What went wrong with Knightmare?

Series, Teams, History, Behind the scenes etc. - all discussed here.
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What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Oakesy » Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:13 am

Hi, quick question for you all:
Why is there a general feeling that the first 3 series were better than the rest? What was it that they changed in the format that made the last series inferior to the first ones, epically the critically defining 3rd series?

Being twenty I can really only remember the Lord Fear reign, although I do recall the spinning cogs room, the well and Merlin’s room strangely enough!

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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Fidjit » Wed Jun 09, 2004 8:40 am

Probably because the early series went a lot faster than the later ones. I mean, in series three one team got to level two withing the second half of the program. In series four to eight a team would progress through a few rooms withing this time... It's only a suggestion of course...
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by beamrider2600 » Wed Jun 09, 2004 9:33 am

I like the later series the best - although they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Malefact » Wed Jun 09, 2004 12:21 pm

From a personal perspective (which is the only one I have) I like series 1-3 best because:

(1) They're inside the Dungeon and not on safari. Each room was very different and had its own distinct character - and danger. In any case, when you're shut up in a Dungeon, you've nowhere to run to. Confounding 'Fight or Flight' was the very core of Km, imo.

(2) These series were far more ruthless than the later ones.

(3) Later series tended to rely a bit more on the fantasy element, as opposed to the sci-fi element. I've always preferred sci-fi. Language like "phase with us", "temporal disruption" and "manifestation is now occurring" is very flash.

(4) Whilst later series had a wealth of characters and much fuller narrative, the early Dungeon had a 'deserted' feel which was creepy and sinister. The far less-aligned Treguard further added to the unease.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by HStorm » Wed Jun 09, 2004 12:52 pm

Yes, we've had this debate a lot and the split between supporters of the early seasons and supporters of the later ones remains right down the middle.

My own belief is that the first three seasons were easily better as they were far trickier, considerably darker, and a LOT scarier.

Tim Child says he preferred the later seasons because he thought the early ones were very slow. Considering there were seven teams in season 7, and six teams in a half-length season 1, I find that hard to agree with. NO quest in Knightmare lasted over an hour until season 5.

Certainly there were elements missing in the early seasons that helped in later years - for instance hauntings to hurry teams up when they were dawdling, Mogdred was a dreary villain compared to Lord Fear, and the hand-paintings don't really cut the mustard anymore the way the CGI of season 8 does - but the dungeon-only seasons had a much more grimy and claustrophobic feel. Seasons 5-7, with all the sunny, open-air locations looked like Wish You Were Here, the only frightening thing of which is Judith Chalmers.

But most of all, those seasons were blighted by long spells of just not very much happening. Far too many locations in the mid-to-late era just didn't offer any obstacles, puzzles, or opposition at all, which can be tedious to watch. The determination to give quests a more coherent plot was laudable, but in doing so they ended up sacrificing a lot of the tension and danger that made you want to watch in the first place.
Last edited by HStorm on Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Debz_g » Wed Jun 09, 2004 1:37 pm

I don't think anything was "wrong" exactly, I've just always been a big fan of series 1-7, and not so much of a fan of series 8.
I'm not saying series 8 wasn't as good, as some of the ideas etc were very entertaining, but for me, I always enjoyed the handpainted rooms and the images that were treated with CG. Although the full CG rooms in series 8 were good, personally I just prefered the mix of the two, if nothing else it kept everyone happy. But CG was obviously the way forward and who am I to stand in the way of progress?

I never found Knightmare slow when I watched it originally, and to be honest I am the same now...perhaps I have more patience that I initially thought!!
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by mattymoo_goblin » Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:36 pm

HStorm wrote: Tim Child says he preferred the later seasons because he thought the early ones were very slow. Considering there were seven teams in season 7, and six teams in a half-length season 1, I find that hard to agree with. NO quest in Knightmare lasted over an hour until season 5.
After reading the interview from Tim Child I think he meant it was quicker after Series 5 because they did role-play testing during the auditions to ensure only suitable teams made the game. He probably meant that earlier series suffered from very bad teams that might of slowed things down (Resulting in a lot of editing that we do not see perhaps?) and not about how long quests actually took. Teams in later seasons perhaps made it furthur simply because they were good and not because things were made easier.

Perhaps Tim Child got fed up of having to start a new quest almost every episode like in series 3 and wanted more teams to get into the last levels so that some more rooms could be shown instead of the same ones?

I don't think anything went wrong as such with Knightmare because as it says in numerous places there is a limitation to what you can do with hand drawn rooms and trying new things is the only way to keep an audience interested. I don't think anyone would've liked 8 series that were just variants of series 3!
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Kieran » Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:42 pm

I am a fan of each and every season, nothing went 'wrong' as such, each season is merely different and therefore tastes differ within the community.

Each seaosn has bits where it could be better, yet each season also has something which none other has, I just find S3 that little bit more well rounded, yet like all of the others equally.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by HStorm » Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:43 pm

mattymoo_goblin wrote: After reading the interview from Tim Child I think he meant it was quicker after Series 5 because they did role-play testing during the auditions to ensure only suitable teams made the game. He probably meant that earlier series suffered from very bad teams that might of slowed things down (Resulting in a lot of editing that we do not see perhaps?) and not about how long quests actually took.
I think if that's what he meant he would have said, "The teams were better in later years." They probably were, but I still see a lamentably high number of locations in the later years where there was nothing happening. To speed things up (if that really happened) they appeared to remove most of the obstacles and puzzles, so allowing the dungeoneer to get to the portals more quickly. The problem is that approach defeated the object of the exercise, because it made the show LESS exciting, not more so. (Where's the challenge in walking to a door?)

No one's suggesting that KM should've had the same locations year-after-year-after-year. And they were right to move on from the hand-paintings altogether. But the dark ENVIRONMENT of caverns and dungeons should have remained. Taking things outside into the open air was a serious error as it made the show look very saccharine.
Last edited by HStorm on Wed Jun 09, 2004 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Malefact » Wed Jun 09, 2004 4:39 pm

The tension in Km a result of confounding Fight Or Flight. A blindfolded person was put into a 'dangerous' situation and they could do neither. Consequently, this made for stressful viewing. Additionally, being inside a dingy Dungeon with a creepy 'deserted' feel helped matters because there was nowhere to run to. In a forest (which is a much more familiar environment to us) there is everywhere to run to.

This is where giving the Dungeoneer vision might threaten to erode things somewhat. Not being able to see is a direct link to the Fear Of The Dark. And why do people go on rollercoasters? Because we love being scared. In controlled doses, it's exciting and exhilirating. And witnessing it is almost as effective as experiencing it first-hand.

This is why Km works. It flirts with our fundamental fears in the creation of exhiliration. If the Dungeoneer can see, Fight or Flight will be dimmed slightly. Therefore, the game must allow for this in order to counter it. The Dungeoneer must not be allowed to run away. Remember the rune puzzle in series 8 when a troll was coming but the Dungeoneer couldn't run? Classic tension-building due to the good old "run! run! run!" instinct.

As long as all this is remembered and applied in the new series, it will be the classic Km we all know and love.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by HStorm » Wed Jun 09, 2004 5:19 pm

I should like to stress at this point that I still loved Knightmare more than practically any other show on TV, even when it wasn't working so well. I know I don't give that impression sometimes, it's just I do feel quite strongly about some of the unnecessary changes that were introduced.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Thanatos » Wed Jun 09, 2004 8:57 pm

I haven't seen series 2 and have only seen the first two episode of series 1 (I've recorded the third and shall watch it later), so Series 3 is all I can base my comments on the earlier series upon.

It may simply be because they were the ones I saw originally on CITV, but I prefer the later series. The characters were far better and more developed (they included the two best-acted characters of all, Lord Fear and Sylvester Hands), as were the plots. There was much less of a get-past-this-obstacle-and-now-this-one feel and more scope for role-playing (better capitalised on by some dungeoneers than by others). I liked the mixture of computer-generated and filmed scenery. I liked Treguard's assistants. I don't believe the obstacles were any easier, there were just fewer of them, to make time for the extra acting, spyglass sequences etc. which added so much.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Kieran » Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:55 am

I agree on that point. There were far less obstacles, yet the actual RP context came into play more.

It made the game more entertaining, yet again, at times it did make it feel less of a threat to life....The extra context added, however, made the game, overall, feel a lot more realistic for me.

Lord Fear gave the show an awful lot, too.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by Thanatos » Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:58 pm

Kieran wrote:There were far less obstacles
Far FEWER obstacles.
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Re:What went wrong with Knightmare?

Post by 123Pooka » Thu Jun 10, 2004 9:03 pm

But the dark ENVIRONMENT of caverns and dungeons should have remained. Taking things outside into the open air was a serious error as it made the show look very saccharine.
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This is very true. A lot of tension was lost from the open environment, and sometimes the outside eyeshield sequences seemed to drag on forever. If there's anything good I can think about the outside environment of the later series its that it provides a sense of reality to the whole adventure. There's some enjoyment to the idea that inside Hedingham castle there's a causeway! It gives compulsive viewers like me an opportunity to say 'I've been there'
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