Red Dwarf 2008 Calendar Review

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Just. In. Fucking. Time.

Red Dwarf 2008 Calendar CoverThis year, there are rather a lot of things that the mighty G&T has rather failed to cover – hence this hectic scramble at the end of the year to do a bit of fucking catching up. One of those things was Dimension Jump XIV, and another is the 2008 Red Dwarf calendar. Which is a bit bloody stupid, because one of my favourite Dwarf-related moments this year was bounding into the merchandise room at DJ, and seeing the calendar for the first time…

The calendar follows the lead of last year’s movie spoof calendar in being themed, rather than just the same publicity photos we’ve seen time and time before. And the idea this time round is simple: advertising. 12 spoof adverts, all linked to the Dwarf universe. Oh, maybe it might not excite you lot much, but I’m the kind of person who owns a VHS consisting of every single Twix advert ever made, and ACTUALLY ENJOYS WATCHING IT. Two of my great loves in one calendar.

The front cover is fine – perhaps not an especially evocative image, but at least it works. It doesn’t feel like I should have to say that, but the last two calendars suffered from some including some very dodgy character montages that had some odd colours, and weren’t especially well composited. This is a much nicer affair – whether it’s a publicity shot I haven’t seen before, or just an excellent compositing job, I’m not sure, although I suspect the latter. What the hell Lister and Kochanski were pointing at in the original photos I’m not sure of either, but the way they’ve been adapted to point to images of the calendar is very clever.

Flip it open, and you get the year view calendar. You also get an ad for the Dwarf mobile service – they’re not missing any opportunity to push that, it seems – and, amusingly, “This advertisement was sponsored by Divadroid International”. But flip the page, and the fun really begins, because January’s entry is superb – an excellently-designed advert for a curry house called ‘The Vindaloovian Empire’, which is an excellent and unexpected reference to Gunmen (the obvious thing would just be to call it the Titan Taj Mahal). And whilst some of the advert is taken up with quoting the excerable “lost curry” scene from Tikka, you also have things like the killer line “Please do not request pasta, as a kick in the face often offends” – a million times funnier than anything in the aforementioned Tikka scene.

There’s some lovely stuff here. Out of all of VIII, I think Krytie TV is one of the more successful episodes, but I wouldn’t class it as a great episode of Dwarf, or even a great episode of sitcom – and yet July’s Krytie TV schedule has fun with the idea: “Shower Night – Live! Suds, water, and a nagging sense of guilt as the hidden camera show returns.” And the idea of a Mugs Murphy Marathon delights me immensely. August’s ad for Plutonian Medical Insurance works simply for the image of Cat in a nurse’s outfit – one of the funniest things in Only The Good…, I don’t care what any of you lot say. And there’s some nice detail here: the fact that March’s ad for the Sexual Magnetism virus has the slogan “For the man with no morals…” acknowledges the dodgy nature of the whole idea in a way that the episode never did.

The best out-and-out parody has to be October’s Leopard Lager ad – parodying this famous 1974 Pepsi slogan. The highlight, however, has to be December’s Crapola Inc. ad, for Talkie Toaster and the Tension Sheet – as well as being a lovely concept (with the proper logo and all), it’s also got the funniest thing in the entire calendar – Rimmer’s irrelevant testimonial “I can’t believe Thickie Holden’s a smegging millionaire”, set against this picture. Just thrown away at the bottom of the page. You won’t get the full impact until you actually see it, but it has me in giggles every time I see it.

And yet, there is one unavoidable truth: the fundamental idea of this calendar is often better than its execution. And once I got over the excitement for the concept of the thing, this became more and more apparent. Some of the ads fall flat – May’s Blue Midget ad just seems slightly lazy, with none of the fun detail you’d need in order to pull the idea off, and the same goes for June’s Holly 6000 ad – the central image of Holly crossed with the Windows logo just isn’t a strong enough hook. It’s also true that some of the ads could have done with being rather closer in style to the ad they’re parodying – February’s myVac ad falls completely flat for me, whereas done in the minimalist white Apple style, with more Apple-style ad text, it could have been a killer. However, presumably the reason they didn’t go too far down this road is because of the worry of legal threats – the back of the calendar has a disclaimer denying all links to anything and everything ever as it is. (“The Cat Collection” is amusingly close to a certain clothing store’s logo, mind you.) Most of the weaker ideas fall within the first half of the calendar – once you get to July, the hit rate is very much higher.

The other problem is simply that some of the jokes fall flat. The aforementioned myVac ad ends with the line “The new myVac attachment is out now – and it sucks” – which is just weak. The whole calendar perhaps isn’t as funny as it should have been, and it rarely feels like it reaches its full potential. Again, I suspect legal problems are at least part of the issue here – but a few more really funny jokes wouldn’t exactly have gone amiss.

Meanwhile, the calendar view itself is fine – very similar to last year’s, with some excellent crew shots included too, selected for their appropriateness with the main picture. (My favourite is a shot of Rimmer as he portrays himself in The Rimmer Experience, used on the Krytie TV graphic – a sly jab at the kind of adventure nonsense Krytie TV shows, presumably.) One thing I would say is that it’s perhaps a bit too busy – the background image across the date squares is darker than last year’s, and so it does end up looking slightly cluttered, which is exactly what you don’t want a calendar to be like.

But I can’t be too harsh. Unlike Red Christmas, this is well worth your hard-earned money. (£7.99 – available from Global Calendars, Play, and Buy The Print.) It’s a fun idea, with some lovely things in it, and whilst some of it doesn’t stand up to ultra-close scrutiny, or feels like it’s quite as good as it should be, it’s a nice thing to have on your wall. Whether you like it perhaps depends on whether you enjoy merchandise having fun within the Dwarf universe – it’s something I’ve started liking a lot more in the last few years, but if your interest is strictly in the TV shows, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re willing to indulge in a load of mucking about, then this is more than a worthwhile purchase. Although I’ll admit that being an ad freak helps.

And I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year…

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51 Responses to Red Dwarf 2008 Calendar Review

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  1. Hmm, Play appears to have run out, but the one I ordered on Boxing Day from them cost a bargain ?3.99.

  2. Woah, you’ve been busy John.

  3. I love the calendar. And I think many of the jokes aren’t… too flat.

  4. G&T Admin

    Woah, you?ve been busy John.

    More to come over the next few weeks too – I’ve been far too lazy with this place recently…

    I love the calendar. And I think many of the jokes aren?t? too flat.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong – I think some of it works really well, with a couple of moments that had me laughing for ages. It’s just that I’m not that keen on other bits. It’s not means as a negative review.

  5. >This is a much nicer affair – whether it?s a publicity shot I haven?t seen before, or just an excellent compositing job

    When the art showed up on TOS I assumed it was a new photograph taken just for the calendar, but the more I think about that, the stupider it sounds. Maybe Andrew will enlighten us?

  6. G&T Admin

    Yeah, I must admit, it looks so good that I wondered whether it was a special photo taken as well. (The way they’re pointing at the calendar images is very clever presuming it wasn’t specially shot.) But apart from the cost issue – well, frankly they all look nine years too young…

  7. Right…and I don’t think it would have been worth the time/expense getting Robert all suited/masked up unless he was also shooting something else at the time.

    I don’t have it in person so that’s probably why it was such a perfect illusion for me…but either way, old or new, I quite like the cover a lot.

  8. It’s a Series VIII shot that Helen Norman organised at the time ‘just in case’. In it the cast are pointing at empty VHS cases (or, in a couple, RD novels). It wasn’t used at the time, and I’ve been waiting for a long while to use it. It just seemed a bit TOO ‘promotiony’ to use on a DVD ad, somehow.

    But when you’re having a dig at ads, well, it’s ideal…

  9. G&T Admin

    Ah-ha! That’s fascinating to know. I thought it looked a bit too bloody good.

    Shades of the Forrest Gimp shot of Cat in the last calendar, then – a weird promotional photo taken just in case…

  10. > Shades of the Forrest Gimp shot of Cat in the last calendar, then – a weird promotional photo taken just in case?

    That Cat image was AGONY. It’s built from a greenscreen rear-view of Danny (standing, so every limb has been manipulated), but the head – to match the Gump image – is taken from a Series V shot of other characters, with Danny looking away.

    We suffer for these, I tell thee…

  11. G&T Admin

    Same as what I did with an image of an isolated Blue Midget having to look like it’s in “curled up” mode flying, but using the ‘standing’ Midget from the wallpaper. I had to manipulate each part of it’s legs to ‘fold’ them up and it was a logistical nightmare!

  12. G&T Admin

    Yes, but when will the Blue Midget page on TOS be updated?

  13. Exactly when is it being updated Andrew? You still haven’t answered you ignorant fruit.

  14. > You still haven?t answered you ignorant fruit.

    I imagine this is meant to be funny. It isn’t.

  15. >> You still haven?t answered you ignorant fruit.

    >I imagine this is meant to be funny. It isn?t.

    that was, though.

  16. Regarding the calendar, the Vindaloovian Empire advert for January. “Coffee Ice Cream”? They mean Kulfi Ice Cream surely? The sort that used to come in those little plastic pots that looked like daleks.

  17. G&T Admin

    Isn’t Kulfi Ice Cream mentioned in Tikka to Ride. I think it’s another one of those mis-hearing things. it’s not Robert mispronouncing Coffee…

    Kryten “…And two scoops of Kulfi Ice Cream”
    Lister ” And two indigestion tablets.”

  18. I’ve not been able to get one yet. I don’t really want to pay the ?11.24 it’ll cost me online, so I’m currently bidding for one on eBay, which, if I win, will cost me, um, ?10.93.

  19. G&T Admin

    what will you spend the 31p you’re saving on?

  20. 31 penny sweets maybe?

  21. I bought about 20 penny sweets in a University shop the other day and it came to about ?3.20. BASTARDS. And then I told my girlfriend and she just looked at me like I was an idiot and told me that nowhere’s sold penny sweets for actual pennies for years. So to prove her wrong I asked her little sister if she’d heard of them and she just stared at me with a chilling expression of incomprehension and hate.

  22. Ugh, I thought it was coffee ice cream, too. I’m a boob!

  23. G&T Admin

    I bought about 20 penny sweets in a University shop the other day and it came to about ?3.20. BASTARDS. And then I told my girlfriend and she just looked at me like I was an idiot and told me that nowhere?s sold penny sweets for actual pennies for years. So to prove her wrong I asked her little sister if she?d heard of them and she just stared at me with a chilling expression of incomprehension and hate.

    I work at a cash and carry, and can confirmt that you can still get penny sweets – we stock a huge range. The Swizzles Fun Gums range are still 1p, for instance. (600 pieces, sold for around ?3.50, so you get a markup just short of 100% when you sell them.)

  24. G&T Admin

    And I always thought it was coffee as well – but I did also think the pronounciation was strange. It’s obvious now you say it.

    Weirdly enough, the transcript gets it correct – albeit spelt wrong.

  25. I are a stupid.

  26. G&T Admin

    > Weirdly enough, the transcript gets it correct..

    This is from the same transcripts that show Lister from Bodyswap saying:

    LISTER: Look at my stomach. Look at it! Pink gudgeon’ stripes down me sides and you could float me over the super bowl…

    No, Andrew, THAT is a stupid.

  27. G&T Admin

    The fucking VII subtitles say it as well!! I’m annoyed that i’ve not spotted it.

  28. Listened to Tikka to Ride last night. In all fairness saying “Kulfi”, particularly in a Kryten accent, does turn the “ul” into something that could be mistaken for an “oh”. Hence “Kofi” and then “Coffee”. Unless one automatically associates Kulfi ice cream with indian food I suppose it’s not obvious. Damn them tricksy phenomics.

  29. G&T Admin

    Damn them tricksy phenomics.

    Racist.

  30. Yay! I won my eBay auction! For ?6.99! And because the seller’s in Sheffield, I can go and collect it, so I don’t have to pay postage! (Plus, I have a free bus pass, so I don’t have to pay to get there, either!)

    Huzzah.

  31. G&T Admin

    I got mine from a shop for five quid.

  32. Mine arrived from Play for 3.99

  33. Couldn’t find it anywhere in Brighton today, so Rach bought it online from a TOS link (not sure which one) instead…

  34. I bought mine from a Calendar store in Luton when I went back to visit in November. It is, so far as I am aware, the only Red Dwarf calendar currently hanging up at The Walt Disney Company’s Burbank Center. And it’s in my cubicle.

    I have it open on January at the moment (shocking revelation, I know), and more than a few people have seen it, looked, and laughed. Which is odd, because most of the people I work with don’t know what Red Dwarf is. I have begun the education, though…

  35. The quality of the jokes isn’t something I could do better at, off the top of my head, so I’m well satisfied. :)

    The only thing I find puzzling about the calendar is that the publisher has switched from a Sunday as first day of the week for 2007 to a Monday as the first day of the week format for 2008. Is this change in order to meet the international ISO standard (ISO-8601) that Monday is officially the first day of the week, does anyone know?

  36. Well, it’s a UK calendar, made by a UK company, so I would have thought having Monday as the first day would be a given standard…

  37. I never really understood the logic of Sunday being the first day of the week given that it’s also part of the WeekEND.

    So, there we are.

  38. Windows Start button logic, really.

  39. First day of the week for me is Friday. No calendar does that.

  40. G&T Admin

    But you could make it, just get some scissors and some sellotape.

  41. Indeed. Especially as work don’t appear to have an official one this year – just a printout.

  42. They changed it.

  43. >Well, it?s a UK calendar, made by a UK company, so I would have thought having Monday as the first day would be a given standard?

    OK, but it’s the same company who issued the 2007 calendar following the Sunday-first standard. If they were consistent, I wouldn’t be puzzled. :) Not a big deal, just curious.

  44. A co-worker of mine just came up to me and said, “I can’t wait to see the picture for February.” Apparently she quite likes the calendar – the January page at least – although she’s never seen Red Dwarf. Might have to lend her some of my Region 1 DVDs.

  45. G&T Admin

    (IN BEST ALEC GUINNESS VOICE)

    Train her in the ways of the Dwarf.

  46. Try not to get that mixed up with a vertical challenged person and Red Dwarf, ok. ;D

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