WTF?!?! – The Crystal Maze

Will Blanton

“The Crystal Maze” is a show that is celebrating it’s 30th birthday this month, with the debut in the United Kingdom on February 15th 1990. With the debut of the American counterpart being released into the wild as it’s fucking horrible counterpart, I decided to go back and attempt to enjoy something for once. We go back and take a look at the most beloved host, which happened to be the first five seasons, Richard O’Brien.

Richard’s history goes all the way back to 1965. He’s mostly remembered as the custodian in 1975’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and is creator of the source play, “The Rocky Horror Show.” He would later voice Lawrence Fletcher in “Phineas and Ferb” and the movie that followed the series. In his role as the host for “The Crystal Maze”, he provides us with the charm and wit that we all know and love, but at the same time, he’s super sarcastic and at times comes across as a complete dick. Now here comes the fun part for me.

The show’s premise is a team of five, with a captain being the one making all the calls, to individually enter rooms to solve puzzles of physical, mental, skill or mystery. These tasks are done in between two to three minutes and are in one of four different zones. Completing the tasks at hand gives you a crystal to get five seconds in the end game known as “The Crystal Dome”. As I’m looking back at a few of the episodes, I’m surprised as fuck that anyone managed to get any time what so ever. Case in point, Exhibit A.

A 3 minute game that involved a young woman looking for a clue, and while the rest of her team were screaming at her directions on where to go, SHE WAS LOOKING RIGHT AT IT AS SOON AS SHE GOT DOWN THERE. This is the only issue that I have when it comes to shows like this. Every episode that I’ve seen, the thought never crosses their mind. “This looks like it is important, let me check real quick.” It would have taken less than two seconds and they wouldn’t have wasted any fucking time at all. They have clues, help, and hints during the games, yet EVERY time that someone can’t find something you are yelling at the fucking screen where it is, while they are running around with their heads cut off. Yet when people outside of the room are giving them perfectly good fucking directions they fuck it up.

The set? Beautiful
The host? Genius
The contestants? Fucking Stupid as a bag of god damn hammers.

I’m fucking convinced that if left unchecked someone would have killed themselves on that show.

Now the North American version of the show happens to run side by side to the European version as they share the same zones and the same sound stage as it’s also produced in the UK. So, why didn’t they just give us the same series? The prizes are the same, the games are the same, the zones are the same, JUST FUCKING BRING THE ORIGINAL TO THE STATES! There’s so many things that get ruined by being Americanized and I honestly think Nickelodeon would have gotten the rights cheaper to air the new series than it would be to produce one themselves.

It’s a battle of the hosts as Adam Conover Vs. Richard Ayoade try to vie for my attention. There’s very little online as far as both series go, as there are short 5 minutes clips of Ayoade and there’s one full episode online for the Conover series, but as I watch more and more of both I notice that Ayoade plays off the history of the British series premier as he starts to remind me so much of the original host Richard O’Brien. Conover, on the other hand, is the stereotypical American being loud and flashy as the family matches it in spades. In the clips I’ve seen of Ayoade he’s more of the stereotypical Brit, as he’s quiet and a person who I would want to have tea and crumpets with. I wasn’t a huge fan of Conover to begin with, because as a comedian most of his work I’ve seen doesn’t make me laugh at all, and yes I’ve given “BoJack Horseman” and “Adam Ruins Everything” a try. As far as his British counterpart I really don’t know much about him and outside of what I see on the clips and it kind of gives him the edge as far as likability. So here’s the final verdict of the US version Vs. UK version: Don’t watch the US Version. If they are using the same set, and same format with a American coat of paint, just fucking watch the source show.  If you can find it, with Ayoade you’ll get the feel of the US Series, if not, then I would go watch the O’Brien series instead.

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