Red Dwarf X – Episode 3 – Set Report

setreport3

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience for the first time since 2011. G&T were there, obvs.

This article discusses Red Dwarf X whilst adhering to G&T’s spoiler policy. Please ensure your comments do likewise…

This episode is the third to be filmed and also third I’ve seen recorded. Based on my knowledge of the first two, I went into the recording with a few assumptions about plot and quality: they were a tight plot, solid woofers and a few bits I probably wouldn’t like very much. Also, based on Robert’s comments about all the lines he had to learn, I expected it to be focused on Kryten in the same way that the last two episodes have been Rimmer and Lister centric respectively.

I was wrong on at least one of those assumptions.

As mentioned before the recording, this week fans were directed to the front entrance of Shepperton, rather than the back service entrance as that was being used for the audience of BBC One’s The Magicians, so we had the rare luxury of not being herded down an unlit path, up to our balls in mud. In your face audience for The Magicians.

What ended up happening was me, John, the excellent Pendo and a lovely chap called Simon, blundering our way through the grounds of Shepperton, unsupervised, trying to find where Stage K was. We recorded a slightly breathless AudioBoo during this mini adventure and in the end we of course found the holding area just outside the stage, because we’re not idiots.

Location shootingAs usual, the audience are directed to their seats in Stage K at 6pm on the dot, but this week we’re ushered in through the entrance at the far end. The reason for this became apparent as we took our seats and saw the unfinished episode specific set from the 23rd had now been finished, greatly expanded and was now blocking most of the normal entrance. This set is absolutely beautiful. It’s a very large and detailed outdoor area (featuring heavy lighting to create the outdoors feel) with a great amount of detail. Once filming moved over to this set (for what felt like most of the evening, but I’ll get on to that) around 30 extras were brought on, all fully costumed and looking great. For a sit-com that is to be broadcast on a digital channel, these are huge production values, and these scenes are a great showcase for how top class Red Dwarf X’s set and costume departments are, quite apart from everything else.

Other than that, there are the two normal main standing sets (Bunk Room and Drive Room) the former of which had one big piece of set dressing removed to make way for a large and impressive standing prop, which was covered with a big black sheet until it was revealed to the audience through a VT and then used later for live scenes. Apart from being integral to the plot, it was also used as extra foreground detail in some shots, to great effect. In fact, it’s worth pointing out again how assured Doug Naylor’s directing is. In one VT, there was a continuous shot of Kryten walking down a corridor and into the bunk room which was just lovely.

As with episode 2, all the scenes were shot in order (with the notable exception of one pickup done for a scene from the end of the episode, well before we know what the fuck it was about) with the scenes in the bunk and drive rooms mainly going very smoothly. As usual, takes are kept to an absolute minimum, despite the fact that the camera setup naturally requires some or all parts of the scene to be played twice, and pickups are dealt with efficiently, rather than with the sledgehammer approach of recording the entire scene again and again. In the first two scenes, Danny and Craig have some difficulties with their lines which, in Craig’s case, leads to a hilarious moment where he hid his script inside the book he was reading in the scene. The outtakes for this series are going to be gold.

Recording on the episode specific set ends up being a bit… problematic for the audience. The cast do well with the scenes they’re recording, with no more pickups than you’d expect, but the resetting of scenes takes an absolute age, and it ends up slightly damaging the flow of the recording. What’s more, there’s an action scene shot live that involves the cast running around the set in various directions, shot from different angles to create an illusion of distance traveled that should clearly have been done as a pre-record, and played in as a VT. It was a shame that the energy the audience had at the start of the recording had diminished a lot by the time the shooting moved back to the bunk room.

Having said that, this is clearly not a case of the production not knowing what they’re doing – all evidence points to quite the opposite – so my assumption is that there were perhaps time issues in the pre-record that meant they had to hold back more scenes for the audience record than they intended. Resetting a scene in a set with that much detail and that many extras is always going to be something that will take a while so, again, it’s understandable. In the end, this recording didn’t take that much longer than episode 1, which considering how much more complicated the scenes on this set were (and it really has to rank as one of the more impressive studio setups the show’s ever done) is quite impressive. The location footage, which was shot in a wooded area in the grounds of Shepperton, was for a very short scene which ends with a great graphics based gag, that may or may not have been just for the audience.

RAPEY COCK, or somethingOnce again, Ray Peacock provides the warmup and once again he’s top class, but with the notable difference that this week he, let’s say, flies a little close to the sun. During the first two scenes, he’s being fairly merciless with Danny and Craig while they’re having problems with their lines, the latter of whom looks distinctly unimpressed on the monitors. Whether that’s down to Ray or not is unclear, but he doesn’t make any more comments about cast fuck ups for the rest of the recording. Another incident involves him very clearly, and literally, stepping over the line as he takes a sock from a member of the audience, sneaks onto the bunk room set while the crew are on the other side of the studio, and throws it on Lister’s bunk. It’s obviously hilarious for the audience, but… I do wonder if he got into a bit of trouble. I do hope not.

Unlike the first two, this episode doesn’t focus specifically on one of the main characters, but around a male guest star who, with all the best will in the world, I don’t think is particularly good. The character he has to play is a difficult job, especially as the highly unusual plot will live or die by how his performance comes across on screen. He certainly isn’t bad, but probably not good enough, either, especially when the guest cast for episodes 1 and 2 were excellent.

The plot is… well, it’s weird. Not necessarily bad, but it’s definitely a surprising issue for Red Dwarf to be tackling and it makes for an incredibly atypical episode, despite the fact that, structurally, it’s very similar to a certain past episode. There’s a scene around 10 minutes from the end, in which something happens that you would never have guessed would be done by any sit-com, let alone Red Dwarf. It’s so utterly bizarre and actually fairly tangential to the main plot, that it’s hard to see why it’s even there. Then I realise how much I’m laughing, and it stops being an issue. There’s been some talk about this episode containing an offensive element, and this scene contributes a lot to that feeling. It *will* offend some people (and based on Twitter comments has already offended someone in the audience) but, and let’s be perfectly clear about this, those people are idiots.

That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate concerns that it could be an area that it doesn’t feel very natural for Red Dwarf to get into, and that was a feeling I had for most of the recording. Then I checked, and once again found that I was laughing. It’s complex, but I still think the laughs don’t naturally come from the situation, but more from isolated gags which gives the episode an odd feel.

The main cast continue to be on great form and I think special mention has to go to Robert Llewellyn, whose Kryten is probably the character with the most consistently funny performances in this series. Considering this, it’s no surprise that his performance reminds me of the character as he was in series VI, before everything went a bit skew-whiff from series VII onwards. There’s one scene in particular that, had it been in VII or VIII would leave me intensely irritated, but here is played perfectly by Robert and ends up being a lovely piece of physical and character comedy.

Due to the complex setting of the main plot, a B plot seems to be considered surplus to requirements, which is a shame as the weaving of sub plots into the main action was something that went very well in the previous two episodes (especially the first, which wrung tonnes and tonnes of comedy out of its B plot). There’s also a instance of a running joke that is set up in the second scene of the episode and then, after one or two call backs, just stops before its payoff. It’s disappointing, but luckily the final reveal of the episode is very strong, and the gag that follows got a big laugh. The plot for this episode may well be the weakest of the series so far, but Doug is still doing a great job of setting up gags and then delivering the woofs. What’s more, an ongoing connection from episode to episode is becoming very apparent and it seems to be a perfect way to give the series a through line while still keeping each episode (so far) standalone. This, combined with other small references to what’s happened previously, gives the strong impression that the recording order does indeed = broadcast order.

All in all, this is without a doubt the most remarkable series X episode recorded so far, for good or for ill. I’m having trouble working out exactly what I think of it as a whole, and I don’t think my mind will be made up until broadcast. Doug Naylor certainly can’t be accused of playing it safe with his writing, and the comedy levels are still very good, it’s just… well, it’s fucking weird. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this episodes goes down in the Autumn.

TINY TEASER: Kidney Stone
APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 17 (Total so far: 49)
SMEG COUNT: 1* (Total so far: 5)

* I thought it was one, but everyone else I was with swore there were three. But: MY REPORT, MY RULE, BITCHES.

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75 Responses to Red Dwarf X – Episode 3 – Set Report

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  1. Great report, Cappsy. This series sounds amazing.

  2. Though I’m puzzled as to why the report claims to have been posted three hours ago. :/

  3. Interesting to hear about the ammount of extras, though having seen the set in it’s partially constructed state on the 23rd it didn’t come as a huge suprise as the thought had crossed my mind that there might well be a few. Sounds like the plot for this one is going to be the subject of a lot of speculation for the next few months. As for the running order, well having two charecter driven episodes to start the series before moving on to something wierder would seem quite logical as an entrance into the series.

  4. Great report as ever.

    I really am racking my brain as to how an episode of Red Dwarf can get so strange considering what has happened in previous episodes.

    I did wonder how many episodes of this series would have B plots, it seems quite unusual for Dwarf to have them. ‘Waiting for God’, ‘Krytie TV’ and ‘Only the Good’ are the only three with two distinct plots (ie. one plot not arising from the other plot) I can think of.

  5. >Though I’m puzzled as to why the report claims to have been posted three hours ago. :/

    Your F5 key isn’t going to last the month, Si.

  6. This one really has me puzzled. Obviously, I have a small idea about the new set having been at the second recording. And I am wondering if this episode tackles something I’ve wanted to see tackled for a while….but I have a feeling it may not be. Either way, I have a feeling that upon airing, I’d have wished to see this one recorded more than the one I did see recorded….maybe.

    Am I still right in thinking this is the second episode and so takes place before the episode I saw recorded on the 23rd Dec?

  7. G&T Admin

    > Am I still right in thinking this is the second episode and so takes place before the episode I saw recorded on the 23rd Dec?

    No, there’s a specific reference that puts this episode as after 2. All clues point to the broadcast ordering being the same as shooting.

  8. G&T Admin

    > Though I’m puzzled as to why the report claims to have been posted three hours ago. :/

    Ah, whoops! Fixed.

    Thanks everyone. Reading that back, I’m already disagreeing with myself on some points, which is interesting. The guest actor, for example, wasn’t at all bad but describing my misgivings would give too much away about the nature of his character so it’s hard to get across fairly.

  9. >Am I still right in thinking this is the second episode and so takes place before the episode I saw recorded on the 23rd Dec?

    Nope. That was a twitter comment by Ed Moore that was read wrongly, debated for a bit and then corrected. The above report indicates that the order they are recording seem to the order for broadcast but each episode does have a distinct plot (up to now) so it could end up in any order.

    One thing I did see Ed Moore say on twitter was that they are filming through to 3rd February. I wonder why they’d need an extra week after studio recording has finished.

  10. >I wonder why they’d need an extra week after studio recording has finished.

    To bum each other. Or do pick-ups. One of the two.

  11. As for the offence thing, I was sort of suprised the same thing didn’t come up earlier with the second recording.

  12. >Thanks everyone. Reading that back, I’m already disagreeing with myself on some points, which is interesting. The guest actor, for example, wasn’t at all bad but describing my misgivings would give too much away about the nature of his character so it’s hard to get across fairly.

    Maybe faults with the character rather than the actor then?

  13. G&T Admin

    > One thing I did see Ed Moore say on twitter was that they are filming through to 3rd February. I wonder why they’d need an extra week after studio recording has finished.

    This is a massive guess, but it could well be for any emergency pickups that become apparent during early editing. There’s still also a whole sequence missing from episode 2, that could well be shot during the extra week.

  14. >As for the offence thing, I was sort of suprised the same thing didn’t come up earlier with the second recording.

    I think I know what you are referring to. I was surprised that never got a mention…

  15. I think I know what you are referring to. I was surprised that never got a mention…

    Going by the laughs, I think people just let it slide.

  16. Incidently, it feels deeply odd having gone to the pub beforehand, getting all the pre-recording hype and now reading the set report without the middle part of actually going to the show itself. Its like going from foreplay to fag and missing the sex inbetween.

  17. >”The plot is… well, it’s weird. Not necessarily bad, but it’s definitely a surprising issue for Red Dwarf to be tackling and it makes for an incredibly atypical episode, despite the fact that, structurally, it’s very similar to a certain past episode. There’s a scene around 10 minutes from the end, in which something happens that you would never have guessed would be done by any sit-com, let alone Red Dwarf.”

    when you say this, i do hope its not the same sorta weird storyline that similar to shock value of BTE’s we are characters in a tv show tosh

  18. i was going to say that perhaps the extra Filming Dates would be to do something the Very end of the series.that they might not want anyone to see until Broadcast. but they will need the Audience Laughter so i guess it would be any emergency re shoot,perhaps.

    as it looks more likely that i will be seeing the last ep of the series,i hope it does not give away too much about the episodes that come before it.

    overall it is sounding like this series will be great. no really negative reports as of yet.

  19. Here’s a thought – maybe the extra filming days are for promotional stuff for Dave? I imagine they’ll be bigging up the series quite a bit from about mid-August, and specially shot trailers and idents might be used.

  20. Here’s a thought – maybe the extra filming days are for promotional stuff for Dave? I imagine they’ll be bigging up the series quite a bit from about mid-August, and specially shot trailers and idents might be used.

    And possibly PBS stuff like they did for Series VIII. And maybe they will do the DVD and Blu-Ray links for Amazon and other online places again.

  21. I was there last night; agree that there was a definite… weird element to the story. Certainly goes somewhere I never thought Dwarf would go. I enjoyed it (mostly) and laughed along, but can’t decide if I was underwhelmed or not. Was an odd stop-start recording to be sure, which probably didn’t help. The cast all looked great, though I share some of the previously stated misgivings about the new Kryten mask. The sets are AMAZING.

  22. It sounds as though the Episode content will be crammed into a very small space. I’m very surprised by all these extras in evey week, is this a way of holding up the plot or just adding to it?

    I’m liking all the reports, it must be a nightmare not to give something away! You’ve all covered the visual content very well.

  23. G&T Admin

    I’m writing next weeks report.

    Expect shitness.

  24. What, writing it now before you’ve even seen it? I knew G&T was good….not that good though!

  25. G&T Admin

    The episode-specific set was bloody marvellous. It brought to mind that bloody article on audience sitcom ambition I wrote – this was a show that showed what production value you can give to a series shot in front of an audience.

    My problem with the shows seem to be different than most of the criticisms I’ve read; I have no problem with pretty much any of the show in the grand scheme of things – it’s all about the details. There are standout moments and ideas, but the linking material just isn’t doing it for me, sadly. As nobody else seems to have this, though, take my view with a pinch of salt.

    By the way, In the chip shop afterwards, the guy cooking the chips asked us whether we’d been to the Red Dwarf recording. When we said we had, he told us we were normal, but some “weirdos” in “t-shirts” had been in earlier. “I liked Red Dwarf back in the day, but I can’t see how people get that much into it…” I muttered something about how terrible it’d be if someone ran a fansite about the show, and left.

  26. Rest assured, that chip shop guy is probably a member of this forum :D

  27. Another fab set report, kudos to G&T – a fan website that genuinely enhances the experience and community of its show.

  28. ^What he said.

  29. I like chips. But I cant see how someone would run a whole shop based on them.

  30. But how would you stack them on the shelves? And where does the barcode go?

  31. >There are many types of chip

    Yes.

    Guilt chip.

    hmm, I’ve had too many takeaways.

  32. I like chips. But I cant see how someone would run a whole shop based on them.

    Roy Walker might.

  33. G&T Admin

    I know what they can call it…

    Roy Walker’s Chip Shop.

  34. Rest assured, that chip shop guy is probably a member of this forum :D

    Oh my.

  35. Great write up as always. After seeing the episodes I’ll definitely come back and re-read these, to laugh at how naive and speculative I am, and how very wrong I will probably be.

  36. This review is excellent, and has put ideas in my head, I bet these pictures I have are really wrong, when I come to see the episode on TV.

  37. OK, I’m going to speculate that the shocking thing is that … Lister dies! And then is somehow brought back! Since, you know, that would sort of take the piss out of him being the last human left living and all. ;-)

    No, that’s not my serious guess. I’m betting it must have something to do with religion or some nationality-related thing that people somewhere might find offensive *now*. Wish I’d been there to see it – interesting report to say the least …

    (Incidentally, thank you for approving my membership, Cappsy.)

  38. G&T Admin

    Hold on. If the man in the chip shop thought John was “normal”, just how bad were these other fans?

  39. I’d agree that the plot is likely to revolve around religion. I don’t think there’s many things in the 21st century that would actually cause offence and that a sitcom would bother doing without alienating a huge section of the audience (like, say, sexism, homophobia and racism). I reckon the nod to a previous episode is “Waiting for God” and the guest star is playing Jesus or Muhammed.

    That prediction is gonna bite me on the balls, isn’t it?

  40. I did have something to say, but Cappsy took so long to activate my account that I have forgotten what it was. It would have been brilliant too!
    Great write up, Capps. Can’t wait for this one!!

  41. don’t think there’s many things in the 21st century that would actually cause offence

    Are you kidding? Jeremy Clarkson even saying the word “The” causes a writeup in the Daily Fail these days! But then again since this isn’t on the BBC, they probably won’t care.

  42. I’ll amend that to “cause offence to right-thinking people”. No one with a brain gives a shit what Clarkson says or, conversely, what the Mail prints. I expect nothing less than bollocks from either so to get worked up when they say something characteristically moronic would be pointless.

  43. Chip shop owners are no longer interested in the audience ‘Red Dwarf’ used to attract.

  44. G&T Admin

    Another fab set report, kudos to G&T – a fan website that genuinely enhances the experience and community of its show.

    Thanks, Carlito, and everyone else who’s said nice things about us. We’ll try and carry on being slightly less shit than usual even when the recordings finish.

  45. Chip shop owners are no longer interested in the audience ‘Red Dwarf’ used to attract

    He can a funny fucker when he wants to be, that Eisenhauer fella.

  46. G&T Admin

    Thanks, Carlito, and everyone else who’s said nice things about us. We’ll try and carry on being slightly less shit than usual even when the recordings finish.

    I also think it’s worth saying that it’s fucking excellent that you guys and indeed the majority of Dwarf-dom have refrained from spoilers. Cheers for respecting Doug’s wishes and keeping our fora and boara spoiler-free. Keep it up!

  47. Yeah it has to be said, i don’t think you’d get any other fandom respecting the spoiler-free rules as much as Dwarf fans have. Could you imagine if Doctor Who had an audience recording!

    For this, i demand we all get free Blurays of the series when it comes out! I think that’s only fair :P

    Or a free RED Epic camera. I’m flexible :)

  48. > For this, i demand we all get free Blurays of the series when it comes out! I think that’s only fair :P

    Maybe we’ll win the chance to be an extra in the movie?

  49. Pete Part Three / Mon, 2012-01-09 11:31 / #

    I’d agree that the plot is likely to revolve around religion. I don’t think there’s many things in the 21st century that would actually cause offence and that a sitcom would bother doing without alienating a huge section of the audience (like, say, sexism, homophobia and racism). I reckon the nod to a previous episode is “Waiting for God” and the guest star is playing Jesus or Muhammed.

    Heeeeey…. Cat People episode mayhaps?

  50. All these theories are crap compared to the ones on here:

    http://reddwarfslash.livejournal.com/399544.html#comments

    I love that the first conclusion drawn from my comment is that 2 clearly straight charecters will suddenly change their sexuality, like in the worst of fan ficton. Of course, totally logical…

  51. It would be offensive if two characters didn’t change sexuality. After all, it is 2012!! Not the middle ages!

  52. After the comment about the number of extras I instantly thought Cat people too, and then that would make sense regarding the more icky subject brought up in the episode. But then, there’s no mention of it being Cat-centric (though maybe Capps doesn’t say that as it would be too much of a giveaway).

    > There’s also a instance of a running joke that is set up in the second scene of the episode and then, after one or two call backs, just stops before its payoff.

    Hopefully this is the kind of thing that can be saved for that last week, perhaps with a quick pick-up? (yeah yeah I do realise a ‘quick pick-up’ is far from easy to slot into an already crammed production, taking factors into consideration like sets, props, guest cast availability during that week on top of a hundred other issues and that’s when my head would explode…TV producers, we’re not worthy!)

  53. I think you’ll find that was a JOKE. Hence the words “No, I’m not serious”. ;)

    Thanks for the report, Jonathan. Great stuff. :)

  54. After the comment about the number of extras I instantly thought Cat people too, and then that would make sense regarding the more icky subject brought up in the episode.But then, there’s no mention of it being Cat-centric (though maybe Capps doesn’t say that as it would be too much of a giveaway).

    That could certainly make for an interestng episoode if that were the case. But surely that would make it a Craig-centric episode rather than a Danny one? If we are following the specific idea of dealing with the Cat relgion then I would have thought focus would revolve around their God.

  55. I think you’ll find that was a JOKE. Hence the words “No, I’m not serious”. ;)

    Fair enough. I only really glanced at it to be honest so I missed that, I was looking more at the follow up comments.

  56. Fair enough. :)

  57. A Cat People episode is what I suspect, but if so I really hope it is a total rewrite from the unfilmed script. In trying to think of something really offensive along those lines I can only imagine something like one of the crew having to wank the Cat off to save his life or something, that that seems way too crude.

    On the subject of the Cat race though i would prefer if we never see them again. The hints of them we got in Waiting For God were amazing (possibly my favorite episode) and I think it would be impossible for them to actually live up to that.

  58. Well … if Rob were still involved, I might say it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility offscreen of course (the wanking bit). Remember the bit in “Backwards” about Cat and the farm girl and his – catly, parts? Next to the description of what they all suffered inside the “Horsemen” game, that made me wince the most (probably even more than the game part, to be honest).

    I’m just surprised in all the years of Dwarf we’ve never seen another Cat. Only one of those ships was known to have been destroyed, after all.

  59. >I’m just surprised in all the years of Dwarf we’ve never seen another Cat.

    Except the elderly and dying priest Cat….

  60. Which, considering it’s in the first season, there really aren’t any years, plural, invested up to that point. :-)

    But if you want to parse, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more than two Cats. Well, we saw Frankenstein. So that’s three.

  61. I’d like to see something of the Cat race, but I don’t think it’s necessarily something we need to explore in detail.

  62. I’ve got a feeling that the Fish and Chip shop guy was talking about me-

    had only been out of the grounds of Shepperton for about five minutes and went into the shop wearing my RD “Smeg Head” T-Shirt (Same one I wore when I went to see Rimmerworld being shot, and my RD Baseball Cap plus had an H on my forehead.

    The chips were quite nice :)

  63. G&T Admin

    > plus had an H on my forehead.

    That definitely shows a certain… dedication.

  64. It was the policewomans helmet and suspenders that we don’t understand!

  65. Another excellent report, and certainly the most intriguing one yet.

    > Jeremy Clarkson even saying the word “The” causes a writeup in the Daily Fail these days!

    It also gives me the fackin’ ‘orn!

  66. G&T Admin

    >I’ve got a feeling that the Fish and Chip shop guy was talking about me-

    And you managed to make John look normal. You are a very special person.

  67. Reading this again reminds me of leaving Shepperton thinking “What the fuck did I just see?” Arguably the most bizarre episode of Red Dwarf. Can’t wait to see the final product tomorrow though! From what I remember (and I have a much harder time remembering what happens in this one than I did with F&S) there were some moments that I thought to be really great at the recording.

  68. Cripes. I’d forgotten this had been received so “oddly”. So that’s two episodes I’m worried about now.

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