The Crystal Maze US

By | January 16, 2020

You will definitely need to use the Dark Arts for this, but Nickelodeon have put up the first episode of The Crystal Maze US a week before it airs. Here’s the Youtube link, but it’s geolocked so get your VPNs ready.

Main takeaways:

  • They’re into the first game within two minutes.
  • Despite that they only get 8 games + Dome. The Megacrystal is also in effect. Plenty of between game chat, and certainly before the Dome.
  • Graphics have been touched up a lot – zone map transitions look great, as does the VR game from last series.
  • Games from all (modern) series have been used, a medieval game has been adapted for Eastern.
  • Games are a bit easier – extra lives, extra thirty seconds added for some of them.
  • Breaks mid-game because it’s America.
  • Dome is $100 per gold, -$100 per silver, more than 100 gold after deductions bumps the prize up to $25,000.
  • I hope you like high pitched screaming because there’s a lot of it.
  • Jury out on Adam Conover for me. There’s not really a lot of room for him to be funny in an endearingly odd way, and his corny jokes came across as a bit overtly scripted (although there was a bit with an exercise bike which suggests a fun direction). He’s doing a lite-version of the Ayoade “this is because of editing” schtick. Really it’s difficult for me to judge because I’m quite far away from the target audience.

So… not sure what to make of it, keeps many of the UK’s issues, improves some bits, does other things slightly worse… score draw? Fascinated to see what they make of it over there though. I kind of hope it’s successful, because imagine a set built with American money.

16 thoughts on “The Crystal Maze US

  1. Mika

    It was very alright. Probably the only episode I’ll watch since I’m really not the market for the direction they went, but it was alright.

    Adam started out a bit stilted, but he warmed up after a couple games. He was good interacting with the contestants, and I thought his asides were alright. But anything rules-related or on-script had that weird shouty-speak to it. But as I’ve said elsewhere, it’s *really* hard to think of anyone else (American) that would have been a better fit for “safe campy”.

    If this is the type of casting, well… “Likable but annoyingly overly shouting” is I guess what they’re going for, which is on par with US casting it seems.

    Honestly, this was probably about as good as one could have hoped for with “An American host and ‘family with kids’ playing”. Which is honestly probably the only direction they could’ve gone for an American version.

    1. Mika

      The one thought I just had: I wonder what the lock-in frequency’s gonna be. With only 8 games, even a single one’s gonna be pretty brutal on the final tally. And while I can imagine one of the parents being left in, I really can’t imagine they’d leave one of the kids locked in, even if they’ve done their two games.

  2. David B

    I’m a bit more positive than you. Love the crash start and getting on with Game 1 asap. Like the chat-on-the-run (even if there’s slightly too much). Actually think the cliffhanger breaks are a decent idea. Overall, they’ve took enough of the Brit quirkiness to still feel like the same show, but done enough to make it work for them.

  3. Will Stephen

    I agree the crash start worked really well. Adam has definitely been scanning the RoB and Ed tapes with the mini skits during games which definitely helps the games that lack something.

    With 3 series of games to choose from its given them a good variety and fix any issues some games had. Water challenge having liquid coming out of a god was a nice touch, as was the crystal escape out of the house for the key game (though still hate that game).

    Adam much like R.A will probably need a few episodes to gel into the role, but he does feel more slicker to it. Some parts with the shouty-speak did get to me, but Drew Carey had a thing with rule telling when he first did TPIR which put me off to start with but overtime that will iron itself out.

    Eight games also means no one beats my record so yeaaaaaaaaaaa!

    Love the overlays, transitions and even the names popping up for each bit, grid nicely. I hope it succeeds.

  4. Danny Kerner

    Well to be fair i did give you fair warning back on the 24th Dec that they were doing a preview episode on youtube thanks to a viacom insider. Although they didn’t give me a fair date they said check around the 15th. They did start their press push yesterday.

    Anyway to the review, we all had a feeling 10 games would not have been possible on American timings. 8 seems right for a chance of getting 100+. The transition map is beautiful and puts ours to shame. They made industrial green which is odd. Do they not like purple. I think the added 2 lives for children seem right however it has now made easy games look too easy. We will see as time goes on if this may be costly if they are given high amounts away. We now also know that medieval games will be making appearances elsewhere in the maze. A total of 80 games will be played this season. how many of these would potentially be repeats we do not yet know. The tension breaks actually do work however if we attempt them it may piss a lot of people off. Burning straight in felt right although entry into the maze should have been included. I guess this move would have knocked another game out of the show. The mega crystal format actually means something here due to how much potential time could average out at around 25 seconds.
    Now to the dome, we knew gold meant $100 but from the trailer that went out last week we didn’t know if silver would be involved and it turns out it is by doing -$100 dollar damage. the maximum cash before the grand $25k is $9,900 but that is very unlikely to occur. I’m glad they are using an onscreen timer as i’m still annoyed we don’t use one. Especially when Ayoade doesn’t count down untill 10 secs to go.

    Overall this production is far more superior to ours which is embarrassing to say the lease. After all their VR graphics are much better.

    1. Danny Kerner

      i agree, just shows C4 true intentions. More a mockery than a true reboot. Ironically the Americans have made a better product than the UK. i think another channel needs to have a go. Also, this sadly means getting rid of Ayoade.

  5. Clicky

    I’m looking forward to seeing what this is all about! I started following this site because I was obsessed with WIDM and The Genius.

    I just recently started watching Taskmaster for the first time. I have been missing out!

    This was next on my list, so as a US resident, it’s awesome to see they’ll be a US version!

  6. Lee Turner

    On a unrelated note. Apparently Crackerjack returned today on CBBC.

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      Iain recommended it, as did the Guardian’s TV critic. I’m happy to join the queue. I suspect it may get a better ratings performance in the over-40s demographic than anything else on CBBC yet has, though I doubt later episodes will be nearly such a nostalgia fest. The spirit was spot on. Best bit: a Ted Robbins cameo that went under the radar until the credits. Glad to know he’s doing better these days. While formats are good things, let’s hope that the variety has some, y’know, variety in future episodes.

      1. Danny Kerner

        nope, i recognised the voice. it was in that clown skit with the pies.

  7. Danny Kerner

    Something i did notice which i’m sure from photos of crew who worked on the show is that they did filmed bits from outside the zone. so it makes me wonder did they film the show like the uk but then depending on the network if they cut this out as it wouldn’t fit timings. Also they didn’t spin the futuristic turntable.


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