A few days ago a crowdfunding campaign was launched to re-create the classic 1990s game show The Crystal Maze as an interactive experience that people could take part in once again. Today the campaign reached its £500,000 target.
This for me is joyous, because when I was a kid The Crystal Maze was my favourite TV show. This is not surprising because kids loved the show, and several Christmas specials were made with children contestants.
Also, when you are about five, as I was when I can remember first watching it, you do think that what you see on the screen is not a fictional setting. You think: “Wow! They were in space, but then got in a lift and are now in Aztec village! I don’t know who Aztecs are but they sound cool”, or, “Oh no! He’s locked in, and if they don’t give Richard a crystal he will stay forever!” until you realise that they do turn up at the very end anyway.
Of course there is the other bit, that must have occurred to adults watching it and now happens to me when I watch episodes posted on YouTube (all the episodes appear to have been posted up), which is being outraged by idiots who as soon as they enter a room suddenly completely go to pieces and are unable to complete any task, so you end up shouting at the screen things like: “How can you not know there is a connection between the words ‘Hand’ and ‘Writing’ you fucking idiot?”
I still however love The Crystal Maze for being a big part of my TV childhood: I loved it under Richard O’Brien I loved it under Ed Tudor-Pole, I loved the zones, I loved the theme tune, I loved the games, I loved everything about it. So for it come back is like a dream come true. The only problem with this revival is that it is currently just an interactive experience. Yes, you can take part in it, but it I still not quite the same as seeing it being brought back on the box.
However, it would not be surprising if it did return to TV eventually. Recently all sorts of TV shows have returned in some format. Most recently has been the Clangers on Cbeebies, narrated by Michael Palin, but you also have a new Absolutely Fabulous movie in the works, and BBC sitcoms such as Red Dwarf and Birds of a Feather have been revived on rival channels (Dave and ITV respectively) with great success in terms of ratings.
Some shows however are undoubtedly best left untouched when they have end. I for one am dreading the new Dad’s Army movie due out in 2016. Given the fact that most of the cast and one of the original writers are now dead, you can’t help but feel that it is a bit too late to bring it back. Even then everyone will be comparing to the old version and you know that the film will be seen as inferior to the original.
The Crystal Maze doesn’t really have these problems because it has no plot to speak of. It is just a game show: all you need are games and a host. It would make sense for Channel 4 to bring The Crystal Maze back, just on the grounds of popularity alone. At the time it aired it was frequently the most watched show on the channel. The website UKGameshows.com twice voted it the greatest game show ever.
Quite frankly, if Channel 4 don’t bring back such a successful show, even as a one-off, they are idiots.