Series 8 Appreciation Week

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Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Pooka » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:12 pm

CHAT SUNDAY 8pm BLAH!

Series 8 is, I think, the most divisive of the eight series - I know some people who think it's great, ranging to some peoplke who think it's the worst. It's certainly stylistically different - with a redesigned antechamber, entirely CGI dungeon and a new slew of characters. I've also seen some people complain that it's a 'dumbed-down' series, aimed at a younger audience (and, indeed, it features some relatively young teams), but I'm not sure I agree with that analysis.

It's a very unique series and very much unlike anything else we've seen (barring perhaps KMGW!), so you certainly can't say there isn't much to talk about.

I actually love Series 8; I'd rate it higher than a lot of other series (including 3!), although initially I thought of it as a bit of a weak series, I've come round to it now, and I have very affectionate memories of playing Knightmare in the playground at school including Marblehead, so there's that too. Some bits I like are:

- The fireball graphic. I've often thought of this series as the "Fireball Series" - we've rarely seen them before and this one had at least one fireball in every quest, with tricks and traps featuring fireballs and a couple of fireball deaths too, not to mention the spyglasses. To be fair, there is a lot of over-reliance on fireballs here and I'd have preferred to see some more evil magic than this, but it's still a cool graphic!
- In fact, all the graphics. Series 8 looks gorgeous and still stands out today. Some people don't like all the CGI, preferring the hand-drawn style of the earlier series, but I love the way all this looks - and it's certainly not realistic, contributing more to the fantasy element of the programme. The staircase downwards through the levels is astounding.
- The deaths! There are seven teams in the series and the five that die all die in a different way - dragon, blades, pit, fireball, Miremen - and they're all funny and unexpected deaths. I don't think any other series had this amount of variety in how they killed off Dungeoneers - brilliant.
- Characters I like. Hands (one from the old school but still good value), Lissard (as ever), Fear (his Dungeon Monopoly sketch is a classic), Rothberry (thankfully) and with great relief, Motley back again.
- I like some of the new characters. I like Stiletta (for a number of reasons), Maldame (although not as brilliant as some of the older sorceresses, still chilling in her first appearance), Honesty Bartram (although I'm in a minority here, I feel!) and Bhal-Shebah.
- Creatures. Gone at skull ghosts, pookas, stormgeists and trolls. Here we have a fantastic array of monsters, though - the ubiquitous Skeletrons, Snapdragons and even Miretrogs make appearances, although only to scare. But Miremen - repugnant, disturbing creatures causing one death - are a great addition. And Red Dragons are terrifying, causing the first death in the series (and a spectacular one at that!); their shadows and screeches appearing is always a shock.
- Linghorm and Marblehead are great new locations and I love the idea of a fortress to assail being the end goal! I like the Great Mire too - another obstacle to cross, and there's only one way to do so!
- And teams I like. I like Daniel's team - they're a lot of fun and very skilled, Nathan's team - quite unlucky but it's a fair death, Rebecca's TEEEEEEEEEAM!, and Dunstan's winning quest.

Bits I don't like are:
- Fireballs. I know that I said I like them above, but they are used a little too much for my liking.
- The life force pie. By this point, the life force had become much less of a Thing, so they really didn't need a great life force graphic (or food at all, but you may as well keep it in). The pie is a bit pointless, though - they could've kept the walking skeleton in, at least! - or use it for death sequences. I'd've liked to see the final slice of pie dissolve and the empty plate morphing into a skull or something - no? Just me, then?
- Trapdoors. Meh...
- Snapper-Jack. Meh...
- The short cut. I genuinely don't mind this existing, really - but we missed out on a Level 2 for Dunstan. I've seen Mystara saying in several places that his team were told that if they didn't take it, they may not have been able to finish Level 3 in time, so they kind of had to. I'd have liked to see this team take on all three levels (and, unlike many people, I still think they would have won had they done so!).
- Oliver's quest. One of the reasons I would have liked to see Dunstan take on Level 2. It's a tiny quest right at the end of the series' run, and it's put in - why? For fun? Worst of all, we get a whole duplicate Shield plot and the team dumped into Level 3 in about five minutes! They seem like a great team, actually - but it's a colossal waste of time!
- Smirkenorff stable in his own pit. I suppose we don't see him flying at all (apart from at the very end) because in this enclosed dungeon there's nowhere to fly to, but still, I feel he's not used too well in this series.
- Reach. This is a great concept but it's so badly used - with a mouse pointer, no less! - that it's pretty unglorious. I don't mind a magic wand as one of the things to be used; it just could have looked cooler!

One thing which I'm still on the fence about is the concept of "Tregod". Treguard is as grizzled as ever and Majida is still a good foil for him, but he appears here to have hitherto-unexplored power, with him raising his hands to start game on and a sparkly effect, and the very bizarre death sequence where he raises his hands and an angelic choir plays. It's not bad, as such; it's just a little strange - he's gone from magical to divine somewhere along the line! Very odd.

No seating either - everyone including Treguard stands throughout the series - must've gotten tiring, actually.

So, yeah. I really like this series, despite (or probably because of) its unique feeling. I know some people are going to disagree, but I reserve my right to have a lot of affection for this period in Knightmare's history.

PS - DUNSTAN DIDN'T CHEAT! ;)
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by pjmlfc05 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:51 pm

After the fantastic series 6 and 7, series 8 for me was a huge let down. A shame as it was also the final series. Not how it deserved to end for me.

Highlights

Honesty Bartram/Snapperjack - played by the excellent Bill Cashmore
Rothberys scene when he said he took a downer pill instead of a pick me up pill!
Daniel's team - best one for me in the whole series
Nathan's team - another good team. However I agree with Pooka that he deserved to die. Plus he took forever on Play your Cards Right.

Lowlights

Antechamber - could not stand the pool. The way the dungeoneers entered the dungeon itself and also when a team fails, they just walk out of a door!!
Smirkenorf and Hordriss - poorly used this series
Miremen - preferred the goblins
Fireballs - seemed to be an obsession with them this series. Overused.
Shortcut - although I believe Dunstan deserved to win, introducing the shortcut did annoy me. Since when did Knightmare have a short cut in place in previous series? To me, it dumbed it down.
Treguard and Majida - seemed to try too hard in this series.
The ending - although Lord Fear's "You must be out of your tiny mind" cry was cool, it just seemed a lazy ending. Not the ending Knightmare deserved.

In all a disappointing follow up to series 6 and 7.
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by wombstar » Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:51 pm

Real mix bag because I hated the reach wand, the series was way too shot with not many teams, I hated the short cut which pretty much gives the winners a win on a plate without really deserving it, makes the quest to easy, plus Motley was back which is always a negative. Not to mention the pie and no Goblins.

A big positive is Smirkenorff not flying, which became so repetitive, slow, and drawn out, so I liked returning to the dungeon feel of early versions, those skelitrons were awesome and I also loved the fire theme of the dungeon.

I also liked there was no big plot or finial like series 6 and 7, as we had one for two years running the lack of one was refreshing. Had they known it was the finial they might have done things differently.

Worse memory is after the finial episode they advertised series 9 and wanted applicants, I was one of those applicants who revived that disappointing letter printed on blue paper confirming there would be no series 9. Shattered dreams!!
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:55 am

This is the hardest series for me to rate - I wouldn't know how to mark it out of 10, because I love certain aspects while hating others. A middling score would neither reflect how bad nor how good it is.

Without a doubt, Series 8 brings quite a few major and unwelcome changes, and it's probably for the best that Knightmare ended before it went any further in this direction. But despite all its faults, I'm grateful that Series 8 exists. Without it, we wouldn't have Stiletta (probably the show's best ever female cast member) or Snapper-Jack (second only to Lord Fear in my list of all-time favourite characters). We wouldn't have Marblehead and the Mire World, or entertaining teams like Nathan's and Daniel's. I wish many things had been done differently in S8, but I still genuinely enjoy watching most of it.

Totally redesigning the antechamber set was a bad idea - I guess the viewing pool is OK, but overall it looks cold and uncomfortable, not somewhere I'd want to make myself at home. (Why the sudden aversion to seats this year?!) The watchers are made to feel even less welcome by Treguard completely ignoring us now - heck, he can't even be bothered to summon and dismiss the *teams* any more, leaving it to Majida instead. And I don't know why he suddenly starts making silly gestures whenever a quest begins or ends. On a more positive note, Majida is considerably less annoying than she was in S7.

Not content with replacing the famous helmet - and they carried on using those unpopular Sight potions - they now decided to screw around with the knapsack as well, so all of a sudden it's used for carrying clue objects (which means there is no clear reason why they still can't take more than two). The change is made so they can introduce the latest gimmick of the Reach wand, which isn't very well thought-out and is mostly used for those interminably tedious rune lock puzzles. Meanwhile, life force has become so unimportant that they no longer bother with a death animation, and a crappy pie is deemed sufficient illustration of the dungeoneer's health status. How did it come to this?!

Don't like the lazy episode introductions that tell you nothing about the team's current task or what they're carrying. Don't know why they got rid of the nice status bar either. Don't like the full-screen spellbook animation when they cast a spell.

Probably because the series was much shorter than usual, the quests have to be more rushed, with a very short Level 1 and sometimes no Level 2! This makes them feel like much less of an achievement. That final episode, where Oliver is choosing Level 3 clue objects literally 10 minutes after starting his quest, underlines what a joke the whole thing has become. And Level 3 is the only one that's had any real effort put into its appearance - Level 1 looks awful, with those ugly turquoise rooms that all look much the same, not remotely realistic and lacking any sort of atmosphere. If you want a straightforward dungeon environment, David Rowe's artwork was *so* much better. I don't think much of the new dwarf tunnels either, they're not half as creepy as the real tunnels used in the last two series. And it's a bit weird how FLOAT spells are needed for the trapdoors now, when the old wellways and trapdoors were perfectly safe to jump down!

It's not a good year for Lord Fear, with his unflattering new look and weird over-caffeinated behaviour, though he does still have his funny moments (and I think this may be Lissard's best series). Paul Valentine's characters are slightly underused, but at least they had a chance to bring back Motley after the mistake of dropping him for Series 7.

The contestants are a bit of a mixed bag - Nathan's team are one of the best ever IMO, and Daniel & chums are bright and amusingly memorable, but then we also have Mike's annoying piss-takers, Rebecca's deafening screamers, and several teams that couldn't understand the most basic of clues. Blah. Good job the programme (mostly) returned to its legendary harshness, where picking up the wrong clue object WOULD mean death! And riddles came back, and this time they DID have to get the right answers - much better than the nonsense with the Brollachan.

I like how there's lots of new stuff in Series 8; it's just a shame it's all crammed in with no time to explore it properly. Miremen, Miretrogs, Snapdragons and Skeletrons are all good *ideas*, albeit not executed as well as they might have been. The subplot with the red dragon is fairly interesting but never resolved. I quite like Honesty Bartram (his two scenes with Nathan are hilarious) but then he just disappears and is never seen or mentioned again. Not that keen on Maldame, but at least she has more personality than Greystagg did.

Oh yeah and... TOO MANY FIREBALLS! The lack of variety is a massive weakness of this series. (Though having read Pooka's review, he makes a good point about the deaths all being different.)

In summary, there's a great deal wrong with it but I like it anyway, because the things it gets right are brilliant. And with its necessarily fast pace, I'd say it makes for better viewing than the yawn-fest that is Series 4.

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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Pooka » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:34 am

pjmlfc05 wrote:Since when did Knightmare have a short cut in place in previous series?
Barry apparently took a shortcut in his quest at the end of Series 7 - although I'm not entirely sure if it was that big a shortcut, since he was in Level 3 at the time and ended up in... er, Level 3. I do have to wonder if it was a shortcut at all, really!
wombstar wrote:Worse memory is after the finial episode they advertised series 9 and wanted applicants, I was one of those applicants who revived that disappointing letter printed on blue paper confirming there would be no series 9. Shattered dreams!!
Yes, I was one of those too! :(
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by pjmlfc05 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:01 am

Pooka wrote:
pjmlfc05 wrote:Since when did Knightmare have a short cut in place in previous series?
Barry apparently took a shortcut in his quest at the end of Series 7 - although I'm not entirely sure if it was that big a shortcut, since he was in Level 3 at the time and ended up in... er, Level 3. I do have to wonder if it was a shortcut at all, really!
Yes there was that! But like you said, Barry ended up in level 3, where he was originally! I guess it looked good at the time and did fit in as it was the last episode.
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by wombstar » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:57 pm

Yeah I don't think the short cut In series 7 made a big impact, might have just saved a room or two. The fact they were already in level 3 it doesn't bother me, it's skipping huge chunks of the dungeon I disliked.


I'm reading a lot of hate for the pool but I quite liked it, it was better than the tiny screen hidden in a chest, and again I think things would get repetitive if they kept the magic mirror, I enjoyed the new look.

Same with the new dwarf tunnels, a nice throwback to series 3 in some ways.
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by parallaxed » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:45 pm

I was wondering if anyone knows how the graphics (fireball et al) were generated in the last series? Did they continue using an Amiga (as per the status bar in series 6)?

Also (*holds up nerd license for public verification*), this old citation from knightmare.com is missing:

http://www.knightmare.com/club/1-2/p3.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knightmare ... ubAmiga-11

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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:39 pm

The Wikipedia link needs updating to this one (the Amiga quote is at the bottom):
http://www.knightmare.com/fan-made/fanz ... -quest-123

I don't remember reading anything about how the graphics in Series 8 were generated, but there's some info about the software used for Series 7 here.

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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by GranitasIsCute » Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:12 pm

Here's how I'd summarise my thoughts on Series 8:

It has plenty of good ideas (and its fair share of bad ones too) but doesn't have time to implement them and trying to squeeze everything in makes the series end up being a bit of a mess. Then the whole shortcut scenario makes for a rather disappointing end and further adds to the pandemonium.

That said, I do like the return to dungeon dimensions and the idea of Linghorm, Marblehead, the Mireworld etc. but it's definitely my least favourite series.

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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by HobGoblin » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:31 pm

A few brief thoughts:

Also my least favourite series. I'm one of those who feel it was aimed at a younger audience than previous series, though the differences are possibly in tone and style rather than content. I was 13 when it was first broadcast and it was the first time I felt 'maybe I'm getting a little old for this.' It just 'feels' more like a kids show than the other series.

For example, I cannot stand the cringe inducing Snapper-Jack - even though he was bringing riddling back to the show he's basically the Jar Jar binks of the KM universe! Just one of several editorial decisions which were pitched a tad too young. The kid-friendly pie lifeforce being another main culprit.

The reach wand was an appalling idea - the rune lock was tedious viewing (I'm always reminded of team 5 who were so useless trying to get out of the rune lock room that the pursuing goblins were 'forced' to stand staring at the dungeoneer for 5 minutes before she made it to the door).

For a very successful, established programme the series has a terrible, rushed, 'piloty' feel to it. The environments lack personality (though I appreciate the return to dungeon roots) and it's a great shame that gameplay mechanics break down badly at the end of the series - not sure this was necessary.

The best thing I can say for S8 is that is makes me slightly less sad the show was cancelled when it was! It could have turned out to be a transitional series but it could also have been a fatal step on a slippery slope towards KMVR style content. Guess we'll never know...
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:19 pm

While I agree that S8 feels different in a bad way, I don't get any sense of it being dumbed down or aimed at a younger audience. Personally I found the first two series to have a much more childish tone than the later ones.

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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by pjmlfc05 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:48 pm

The problem was by going back to it's dungeon roots Knightmare went full circle. It was never gonna recapture the feel of the earlier series. It's as if it forgot it's golden rule, the only way is onwards, there is no turning back!
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Mystara » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:19 pm

Canadanne wrote:Personally I found the first two series to have a much more childish tone than the later ones.
I agree actually. There's a lot of silliness in series 1 and 2. There are some episodes that I really struggle to watch.
Pooka wrote: The short cut. I genuinely don't mind this existing, really - but we missed out on a Level 2 for Dunstan. I've seen Mystara saying in several places that his team were told that if they didn't take it, they may not have been able to finish Level 3 in time, so they kind of had to. I'd have liked to see this team take on all three levels (and, unlike many people, I still think they would have won had they done so!)
Actually, when I discussed this with Tim recently, he agreed. Our strength was in being able to follow the narrative and in being good at logic/knowledge. Our weakness was in coordination. However, as Tim pointed out, the corridor of blades is the most unforgiving puzzle they had when it came to coordination, so if you survived that, there's not much else they could throw at you. His view was that, if we had time, we would have gotten through L2 fairly easily.
pjmlfc05 wrote: Shortcut - although I believe Dunstan deserved to win, introducing the shortcut did annoy me. Since when did Knightmare have a short cut in place in previous series? To me, it dumbed it down.
Not sure I agree with that. If L2 and the CoB have a comparable mortality rate, I don't think it can be dumbing things down to replace one with the other. It does become more polarised, but in general it would lead to the series being faster paced, because you'd be killing teams off much more quickly.
Canadanne wrote: It's not a good year for Lord Fear, with his unflattering new look and weird over-caffeinated behaviour
I have to say, I love Lord Fear in this season - both personality and style. He seems so much darker to me, and far nastier.
Canadanne wrote: Totally redesigning the antechamber set was a bad idea - I guess the viewing pool is OK, but overall it looks cold and uncomfortable, not somewhere I'd want to make myself at home. (Why the sudden aversion to seats this year?!)
The lack of seats is basically a function of the height of the pool. You'd need very tall stools to be able to sit at it comfortably. Add the fact that you need to lean forward to see the monitor in the pool and it would be uncomfortable for the advisors.

The height of the pool is a function of the monitor, which is big and long and has to point upwards so that Treguard and Majida could see the dungeoneer from their much higher position on the second level of the stage.

THAT was a function of the entrance gate to the dungeon and needing to be able to film a dungeoneer walking down steps to enter the dungeon.

As I recall, modification was required to the set because the series was shortened. There was less time for set-up and so a simpler set had to be built.

In addition, the seats are, as you'll all realise by now, completely superfluous. Filming a room never took longer than about 5 minutes and the rest of the time you'd be sat in the green room. They really do nothing other than offer a visual suggestion that the team are sat in the antechamber throughout their entire quest, without a break.
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Re: Series 8 Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:19 pm

Mystara wrote:The lack of seats is basically a function of the height of the pool. You'd need very tall stools to be able to sit at it comfortably. Add the fact that you need to lean forward to see the monitor in the pool and it would be uncomfortable for the advisors.

The height of the pool is a function of the monitor, which is big and long and has to point upwards so that Treguard and Majida could see the dungeoneer from their much higher position on the second level of the stage.

THAT was a function of the entrance gate to the dungeon and needing to be able to film a dungeoneer walking down steps to enter the dungeon.

As I recall, modification was required to the set because the series was shortened. There was less time for set-up and so a simpler set had to be built.

In addition, the seats are, as you'll all realise by now, completely superfluous. Filming a room never took longer than about 5 minutes and the rest of the time you'd be sat in the green room. They really do nothing other than offer a visual suggestion that the team are sat in the antechamber throughout their entire quest, without a break.
Fair enough. It just doesn't work for me as a viewer... the old antechamber was so familiar and welcoming, and I don't get the same feeling at all from the redesign. The dungeon gate seems needlessly clunky and I don't like the teams just wandering out through a door when they leave - it's a lot less magical than before! (Not keen on Lord Fear's constant pacing around at Marblehead either, I preferred it when he had somewhere to sit and scheme.)

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