Dark Star on the cheap!

This is an SOS distress call from the scouting ship Dark Star.  The crew are idiots.

It’s been cited on the Six of the Best CD as being a big influence to Rob and Doug during the conception stages of Red Dwarf and John Carpenter’s classic ‘student film done good’ Dark Star has been spotted on sale for a frankly LUDICROUS £5.89!

Opinion among the G&T crowd is certainly split on this film. John’s never seen it, Ian thinks it’s complete shit and I quite like it actually, so fuck you. I can’t remember what everyone else thinks. Back in the days of The White Hole I wrote a short and stunningly shit piece about Dark Star and how it might have influenced Rob and Doug. I think I got as far as talking about the fact that they mention a ‘red dwarf’ star and that the video cover was similar to Series I Byte I, completely failed to write about any of the similarities in situation and characters but then published it anyway.

Anyway, as I said I do love this film; it’s very silly, uses some brilliant concepts (such as a malfunctioning AI bomb, which needs to be reasoned with on a philosophical level to prevent it from detonating) and a massive beach ball type alien thing with claws.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’ll refrain from complaining about the frankly ludicrous claim that this DVD is in some way a Collector’s Edition, but I will recommend you pick this up and report back with your findings.

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40 Responses to Dark Star on the cheap!

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  1. Yeah, I’d heard that Dark Star was an influence. One of the reasons I picked it up myself a few years ago. I’m wondering what other Science Fiction films might have been. 2001 obviously, but how about Outland, Silent Running, Saturn Three, Alien(s), Forbidden Planet and the whole Star Wars set etc? Perhaps a question for DJ.

    Also been wondering about their scientific references. Anyone ever read “The Science in Science Fiction” by Peter Nicholls? “The Space Traveller’s Handbook” by Michael Freeman? Or there’s Gerard K O’Neill’s “Islands in the Sky”. Another question for DJ.

  2. G&T Admin

    That actually reminds me that Austin’s old content might not yet be fully migrated. I have a nagging feeling I was meant to do more recently, but I can’t remember…

  3. To be fair it looks like it was filmed on a budget of ?5.88, so they are probably turning profit.

  4. I picked it up post commentary mention. Is it the edition with 2 different
    running times?

    It’s a film that doesnt quite achieve the greatness that early dwarf
    later became for trapped in space with someone you hate-ness.

    It doesnt quite hold together as a movie, and people could hate its
    crap effects the same way they could hate parts of dwarf, but you have
    to credit it for being pre alien the 1st non shiny sci fi vision and
    comedically it’s got some great premise to it. It’s a funnier concept
    rather than a gag heavy film.

  5. To lazily quote my own recent Webboard ramblings:

    Not as great as its made out to be – though at the time it was pretty new to treat SF as something mundane in movies – but
    oh my God, it’s SUCH an important part of Red Dwarf history.

    There’s an observation dome, flat grey sets (the Series I doc makes the influence clear, but the film manages to be METALLIC rather than wooden), the big obvious signs. The AI that argues with you. Just everything.

    There’s even a gentle joke 8 minutes in which has its structure used over and over again in Dwarf.

    My Dwarf education now feels a lot more complete.

    It’s a weird one – making a movie about people who’s lives are boring, and who are utterly dull themselves! And yet somehow two nukes go off, a guy nearly dies in an elevator shaft and an alien goes bonkers and gets killed.

    And still, it’s a slow, slow film. A student film, though, so you kinda forgive some of it.

    But when you hear – as you will on the Bodysnatcher DVD – that Ed and Paul Montague used the show as the key design reference, on top of Rob and Doug’s admission of its importance tonally, it’s a real eye-opener.

    Not least because, actually, Dwarf was originally meant to be a much slower-paced, non-gaggy, down-beat show – Dark Star on TV. The casting changed all that, but you see how Series I was intended to be, and it’s nothing like the show we ended up with.

  6. And then Ricky Gervais changed the spaceship for an office.

  7. Are Dwarf and the Office really that similar?

  8. > Are Dwarf and the Office really that similar?

    Both shows’ main character is called ‘David’. That’s about it really.

  9. No of course not. I was just being flippant and annoying, apologies I’ve been having a very shitty week and my gittyness was in overload. It was more a response to the description slower-paced and non-gaggy. Which I think The Office is by virtue of being shit.

  10. Brimming over with wrongability. Fact.

  11. Don’t do it, Pete. You, me and Monkey constitute a very, very small pro-Office minority around here…

  12. > You, me and Monkey constitute a very, very small pro-Office minority around here?

    *waves hand* Me too! I’m part of the minority too!

  13. G&T Admin

    Yes, Office fans are clearly in the minority. You literally (yes, LITERALLY) can’t move for all the praise that show and that bloody BLOODY Gervais gets on a daily basis from a number of sources.

  14. Hey, he only said the minority on here!

    My feelings about Gervais are mixed. He’s long since lost interest for me. “Ironically” plugging your DVDs over and over again on Comic Relief is exactly the same as doing it “literally”. And Extras swiftly descended into self-aggrandising garbage. (The little man who fights for creative control of his show…the very thing he actually got, no problem, on The Office.)

    But…The Office is still terrific, IMO. Not the world-changing first its sometimes credited as, but too smartly made to reject utterly. And the American incarnation is bloody good, too.

  15. G&T Admin

    The Office (UK version) is the prime example of something that I’m sure is good – too many people I respect the opinion of love it for me to dismiss it – but just does ABSOLUTELY nothing for me at all. And I even work in an office! But there is a distinction between something which I just don’t like, and something which I think is rubbish.

    I like the US version a lot more, though. Partly because of the lack of Gervais – but also because it’s more traditionally gaggy.

  16. I’d just like to say I really dislike Gervais.

  17. To be fair, I was lucky. I watched The Office on its first broadcast – late BBC2, no hype. Gervais was some git I’d vaguely noticed on The 11 o’Clock Show when I wasn’t leering ad Daisy Donovan;his name meant nothing. I came to it without expectation…

    …well, except for one thing: The Good Guys. A three-series spoof reality show, improvised, starring David Gillespie. Which I fucking LOVED. Even when low ratings pushed them into adding a laugh track so people would know it was a comedy. (And especially when Paul Jackson made his cameos!) That was the start of reality-sitcom for me, and The Office was more of that. Which, at the time, I was really taken with.

    Plus, away from Gervais, the Tim/Dawn relationship is spot-on brilliance. And Gareth is a genuinely great comic character.

    There’s more warmth in the US version, though, and I think I prefer that.

  18. G&T Admin

    I remember ONE thing about Operation Good Guys – and that was one of Paul Jackson’s cameos, telling the team to be more audience-friendly. Which I was in utter hysterics over, I recall.

    I really should get the DVD.

    Amazing how times have changed, though. There is NO WAY these days that a sitcom would have a laugh track added on against the wishes of the production – it’s more likely to be something people would push against

  19. Count me in among fans of the UK Office – but the US version has become miles, miles better. And it continues to improve. The cliffhanger ending to season three (“We’re done.”) was utterly classic.

  20. I haven’t seen any of the latest season (3) of The Office US but it was coming on leaps and bounds since the ropey pilot, the last time I looked in. It works so much better doing its own thing than merely copying the original.

    But that said, I still prefer the UK version. Fantastic characterisation, some amazing moments and endlessly quotable lines.

    It’s one occasion where I think the hype is deserved (unlike, say, Lost which people masturbate over but is ONLY a good TV show). To me, The Office is the closest thing in recent years to equal the genius of the first series of I’m Alan Partridge.

    It’s OK though; I don’t find Monty Python particularly funny. And Peter Kay? Don’t get me started.

  21. G&T Admin

    > I haven?t seen any of the latest season (3) of The Office US but it was coming on leaps and bounds since the ropey pilot, the last time I looked in. It works so much better doing its own thing than merely copying the original

    This is very true, because when it tries to copy the original then it’s shit. Because the original is shit.

    > But that said, I still prefer the UK version. Fantastic characterisation, some amazing moments and endlessly quotable lines.

    Oh, yeah, and that dance! And the bit where Brent says something offensive (but it’s ok cos Brent said the offensive thing, not Gervais) and they all look at him in silence. BRILLIANT. I watch it through my fingertips from behind the sofa.

    > (unlike, say, Lost which people masturbate over but is ONLY a good TV show)

    I like how you exaggerate the stand point of people who love the show (haha,. they MASTURBATE over it, they love it so much the SADOOS!) but by contrast make your stand point seems sage and wise. Very clever.

    > It?s OK though; I don?t find Monty Python particularly funny.

    This has literally invalidated every opinion you’ve ever had about anything.

    > And Peter Kay? Don?t get me started.

    At least we get to end on something we both agree on.

    I feel better for that sarcastic and unconstructive rant. See you at next week’s morale meeting! Marvellous.

  22. >This is very true, because when it tries to copy the original then it?s shit. Because the original is shit.

    This will be completely different for you, but the fact that the US carbon copy episodes don’t work for me (and only the pilot episode springs to mind), is simply because it was extremely difficult to ignore the fact that you were watching something that was a poor immitation of something awesome. Much like Red Dwarf USA.

    Lost is an interesting comparison in that, just like that show, both have been hyped up considerably. I enjoy both and have watched both since their original (UK) airings, but I don’t think I’ll be rewatching an episode of Lost anytime soon, whereas my DVDs of The Office get constant airings. I can pick countless faults in Lost, I can’t find many in the first twelve episodes of The Office.

    >Oh, yeah, and that dance!

    Oh dear. Strange how you can have 14 episodes of brilliantly written comedy and the one bit that everyone (and by that I mean both haters and fans) remembers is the ‘funny dance’ which stopped being funny on its second viewing.

    >This has literally invalidated every opinion you?ve ever had about anything.
    I had a feeling it would. Whoops.

  23. > Oh dear. Strange how you can have 14 episodes of brilliantly written comedy and the one bit that everyone (and by that I mean both haters and fans) remembers is the ?funny dance? which stopped being funny on its second viewing.

    It’s a shame someone can’t get that through to Ricky Gervais isn’t it?

  24. Indeed. The “Oh, I’m not doing the dance again…oh ok, one last time” routine got old a time ago.

  25. Im a huge John Carpenter fan, I even likes vampires! but I cant stand Darkstar, it has all of three ammusing moments but I usually fall asleep after the first.

  26. G&T Admin

    Speaking of docu-comedies, I’m currently watching the first series of People Like Us for the first time. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it – it’d be too subtle, too reality-based – but no, there’s tons of proper gags in it. There’s the brilliant sequence where an Inspector with a bad wig inadvertently does a load of hair-related jokes.

    MALLARD: Do you think there’s a likelihood of that happening?
    INSPECTOR: I personally think it’s receding fast.

    Amazing to think that the person who wrote this could also write the excerable Broken News

  27. > I?m currently watching the first series of People Like Us

    Yes!

    I wish they’d release the rest on DVD. Can’t see that happening now…

  28. G&T Admin

    The date for the Series 2 release was all set, as well – but it was dropped due to poor sales for Series 1. (I’ve even heard rumours that some extras was put together for it – no idea how true that is, though.)

    It *was* released in Portugal though, bizarrely enough (called Gente Como N?s), in a double-disc set of both series – in English, with Portuguese subtitles (which can be turned off). I can’t find a good link off-hand, though, and I think it’s been discontinued now…

  29. G&T Admin

    I rewatched that recently too! One of my favourite visual gags of all-time comes from the photographer episode, when Bill Nighy’s character is showing Mallard his portfolio. He flicks through to an out-of-focus picture, and the cameraman frantically adjusts his focus. Completely devoid of comedy when written down, but there you go.

    I desperately want to see series two again, not least because one of the episodes stars a young (well, younger) David Tennant.

  30. > Series 2 of People Like Us due out in Region 4 on 21st November.

    Crikey! Strewth! Etc.

  31. G&T Admin

    You daft racist.

  32. G&T Admin

    Nobody minds you being racist about the Australians.

  33. G&T Admin

    I have *finally* watched Dark Star, and absolutely bloody loved it. I mean, to the point where it’s become one of my favourite filns of all time.

    Didn’t find it too slow at all – in fact, I could happily watch 20 more minutes of that crew hanging around doing nothing.

  34. And all was well.

  35. > I could happily watch 20 more minutes of that crew hanging around doing nothing

    Me too, but maybe more of Pinback’s video journal would be even better.

    Does this mean you’re up for doing a commentary then?

  36. G&T Admin

    Me too, but maybe more of Pinback’s video journal would be even better.

    YES

    Does this mean you’re up for doing a commentary then?

    I definitely want to do something on it, although whether it takes the form of a commentary or something else is something we’ll have to think about…

    Mark of a great film: when the first thing you want to do when it finishes is go back and watch the whole thing again.

  37. This gave me the nudge to get around to watching the Film4 version of Dark Star recorded off of my tellybox. I say this, the screenshot you put on the Twitters is what sold it.

    Liked the lift sequence, Powell, the ending and the Dwarf influence. Wasn’t feeling much else.

    But Dan O’Bannon will go off and do Alien while Carpenter does The Thing. Which is nice.

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