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Masters of the Maze
Genre Game show
Directed by Richard S. Kline
Presented by J. D. Roth (Season 1)
Mario Lopez (Season 2)

Lady of the Maze:
Renae Jacobs (Season 1)
Clea Montville (Season 2)
No. of seasons 2
Production
Executive producer(s) Richard S. Kline
Running time ~22 Minutes (without commercials)
Broadcast
Original channel Family Channel
Original run August 29, 1994 – September 22, 1996

Masters of the Maze was a children's television game show that aired on the Family Channel from August 29, 1994 to September 22, 1996.[1] The first season was hosted by J. D. Roth, and the second season was hosted by Mario Lopez.[1]

In its planning stages, the show was known as TimeBomb, and the object was to defuse a time bomb; this changed when the show went to air.[2]

Contents

Gameplay

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Round 1 (both versions)

Three two-member teams competed. Each team chose one member to play the question and answer format of the game, while the other went offstage. At this point, the host showed distorted pictures to the players, each of which became more clear as time progressed. The first player to buzz in and identify the picture won ten points and a chance to answer a question about the picture for five additional points. The first two teams to reach 50 points won the right to enter the maze, with the first team doing so earning the right to decide who would go into the maze first. After one team reached 50 points, the other teams played out the rest of the round, but without bonus questions. In the speed round, if a player buzzed in and was incorrect or unable to identify the picture, the host read a clue to the opponent without further revealing the picture.

Before being allowed to enter the maze, the runner was briefed on the maze's layout by the "Lady of the Maze". In the Roth season this was simply the face of an older woman (played by Renae Jacobs); in the Lopez season, the likeness of a younger redhead woman appeared with a high-pitched voice (played by Clea Montville). The "Lady of the Maze" also appeared again when the runner had reached the halfway point.

Maze

Roth version

The maze had three sections: the Mirror Maze, the Honeycomb Maze, and the Chamber of Knowledge. The person that answered the questions in the first part of the game was also the one responsible for running through the maze, with their team partner guiding them through the maze by moving a giant joystick. This device controlled a computerized voice telling the contestant which direction to go, and triggered rumble devices on the outfit the runner wore as an additional directional aid. The joystick also had a button that controlled the runner's laser which was used in various parts of the game.

The first section was called the Mirror Maze. In this section, the contestant navigated a series of mirrors. Once the runner reached the end of the Mirror Maze, the "Mirror Man" blocked the path, not moving unless the runner correctly answered a question posed by Roth (eg: "Name an animal that begins with the letter P."). A correct answer meant that the runner could pass, while an incorrect answer or pass meant that the runner was asked another question. A contestant missing three questions had to wait five more seconds before being allowed to proceed.

Once the runner had passed the Mirror Maze, the runner had to find two of several Power Sticks that were hidden in the mountains between the Mirror Maze and the Honeycomb Maze. (Occasionally there was a Power Stick hidden in the Mirror Maze itself.) Once the runner found two, they could enter the Honeycomb Maze. In this section, the runner had to lower their visor (essentially a blindfold) and rely on the partner to guide them through the network of doors and walls.

Once through the Honeycomb Maze, the runner raised the visor and entered a small briefing room. Here, the Lady of the Maze reappeared to give the runner instructions on what to do inside the Chamber of Knowledge, which the runner entered using one of the two Power Sticks.

Inside the Chamber of Knowledge, the runner was asked three different true or false questions by three of the six different guardians. A correct answer caused one of the three gates blocking the way out to open. An incorrect answer penalized the runner five seconds, after which the same guardian asked another true or false question. If the runner missed this question, one more true or false question would be asked; if the runner missed all three, the gate would automatically open after five more seconds. Once all three gates were open, the runner could exit the chamber (and the maze itself) by inserting his/her remaining power stick into a holder at the finish line to stop the clock.

The first team set the time that their opponents had to beat. The second team then entered the maze, and had the amount of time established by the first team to make their way through. If the second team ran out of time, an alarm went off, the game ended immediately, and the first team won. If the second team made it out before time ran out, they won the game. The winners of this version also won prizes and the right to play a bonus round.

Chamber of Knowledge Guardians (Season 1)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of History (gave questions about American history; represented by an old Native American woman's head)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Fantasy (asked questions about story books, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes; represented by a dinosaur's head)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of the Animal Kingdom (represented by a lion's head)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of the Unexpected (asked questions about pop culture; represented to look somewhat of a Star Trek character)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Nature (represented by a face that looked to model after wind)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Innovation (asked questions about science; voice usually sounded like a man, but sometimes a woman)
Prize Mountain

The quickest team in this version of the show won the right to play a special bonus round, which featured a mountain with five television monitors that constantly altered between a "Prize" screen and a "No Prize" screen. The runner faced the first TV on the mountain and shouted for the partner to fire the laser. If the team stopped at least three of the five monitors on "Prize" (before the team stopped at three monitors on "No Prize", which ended the game immediately), they won a $500 shopping spree at The Sharper Image in Beverly Hills (this was long before The Sharper Image became a national chain of stores).

Lopez version

The opening game remained the same, but with extra twists. One was that contestants now shot the picture using their laser podium before taking a guess; another was that there was now a special bonus picture at one point in the game in which five bonus points were added to the initial value, making it worth 15 points.

The maze was extended and featured new obstacles. Its four sections were the Mirror Maze, the Ice Cave, the Chamber of Knowledge, and Lightning Mountain (which consisted of the same set as the first season's Prize Mountain).

The Mirror Maze remained unchanged; however, the run to find the power stick was removed from this part of the game, and the Mirror Man's question was posed by the Mirror Man himself and his face was larger than last season's. If a contestant gave a wrong answer or could not think of an answer, another question was read. A runner failing to answer that question correctly had to wait at least three seconds before proceeding.

Once the runner arrived at the entrance to the Ice Cave, the Lady of The Maze showed the runner a distorted picture on a monitor (as in the first round). A runner identifying it within five seconds could take the shorter path through the cave, but otherwise had to take the longer path. In either case, the runner was required to lower the visor before entering the Ice Cave. While navigating the cave, the runner had to find a Power Stick; in addition, the contestant also had to avoid kicking two groups of sensors and Mirror Man placards that were placed on the cave floor. If the runner touched one of these objects, several large icicles descended from the cave ceiling, blocking the runner's path. Upon finding the Power Stick and getting through the Ice Cave, the player could lift the visor and enter the Chamber of Knowledge.

There were now only four guardians in this portion of the maze, and only one correct answer was required to exit. If the answer was incorrect, the runner had to answer another true or false question, and if the player missed that one, a five second penalty was assessed before the gates unlocked.

The runner now faced a single television monitor at the base of Lightning Mountain with faces of the Mirror Man flying on it. The runner had to blast two of these images with his laser before being allowed to run up the mountain and stop the clock. As in the Roth era, the first team set the time, the second team had to beat it, and the second team was not allowed to finish their maze run if their time exceeded the first team's time. The bonus round was removed. The team that won the game automatically won the $500 shopping spree for the runner and the $200 shopping spree for the navigator. The runner-up team members each received $75 shopping sprees.

Chamber of Knowledge Guardians (Season 2)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Education (gave school-related questions; same face and voice as Season 1's Guardian of the Gate of the Unexpected)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Imagination (asked questions about pop culture and other miscellaneous facts)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of the Natural World (gave questions about nature)
  • The Guardian of the Gate of Science and Discovery (gave questions about science and technology)

Similarities between both seasons

With both the JD Roth and Mario Lopez seasons, the winning team received a trophy made from one of the power sticks.

At the end of each episode, the winning runner would win the right to go on a "special journey." This consisted of putting their visor down (and in the Lopez era, their head down as well), and basically standing in place while a CGI sequence played. The runner would first appear to split into many pieces, which then grouped into a randomly spinning ball that afterwards floated away either into the video wall (Roth era) or led by the Lady of the Maze through an interdimensional tunnel (Lopez era). In the Roth version, the winning runner's name and time in the maze was displayed on the video wall after he/she floated into it. Although it appeared that every journey was unique through creative footage cutting, in reality each season had only one version of the video of this event, repeated in every episode.

Mark Maxwell-Smith provided the voices of all the Chamber of Knowledge guardians in both seasons, as well as the Mirror Man in the Lopez era.

References

  1. ^ a b Schwartz, David; Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock (1999). "Masters of the Maze". The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3rd edition ed.). Facts on File. pp. 137. ISBN 0-8160-3847-3. 
  2. ^ Mendoza, N. F. (1994-08-28). "Shows for Youngsters and Their Parents Too: Calling All Good Drivers and Bomb Defusers for Family Game Shows". Los Angeles Times: pp. 7. 

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