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Raven, was a BAFTA-winning BBC Scotland children's adventure game show shown on CBBC in the UK and on BBC Kids in Canada, and completed production after ten series and three spin offs. It was hosted by James Mackenzie in the title role, who conducted a group of children, known as warriors, over five days through a series of tasks and feats. At various stages in the adventure, the group lost the least successful warrior, until only two remained to go through to the final week to compete for the title of Ultimate Warrior. Failure in any challenge cost contestants a life, symbolised by one of Raven's feathers. Success was rewarded with gold rings; gain nine rings and they could be exchanged to win back a life.
Sounds simple enough.
Raven was notable for challenges which actually tested its 10 to 14 year old contestants. (Granted it was no Knightmare but it's the closest anyone's ever come.) The challenges faced include tests of intelligence, (puzzles and riddles), skill and agility (archery and other forms of target practice), strength (one-to-one combat -often on balance beams or platforms balanced on a lake- and races) and the occasional tests which involved jumping from a great height or into freezing cold water (possibly just so the Camera Crews could have a laugh). The challengers competed until the final stage where they faced off against Nevar on what was actually an obstacle course, but you know the drill with these things, and claim the prize of "Ultimate Warrior" and their own Staff of Power (plus, you know, a holiday someplace nice.)
The series resulted in several spin offs which tended to focus on contestants operating in teams. Unlike in the previous series, teammates lost during these challenges could be "bought back" only once each, buy trading the MacGuffin's their team had gathered. The spinoffs also tended to incorporate more Filler backstory in with the gameplay, and introduced other characters for exposition, and for Raven to interact with. Feelings about this increase in plot alongside of the challenges has had a mixed response with some people enjoying the additional plot, and others thinking it distracted from the real stars -the contestants.
After 7 years off air, the series was revived in 2017, with a new Raven played by Aisha Toussaint, but Mackenzie's character will also appear. The new series will debut on 4 December 2017.
Spin Off series.
Raven - The Island: The first spin off had the title character taking a backseat role, sending warriors off to "The Island of Alaunus" in order to prevent Nevar from stealing wood from the sacred trees in order to make more Staffs of Power. Which would apparently be a Very Bad Thing. While on the island, the four teams of contestants were serrupticiously guarded by Raven's friend, Princess Erina. The series also introduced Cyrus the Astronomer as mentor to the mentor.
Raven - The Secret Temple: Filmed on location in India, (a couple of contestants even had to pull out when suffering from the effects of the heat) the Warriors were sent to the far east to seek the sacred waters of the Secret Temple, in order to save Raven's homeland from an Icy Spell. This series introduced Satyarani (whose tough, no nonsense attitude made even Raven a trifle uneasy).
Raven - The Dragon's Eye: The most recent spin off returned it's contestants to Scotland where it's revealed that the Not Quite Dead Nevar has plans to locate the Dragon's Eye, a stone of great power, Raven sets our with his warriors to destroy the stone before Nevar can claim it. This series introduced Ervan, a former ally of Nevar's who may or may not be in this for his own personal gains.
Due in part to the addition of plot, this series utilises more tropes than you can shake a stick at.
- Animal Stereotype - Averted. Ravens are usually considered symbols of darkness and bad things. The Raven in this case is the good guy. He is a Warlord though, apparently.
- well not really averted: in Celtic and Irish myths, gods of war often appeared in the form of a raven or crow, so make it more like The Greatest Warlord then.
- Anyone Can Die - Well, obviously, it's a fantasy based gameshow, so dying (i.e. failing a challenge) is common and fairly standard, if annoying. Raven brings them back again using Conspicuous CG.
- Then there are the spinoff series, where people who "die" are eliminated and can only be brought back once, via a sacrifice. This holds true even if you end up being the only person left in your team, as happened to at least one group in The Secret Temple.
- Applied Phlebotinum - The Rings in series one (served to earn back the warriors lost lives), and the Time Pieces in The Island (which were needed to complete the game and earn time for the contestatnts in the final challenge).
- Badass - Raven. Seriously. Corny, but badass.
- Berserk Button - Do not threaten Raven's warriors, especially not using unfair means.
- Big Bad - Nevar.
- Big Damn Heroes - Raven pulls this one, right at the end of Secret Temple.
- Considering how much he and Satyarani bicker, they make a pretty good team.
- Black Cloak - Nevar and the Demons. Raven too, actually, sans hood, and with more feathers.
- Brown Note - The Dragon's Eye stone, which corrupts anyone who looks upon it, except for the pure of heart.
- Catch Phrase - Raven's "let the challenge begin", which is used as a starting bell.
- Children Are Special - Which is probably why they're chosen as warriors.
- Collapsing Lair - The Secret Temple in the final episode.
- Also, inside of Blasted Mountain in the original series.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience - After the first series, each of the contestants has an emblem assignd to them, which they earn in the initial challenge, this emblem comes with a colour (that becomes their uniform) and a symbol - Sun, Moon, Mountain, Cloud, Wave, or Wood.
- Conspicuous CG - Is used with discretion in some places, but where it is used... let's just say you can really tell. Every time anyone comes Back From the Dead, then again when they lose a life because of it, not to mention often during the challenges.
- Deadpan Snarker -Raven is both this and Stern Teacher. He often switches between high praise, sympathy, and dry sarcasm several times over the course of one episode.
- Death Course & Death in All Directions - Oh, yegods, The Way of the Warrior...
- And some of the challenges inside The Secret Temple final level, too, for that matter.
- Descending Ceiling- Well, walls. A level in The Secret Temple, complete with Spikes of Doom.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? -Satyarani, helping Raven plot a sneak attack in The Secret Temple.
- Dragon with an Agenda - Former ally of Nevar, Ervan actually plans to ensure a battle between Raven and Nevar kills both of them so he can take over.
- Elimination Station - All the kids get this one when they're eliminated. In the spin off series that's the only sign we get from them for that moment on and the next they show up is as a bunch of feral children.
- Enigmatic Minion - Ervan.
- Everything's Better with Princesses - Erina, in The Island was a Princess secretly guiding the Warriors on their quest. Granted, most people think this is the worst of all the series
- In The Secret Temple, Satyarani was also a princess and helped to guide the warriors.
- Everything's Better with Spinning - Satyarani is capable of turning into a whirling dervish.
- Evil Laugh - Nevar.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness - The Wizard's Tower challenge, usually contains some kind of skill or puzzle game. (In the first season, there was the Far-Less-Ominious troll. Whom Raven liked to jibe at now and then.)
- The Castle Of Shadows in The Dragon's Eye kinda counts.
- Exposition Fairy - Haryad, the small, blue, glowy... thing in The Island.
- Filler The spinoffs liked to pad out the actual show (namely, watching these kids toughing it out in challenges with some rather difficult odds) with a backstory, explaining why they were doing all of this. Reactions to the additional plot were mixed, but it generally went down a lot better in The Dragon's Eye.
- Find the Cure - The purpose being the Secret Temple spinoff was reportedly to recover the magic waters that would save Raven's homeland of Alaunus from a spell which has frozen it into an eternal winter.
- Forbidden Zone - The obviously named Forbidden Kingdom.
- Fridge Horror - The moment you realise that the Feral Children in the Forbidden Kingdom are being played by previously eliminated contestants.
- Golden Snitch - A malignant example with Way of the Warrior. The contestants take it on in reverse order of rank (last place has to play first; it's based on number of lives, then number of gold rings), the first player to fail is eliminated, regardless of lives remaining. That said, the challenge has only been beaten twice in 10 seasons.
- Karmic Transformation - Apparently it was Nevar's greed and hunger for power which resulted in him being so horrifically scarred that he hides his face behind a mask.
- Lady of War - We don't see her fight much, but Satyarani in The Secret Temple hops between this and the Mentor. She had a habit of standing up to the demons, defying them (and Nevar himself) to their faces. One time she ended up serving as a distraction for Nevar, so Raven could get to him which he wasn't looking - it's the only time you saw her retreat.
- Law of Seven/Nine - Get enough gold rings and you get a life back.
- The Lost Woods - The setting for the first game. In reality it's a pretty safe, nice location in Scotland.
- Mr. Exposition - Raven (and in the spinoffs, Erina and Satyarani). Being the hosts, that's basically what they're all about.
- MacGuffin - The Dragon's Eye itself. Actually, most of the things the contestants have to collect.
- Magic Wand - The Staffs of Power. Pretty much all the mentors (and a couple of bad guys) have them. They mostly shoot out Pure Energy. The contestants earn one for winning the series (but they're probably more interested in the holiday).
- Mentor - Raven, to the contestants. Sort of. Given that it's a game show, in reality he's more Mr. Exposition. Satyarani in the sequel.
- Mysterious Protector - Erina and Haryad, in The Island. Sorta Raven.
- Nintendo Hard - Several of the challenges. Way of the Warrior, Troll Trap, Snakes and Ladders to name but a few.
- No Communities Were Harmed - Alaunus probably doesn't exist, and god only knows where the enchanted forest where all these demons and shapeshifters live is, but it's probably somewhere in Scotland. Like several different places in Scotland, photoshopped together.
- No One Could Survive That - Both Nevar and Raven after the Secret Temple collapses on them. and of course they both do. Raven shows up a few seconds into Satyarani explaining this to the Winning Contestant (he morphed bird and flew out). Nevar just does the Eye Awaken thing from beneath the rubble.
- Nonstandard Game Over - Subverted with Way of the Warrior. It's far more common for a player to get eliminated that way than by running out of lives.
- Not Quite Dead - Nevar at the end of The Secret Temple.
- The Obi-Wan - Cyrus, to Raven. When somebody can make Raven look impatient and reckless, then you know they've got to have this going on.
- Only Known by Their Nickname - Sort of. All the contestants are given faux Celtic names, based on the first few or last few letters of their names when they start the show, resulting in some... rather weird and not necessarily Celtic sounding combinations.
- Only Smart People May Pass - The Riddle bridge challenge in the original series, required a correctly answered question to cross (also the troll bridge, which served the same basic purpose.)
- Only the Worthy May Pass - Each warrior is "challenged" to discover who is the most powerful. It's also implied in The Dragon's Eye that the reason only the final, victorious warrior could take the Dragon's Eye without being corrupted was because she was pure of heart.
- The Only Way They Will Learn - Turns out, you can't teach someone how to jump from a great height. They just have to pluck up the nerve and do it. Okay then.
- Pet the Dog - Subverted. Moments after handing the warriors a bundle of fresh firewood, Ervan is turning to the camera and talking about how he'd much prefer to kill them in their sleep.
- The Plan: - Ervan (or a Gambit Roulette depending on hos crazy you think the plan was.)
- Ravens and Crows.
- Reliable Traitor - It takes a while to work out who's side Ervan is supposed to be on answer - his own.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something - Princess Erina.
- Sadistic Choice - In the spin off series', contestants could buy back other team member using their hard won Token Macguffins. But the cost was usually high enough to set them way back in the contest just for bringing back one person.
- Save the Villain - Raven tries it, in The Secret Temple, offering to let Nevar take some of the sacred water that will cure him if he just stops trying to destroy everything else. Nevar wordlessly tells him to shove it.
- Sdrawkcab Name - Nevar (and to an extent, Ervan).
- Selective Obliviousness - Actually less selective and more necessary on the contestants part. I.e. "Look, kids, we're trying to insert a plot in between the really difficult stuff you're doing, so just act like you don't see the cameras."
- Spin-Off - Several.
- Start of Darkness - Nevar had one. Raven keeps it obscure but it's said that he was once a simple thief, who got over ambitious.
- Stern Teacher - Look if you don't hurry up and jump off that then Raven is going to be Very Disappointed, (but you can bet that he'll be pleased if you manage it).
- Satyarani. Moreso than Raven, actually, who occasionally questions her tendency to send his warriors into death traps.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself - Subverted. Satyarani tells Raven that the final warrior (Sonro?) in The Secret Temple will have to face that which ?the warrior fears most? ? and do so alone. Raven realises that she means Nevar, who Sonro in short, does not have a hope in hell against, resulting in Raven (who?s been somewhat edgy about how much the warriors have to do throughout the whole last eight episodes), finally saying ?screw it.? and going in to help the last remaining warrior.
- Too Dumb to Live - In the Warriors' defence, they're roughly eleven years old and some of these challenges are damned hard but they should really know whether a polar bear is bigger than a lion.
- Watching the riddle challenges can be infuriating if you aren't in the target demographic... Or for that matter if you are.
- Tree of Life - The Sacred Oak from which power staffs are crafted, in The Island.
- Tyke Bomb - why else would they never pick warriors-to-be over 14 years old?
- Uberwald - The Forbidden Kingdom in the Dragon's Eye.
- Underdogs Never Lose - Subverted because obviously, This Is Reality. But there was Kinsa from season four, who to this troper's knowledge never stopped smiling even when she was narrowly avoiding being dumped in freezing cold water. she wins the tournament that year overall, still smiling, much to the happiness of those who wanted to root for the little guy.
- Violent Glaswegian: Kind of subverted- in that James Mackenzie isn't from Glasgow and Raven's not all that violent.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting - Raven. Take a wild guess.
- Weapon of Choice - During one of the one-on-one combat games, the contestants get to choose from a range of different (fake, obviously) weapons - what this says about each warrior's personality is anyone's guess. They probably just went for whichever looked biggest.
- Wax On, Wax Off - What the hell else is the point of the Loch Leap?
- "Come, my young friends. The wind will dry your wet clothes!"
- So the point is to give a bunch of children hypothermia?
- "Come, my young friends. The wind will dry your wet clothes!"
- We Need a Distraction - Satyarani? If you please?
- We Want Our Jerk Back - Never actually stated by the contestants (they're a bit busy), but Satyarani turns out to be a more severe task master than Raven (which is no mean feat; bear in mind that this show asks kids to jump into raging rivers and climb sheer cliff faces). Even Raven thinks she's being too harsh, but goes along with it for the sake of the quest. Her expecting the last surviving contestant to go up against Nevar is the tipping point which leads to his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Wild Child - The feral children in the Forbidden Kingdom, reportedly former warriors who had looked upon the Dragon's Eye without being pure of heart, and were let permanently corrupted and trapped in the Forbidden Kingdom. (That they were apparantly played by the children who had gone out of the contest earlier makes it just a little creepy.)
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief - Okay, so it looks nothing like a dragon's nest and they probably wouldn't use a ladder, but trust us here and just go with it, okay? Do you want the rings or not?
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity - Everyone who looks at the Dragon's Eye without being pure of hear is instantly corrupted by it's power. Even Raven faltered for a few moments while holding it. The only one who isn't corrupted is the "Pure of Heart" surviving warriors.
- You Can't Go Home Again - Raven is exiled from his home Island of Alaunaus for whatever reasons, resulting in him having to send the "warriors" off there to face Nevar alone. He's notably distressed about this and lets it show throughout his brief appearances in the series. (It explains why he wasn't there to help the contestants - though you've got to wonder why this guy is getting a bunch of kids to do the fighting for him everywhere else, in The Island, that's the explanation you've got.)
- Your Other Left - Oh the joy of those blindfolded don't-touch-the-threads challenges...