RT: Series 1

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My, how things change. Having seen the first show of the first series to be aired in the US ("Siege"), it is almost a wonder that the series was picked up for a second run. Everything about the show is now much more polished, professional, and educational. A big "well-done" to RDF for working on the show (and presumably for finding more money to produce it) and getting some of the stranger kinks out.

Losing the Mad Max clothing was good.

Building the current workshops was incredibly good. The scrap piles in the background of most shots were distracting, as was the fact that they were forced to work on dirt.

Adding a second presenter was good -- the interplay between the presenters allows a lot of "what they are doing" exposition in a natural, conversational setting. Also, Robert and George need a "straight man". Having the straight man (or woman, in this case) also be a thinly disguised near-expert was inspired.

The editing has improved. The shows now have more clearly defined beginnings, middles, and ends. The show I saw last night had a few spots of strange editing that is missing in the later series.

The teams in the first series were charming. I was surprised to see Bowser and Dick in this series. Don't either one of them ever actually work at their primary occupations? (I like them both, but they've both done so much television that in the US they would probably qualify for SAG or AFTRA membership.) As much as I liked these two teams, I am sure that the current format has much to do with the show's popularity. I, for one, am convinced that with a 3-month welding course I would dazzle the world's scrapfans with my bodging brilliance.

I was surprised to see that the animation was around from the beginning, and pretty much unchanged (although the drawing of the sling in the trebuchet could have been clearer).

I loved how they gave each of their experts a couple of minutes to chat about their midieval alternate lives. ("Do you mean you camp out wearing tights?" was classic.) (OK, the quote is not quite right, but it's pretty close.)

Robert has improved a lot over the three series, just as George improved between the first show of Series 4 and the finals. Experience helps, even in acting.

I liked the original opening graphics a little better. I wonder why the current opening deletes the woman lifting the welding helmet's visor? I hope they never delete the dog. (What would the dog's name be? I suggest "MIG".)

And last, and probably least, I still think trebuchets are cooler than mangonels. They just take a little more sorting out than they had time for. Trebs forever!

-- Rick Tyler (rick@raf.com), January 30, 2001


Something that I noticed, and have heard about the British version of the show before, is editing the show for more excitement. I noticed in the background, the team with the trebuchet had the hole in the wall they were shooting at early on in the competition, but the show was edited in a way to suggest that they did not score untill later in the game. This is something that leads me to enjoy the American version maore than it is given credit for. British editing is tricky.

-- www.geocities.com/kablamotheclown (kablamotheclown@yahoo.com), January 30, 2001.

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