It’s another Tuesday, so you know what that means! I have gathered a handful of some of the most noteworthy stories of the week all in one easily digestible nugget of newsiness. Check back later in the week for my coverage of the recent comic / science fiction convention that I attended last week, and perhaps a podcast episode about it. So without further ado, here’s the news!
Red Dwarf Star Goes Back to the Future With Bosch in Vegas
“Every year thousands of exhibitors, visitors, journalists and industry experts de-camp to the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas to see, experience and discuss the hottest new technologies set to make a big impact around the globe.
Luckily for us, Robert Llewelyn, star of cult classic TV show Red Dwarf, ignores the saying ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ by ‘spilling the beans’ in a series of short films on the next generation of Bosch consumer technology products and innovations on show at CES.”
Doctor Who series 9: “scary” Mark Gatiss episode confirmed
“We’re not bringing him back exactly the same as we left him, at all. I think that was already evident at Christmas,” he explained. “He’s left some of the burden of being the superhero of the universe behind.”
10 years of new Doctor Who: what 2005 reviews made of Rose
“It was either a legend majestically born or an annoying Ritalin romp pitched at Doctor Who’s youngest ever audience; an inspired return to form, or anathema to Who fans of old with nothing in common with the previous incarnation.”
30 YEARS LATE: A BUS FOR JOHN NATHAN-TURNER!
“Authorities in Brighton are asking the public to choose local figures worthy of recognition by having their name on one of a new fleet of 24 Coaster buses. Brighton and Hove Buses have selected 15 names from over 100 nominations but for the remaining nine slots a public voting process will determine the names to be chosen.”
Must-read fan fiction from ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Farscape’
“What do you think? Fan fiction, science-fiction and television? Do they share a special bond? In this month’s HEA post, I’m going with a big yes and a huge side of outer space, the final frontier …”
RADIO TIMES: TOP TEN EPISODES IN TEN YEARS
“The poll by RadioTimes.com, which received 280,859 votes, asked fans for their favourite episode of Doctor Who since it was relaunched by Russell T Davies on 26 March 2005, 16 years since the last full series. Blink topped the poll beating 2010’s Vincent and The Doctor to second place and The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (2008) in third position.”
‘Doctor Who’s Day Roundup: Doctor When?
“Before we get started looking at the past week in Doctor Who, let’s go on a journey to the distant past. No, not prehistoric times, I’m talking about a time before there was an actual Doctor Who to watch. What did people do to entertain themselves without tales of Time Lords and TARDISes? And, actually, what would Doctor Who have been like if it was made in the earliest eras of filmed entertainment?”
Howdy Folks! It’s time once again for our weekly news round-up! I’ve been fairly absent for a little while, mostly due to some rough germs passed around at Christmas and New Years that kept me in a fairly pitiful state while I was not working. Rather than crank out a bunch of fever-induced terrible content, I rested the site for a bit. I have been collecting a few decent news stories for the past few weeks, so don’t be surprised if this particular edition is a few weeks behind. I originally sis this on Saturday, but feel that Tuesday better fits this premise due to news rarely “breaking” on weekends and that catchy rhyme up there. so without further ado, here’s your top headlines for the week!
If you have a great news tip that you want to share, feel free to contact me through e-mail or on a comments page, I’ll drop credit when I can!
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie
I’ve seen people recreate dishes from many science fiction properties, but it’s usually reserved for things like Star Wars and Star Trek. I’m not sure if it’s good news or bad news, but it seems somebody has decided to bring one of Red Dwarf’s many gastronomic abominations into the real world.
“That’s how Arnold Rimmer described Dave Lister‘s unholy creation in episode Thanks for the Memory. Lister’s recipe was apparently inspired by a book on biological warfare, but in the absence of the original reference material or indeed a hard-and-fast set of instructions, the show’s fans have since speculated on just how the “state of the art sarnie” might be constructed.”
Doctor Who Season 9: News, Casting, and Rumors
Den of Geek has done a good job of compiling some recent filming news for the ninth season of Doctor Who. If anything, I’m most happy about this little tidbit:
“We’re not going to do splits [in Season 8],” he said this time last year, “and the same format will repeat exactly [for Season 9] the following year  like that. So it will be the traditional form.”
‘Doctor Who’ fans gather for Los Angeles convention
In the past, news reporting about Doctor Who was about as relevant as the classified ads at the back of the newspaper, but today it’s front page news. The Los Angeles Daily News has tossed together a nice summary of the Gallifrey One convention that happened a few weeks ago.
“In America, however, “Doctor Who” was only known as an obscure BBC science fiction show rebroadcast on PBS — until now. Today, a resurgent “Doctor Who” is the most commercially successful show in BBC history and has appeared on the front cover of magazines and, later this year, will be immortalized in Lego form. It’s also popular enough to sell out Gallifrey One, a fan convention expected to attract 3,700 hard-core “Doctor Who” enthusiasts — also known as “Whovians” — to the Marriott Los Angeles Airport from Feb. 13-15, 2015. Organizers boasts it’s the largest convention of its kind in the country.”
Titan targets Doctor Who fans launching comic featuring the 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors
It seems Titan comics is going to be releasing some sort of anthology format Doctor Who comic in the near future featuring tales of more than just one Doctor. If I can get my hands on these, I’ll be sure to do some reviews for you guys for our new weekly comic review!
“Every issue features work from writers and artists including Nick Abadzis (Laika), Elena Casagrande (Angel, Star Trek), Al Ewing (Loki: Agent of Asgard), Rob Williams (Trifecta), Robbie Morrison (The Authority, 2000AD) and Dave Taylor (Batman: Death by Design).”
Doctor Who and Eastenders: a history of soap and space
One of the main reasons I don’t like the very forgettable 30th Anniversary for Doctor Who – Dimensions in Time. Is that it shoe-horned the Cast of Eastenders into the plot helping it make no sense at all. Despite that, this is a decent write-up showing the links between the two BBC properties.
“From the Queen Vic to the TARDIS. As Eastenders prepares to mark its 30th anniversary, we look back at its encounters with Doctor Who…”
Two Doctor Who Showrunners Just Had The Best/Dumbest Argument Ever
“As you may recall, the Doctor has been married to River Song, Queen Elizabeth I, and Marilyn Monroe… that we know of. This delightful nonsense began when someone wrote into the official Doctor Who magazine and asked Moffat if that meant the Doctor was a bigamist. Moffat replied that at least the Doctor’s marriage to Elizabeth could have been annulled, since it was never consummated.”
Red Dwarf’s Norman Lovett Makes Indie Dark Comedy Film
“Twisted Showcase was delighted to work with the legendary comedian, whose affinity and passion for the issues dealt with in Toilet Soup, an uncompromising attack on internet trolls and general ignorance, gives the episode a powerful authenticity that is hard to ignore.”
One Leg Too Few
“When it comes to euphoniously-named book series, you can’t do much better than the Tripods Trilogy, and this isn’t even the most impressive thing about it. This series doesn’t seem to be nearly as well-known these days as it deserves to be – the TV adaptation is thirty years old now, and the film version is apparently stuck in Development Hell – but having recently revisited it I find it still has much to commend it.”
Find out why a British crime author made a sci-fi FPS at Develop Live
“The Scottish novelist has spent the majority of his writing career focused on crime novels, but he switched genres to write Bedlam. While its story tells of human trapped in a world of video games, the book’s connection to gaming runs far deeper: it is part of perhaps the first true game-and-novel tie-in, where the book was specifically written to be followed by a video game.”
The Greatest Sci-Fi Characters of All Time
“Vote now for your favourite heroes and heroines, villains, machines, robots and aliens of the genre. Experts, writers, directors and famous fans will be nominating their contenders. Fandoms will mobilise, old grudges will re-awaken and passions will be played out in the final battle.”
St Helens muscular dystrophy sufferer granted sci-fi movie wish
“A seven-year-old boy who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy has filmed his own sci-fi movie after a charity granted him his wish. Clark Doyle, from St Helens, was given the chance to write and record a feature film by the Make A Wish Foundation because of his love of movies.”
AMC Acquires Sci-Fi Remake ‘Humans’ After Xbox Drops Out
“The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that AMC has acquired the rights for Humans, a sci-fi drama co-produced with the U.K.’s Channel 4. The series was originally meant to be a partnership with the fledgling Xbox Entertainment Studios, but Microsoft then pulled the plug on the venture.”
‘Think of the children!’ Parents express outrage as Doctor Who travels through time to new latest EVER slot to avoid Strictly clashing with The X Factor
“Parents have been expressing their outrage after learning that the new series of the show is to be pushed back to it’s latest ever time slot of 8.30pm, one hour after the 7.30pm slot that the previous episodes have been airing at.
Doctor Who and the Scottish referendum: The Doctor’s adventures in time and Scotland
“With Scotland voting for and against Independence in the referendum today, let’s take a look at the times when Doctor Who and the North of the Border featured together.
Of course, let’s not forget the prominent Scots: Peter Capaldi, David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy, who have all played the Time Lord; John Barrowman, Karen Gillan and Neve McIntosh, who played the Doctor’s friends; and Steven Moffat, the current showrunner.”
Ever wanted to compare a Star Destroyer‘s size to that of the Independence Day UFOs? How about The Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and The Planet Spaceball? Well, look no further than this crazy chart! It’s a work in progress, but the sheer amount of stuff on here already is crazy. a High Res version can be found HERE.
Fleet Street goes sci-fi: Daily Express’s starring role in The Day The Earth Caught Fire
“An apocalyptic science fiction film showing the world overheating and society thrown into turmoil is about to be released. But this is no modern commentary on global warming and war – the film was originally shown in 1961. The Day The Earth Caught Fire, a pioneering production and scathing indictment on Cold War posturing, has been rescued from the archives and digitally restored for public release….”
Best sci-fi books round-up: Where imaginations run wild
According to The Independent “Science fiction and fantasy is a broad church, and many who preach its tenets might not be wholly aware that they are doing so.”
‘Tractor Beams’ Are No Longer Science Fiction
“Tractor beams – invisible tethers which pull space ships into cargo bays through no definable mechanism or physical law – are the latter. Or they were. Researchers at the Australian National University say they have developed what amounts to a tractor beam which is capable of pulling objects using 3D wave currents. “
Peter Capaldi Discusses Matt Smith’s Final Day on Set
Peter Capaldi describes his first visit to the TARDIS set and what it was like to take over the role from Matt Smith.
Red Dwarf XI Confirmed at Convention
“A big update came during the Sci-Fi Scarborough convention on Saturday a Red Dwarf panel comprised of Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn confirmed the news. John-Jules said that shooting is scheduled to get under-way in October 2014 with a view to being aired on Dave in Autumn 2015.”
The reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) is quickly becoming a format of choice for the more tech savvy public figures to talk directly to fans. Yesterday Robert Llewellyn, of Red Dwarf fame, sat down in front of his computer and answered some questions relating to just about everything he is involved with.
My first encounter with Robert Llewellyn’s work was not actually Red Dwarf at all, but his popular competition show Scrapheap Challenge. When I was in high school, it aired in America a few years later as Junkyard Wars. This was way back in the days when TLC actually played stuff vaguely educational, and not human freak show affairs. Seeing questions about the show made my day!
A lot of people tried to sneak questions in about Red Dwarf XI, knowing Llewellyn’s tendency to be loose with information on the show. This eventually did get (sort of) answered.
People wanted to know about some failed Red Dwarf side projects like the 2001 movie that never really came to be, and the US TV series.
And then there were controversial questions you knew were never going to get answered!
You can read everything here
Whether it be Star Trek or Red Dwarf, I always cringe a little bit when I see that a “theme episode”is coming up. At least Doctor Who has a central time traveling theme to make this less silly, but some shows really stretch to allow for such things. Western episodes are especially goofy in UK-based sci-fi, as they take all of the tired cliches that were mainstays decades ago and exaggerate them to a spectacular degree.
I recall seeing a widely publicized steam-punk house, and a Star Trek apartment, but it looks like everyone’s favorite smeg-heads are getting in on the game:
“Have you got a spare £3,250,000, and happen to be on the lookout for an 11-bedroom (zoiks) home in the midst of London? We figure we’ve lost pretty much every single one of you by now, but on the off-chance we haven’t, then the home in question has one feature that made our eyebrows go north – the small matter of a Red Dwarf cockpit!”
From Den of Geek
Remember how the Klingons looked like dudes with bushy eyebrows and brown makeup in the original Star Trek series? Now, think about how they turned up in the films and later TV shows completely altered to have forehead ridges and other changes without any explanation. Detail oriented fans must have had a collective aneurysm that day, as one was lead to believe that fans were supposed to think “just pretend they always looked like this”. Fans made all sorts of theories on these discrepancies, books were written, and the producers had to FINALLY take care of the canonical issues in an episode of Star Trek Enterprise. Red Dwarf is different though; it isn’t one of those shows that always attempts to “clean up” instances of bad continuity between episodes, in fact it pretty much revels in it. In fact, there have been some real champion-level shenanigans placed into episodes. Take the Series VII episode “Ouroboros”, where the writers employ a brain killing paradox wherein Lister is revealed to be his own biological father. The episode we are looking at today can be seen as a sequel of sorts to that episode, as we see Lister struggle with the relationship between himself and his father. Confused yet? Good!
The episode opens with Lister filling out a Father’s day card for himself causing Rimmer great annoyance. It seems that every year he gets totally hammered on cheap booze and writes himself the card, this way he forgets what he wrote. Rimmer, in one of his few profound moments, asks why Lister should even like his father, considering he left him abandoned in a pub with only a rattle and a cardboard box. Lister is visibly shaken by this and feels that his son hasn’t lived up to his expectations. After talking with the ship’s medi-bot, a holographic projection of a doctor, he is given the advice to employ “tough love” on his son.
There are two side plots in the episode, one that is pretty major and one that really isn’t. Getting the small one out of the way first, we have the crew pondering whether the game “Chinese whispers” (called “telephone” here in the U.S.) is racist because it assumes Chinese people can’t spread rumors well. This plot was funny, but completely non-essential to the main storyline. The main secondary plot involved Rimmer and Kryten installing a new computer system to replace Holly. Pree, the new system, is so powerful that it can predict what the crew is going to do. The programming is so good that when asked to fix a number of problems, Pree anticipates that Rimmer would make errors in ordering repairs, and so wreaks havoc on the corridors as he would have unwittingly ordered her to. This escalates as Lister gets drunk and resigns thus rendering their mission “go back to Earth” obsolete – Pree decides to destroy the ship instead.
The part where Lister resigns was awesome, as it was beautifully written despite the fact that it was literally Craig Charles talking to himself. Taking the “tough love” approach to heart, daddy Lister leaves a video for himself. When he watches it he realizes that he is disgusted with his own behavior – he is lazy and has no motivation. Lister orders himself to take responsibility and enroll in classes on the ship to move up in rank, and to get a tooth pulled that he was been putting off. Lister blows “his dad” off only to find a second message that escalates the situation, then a third, and a fourth. It seems that drunk Lister knew he would not do what he asked and took charge by punishing him via throwing his prized guitar outside and other punishments. Lister replies with “ You don’t understand me, and I hate you”, pretty hilarious if you ask me.
The jokes were pretty awesome in this episode. While I grew tired of the running “Chinese Whispers” gag, the payoff was pretty good in the end. My favorite gag was easily Rimmer asking Lister “what’s that whining sound?”(referring to a noise the ship was making), with Lister replying “it’s you, you’re talking!” I was worried that the joke style would be more like seasons VII and VIII, where they relied too much on fart humor and randomness, but this is classic Red Dwarf at its best. I think the small budget and the need for more “talky” episodes because of that lent well to the style of this episode being more “old school”.
My only quibble was possibly the characterization of Pree, seeing as there was a similar episode way back in series two involving a back-up computer called “Queeg”. While he wasn’t as harsh as Pree, and was actually just a prank by Holly to make the crew appreciate him, the similarity is there. I guess I should mention that Pree was played by Rebecca Blackstone, a lesser known American actress who seems to be doing some voice work lately. Not only is she “easy on the eyes”, but she does a good job of being cold and robotic in the role. The only other guest actor was “Medi-bot” as portrayed by Kerry Shale. Known for voice work and some minor roles in film and television, he is an actor that I’ve seen before but haven’t seen enough of.
So there we have it, another solid episode from the cast and crew. One would have thought that would be a little “ring rust” on everyone getting back into the swing of things, but nothing like that seemed evident here. Seeing all these computerized talking heads around the ship like Medibot and Pree made me realize how much I miss the character of Holly, and wish Norman Lovett would bury the hatchet with Doug Naylor and come back. Hell, I’d enjoy a return by Hattie Hayridge even though she only briefly did the role. So there we have it, one of the more complex Red Dwarf episodes – the kind I love!
I bought this Blu-Ray on Amazon, maybe you should as well!
And if you do, use these links, as you are helping this site!
- Red Dwarf X: Trojan (2013) (anamericanviewofbritishsciencefiction.com)
- Watch Red Dwarf 1988 movie online. Full length. Download Red Dwarf 1988 movie. (non1compulsorywatch.wordpress.com)
- News Roundup (24/03/13) (gazpacho-soup.com)
- Review of “Red Dwarf” (ivanidris.net)
- News Roundup (05/05/13) (gazpacho-soup.com)
- Wales Comic Con (dorgris.wordpress.com)
- News Roundup (28/04/13) (gazpacho-soup.com)
- Colony – Rob Grant (dwjjones.wordpress.com)
Sometimes I look through my search terms on this blog’s dashboard for clues as to what I should be writing about. While I see utterly terrifying things like “Sophie Aldred latex bodysuit” or “Alexandra Roach Nude” in there occasionally, one that I see quite a lot for some reason is “Do Americans like Red Dwarf?” Well sir or madam, I am very much an American and I LOVE Red Dwarf. The problem with Red Dwarf is that it never really got the big marketing blitz that other UK shows like Downton Abbey or Doctor Who have received. It has fans, but they are fans of a niche show, that many watch on public broadcasting channels or the odd DVD. This is very similar to how Doctor Who used to be over here.
I recall dressing up as the Tom Baker Doctor (it’s in my about page) one Halloween and getting puzzled stares as to who I was supposed to be, Harry Potter was the likely candidate apparently. This was after the 2005 series of Doctor Who launched but “normal people” hadn’t heard of it before, nor did they care as it sounded weird to them. There was even this guy dressed up as Xander from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (a.k.a normal clothes as a costume) giving me crap because my chosen fandom wasn’t as popular as his. I’d love to see his un-costumed face now! Red Dwarf needs a moment like the one fans got when BBC America started airing Doctor Who and actually pushing it, it needs those non-fans to realize it even exists. Until then it’s going to be sort of niche, but it can be the fan’s little secret. Well, that was vaguely on-topic, but you are probably here assuming this is a review of Trojan and not a long-winded anecdote about annoying people making me mad; so here is my review.
While I really enjoyed 2009’s Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, It wasn’t as strong comedy-wise as older seasons, a big problem for what is primarily a comedy show. It looked amazing, had a better story, and was far more dramatic than any previous Red Dwarf season, but something was missing. It could have been the lack of a live audience, the contemporary setting on Earth, or any multitude of reasons; all I knew was that if it came back, I didn’t want another series like it. And here we are sitting in 2013, and I have Red Dwarf X on Blu-Ray sitting on my desk! I know I’m late to the party, as this came out ages ago, but I decided to wait until I could get ahold of the home video release to do reviews, that way I could talk about special features and the like. Some were worried that watching four middle-aged men crack jokes on each other would somehow not make a great show, but nearly twenty seasons of Top Gear can attest to the power of that very set up. Well, minus one guy, unless we count the Stig, he’s sort of like Kryten I guess!
The very first episode back starts with a bang, as we see a bit of Arnold Rimmer’s past, something that we only hear about in previous seasons. We know a lot about Lister’s past failings, dreams, and ambitions, but Rimmer has never really been fleshed out as much. The crew has apparently come closer to human civilization than ever before, as they somehow pick up a transmission from a “home shopping” type channel called The All Droid Mail Order shopping Network. Lister is apparently one of those people that gets hooked on such things, and gets in a seemingly never-ending phone queue for a device called a “stir Master”. The joke here is that Lister is literally on hold for nearly the rest of the entire episode, but his desire to save time stirring tea is immense.
While this is going on, the crew comes across a derelict, and somewhat better equipped, ship called the SS Trojan. Rimmer fiddles around with the ships control rod (which looks like a baby lightsaber) and inadvertently summons a ship carrying a holographic representation of Rimmer’s brother, Howard Rimmer. Arnold does what any brother would do when faced with the impending death of a sibling: he puts off helping so that he can pass his astro-navigation test and become an officer. He wants to do this to show off to Howard, and make him jealous. Once he fails once again, he goes the other direction dressing the Dwarfers like rejects from a Star Trek movie, and pretending to be the crew of the Trojan.
I really enjoyed this section of the episode, because Rimmer trumps his crew up so much to a ridiculous degree despite having ZERO ability to actually use the ship, much less give a simple tour of it. Rimmer insists in talking in a goofy “captain voice” as he smugly belittles his brother and hits on Howard’s crewmate, an android named Sim Crawford. Arnold introduces his “crew” by giving everyone stupid backstories and false names: Kryten becomes “under-privileged” flight coordinator Kryten Krytinski, The Cat is Navigation officer Gerald Hampton, and Lister is made out to be a “Touch T” telepath named David Listerton-Smythe. Despite obvious holes in this plot Howard doesn’t see through it at all. After Crawford reveals that she is, in fact, the villain of the piece and the reason Howard’s crew all died, Howard sacrifices himself to save Arnold, and reveals his secret. He is actually just a lowly vending machine technician and lied about the whole thing to look important. The Space Corps computer system realizes this and posthumously promotes Howard to an officer, and proposes renaming the Red Dwarf the “SS Howard Rimmer” making Arnold VERY jealous.
The first thing that really blew me away in Trojan, was how good the sets looked. Everything is “updated” but not in the same “white rooms and lense flares” way that we got in the recent Star Trek films. There are better computer screens and better lighting, but it still looks like ‘Dwarf. The detail here is amazing, once can really tell that they got a superb set designer that knows how to dress a set for HD in Michael Ralph. Little things like the raised textures on the walls are low key, almost unnoticeable on first viewing, but really make the scenes. I also love the fact that miniatures were used for ship and other exterior shots. I’m not an anti-computer generated effects guy, but let’s face it – Red Dwarf is made on a tight budget, why blow money on CGI? Shows like Hyperdrive fell into that trap of using cheap, unnecessary CGI and I feel that it really hurt certain episodes. It was like realizing that a spaceship on Blakes 7 was actually a hairdryer, except imagine that hairdryer blurry and unfinished! Unless you can make good effects on the cheap, stay with miniatures – they look better!
There really isn’t much of a guest cast to speak of here. Aside from the “The All Droid Mail Order shopping Network” personalities, you really only have two extra cast members. First off is Howard Rimmer as portrayed by Mark Dexter. Dexter is best known for roles in crime dramas like Law and Order UK, Ripper Street and Crusoe, but I was unfamiliar with him as I do not watch those sorts of programs. He was really good here as Arnold’s older brother; one could really imagine him giving out “wedgies” and making Arnold miserable. They chose someone that has similar mannerisms and a look that screams “RIMMER!” Our other guest was Sim Crawford, played by Susan Earl. I was only familiar with Earl from her role in Reggie Perrin, playing a nurse-like character named Sue, and I only remembered that when I checked IMDB. While a good actress, she had her voice changed and such to that of a more robotic nature, so it is hard to pin her down. She does make a pretty funny face at the end, and it made me laugh, so she’s okay in my book.
I mentioned the two of my favorite gags up there, but there really were so many to choose from. I feel that this series sort of pushed jokes too far after Doug Naylor became the sole captain at the helm. Series seven and especially eight were funny, but suffered from jokes that seemed strained at times; everything has balanced out here. All of the main actors take turns stealing scenes from each other, and even small things like the way The Cat walks into a room are made hilarious for some reason. I will say that the dynamic of just four guys works the best for me; I don’t mind Kochanski, but the show is better without her as a character. After being away for so long, you’d imagine that the boys would have trouble “clicking” into place, but that isn’t the case. Right out of the gate, the chemistry is there.
I try not to be one of those fans that clings to any particular “era” of this series as being the ultimate iteration of Red Dwarf, but I do have a distinct liking to series 4-6. One of the real reasons that I enjoyed this episode so much is that it felt right at home in one of those seasons. There is always room for improvement, but this was a solid kick-off to what I hope is a new era in Red Dwarf, it’s been far too long that these guys have been off our screens, hopefully they don’t go away this time. Keep checking back this week, as I plan to review ALL six episodes in the next few days!
If you would like to purchase Red Dwarf X, please check Amazon:
- Let’s Get Out There and Tweet It: Dimension Jump XVII – Sunday (gazpacho-soup.com)
- News Roundup (05/05/13) (gazpacho-soup.com)
- News Roundup (28/04/13) (gazpacho-soup.com)
- Wales Comic Con (dorgris.wordpress.com)
- Colony – Rob Grant (dwjjones.wordpress.com)
- CONVENTION REVIEW: Wales Comic-Con (geeksyndicate.co.uk)
- New life for an old watch – Red Dwarf style! (clickclicksnapsnap.wordpress.com)
- Starting Red Dwarf’s Floor Plan (reddwarfgame.com)
This fall is going to be a great time for fans of UK-based science fiction. Not only are we going to have six episodes of Doctor Who just after the Olympics, but there is a new Season of Red Dwarf on the way as well! Since there still is a ton of time left, I figured that I could easily pass it by looking back at some older episodes of Red Dwarf, sort of like a countdown to the new ones. So, without further ado, my review of the pilot episode from the far off time of 1988 – “The End”
When I first watched Red Dwarf, I immediately fell in love with it. My (now) wife had actually seen it on a PBS affiliate, and at the time I was oblivious to it aside from a passing mention. I wasn’t really into my full “anglo-phile” mindset at the time, and didn’t really seek out older shows yet. That all changed in 2004 when I got Netflix and started renting old Doctor Who episodes and Red Dwarf. I loved the idea of a science fiction sitcom, although very few of these cross-genre mergers were any good. Shows like Homeboys from Outer Space and Small Wonder put a bad taste in my mouth, but I was willing to try something new. I was immediately sucked in by this incredibly powerful and somewhat intense introduction:
I actually wish they’d bring a version of this introduction back. I like the more jazzed up one and all, but this is a nice palette cleanser for the hilarity about to ensue. I know some would say that “it doesn’t fit the show”, but I still love it, and that’s all that matters to me.
From the very beginning of the first episode we learn the dynamic between the two main characters –Lister and Rimmer inside and out. Lister is the lowest ranking guy on the ship, and a total slacker. His main goal is to simply collect a paycheck until he can retire to Fiji and start a farm. He’s all about having fun, and has no interest in his work. To foil this, his direct superior Rimmer (the second lowest ranking guy on the ship) is a self-righteous know-it-all with a severe inferiority complex. He always strives to become an officer on Red Dwarf, but ruins his chances with his manic nature, poor people skills, and sheer arrogance. This “odd couple” motif has been done countless times, but rarely is it done in such a humorous way as we see it here.
The thing that truly stands out with this show is the characters themselves. We might be used to seeing the exploits of all the highest ranking officers on serious shows such as Star Trek, but imagine an entire program consisting of “red shirts”. And not just plain “red shirts” but the ones that aren’t even cool enough to go on away missions and get their faces eaten by aliens. Focusing on characters that are destined to fight, screw around, and do nothing of any real importance whilst trying to get back to Earth basically writes itself. We see other characters in the beginning like Captain Hollister, but they won’t matter for too long, as they all die within minutes of the opening credits.
This is where the show gets fun. Lister gets in trouble for smuggling a pregnant cat named Frankenstein into his sleeping quarters on the ship. This is against regulation, and he is sentenced to stasis – a choice he made rather than giving up his pet. Lister’s job was to work on food replicators, and ironically, one messed up royally while he was unable to fix it. Rimmer tried to fix it, but Rimmer is Rimmer, and he messes it up even more. The entire ship went through a huge dose of nuclear radiation – killing everyone on board except Lister and Frankenstein, who was safe in the cargo bay. Three million years later, Holly (the ship’s computer system) informs Dave of some shocking news:
“They’re Dead, Dave….Everybody is dead, Dave.”
To fill this cast out, Lister is joined by other rejects, we have a holographic version of Rimmer, the person that the ships computer feels was Lister’s closest friend, a human-like creature that evolved from his stow-away cat simply named “The Cat”, and the ship’s computer itself, driven mad for the last few million years. Credits roll, and that’s why we kick off history folks! If you haven’t seen this show, and don’t mind special effects that are 2 decades old, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Currently you can watch it for free on Amazon Instant Video, if you happen to have an Amazon Prime subscription, or you can rent it on Netflix. The episodes used to be available on Netflix streaming, but they let the videos lapse for some reason.
Join me soon, for a look at episode 2!