escapade in the future.

    Reply
  3. SamB

    Are there still some Season 1 episodes in the can that haven’t been broadcast yet?

    Reply
  4. Greg

    Well on the plus side they have tried a bit harder on some of the games. However all the other problems remain, of which there is many.

    Reply
  5. TVs Michael Harmstone

    Quite strangely, I think it’s working much better this series. Richard’s found his groove a little more and Adam Buxton v Big Narstie was entertaining.

    Reply
    1. John R

      I’ve watched one part and can’t be bothered watching any more to be honest.

      Interestingly 4OD reckon this is series FOUR!

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Just split the remaining episodes into three series of three then this revival will be MORE successful than the original!

        Reply
  6. Brig Bother Post author

    Bouncy planets is a bit lazy. Laser buzzwire – well OK, but what’s with the bailouts?

    Industrial had two of the best games of the night, specifically the blowing a ball round a maze and the red ball one, which looked like fun even if it was quite hard to follow. Even the chimney game felt like classic Crystal Maze, will be nobody’s favourite game but does at least work.

    Fishing for keys was OK but felt and looked a bit basic, like it was missing an element. Salary sorting a decent puzzle, even if a bit wordy for people at home – felt like a minute got cut somewhere. The Head is the head.

    Spinny Symbols is just that shield game from Medieval. Swinging rocks is fine.

    But God it just feels so hugely irritating to watch, it doesn’t flow correctly, Ayoade’s doing exactly the same gags as last time… it feels basically completely interchangable with the first series, so really, what is the point?

    Reply
    1. Will Tennant

      I knew they would recreate Planets, and this is definitely much harder with a tighter time limit, I can easily expect some craziness to happen there. Buzzwire with bailouts I always feel is a bit of a scapegoat, you should be committed almost from the get go but that’s just me being sadistic.

      Vintage Maze with the air maze game, best game of the night. That was alot of balls in that room… Pipemania puzzle is almost a replica of the same game in futuristic from Series 3. As was the Symbols game in Aztec. For new viewers thats fine but I feel a puzzle such as pipemania is fine to replicate but not symbols as the technique once worked out makes it a very easy puzzle.

      Very disappointed on the key game, the premise is fine but to grab 8 keys and then test everything within 3 minutes has too much to with luck than have any sort of skill element (I know it was classed as physical). A Crystal should be earned, not just by pure probability. Math puzzle was great but they obviously cut alot out on time which if you’re trying to do at home makes it harder to try yourself.

      Jar head was great, for a family show im surprised they even got away with the bleeping (but not bleeping Arse from Richard?!)

      That beam was very narrow in Aztec, so well play to Miss Porter on doing that without going in the Water once!

      The pace felt better though, and Richard felt very relaxed, although assaulted.

      Reply
      1. David B

        I doubt it’s even classified as a family show. It was broadcast after 9, and if you play it in All4 it says the show is not suitable for under 15s.

        Reply
        1. Alex

          The censoring made me think this was originally planned to be in an 8pm slot.

          Reply
  7. Matt C

    The Button did sign off with talk of a ‘next series. Here’s hoping.

    Reply
    1. John R

      Although the ratings have been rubbish they seem to have held across the series and viewers actually seem to be not too critical of it, so hopefully the BBC will give another series a go in a different slot.

      Reply
  8. Crimsonshade

    I gotta be honest here, I actually really enjoyed this newest episode and found myself howling with laughter at some of the celebrity’s antics.

    Richard Ayoade still ruins the atmosphere far too often, though.

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      Better than the recent civilian episodes though so that’s a slight positive. With less repetitive games this series they may be onto a ratings climber. The question is how they are going to deal with the combined civilian run next time with S1 & S2.

      Reply
      1. Will Tennant

        Inevitably we’ll see the civilian episodes drop because of the same games being seen surely. It would’ve made more sense to get the new games shown on the civilian episodes first to make that the hook, but I totally understand they want to push off and get a higher viewership again. What was the viewership for Love Island?

        Reply
  9. David

    Incidentally, the three unseen episodes from the original run are available on demand from their Australian broadcaster, if you can get around the geoblock. No new games in any of them (which means that despite claiming they had 60+ ideas and 41 new games, we only got 38), buuuuut a quick skim suggests there’s another big failure with Adam Buxton In A Jar and, somehow, a lock-in in the super-easy motherboard plug maze. Plus Word Tetris turns up twice in those episodes when it’s only appeared once in the UK season to date.

    Reply
  10. Chris M. Dickson

    What everybody else said. You know I’m going to watch if there’s the prospect of new games, and the games were by and large merely all right, which is far lower a bar than it should be. I did laugh at the last 20 seconds or so, though again that’s a gag that will work once at most. It’s very hard to give up on a show like this but man are they trying to make it tempting.

    As an aside, I no longer consider the transitions between the zones an essential part of the format when cutting a few minutes from the show if these traditions are as mundane as they are in practice – I would rather save a minute to go towards getting more games in.

    Reply
    1. David

      “When you next see us, the landscape will look a bit different. That’s because of editing.”

      Reply
  11. David

    Still a lot of the same problems, but a few of the games do seem more promising than what we got in the first episode last year. Unfortunately, keeping the dreadful pacing issues and limiting an episode to ten games means the dud games stick out far more than they otherwise would. It’s especially bad with the unbalanced setup we got, where we had six three-minute games and Adam Buxton In An Apothecary and all but one of them was in Industrial or Medieval, while Futuristic got two super quick games and that was it.

    There was some good stuff – the Industrial maze was indeed a classic, and I also quite liked the chimney puzzle and Aztec Hit & Run Without Lycra – but there were still too much tedium. The key game is AWFUL (far worse than anything last year) and the coin one isn’t much better, Buxton and the space hoppers are too derivative, and the laser buzzwire is an excellent idea on paper that just doesn’t work in practice.

    Would it work if they combined the key game with Adam Buxton In An Apothecary? Like you answer a riddle right and you get to pick one of, say, five keys for a chest with one lock on it? That seems like an easy way to take the elements of two tedious games and make one game that’s slightly less torturous to watch. (But that would be too obvious, so instead we’ll get Adam Buxton In The Canteen next year and Adam Buxton On A Pike the year after.)

    Reply
  12. xr

    Pressure Maze is an excellent design, and also a very iterable one. Ball attack is also flexible and fine, the usual set drabness aside.

    Planet Hop’s poetics are much worse now, without the notions of orbital rotation and suspension in the heavens in play. The previous version didn’t really need fixing either, and physical games don’t wear their welcome out quite as fast as others. This also applies to Boulder Beam – transporting liquid when it’s just everywhere just feels silly.

    Buzz Laser is nearly fine. So many physical tasks rely on repetition, and this one keeps itself fresh with the angle and judicious obstacle use. The aggressive colour obliterates detail to the extent you can’t tell what’s going on. The reset procedure is immersion breaking, and should either be changed (by say, using a real wire) or cut in editing. Maybe some subtle sparkle effect for cutting it too close?

    Pay Day, Glyph Wheels, Colour Chimneys just have no reason to exist. I gather no contestant would willingly pick them or look excited when they show up, they’re boring to look at, hard to play along with, and very tired as concepts.

    I feel like I want to “fix” Key Fishing, so I will. Addressing the luck bit: Attach a sigil to the keys. Put more locks on the chest. Attach two sigils (or a heraldic combination, if you must) to the locks. A lock opens with one of the keys that bear the sigil. Observant players will notice that the sigils of wrong keys are not on the chest. Really observant players will notice each sigil appears twice, so that fitting one key also tells you where the wrong choice goes, and this can chain all the way to knowing where all keys fit depending on designer choice. Also notice that on a hingeless lid, the locks on one side of the box need not unlock to gain access.

    Splitting the room in half may not be best for camera angles. You could shorten the stick while maintaining torque fiddliness by making the stick hook-heavy or curving it on a different plane to the hook. Or maybe just give them a very floppy rod.

    Reply
  13. Tom H

    An unfortunate graphical slip tonight where a game clock counted down as follows:

    02:00
    01:59
    (cutaway)
    02:57

    It’s the little things…

    Reply
    1. Greg

      Tonights show easy the best episode of the revived Crystal Maze. Some great games and 2 modern updates of classics. Richard also on form, also what was that result from the dome haha.

      Reply
  14. Brig Bother Post author

    So frustrating, glimmers of some pretty good ideas – loved the set up to the cage mazes, only for the actual game bit to be far too easy. Really neat updating of the door maze, but in the same episode three minutes of Bez picking up balls in an empty room. I thought both the Aztec games were pretty good.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I liked the look and feel of that Futuristic Quizzy Food Mixer game, but a minute of needle in a haystack not usually good TV.

      Reply
    2. David

      This is my issue too. We’ve already seen 19/30 of the new games, and so many of them are SO close to being good games but they keep missing the mark in really obvious, easily-tweakable ways. The quality has definitely improved from last season, but even then we’re still only at about a 6 out of 10. And even then if you take out the games that are blatant copies of old games (Ropes And Ladders In A Pool With A Puzzle) or the ones that are too similar to each other (the two Fill The Tube With Balls games), you’re left with a heck of a lot of mediocrity.

      Had they started with these games, it probably would have been fine. It wouldn’t have been a roaring success, but it also wouldn’t have haemorrhaged viewers as badly as last season did. But having these games now is far too little too late.

      Reply
      1. Will Tennant

        The only way I can see it is to completely revamp the show one more time with a new host, tiny changes here and there. Very much like Doctor Who does. It should feel like Willy Wonka, not Reality TV. If they can just get it sold to international markets more like Boyard does they won’t have a problem.

        Reply
      2. Brig Bother Post author

        The big problem with remakes is that you have to get them pretty much bang on right off the bat, and the producers took the wrong takeaways from the successful Stephen Merchant special.

        When people leave, they’re not coming back, they have too many other options.

        Reply
    1. David

      Show Discussion: The Crystal Maze Series 2, Part 1 definitely.

      Funny how they went to all the trouble of commissioning a second season of a show nobody really liked and are now burning it off against the World Cup because nobody really wanted it. I have to think Ayoade has some sort of blackmail material against the head honchos at Channel 4.

      Reply
  15. Will Tennant

    First Aztec game a definite nod to Series 1s Ropes and Ladders, I hate Red font on stuff that isn’t distinct due to colour blindness so I barely noticed those arrows to go underwater, should be clearer.

    Curious to see how the swinging game will pan out, and as noticed kinda major mess up point on editing which totally meant you knew what was going to happen. Looks particularly nasty though.

    Spaceships was a neat idea, it’s a shame that I think the concept was way too easy, should be a figure like 101 or something to at least result in more than 1/2 targets being shot.

    The Crystal Lottery as im now calling it makes me want to have one of those Red Crystals, but im in total agreement that there shouldn’t be games where luck is involved.

    Another ball grabbing game? Granted this is alot nicer looking but should only be one of these in a series, plus 3 minutes of grabbing balls is not everyones cup of tea, which is why we saw alot of jump cuts there.

    Cage Escape was a good idea but the key unlock just seems too easy. Im thinking that if someone is slow they wont block the door until they’re passed it, otherwise why give 2 minutes?

    A Skill Game (if i heard right) for Bez’s clearly mental game? Seems a bit off. A classic escape room type puzzle but from experience people can spend double that amount of time trying to complete those ones!

    Minecart forcing rules on the gems I get, I would’ve maybe added another factor and have big boulders have to be smashed on the other side of the room before taking them back to collect, instead of lighting digging them out.

    Pipemania returns already, but worked well because of actually chatting to Mr Kemp more than showing the game off.

    ‘Vintage’ Maze with the doors, great look and feel and can be adapted for future series to be used in other ways.

    Reply
  16. Jack Haywood

    Recently I’ve been watching some of the old shows in between these new ones. All the old editions on Now TV for anyone who didn’t know. I’ve been watching the Tudor-Pole ones mostly as they get dismissed as being rubbish but those two series have some of the best games. Some really wonderfully creative and evil games. It’s frustrating the same level wasn’t applied to this new series. Especially with over 20 years in advancements in technology.

    The final series of original Crystal Maze in 1995 had some interesting on screen gags inserted in. Like Ed watching himself in a silent movie in Ocean Zone and an a tribe having a feast in Aztec before running away as the team arrive. Little things like this could be incorporated. But the new series just gives this feeling of “Hey, it’s just me and a few people strolling through an obvious set in Bristol made out of plywood and polystyrene”. There’s no attempt at all to make the show in any way fun.

    I know the sets aren’t connected but some clever editing would remedy that. But they seem to make no effort in making anything look connected. My biggest niggle being when people are brought back after locks in. They’re just brought in as if they were stood around the corner the whole time.

    I will admit Richard appears to have settled in a bit better this series. He talks to the camera a lot more. Not a fan of his overused gags though.

    Reply
    1. David

      Oh yeah, I’ve always been of the opinion that the only thing stopping the Ed seasons from being perfect is that he’s too self-consciously wacky in a way that Richard the First wasn’t. There’s a couple of terrible games in there, but they’re mostly in the Ocean Zone, where they hadn’t had a chance to work out the kinks the way they had in the other zones. I’ll cut them a pass on that.

      Meanwhile they had so much time to plan this season, and we ended up with a game involving pushing buttons on the cell walls that got put in a cell where they forgot to reinforce the walls so they didn’t wobble when players knocked them by accident.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I don’t think anyone thinks S5 and 6 are shit do they? Only that Ed isn’t as good as Richard.

        What annoys me is that the people involved suggest they are fans of the show and are happy with what they’ve made.

        Reply
  17. Aaron Read

    Am I the only one who thinks the Celebrity Editions are the things that are causing viewer drop off? Keep it to the Civilian Editions only.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      No, the production is just not good enough, celebrities or no. Otherwise they’d have come flocking back with the civilian eps. The interest was there.

      Reply
  18. Cad Delworth

    As a contestant in the very first series, and occasional game designer for later series, I have to say that the reboot has been pretty poor, not so much because of the games, but because of Richard Ayoyade.

    Richard O’Brien will always be the best host for me. A great mix of friendly banter with the teams, asides to the viewers, and that ‘oh come on, get on with it!’ shout out during game play. And a really REALLY nice guy when off set too! Ed T-P did his best and wasn’t THAT bad, but was always going to be second-best to Richard. But Richard A is just unfathomable. No real banter, no real humour, and continually asking the contestants to ‘just believe in it even though it’s not real.’ Pretty much the opposite to Richard O’B, in other words.

    Others have said the games are sub-par too. No wonder, when you have basically on woman dreaming up all the games! Even the original series had several game creators, with even more in later series of the original, and to me that is what made the games in those seris good to watch and get to know. There wasn’t just ONE mind behind them all, so many of them games in those first series were unique or at least way different from the other games. Oh, and as the current game creator has also created games for shows like The Cube and The Generation Game, there’s bound to be some “formulaic” stuff in there. On a personal note, I see that Anna has ‘nicked’ the air-blower basketball game I devised and changed it into an air-based maze.

    But really, they do need to find a MUCH better host than Richard Ayoyade. I think Alex ‘Taskmaster’ Horne could be absolutely ideal!

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Hey Cad! I remember you from first time round, great stuff.

      Alex Horne’s Crystal Maze is something I could get behind.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Although also I imagine “blowing X with an air gun” is too generic an idea (indeed one CM has used multiple times in the past) to claim have been nicked, unless there’s something more specific about it. Even Fort Boyard has used blowing things with headholes to guide A Thing to A Thing.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          I must admit i did think back to Fort Boyard 2006 with the blowing game when i saw it on The crystal Maze a few weeks ago.

          Reply
  19. Brig Bother Post author

    The Industrial game with the drainpipes was a good one.

    Putting some coloured sticks in order, frankly not so.

    Reply
    1. Danny Kerner

      I’m trying to see how this can be made difficult as this must of been the limit. (10 buttons maybe.

      Reply
      1. Matt Clemson

        Make it so you can only press one button at a time? Some of those traps are rather close to each other, and not being able to press the upcoming button in advance would ramp up the difficulty quite a lot.

        Also, I note that’s another appearance of the Red Crystal. I wonder if that’s going to be an ongoing widget when they want something that behaves like a crystal without being one.

        Reply
        1. Danny Kerner

          Yeah. They have taken the ruby crystal idea onboard but not used it for the original suggested idea. (One game equals 10 secs of time) maybe if season 3 is commissioned they can use it as they will have a lot of wasted materials if not. Maybe a viewer giveaway at the end of series for a prop giveaway.

          Reply
    2. Chris M. Dickson

      With only eight different colours I’m inclined to agree, but if there had been more graduation in the colour still, so that you had to separate your red-orange from your orange from your orange-yellow, I think it would have been quite meaty and still pleasantly visual. (The game may get kid glove treatment from me because I really did like the effect upon getting the sequence correct.) That said, I’d be curious to know how it looked from the perspective of those with atypical colour vision – it may well have been practically unwatchable.

      On balance I actually really enjoyed that episode, even after all the justifiable criticisms of the hosting. Rachel Riley was great and I enjoyed her impromptu delve into utility theory for buyout decisions.

      Reply
  20. Will Tennant

    With acute colour blindless I can tell you that the colours near the end of that spectrum were distinguishable but at the same time would’ve been a nightmare for me doing that room. Nice pleasant feeling when seeing the completion though but a far far too easy game, I agree with Chris the difficulty needed to be blended in with split pieces.

    Almost makes me think they were wanting a high scoring team by having Rachel Riley in with a Words game and a Numbers game in the mix (yes they failed the numbers but it almost felt like the team wasn’t allowed to do anything for the first minute or so, no camera shots to them or anything).

    Interesting use of the Basket for the Red Balls, which helped limit the difficulty, the speed on that exit was insane.
    Rachel’s Memory Gutter was a sort of easy sequence and for 3 minutes is far too much time, alot of these games felt a bit too generous on time.
    Jar Head has a flannel… interesting….
    Coin Game has just reverted to using left over puzzle questions from the Jailer in season 1.
    Light Beams I really enjoy the concept and the visuals are great.
    Anagrams, 3 Minutes? Really? 2 Minute Game surely when it’s only 2 letters, and to have Arrow in Jarheads puzzle sort of makes that a bit silly.
    Drink the God still seems like 3 minutes was far too much, I wonder if any team failed this.
    Skulls…Will anyone ever learn?
    I wonder if more time was given on Rainbow Lights due to the wheelchair use? I wonder if they also told him that was the only game he could do of the 5 that was there? Or do you reckon other ramps wouldve been placed in necessity?
    Charlotte’s impressive showing after an almost why the hell is she going so slow? ??

    Good team to watch.

    How many people are on the current game design team for the Maze? Do you think they’ve taken any input at all from other people?

    Reply

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