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Takeshi’s Castle – Review

Hey, do you remember Takeshi’s Castle? I remember it from the mid-2000s. It took footage of a Japanese gameshow and locked it in an audio recording booth with Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles. Contestants would compete in knockout rounds for a chance to take on Takeshi and win… something. Not sure I ever saw anyone win. But the games were brutal and surreal, from smashing your shins on a clearly unsafe stepping stone to hugging a giant mushroom.

100 competitors charge across a field, motion blur for dramatic effect

Well, the Japanese show the footage was taken from has made a bit of a comeback, with brand new episodes, so now we finally get a handful of new English episodes via Amazon Prime Video. No Craig Charles this time though.

This time, the stoner style narration is provided by Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Davis, who mostly have a classic comedy dynamic of straight man and the other one (What’s the technical word for “the funny one”?). They kind of remind me of Howard and Vince from The Mighty Boosh. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to appreciate their humour but by the end, I just wanted more.

at night a contestent wearing a helmet races across grey stepping stones in greenish water

Some of the games have seen an upgrade, some of them feel even flimsier or more unfair than before, and others may actually have been adapted for health and safety reasons, in some small, small way. It’s still an entertaining watch, but with only eight episodes it feels like more of a conscious effort to watch than just something to stick on in the background. 

contestant fails to climb over large green squidgy triangle that forms a spinning platform on the side of a fake castle wall. other colourful shapes form further platforms

There are a few returning characters and running jokes to look forward to. I also appreciate that this version seems to respect Japanese culture a bit more, which was an unexpected but needed touch.

If you enjoyed the old episodes, then it’s well worth a try. A little hard to score as it does what it sets out to do well, and there’s not much else like it, but it’s not exactly peak TV. 

7/10 star rating





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