Dungeoneer Stuart is chased by Ariadne in the 2013 Geek Week episode of Knightmare.

Geek Week Knightmare: Initial Reaction

By David Goldstein

A look back at some early responses to the return of Knightmare in YouTube's Geek Week.


On 5th August the first new episode of Knightmare in 19 years was put on YouTube.

If you haven't yet watched it, stop reading this and watch the extended version.

But was it a success? Did this revival manage to capture the hearts of a new generation of fans and did it satisfy the demands of the old faithful?

First, some statistics. Within 48 hours of the episode becoming available, the Knightmare Geek Week revival had received over 215,000 views (now over 552,420 and counting).

On the YouTube page 10,829 viewers had given it the thumbs up (now 20,380 and counting), 240 the thumbs down (later climbing slightly to 485): an unbelievable 98% positive response in the often harsh world of YouTube opinion!

Dungeoneer meets Sylvester the Jester in the original Level 1 Clue Room, remastered for the Geek Week episode of Knightmare (2013).
Stuart meets Sylvester the Jester

YouTube

It's difficult to summarise the 3000+ YouTube comments (now nearer 6000 comments, if not more by the time you read this!) but here are a few which give a flavour of the reaction:

It's great to see that people who are too young to have even heard of Knightmare before this episode are engaging positively with the show. Although some older fans have criticized the fact that trendy young YouTubers were used as the contestants, it's obvious that they've been successful in attracting a new demographic - something vital if the show is to have a future.

Most viewers have accepted that this was never intended to be an episode worthy of a brand new series of Knightmare. Rather, it was a fun remake which, in line with the Geek Week agenda, intentionally harked back to the past and celebrated a television format which was extremely popular twenty years ago.

The dungeoneer enters the Corridor of the Catacombs. Remastered for the Geek Week episode of Knightmare (2013).
Stuart in the catacombs

It also seems to be the general opinion that, while this particular episode was a little rough around the edges, it shows that the format still holds up today and that with appropriate resources a new series could be something very special.

Twenty years ago Knightmare was a very British phenomenon. Comments such as these highlight the exciting possibility that an eager global audience is waiting in the wings.

Another common YouTube comment and something we take the opportunity to clarify: Isy Suttie definitely says "what the heck". So there!

Facebook

It's a similar story on the Knightmare Facebook page where most of the comments seem to be from fans of the original show:

Although the consensus is that Knightmare's renaissance shouldn't end here, there is some debate around how the format should evolve. Given the current economics of the TV industry a new Knightmare probably wouldn't be a children's show, so how can it appeal to new young fans as well as thirty-somethings keen for more?

A spyglass scene shows a digitally remastered Mount Fear during the Geek Week episode of Knightmare (2013).
A spyglass sequence in the new episode

A riposte to the claim that adults don't work was that perhaps it would be better with adults unused to being on camera and not quite so obviously relaxed and confident (as the YouTubers were). Regardless, the main reaction was one of absolute joy accompanied by the cry for a new series!

Comedy is Dead

The review of the new episode by TV Comedy Is Dead was helpful for its range of Knightmare links, and it took a balanced view by identifying both positives:

"Nostalgia hits the instant you see those repeating pattern floors and a giant 8-bit bomb hovering overhead. The actual playing of the show is a great as it always was; it's amazing how much fun can be garnered from ineffectually trying to navigate a blinded contestant whilst a super-imposed giant spider advances from behind."

And negatives:

"It was the unpredictable and odd conversations between bewildered children and actors struggling to ad-lib that were an essential part of the show. By having older contestants this element is lost.

An inline image of the team for the Geek Week episode of Knightmare: Stuart Ashen, Emma Blackery, Phil Lester and Dan Howell.
The Geek Week Team

"The YouTubers do indeed take the show seriously, but of course they also make glib comments, laugh at the absurdity of what they are doing, and have little interaction with Treguard; the looming voice and goggle-eyed face of the show who terrified as much as assisted the kids who used to appear. The look may still be there, but the feel is altered when you age the players upwards."

Knightmare Forum

Meanwhile, over on the Knightmare.com forum (where questions and opinions on Knightmare are always welcome from fans new and old) the hardcore fanbase has been analysing the episode:

The general response has been really positive, with long-time fans absolutely delighted that Knightmare is back on their screens. If one had to use a single word to sum up the reaction it would probably be 'excited'.

Although there were some quibbles around the slightly jokey tone of this new episode, it is acknowledged that as a one-off YouTube presentation some compromises were inevitable and justified.

Once more, the general feeling is that the episode proves that Knightmare could have a future if only a broadcaster would put some resource behind it.

Nick Collett as Sylvester the Jester in the 2013 Geek Week Episode of Knightmare.
Stuart reaches the end of Level 1

Knightmare fans can be hard to please though, and it's no surprise that some of the minor details of the episode have been criticised:

Apart from the rather sparse CGI antechamber, the goblin horn sound effect has taken a bashing (it's not the original) and several think the new Ariadne doesn't hold a candle to the 'real' spider of the original series.

There are a number of additional nit-picks which it is the passionate fan's prerogative to point out. However, it's largely recognised that these little touches are mainly due the fact that the episode's budget was relatively small and the development time short.

Hugo Myatt as Treguard and Isy Suttie as Veruca in the Geek Week episode of Knightmare (2013).
Treguard and Veruca in the antechamber

A significant number of fans were unimpressed with the opening of the episode, believing it to be unnecessary and only serving to slow down the pace of the show. This view certainly wasn't unanimous however, with other fans accepting that a bit of exposition was necessary to introduce knewbies to the programme.

Again, it was agreed that such theatrics were only there given the nature of this particular production and weren't indicative of what a possible Series 9 would be like.

Overall, the episode was believed to have been a success; the tone is one of 'I'm really glad this happened, but imagine what the show could be like if the financial and operational constraints were removed'.

Thank you

I'll leave you with one more Facebook comment:

To countless 'original' fans, Knightmare wasn't just a TV show but a way of life. As children, their lives throughout the autumn months would revolve around the programme.

In their minds, school bags became knapsacks, every meal replenished lifeforce and each pass through a doorway would be accompanied by a whoosh or an imaginary eyeshield sequence. To see any kind of revival is literally a dream come true to so many.

"Join us again for Knightmare," says the Dungeon Master. Here's hoping, Treguard, here's hoping."

You Might Also Like...

The Quest 3.1: Knightmare Knews

Stack of newspapers

Latest updates include Lord Fear and Lissard at a wedding and Majida meeting a dungeoneer in the real world!

Greystagg's Throne

Greystagg's antechamber, as shown in Series 7 (1993).

The Witch Queen had a permanent antechamber in the seventh series, despite the turmoil surrounding the witches' territory.

The Quest 4.2: Lord Fear's Diary

Lord Fear casting a spell

A week in the life of an immortal...

See Also