OK, the new hour-long version of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge...
I wasn't a massive fan of the half-hour version, but still got pretty darn excited about the new expanded season. Who knows, maybe the extra time would enable them to fit in all the cool characters and great music that other versions of Fort Boyard around the world supposedly have. If nothing else, they'd be able to fit more games in.
Well, I was right about that part. They did fit more games in. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only change they made.
We have the same six teams of four kids whose team names will make any American game show fan think of Legends Of The Hidden Temple. Each episode features two of these teams, who attempt to earn keys by participating in ten challenges (hey, that's double the half-hour version!). Four of these challenges pit one team against the other, with the winning team earning a key, while each team also gets three challenges they play by themselves against the clock and get a key if they succeed. At the end of the show, the keys are converted into time grabbing coins in the Treasure Room - each team starts with three minutes and is deducted ten seconds for every key they fail to win. The coins grabbed are then converted...somehow...into a numerical result, and the two teams that score the most points over the season will compete in the grand final.
Now, I said it on October 20, 2011 and I'll say it again: these challenges are amazing. The amazing...kind of ends there. Yes, the Fort provides a backdrop ten times better then the same challenges would have in a studio, but, well, where are all those cool characters and all that great music? The half-hour version's Geno Segers was memorable only for his booming voice, but even that puts him above the completely forgettable Andy Akinwolere; while Laura Hamilton gets a lot more screen time here then she did in the half-hour version, said extra screen time basically reveals her to be completely forgettable as well.
I am, of course, nitpicking. This is far from a bad show and my eight-year-old self would have found it as epic as it is trying to be. For the sake of said eight-year-old self, I will hold out hope that it will reach American TV on Disney XD or any other channel. Let's not kid ourselves, though. America is probably lucky it got as much Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge as it did.
I hope there's some news next week.