Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Or, more specifically, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, you’ve read all of the retrospectives that make the original seem better than it was, and then it returns with Richard Ayoade in place of the last guy, whatever he was called.
Yes, we’re talking about The Crystal Maze, which has returned to our screens for a special episode last Christmas and came back in earnest (Ed Tudor-Pole, that’s the guy’s name, god that was bugging me) this year.
Now, we know the original had some memorable moments, not to mention some brilliantly ‘90s sets, but nothing compares to a man getting stuck on a planet.
Yes, that’s right, a contestant on the new version of the show got stuck on a planet.
This isn’t some heavy-handed metaphor about humanity’s failure to expand its horizons beyond the known world. At least, we don’t think it is.
Still, fair play to the contestant for demonstrating the differing atmospheres in outer space through his exaggerated heavy breathing.
Either that’s some damn fine method acting, or he just isn’t used to that much exercise. Hey, maybe it’s both!
As you can see in the clip below, the goal is to go from one planet to the next until you reach the far side.
Sure, completing the task is *technically* what you should be going for, but there’s no denying this approach makes for much better TV.
Ayoade’s introduction of “let’s redeem ourselves here” poses another question, of course. What atrocity have they been guilty of in order to reach the point where ‘just not falling off a planet’ would represent redemption.
Plenty of credit has to go to his teammates for shouting “do the thing”, wonderfully non-specific advice which can be overlaid onto pretty much any clip from any task on the show. Not enough contestants think about the producers on shows like this, so it’s almost refreshing.
The disdain of Ayoade’s “what about using your feet there, Rob” is palpable, and almost as condescending as the volumes spoken by his teammates’ silence. It feels as though this was his last chance at clawing something back after wearing everyone’s patience down and down and down further still.
The most obvious explanation would be that, while the clock might show three minutes, Rob was actually stuck between those first few planets for three full hours of filming. Honestly, try watching it again with that in the back of your mind and it makes perfect sense.
Indeed, having watched the clip in isolation, who are we to say he hasn’t lived in that room for his entire life?
Who’s to say he isn’t still there now?
(Images: Channel 4)