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1. Team 4 of Series 8
From TES issue 65 (September 2010)
 [Related Image] Series 8.
Quest: The Sword of Freedom.
Dungeoneer: Michael.
 [Related Image] Advisors: Ben, Ben and Hayden.
Home town: Bristol.
Team score: 6 out of 10.

Despite my continuing enjoyment of Treguard’s very informal greeting to the dungeoneer (“Alright, Mike!”) this is one of my least favourite quests ever, I’m afraid. The advisors are very objectionable and always squabbling and/or insulting each other, but that’s not the worst of it – in terms of production, it’s a horrible, jumbled, mistake-ridden mess that looks like it’s been cobbled together by a particularly stupid monkey with a broken typewriter.

Level One: A meeting with Brother Strange in the new-look dwarf tunnel (or green corridor with arches, whichever you prefer to call it) sets up a very familiar trade – a proverb in return for a spyglass. Despite his chagrin at being offered ”Too many cooks spoil the broth” yet again, Strange is very impressed by the team’s next suggestion – ”The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” – and hands over the spyglass. Lord Fear and Lissard are seen discussing the rune look, and Lissard reveals his idea for a new combination – all the even values going down followed by all the odd values going up.

In the clue room, Mike picks up a bar of gold (despite the fact that he and his advisors think it’s a gold case at first – how can they make that old mistake, after all this time?) and an hourglass, which is seemingly a very sensible decision as the scroll has told him to keep his eye on the clock. Fireball Alley follows, and if Tim Child and friends had been meaning to speed up the fireballs so that the hourglass could be turned over to stop them or slow them down, they obviously forgot all about it! The obstacle is negotiated with no problems, before a quick (and somewhat pointless) chat with Stiletta leads on to the trapdoor room – yes, already!
 [Related Image] Making his only appearance in this series, Rothberry sells Mike a FLOAT spell in exchange for the gold. Mark Knight does a good job of bringing the scene to life somewhat, but even he can do little to draw our attention away from the fact that this is a very standard, boring exchange. Rothberry helps Mike to open the trapdoor by standing on it, the FLOAT spell is cast, and Mike falls into level two. So what happened to the rune lock? Weren’t they supposed to need that combination? And what about the hourglass – what was that for? Oh dear, what a total shambles!
 [Related Image] Level Two: One of the chambers of Goth presents the team with another array of clue objects. A spyglass sequence reveals that one of the skeletrons has gone rogue, and is preventing any travel between level two and level three. Lord Fear mentions the ingredients for a spell he wants to brew in order to destroy the skeletron (plain berries, bat’s wing and a binding spell, which apparently only Sidriss has access to!) but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the team will be the ones in need of the FILLET spell, not Lord Fear himself. They wisely decide to take a plastic bat from the clue table, but unwisely decide to reject a bottle of Brain Pills in favour of a sheaf of Stinkwort, which they do not end up using.

There has been a fair bit of discussion in the past about whether they were supposed to take the Brain Pills or not, as the scroll clue is somewhat ambiguous – ”Dangerous to those who are not dim” could mean that they were supposed to leave the Brain Pills alone (as was their reasoning) but it could just as easily mean that they should pick up the pills and give them to someone who is dim, i.e. Sidriss. It was only very recently – while I was doing an audio commentary with Rosey for this particular episode – that it finally came to me what was probably supposed to happen: they were supposed to take the pills and give them to Sidriss in return for the binding spell! But they were given the chance of a reprieve (saving Sidriss from Snapper-Jack) in very much the same way that (a couple of episodes later) Dunstan was allowed to tell Motley a joke instead of returning his bauble, which the team had decided to leave behind in the clue room.
 [Related Image] So it is that, in the Sewers of Goth, Mike answers Sidriss’s third question from Snapper-Jack and earns himself a boat ride and a KNOT spell as a reward. The Sliding Floor Chamber follows, where a bunch of berries is conveniently waiting, supporting the theory that the team should have used their other object (i.e. given the pills to Sidriss) by this point. Snapper-Jack reappears and chases Mike across the chamber, finally catching up with him in the next room. Unsurprisingly, he asks his customary three riddles, and the team manages to answer two correctly. With a prompt from Treguard, they decide to make up the FILLET spell before leaving the chamber. Mike puts down the bat and the berries, the KNOT spell is cast, and so the FILLET spell is created – as the advisors point out, it’s not a particularly interesting scene!
 [Related Image] In the next chamber, Mike finally encounters the rune lock, which we were promised way back at the start of level one! Using the code Lissard mentioned (though it seems like this happened in a previous life!) Mike dispels the slabs successfully, and is chased out of the chamber by a troll, which does add a nice bit of tension to the scene. The trapdoor chamber follows, where the rogue skeletron is immediately destroyed by the FILLET spell. Then the advisors make a fatal error – they cannot decide whether to take Mike down the trapdoor (which they know leads to level three!) or out of the open door. Okay, so it’s pretty weird that they haven’t been given a FLOAT spell (or another means of falling safely) taking into account the usual trapdoor procedure in this series, but there really is no excuse for straying from the path so wantonly: ”FLOAT spell or no FLOAT spell, there was only one way down to level three, and you didn’t take it.” – Treguard. As soon as he is standing in front of the door, Mike is fricasseed by a random fireball, bringing a swift end to a very strange quest.

Summary: However you cut it, this is a weird, weird quest, which in some ways is a microcosm of series 8 – jumbled, messy and not all that enjoyable to watch!

[Previous team: Team 3 of Series 8
Next team: Team 5 of Series 8]

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2010-10-22 08:57:15
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