Saturday 11 May 2013

Dark Pondering - Knightmare

Dark Pondering Image


By Casey Douglass

It was a strange case of knowing something but continually forgetting. I knew that the Challenge channel showed the 80’s kids TV show Knightmare, but it's just something that my mind regularly pushed back into the storage room, with Teenage Mutant Turtle figures and Thundercats. Last night, due to some half asleep channel surfing, that storage room door was flung open and the horny (careful) helmet almost took my eye out.

Knightmare! The thing that I knew...then didn’t...then knew again, on my TV, right there! I was an eight year old again, enjoying the music and the tension and bemoaning those damned ad-breaks once more.

Of course, the effects and presentation have suffered horribly at the hands of time. The dwindling health animation of the helmet and skin flying away from a representation of the players face looked like something created in Deluxe Paint 4 on the Amiga. The kids too looked typical for the 80’s, their hairstyles and clothes. I can't really hold it against them of course.

The key elements of the show still enthralled me though. The instructions given by the dungeon master (Hugo Myatt) were immediately familiar, and the incidental characters in this particular episode all gave their performances with gusto. You knew that the people making the show enjoyed what they were doing and cared. Something that feels lacking in today’s kids TV.

I was a little disappointed not to see Hordriss (Clifford Norgate) as I did actually meet him once. He came to our local Jarrolds for a book signing. One day after school, in the deepening dark, we went into the well lit store, weaving through the perfumes and floaty attendants with their drawn on eyebrows, heading for the raised book area that had been earmarked for the meeting.

There he sat at a table, a big smile creeping out from under his beard. He then promptly got my firstname and surname wrong, but I forgive him for that. Maybe playing Hordriss the Confuser is just too hard to let go of?

I was going to say that it would be great if Knightmare was resurrected. Looking around the internet it looks like such a thing has almost happened a few times but the results look poor. I will revise my opinion to one that the format could at least be adopted. Directing a victim by teamwork through various perils, acting as their eyes or some other sense, it is certainly a more tense prospect than some of the alternatives today. I don’t want to rag on today’s kids TV too much, I know it is not meant for me, and I am not old enough to pull off the grumpy old git image just yet. I just can't help thinking that going back to some of the ideas and formats of old would be a worthwhile thought experiment, if nothing else.

What is your favourite classic kids TV programme? Comment below if you dare adventurer!