Knightmare Lexicon - A Knightmare Encyclopædia

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1. Le Chevalier du Labyrinthe
 [Related Image] 'Knight of the Labyrinth' was the French version of Knightmare, produced by Claude Berthier (Marina Productions) and Jacques Clément (Top N°1 Productions). It began around the same time as Knightmare Series 4, with the first episode shown on 19th September 1990. Broadcast on Antenne 2 (now called France 2), it initially aired on Wednesday afternoons in a similar timeslot to its English counterpart, with repeats on the Sunday morning. It is also said to have been broadcast every Saturday on CRTV in Cameroon. While each season of Knightmare lasted only two to four months, Le Chevalier du Labyrinthe ran for almost two full years, with 52 episodes per series (104 in total). The programme had no less than six scenario writers, offering viewers a different adventure every week. However, despite having its own fans, it failed to match the success of the original.
 [Related Image] Set in the haunted Labyrinth Castle, the show was hosted by Georges Beller as "le Mâitre du Château" (the Master of the Castle), a rather loud and aggressive character with a scar on his left cheek. Like early Treguard, he was just as likely to mock the teams' mistakes as to offer them advice.

As in Knightmare, teams were comprised of four children aged 11 to 15, one of whom became a "chevalier" or knight (i.e. the dungeoneer). They were blindfolded by a helmet in the same style as the Helmet of Justice, and also wore a tabard and knapsack. The latter was not used to collect food, as there was no life force to sustain, but could be used to carry objects as in Knightmare Series 8. Unlike later series of the English and Spanish versions, the French labyrinth did not incorporate any real-life locations, so the Eyeshield was not required. Teams were given a uniform of jumpers bearing the programme's logo in the second series.
 [Related Image] Rather than sitting in the antechamber with a viewscreen, the Master and advisors watched the knight's progress from a balcony with a large sand timer beside it. There was also a major difference in the rules: while Treguard would frequently point out that "this is no game of numerous lives", the teams in Le Chevalier du Labyrinthe had three lives, greatly increasing their chances of victory. If the first knight made a fatal error, they disappeared, and one of the advisors took their place in the labyrinth. Failure would only occur if three team members died. Furthermore, the quests were much shorter than those in Knightmare, with self-contained episodes each featuring a single team. Two teams were filmed simultaneously in a day, taking it in turns to shoot scenes against the bluescreen while the other group rested.
 [Related Image] Quests in the first year began in la salle du dé, the green dice room from Series 3. Many of David Rowe's hand-painted dungeon rooms appeared in the labyrinth, sometimes combined or modified in different ways, and the second series introduced a number of new rooms not seen in Knightmare. (As ever, the knight could often be heard asking "Où suis-je?" - "Where am I?") There were many familiar traps and dangers including chasms, flames, spears, moving walls, sliding floors, the serpent's tongue, feline fire, the Block and Tackle, giant reptiles, a huge scorpion and spider, maggots, enemy knights and skeletons, skull ghosts, goblins and a dragon. Wellways were sometimes used as exits, but the labyrinth was not divided into levels. Magic spells could be used (these were spoken by the knight rather than spelt out by an advisor), as well as items such as a vial of invisibility.
 [Related Image] Riddles and general knowledge questions (partly based on the school syllabus) were also a key element. If they could not answer a question, they would sometimes be told the answer and expected to recall it later. In the penultimate chamber, the team had to answer questions posed by Morganne la Fée before they could summon Merlin. Each correct answer brought them a step nearer to his throne in the first series, while the following year saw Morganne ask only one question and call Merlin if they got it right. Merlin would then ask a further two questions, one of which tested what they had learnt during their quest. If they answered correctly, he would vacate his throne and allow the knight to sit on it, magically transporting them to the final treasure room. (This method was also used to enter the labyrinth in the second series, with the knight sitting on the Master's throne.)
 [Related Image] The treasure room (la salle du trésor) was a real studio set, where the knight would remove their helmet before brushing away "the sands of time" to reveal a puzzle on the table. This might involve rearranging something, correctly labelling a set of pictures, or solving visual clues to guess a magic word. Once they had completed the puzzle, the knight could pull an enchanted sword from a stone, granting access to the hidden treasure (i.e. the team's prizes). The second series introduced a time limit represented by a bomb fuse.

The show was sponsored by Sega for the first year, so each member of a victorious team won an 8-bit Master System console, while losing contestants received only a small electronic game. Sega video games were also available to play during breaks in filming. In 1991, a board game based on the programme was created by MB, and this was used as a prize in the second series.

The castle's inhabitants included the following characters:
 [Related Image] -- Espiègle le Bouffon (the jester), played by stage actor and opera singer Lionel Muzin. Like Folly and Motley, he is prone to losing his marotte or bauble.
 [Related Image] -- Iselle, the maid or princess (perhaps equivalent to Gretel). She and the jester were captured and imprisoned in the castle, where they are destined to end their days. The original actress, Véronique Moëst (who later committed suicide) was replaced by Marine Jolivet in the second series.
 [Related Image] -- Velda (Véronique Moëst / Marine Jolivet). Like her Knightmare counterpart, Velda is a warrior, though not an elf. When the role was recast, she became a more friendly character as well as changing from brunette to blonde. The board game features a different warrior woman named Bardella.
 [Related Image] -- Mandragore, a witch played by Chantal Garrigues. She appears in Mildread's room and is often seen flying on her broomstick or preparing potions in her cauldron. Though cruel and ill-tempered, she also has a sense of humour.
 [Related Image] -- Tarok, an evil wizard played by René Lafleur. He lives as a hermit and hates everyone, including the knights and especially Merlin. He does however provide magical aid, so is perhaps more akin to early Hordriss than to Mogdred.

-- Crom (René Lafleur) and Laelith (Chantal Garrigues), les Génies de la Pierre, or the God and Goddess of the Stone. They are pitiless wall monsters who ask the knight questions, using the same animations as Golgarach and Brangwen.

-- La Mort (Death), played by Lionel Muzin. This spectre takes the form of a skeleton wearing a black cloak, and calls himself Tados. Sinister, cynical and always laughing, he was the most frequently seen villain in the programme, though apparently not the cruelest.

-- Le Corbeau (the Raven), voiced by Lionel Muzin. This talking bird appeared in the second series and was evidently more intelligent than the one seen on Knightmare, as it was able to ask the knight questions.

-- Morganne la Fée (Véronique Moëst / Marine Jolivet). A fairy who allows the knight to meet Merlin if they can answer her questions. She originally appears as a disembodied voice, but later her face is visible in the form of a star.
 [Related Image] -- Merlin (René Lafleur), a kindly wizard much like his British namesake. The knight must correctly answer his two questions before they can access the treasure room by sitting on le Trône Sacré (the sacred throne).

In contrast to the early seasons of Knightmare, Le Chevalier du Labyrinthe employed music (composed by Patrick Oliver) to convey the atmosphere of each room. The show also had its own theme song, performed by Jean-Marc Chastel, and they even released a soundtrack EP.

The first two episodes of Series 1 are available to watch on Veoh (1a/1b/1c, 2a/2b/2c), while a subtitled episode from Series 2 can be seen on Dailymotion here.

Provided By: Canadanne, 2014-05-11 17:50:56
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