How Many Argonds Around The Pond? The Adventure Game (DVD Review)

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On the far-off planet of Arg (which is, as we are constantly reminded, of little consequence), an alien race of feathery dragons takes great pleasure in holding hostage hapless space travellers and forcing them to take part in a series of cryptic tests as part of their weekly televisual entertainment.

Often seen as a pre-cursor to The Crystal Maze, the delightfully twee The Adventure Game sees a weekly group of travellers (an eclectic mix of academics, celebrities and members of the general public) undertaking a series of logic puzzles in order to win the coveted crystal (exactly the same crystal indeed as seen in its protégé) required to power their spaceship back to earth.

The tasks generally take four forms; the “Drogna” puzzle, in which contestants must traverse a giant gameboard of shapes and puzzles, solving the required code needed to get across, a dungeon-crawl computer task, an escape room, and then, finally, the Vortex, where our team must challenge the king of Arg (a giant teapot or a grumpy houseplant depending on the season) in order to safely return home.

Guiding our intrepid explorers are the mischievous Argons, whose number includes cheerful butlers and cheeky dragons, as well as a few familiar faces such as a young Moira Stewart and the lovely Sarah Lam.

It’s all silly fun, and although it’s wonderfully dated now (rather more than Challenge’s endless re-runs of The Crystal Maze), there is something shamelessly endearing about watching mullets and Farrahs blundering their way around sets that look like a bizarre lovechild of Blake’s 7 and Play School.

The challenges themselves are perhaps not quite as engaging for viewers as those of The Crystal Maze; the initial Drogna puzzle keeps the same throughout each season, and the computer-based task has all the fun of watching someone else playing a computer game… on a BBC computer… That said, the escape room element (which does make up the majority of each episode) is a delight to watch, and never fails to raise a few giggles as our team inevitably struggles to solve the fiendish puzzles set out for them.

Production values improve from year to year, with the initial episodes having that Harry Hill Show “made in your shed” feel, eventually making way for a much grander feel as the series progresses, thus incorporating bigger and more intricate puzzles and even a few flashy special effects.

A delightful product of a more innocent time, The Adventure Game is wonderfully addictive viewing, so grab a cup of tea, cut yourself a slice of Jamaican Ginger, and travel back in time to the planet of Arg for some nostalgic fun.

Created by: Patrick Dowling
Dir: Oliver MacFarlane, Ian Oliver, Chris Tandy
Cast: Chris Lever, Charmian Gradwell, Bill Homewood, Sarah Lam, Moira Stewart
Prd: Ian Oliver, Patrick Dowling, Chris Tandy

No. of Episodes: 22

Episode runtime: 45mins
Country: UK
Year: 1980-86

The Adventure Game: The Complete Series 1-4 is available on DVD from June 12th courtesy of Simply Media