Finally got home from work and can type up a proper review/post about the new episode of Knightmare and also some other thoughts on the show as a whole! This will be an extremely long post i assume, as i have so much thoughts on it. So instead of blurting it all out i will divide it into sections. These sections will give my thoughts on both a mix of the episode specifics, and also how the episode in general fits (or doesn't fit) in with the Knightmare show as a whole. Also, they will be written "real time", and at the end i will take on board what's been said here about the issues that a lot of us are talking about. So on with it!
---Knightmare is back!!!---
How amazing was it hearing the opening theme! For the entirety of that opening the hairs on my arms were standing. As i have stated earlier, i watched the entire Knightmare show live from start to finish as a kid. My life revolved around Friday afternoons when it was on. But i am a later series fan (which i will get into later). I prefer everything about the later series than the earlier series, so i was very happy with the opening credits from the later series. The music was great and seemingly improved in quality for the new episode. As some have already said, i miss the panther/cat roar when the dungeoneer emerges after being caught by the wall monster. Its needed there to fill the dead air, and also to atmospherically capture the dungeoneers return onto his quest path. Its needed.
As the Knightmare logo came, my excite culminated and i was buzzing. I couldnt believe what i was seeing, honestly. As the door appeared and the creaking of them opening sounded i hit jackpot with excitement. This was it! Knightmare was finally back!!!!
I will be honest, as the doors opened, my heart sank. After the amazing opening credits i had completely forgotten about what i had read before about the new episode. The computer generated antechamber made me sad. I will go off the opening here for a second to describe what Knightmare is for me. One of, if not the core component of the shows greatness, for me is its reality v fantasy ability to genuinely scare its viewers. It will take me some time to explain this so bear with me.
I watched Knightmare as a kid because i loved the show, thought the look was brilliant, the format was fantastic, but most of all because it was scary! The clue is in the name, "Knightmare". Both children and adults have nightmares and they are something that's scary. Despite the shows fantasy format, there was the perfect mix of reality and fantasy which combined to make the show genuinely scary. Not mentally damaging for life type of scary, but an imaginative scare that only lasted for 25 minutes each week. As a kid, you know people didnt die in reality, but they did "die" in the show so there was an element of fear that came with that. As i also said, i am a fan of the latter series of the show for this very reason. As the mix of computer generated backgrounds and real scenes became what made up the shows scenes, i found it more compelling as the lines between fantasy and reality became blurred, and i liked that! But in relation to this new episode, this is one thing that i felt ruined the core element of Knightmare, that was missing throughout.
This is what made me disheartened straight away. The reality of the old antechamber was gone, and replicated by CGI. The imbalance was there from the beginning. Gone was the fire laden mantelpiece and the flickering candles, and the mahogany table and seats. The reality element of the beginning of a quest was gone, and any element of the impending dooms that loomed ahead in the fantasy dungeon were also gone. Now it was just a computer game type of show, and i didnt like this at all. I thought
I wasnt a fan of the entire opening monologue between the team and Verucca. Of course your going to think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a name like that! She also seemed to repeat a lot of words, like "I know, i know, i know". But as the consensus seems to be, i did grow to her as a sidekick as she relaxed into the role. There was no need for it to be as long as it was, i mean the antechamber has been empty for a long time, so just saying she was the cleaner would have sufficed easily. The cobwebs were necessary, but this contradicted the webs of Aridiane in the first level i thought.
Treguards enterance was built up a little, which i was fine with, and i thought the idea of him sleeping all this time was very good. He also looked the part too, but all of this was ruined by what followed next. Despite a nice homage to "reach", i thought the spellcasting was not good, and then the whole spinning chair panto bit was awful. It was far too corny, even for Knightmares standards! But the light on the tip of the end of the wand gave me some hope for what would come in terms of 20 years advanced technology.
--- The Team/Adult Team v Kids Team---
Ok, this was a new dimension which will have a few talking points. As much as i dont have a problem with older generations taking on the dungeon (in fact i always thought it should be 16-18 year olds only taking part in Knightmare to aid speed primarily, and also a little bit more of common sense/education to make the overall game a bit more sophisticated), this particular group of people are social media personas which straight away indicates that they were not shy and as it turned out, were not a quiet bunch of folks. I am on the fence interms of their joking about and humurous comments because even though i dont like something i am passionate being made fun of, i can understand if this is a one off, then everyone including Tim Child himself would have been having a good time and enjoying it all, so much to the point where there was a bit more tongue in cheek at what the show was like 20 years ago. This is supported by even Hugo having some fun comments at the sows own expense. The lack of seriousness is at least understandable if not warrented. I would safely say if this was commissioned for TV once again, these traits would not be in the final edited show and it would be back to business with a tighter script, and more seriousness paid to the overall quality of the product. In fact, i would say that a lot of the teams interaction may have been improvised, if not scripted by both the team and the writers. The more i think about it, i dont mind this for what it was, but if a 9th series was given the green light, this would really have to go for the shows credibility.
As for the helmet of justice, i prefer the old one. Who doesnt! But with this one, the size of it gives me hope that there is a bit more savvy tech underneath for any future possibilities on quests, for the dungeoneer to make better use of "sight" potions and spells. Also that the tech for the audio for the dungeoneer would be better. So for that, i dont mind.
As ive already said, i am a fan of the reality aspects, which includes the real backdrops as opposed to artwork. The causeway scenes worked much better than paintings, and i am one of the few who enjoyed the eye shield rather than opposed it. I mean exploring castles and forests i thought made it a better adventure than talking about in still rooms!
In saying this though, i absolutely love David Rowes illustrations and dont mean my comments above to take away from his magnificant work. I believe there is easily room for both settings in a Knightmare show, particularly in level 1-2 rooms and also Lord Fears chamber etc. The upgraded HD rooms looked stunning and definitely was a great tribute to Rowes work. It didnt bother me that level rooms were mixed up in level one at all.
Ok, now for the whole Ariadne dilema.......
I already emphasised the core reality presence of reality was always a huge integral part of Knightmare (for me/in my opinion). Firstly i will say that a CGI of Madame Ariadne does keep in continuity with the CGI rooms so she didnt look out of place. Thats a positive....
But this again looked a bit out of date in even terms of todays technolgy and was just, what it was really. A real spider was far scarier and accompanied by the "DDDRRRRRR" when she appeared was what made it as equally terrifying. I understand the argument that Knightmare fans have grown up and this is now for the kids of this generation, but can you imagine people sitting in their living rooms and a huge real life spider crawling up on their 50" TV screens? It would still terify me at almost 30! Once again, fear is needed in reality as well as fantasy, and evading a real life Ariadne is much more rewarding than just a CGI spider being escaped from. The cobwebs again, a great touch and also scrpiting to having Ariadne in level one, but it would have worked much better if they were images of real fibre webs over doors, and i didnt get the bomb room thing at all.
Let me say i am not keen at all on the whole Knightmare VR, and considering that was made a bit of a while though, you could argue again that it may be a bit out of date. However, the slice and dice did look visually stunning, and with some serious danger to it. It its no Corridor of Blades, Play Your Cards Right or even a good Causeway with a Frightknight, but it was a climatic ending for this episode which i liked. I dont think there was much clue to the word that was supposed to be the correct path, but anyways. The blades were great, and the sound effects that accompanied them were the best in the episode. I will come onto sounds and atmosphere in a few moments, but for now i lied it, and Dannys death was something that i would say be a common reason a lot of deaths could take place there.
Hugo Mayatt has still got it. He is a legend, i mean after a ropey start which is hardly his fault, he proved that 20 years has not stopped him portraying Treguard a single bit. With the episode being short, its again a testament to him how he settled into the role again quickly, and the ending speech with Daisy i thought was the best thing of the entire episode. If you get him back into the leather medievil costume and him properly leading a quest from Knightmare Castle with a younger team, this would be perfect, and 100% as it was. This box is ticked in terms of bringing this show back and having the main host as brilliant as he was. There are no worries here at all.
Mark and Cliff were excellent also. Their mannerisms and characters, again like Treguards have not changed at all, and deserve as much credit as Hugo here. The main characters as a whole are fine, and not something that needs to be addressed if Knightmare comes back on a regular basis. They were brilliant, and equal credit to the scriptwriters for keeping their raport as great as it was.
The 2 new dungeon characters i have a mixed feeling on, more so with Sylvester the Jester, than Theodora Snitch. I dont have a problem with the actor playing Sylvester, but my main issue is my own, in that i absolutely loved Paul Valentine. He was an amazing character actor i thought, and Motley and Sylvester hands are up there in my top 5 characters from Kightmare. I miss him, especially when old cast were intereviewed for the behind the scenes and 25th Anniversary videos. Sylvester Hands' costume, voice, make-up..... just fantastic, so to not have him playing the dungeon jester, whom is now named Sylvester is kinda a double blow for me. If Knightmare were to come back, i would beg for Paul Valentine to retuen (leaving Fidjit at the door lol). You could also have the new jester too, and there could be some interesting storylines between the two easily! One good, one bad. They could be brothers etc, and one helps the Opposition and the other helps the Powers That Be.
Theodora Snitch was actually really good, and acted very well i thought. I didnt really have a problem with her at all actually and would be happy to see her in a return. One small gripe is she was in Harry Potter, and her name is Snitch?? Come on lol lol.
As for Daisy, i was indifferent about her which i think is ok. No one will ever replace David Lerners Pickle, and Jackie Swalis' Majita was just middle of the road. Daisy i would say would also be middle of the road, but since they are just assistants i am ok with that!
---Knightmare v Knightmare---
Here i want to bring up some points that i dont feel, fit into any of the other sections, which i had some issues with etc....
I will start off with the costumes. I mean this was a major damage to this and made it look a bit cheap. I understand now that there may be a lot of issues in the production, such as finance, staff, copyright legislation etc, but whilst watching the episode for the first time, i didnt know that so for now i will give my initial opinions, and then next, i will give my final thoughts etc.
But the costumes were awful. Made more awful by the fact that the dungeon characters were dressed fine (Sylvesters outfit did well to separate him from the two jokers gone before him), but the 3 main characters were really dressed horribly. I dont mean to be offensive to who did the job, i am sure it wasnt easy, but i can only be honest. Treguard wasnt too bad, paying tribute to his original slacks from the first season, but as ive already said, i prefer the alternate outfit he wore up until the end. As for Lissard and Lord Fear, i felt so sorry for Mark and Cliff because they came of the worst i thought. Lord Fears helmet made him look like a metallic Marge Simpson, and Lissard just looked off with non professional make up work done. Key things were missing too, which added to Lord Fears menace, such as his long fingernails and his rings etc.
Ummmm was that a goblin??? Of coourse it wasnt. I am not even buying the "this is for a new generation" one on this. Again, coming back to the elements of fear, goblins were perfect as they were; small, brown, club wielding, plastic faces and platted hair. The goblin in this was more of a Ghengis Khan wannabe. In terms of an opposition entity, this did not work at all. Not so much because if the costune, but mainly........THE GOBLIN SOUND! This sound enticed fear into every person who watched the original Knightmare and should never even be attempted to be replaced. When Daisy went to blow the horn to awaken Treguard, i was SO excited to hear that haunting "DO DOOOOOO. DO DOOOOOO", but it was just a foghorn?? I let that go, but when we heard it later and the "goblin" appeared, i just felt so low. I couldnt believe it. Since i already spoke about fear being part of the show, this sound was absolutely perfect, and is direly needed if Knightmare was to return. Majorly. Without that sound, the majority of the Play Your Cards Right game would not have been as good.
This point lead me onto my next major concern, the audio. Why i also love the latter series of the show was because the fear element was raised by the audio that was played, and also the sound effects. The wind gust of a door entry being replaced by the crashing magic melody was brilliant. Loud and in your face. But the audio added to the likes of the causeway, and "that" audio which i cant really describe but hopefully the one you all know (usually played during Play Your Cards Right or dwarf tunnels, with the heartbeat/beating drum as the synth note builds was one of the best additions to the show. It gave the show a huge atmospheric lift, a proper sense of dungeon danger that indicated that the enemy was never far away. It took Knightmare from Tomb Raiding to not only a race for the quest item, but for survival. It made teams hurry (which was needed!) and also showed us what they were really made of! This was missing in this episode, and if Knightmare was to return, i would again beg that this is considered.
---The Future & Final Thoughts---
I have firmly believed over all these years that Knightmare could easily still work on todays televison, and this episode has boosted that even more. I honestly believe its one of the most smartest, and captivating shows on television because of its great ideas, production and overall appreciation from its fans. I believe this could work again, in a new era. But for me to like this, i would give my opinion of that theres no need for severe and drastic changes. Remember, if it aint broke, dont fix it and that truely is the case here. Aside from the reality elements which i have spoken about in regards to a vewers imagination and emotions whilst watching this, all of the key elements are still there, including the main characters returning. Having better costumes, a real life antechamber set and real teams, this episode would have been A LOT different i feel, more so than what people believe. The upgrade of the dungeon design, with a hell of a lot of room for more to be created. But theres no need to so completely wild. Take ideas that have gone before and just tweak them a bit. For example, take the simple premise of the Corridor Of Blades and just tweak it a bit. Put it in HD, replace the blue with a dark grey or black, have the conveyor belt a chainmail like texture, make the corridor a bit taller and have flaming torches as the only light source, and make the blades more silvery metallic and the teeth a bit sharper and there you go. The same thing, tweaked, and would be unbelievable in a new Knightmare. Satisfies the old and the new. It can so be easily done.
I am not aware of all the specifics going on here, but i believe this episode should not be viewed as a pitch for a future Knightmare, or a remake. This was a bit of fun, and a but of nostalgia that you have no idea how much i am grateful for. I am very positive in the belief that of all the gripes myself, and we are all talking about is down to issues behind the scenes such as financing, backing, and input from other parites. I am fine with that, and would let it go for now. But if Knightmare were to come back looking like this, i would watch it and love it because i am so passionate about it, but i would worry about the new audiences looking at this and it could be made a proper farce out of this time.
I understand the concept that this is being made for a "new generation", which is fine, but one thing i will say is that kids these days are smarter and a lot more vocal and tough to say, how we older fans used to be. Kids now are on the Xboxs and PS3 and i believe should not be played down to. Kids could handle this easily, and i would be very unsuppotive of making Knightmare "easy" or "cartoony" for this reason. But this could work honestly! I believe it will!
In closing, please let me first of all reiterate what i said at the beginning, and extend my thanks for this opportunity to see my favourite kids tv show, and one of my all time favourite tv shows have another episode. It truely was a joy to watch it, and its still an honour to be a Knightmare fan. If anyone reads this and takes offence (not sure if cast or crew read these boards), please please dont, and know how much i cherish Knightmare. The reason all the gripes are being mentioned is because thats how much we love the show, and how passionate we are about wanting whats best for it, and ensuring it has the best opportunity for it to continue. But to end, once again, thank you to everyone involved for getting us this episode.