Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Challenge TV - Knightmare & Takeshi’s Castle

My numerous posts on the general crappyness of television and the cult of the celebrity having influenced this are sufficient enough not to add to the existing collection. However, over the past week a couple of television programs have caught my attention that I have not seen for a while. When I think that both of these started out in the eighties, the fact that we haven’t seen anything to rival these over the past decade shows quite how luddite and backwards television commissioning and programming has become.

Firstly, the fantastically innovative (and now cult-esque) Knightmare – the children’s program from the late eighties to early nineties that used cutting edge CGI (at the time) to create a dungeons and dragons style castle challenge for groups of four children to combat. It overcame huge IT and budget challenges to deliver what was an awesome show that was essential viewing during the time.

Secondly, the Japanese assault course themed Takeshi’s Castle – the bizarre adult challenge game where contestants would have to brave odd (and often quite dangerous) physical obstacle courses, sometimes individually, sometimes in large groups in order to reach the castle and complete the challenge (which they never seemed to do). 

Both innovative, both ambitious and very challenging and both fantastic viewing. When you consider budgets and technical limitations, how have we found ourselves two decades on with nothing like these shows in the current offering? Instead we simply have an abundance of celebrity-based reality shows, or the man with five noses. I think the most creative program to have hit our screens in recent times is Deal or No Deal.

Where is the innovation?