Red Dwarf XII Premiere Report

Last night saw the premiere screening of Red Dwarf XII episode one, Cured, at the Edinburgh  Television Festival. G&T weren’t there, but we received a tweet from someone who was, Gemma Murray, offering to write us a report. We jumped at the chance, and are sincerely grateful to Gemma for furnishing us with this report during her journey home. Pictures are courtesy of Gemma too.

“I met Lister. He was an absolute bellend…”

An opportunity to see a new episode of my favourite show in one of my favourite cities? ‘Rude not to really’, I thought, as I inserted myself into a packed train at King’s Cross. Five hours later, my somewhat naive hope of quietly reading a book with a cup of tea cruelly dashed by the inability of anyone around me to sit still in a seat for more than twenty seconds at a time, I emerged onto Waverley Bridge. Squinting into the glorious-if-completely-unexpected sunshine, I made my way to the Edinburgh Filmhouse. I only got slightly distracted by the shops. And the gin tent in Princes Gardens. Don’t judge me.

Ticket in hand, and reeling from the shock of actually receiving change from a tenner for my G&T, I surveyed the bar in an attempt to identify likely fellow fans amongst the patrons of various other screenings that evening. Despite a plethora of Dwarf T-shirts and people whose faces I vaguely recognise from their Twitter avatars, I remained as socially inadequate as ever (I ran away from Chris Barrie once) and found myself sadly unable to muster the courage to say hello to anyone in person. Hello to you all now though, I hope you had a lovely evening.

The seats were unreserved so I took mine fairy early on, and was rewarded by an excellent spot in the centre of the auditorium (I resisted the urge to engage in Sheldon Cooper-esque acoustic testing). I then spent twenty minutes staring at a rather fetching red velvet curtain and DMing Ian Symes, before the flamboyant arrival at 7.12pm of one Mr Craig Charles. There were some other people with him too, but they could have been anyone…

Craig’s delightful banter continued as Steve North (UKTV General Manager) took the stage to introduce the screening, and even succeeded in getting a word in edgeways (eventually). Steve spoke convincingly about his pride to have been involved with the “new era” of Red Dwarf on UKTV, and promised that the new episodes would be as funny, clever and ridiculous as anything that has preceded them. Personally, I was startled to realise that – counting from the initial inception of Back to Earth– “new” Red Dwarf has been going on for a decade already. Then I realised that the RDX recording I attended (Fathers and Suns) was six years ago despite feeling like yesterday. I am old now. Help.

After thanking the cast, production team, Baby Cow, and Doug for their hard work in making the new series, Steve took his seat with the traditional request to the audience not to release spoilers on social media. Then the curtain parted, the lights went down, and the screening began.

First of all, the episode was shown with the full opening title sequence, which contained some extremely interesting glimpses of the entire series. I am officially rather excited. For some reason I was expecting the season opener to be “Everyone’s Kryten”, so was surprised (and momentarily disappointed) when I realised it was Cured instead. From the information already released, this was definitely the episode I was least excited about, and I am therefore delighted to report that I enjoyed it very much.

My two favourite moments were a BRAND NEW REALLY COOL MUSIC CUE and what to me was a very beautifully-played scene between Lister and one of the guest stars, which effectively strikes the kind of sensitive balance between comedy and drama that is exactly why I love the show so much in the first place. There was much laughter from the audience – one particularly massive woofer earned a round of applause – and a slightly embarrassing moment in which I laughed (at a spot of Kryten/Rimmer dialogue) but no one else did. The plot felt fresh, and the pacing was tight.

Cured is a strong episode, but I do have a few concerns about how it will be received on broadcast, not least whether or not it plays today in quite the way Doug intended it to when it was recorded a year and a half ago. I probably should have asked him that in the Q&A really. It would certainly have made it more interesting. It may be my undeniable old age, but I’m afraid Nick Helm’s swearing-over-substance style of hosting added little to the occasion for me, and – despite professing to be amongst the former group – his cursory questioning style felt dismissive of both the fans and the cast. Moving them on from a question about why Red Dwarf has remained so popular for so long immediately after Craig’s initial quip “because of me, mate!” might have got a big woof, but also left me feeing slightly short-changed of what could have been a more worthwhile discussion than “Kryten masks are hot”, and “Craig and Danny went clubbing a lot during the 90s while Bobby spent hours at a time in makeup”, none of which is exactly new information…

I liked his t-shirt, though

More gratifyingly, however, the Q&A did flesh out some of the generally-known plot points of the forthcoming series a bit more – notably M-Corp and Everyone’s Kryten (that “title” is sticking) – as well as further elaborating on elements of the episode we’d just seen. Doug also spoke about his creative process as a writer, and Craig about the relationship between the cast after thirty years (as well as his extra-curricular exploits with Simon Gregson). I really enjoyed hearing Craig, Robert and Doug talking about the series and each other with such affection (as well as a hefty whack of humour), and whilst nothing concrete was admitted to, I was heartened to hear all three of them refer to “the next series” as something that’s not completely outside the realms of possibility. On the basis of what I saw yesterday evening, further series would be very welcome indeed. In the meantime – having eaten, drank, and shopped my way across the Central Belt of Scotland for most of the last twenty-four hours – I’m heading home to start getting seriously excited about Series XII.

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24 Responses to Red Dwarf XII Premiere Report

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  1. Any difference in the look and compositing of the model shots from last series? Has the extra time given them a chance to improve on what was delivered for XI?

  2. Damn, I was really hoping that anybody had said anything more interesting than Craig’s threeish boring quotes being printed everywhere. Guess not.

  3. I thought Nick Helm was pretty funny.

  4. Enjoyed reading that a lot! Here’s to more guest articles that aren’t me post-pubescently shouting at Andrew Ellard in 2003.

  5. Saw on the Gazpacho Soup twitter feed that Craig said something along the lines of people keep asking for a film, BtE was a bit filmy, be careful what you wish for.

    I seem to remember the guys being very positive about Back to Earth, even after it had been broadcast. Wonder why they’re content with saying it’s cack now.

  6. Any difference in the look and compositing of the model shots from last series? Has the extra time given them a chance to improve on what was delivered for XI?

    Model shots were great! I remember being pretty impressed, but I’d need to rewatch XI in more detail to make a proper comparison, sorry….

  7. Saw on the Gazpacho Soup twitter feed that Craig said something along the lines of people keep asking for a film, BtE was a bit filmy, be careful what you wish for.

    I seem to remember the guys being very positive about Back to Earth, even after it had been broadcast. Wonder why they’re content with saying it’s cack now.

    I read the comprehensive (and excellent IMO) article on Gazpacho Soup before I wrote this, as well as the Metro article, and didn’t want to duplicate too much content from there. I took Craig’s “be careful what you wish for” as a comment on the relatively unenthusiastic reception BtE got from fans rather than saying outright that it was cack- but that might be me projecting. On the subject of favourite episodes/moments, Craig also said he thought there was some good stuff in series 8 and Robert suggested “You’re lying” as a highlight (which is not how I would describe it). It’s nice that they have such faith in their work!!!

    Flanl- yeah, that’s about the size of it. Craig did also say a few spoilery things relating to his input in “Cured”, but apart from that I did feel a bit like he was sticking quite firmly to agreed boundaries in terms of giving out new info (for once?). He was hilarious despite that- great presence and charisma as usual, anything but boring really and a big part of how enjoyable the evening was- but it doesn’t really come across well in any review I’ve seen so far (this one not least!)

    Thanks Darrell! Really glad to hear you enjoyed it. And big love to G&T for hosting my ramblings…..

  8. Without going into Spoiler city, was there a satisfying ending to the episode? I enjoyed XI but I felt a lot of XI’s endings a little sudden.

  9. I don’t think I can last until October without knowing how the XII appears in the title sequence.

  10. Without going into Spoiler city, was there a satisfying ending to the episode? I enjoyed XI but I felt a lot of XI’s endings a little sudden.

    I completely agree! Content-wise, the resolution of “Cured” might raise a few eyebrows, but the episode was satisfyingly structured overall and the ending securely paced. Much more like “Twentica” than “Officer Rimmer”!

  11. I don’t think I can last until October without knowing how the XII appears in the title sequence.

    It’s dinky! I loved it, but then I am quite kitsch….

  12. Without going into Spoiler city, was there a satisfying ending to the episode? I enjoyed XI but I felt a lot of XI’s endings a little sudden.

    I completely agree! Content-wise, the resolution of “Cured” might raise a few eyebrows, but the episode was satisfyingly structured overall and the ending securely paced. Much more like “Twentica” than “Officer Rimmer”!

    Might this be the thing Ian mentioned in the set report that has happened in recent Dwarf rather too often? I have a fairly good idea of what that might be.

  13. I read/heard an interview with Doug where he said BtE wasn’t really proper Red Dwarf but rather a way to get their foot in the door so they could make more Dwarf. Wish I had the link. Obviously you aren’t going to say the thing you just made is cack when you’re doing the press tour for it and your comments could negatively impact sales, but 7 years on I think it’s fair game.

    For the record I like BtE

  14. I’ve said it before at length but Doug slagging off Back To Earth irritates me to cosmic levels. Not just because I like it – I’d feel the same if I didn’t – it’s just such bad form to delegitimise the experiences of your fans, from any creator or artist. Once you’ve signed off on it, it’s not your job to control or influence how it’s received.

  15. Thing about back to earth is reviews wise i remember fans and the casual audience were not impressed with it and Doug does seem to hide from the less well-received Dwarf.

    Which is funny in retrospect because in SFX magazine i remember Doug saying he thought BTE was the best red dwarf story they have ever told.

  16. Let’s clear this up – the casual audience loved it. Look at the high ratings for episodes 2 and 3. And in the fanbase it was received much more warmly than VIII with a significant percentage who still regard it very highly.

    The general public have never received any Red Dwarf series from the ‘breakthrough’ onwards less than enthusiastically. From V to VI to VII to VIII to BtE to X to XI – it’s been received about the same.

  17. Without going into Spoiler city, was there a satisfying ending to the episode? I enjoyed XI but I felt a lot of XI’s endings a little sudden.

    I completely agree! Content-wise, the resolution of “Cured” might raise a few eyebrows, but the episode was satisfyingly structured overall and the ending securely paced. Much more like “Twentica” than “Officer Rimmer”!
    Might this be the thing Ian mentioned in the set report that has happened in recent Dwarf rather too often? I have a fairly good idea of what that might be.

    I obviously won’t go into too much detail here but I think the ending works well. It is plot and theme relevant in this case.

  18. Thing about back to earth is reviews wise i remember fans and the casual audience were not impressed with it and Doug does seem to hide from the less well-received Dwarf.

    Which is funny in retrospect because in SFX magazine i remember Doug saying he thought BTE was the best red dwarf story they have ever told.

    There’s a difference between thinking it’s the best story told, and thinking it was told well. Maybe he loves the concept but realises the execution wasn’t perfect.

  19. Doug…said BtE wasn’t really proper Red Dwarf…

    I may not be thinking about the same instance but i remember him saying that people keep asking about the movie but that if it were to happen it would be similiar to BtE which wasnt received well by those fans. In another place he said something like as specials they werent normal episodes and were a celebration of the past and a foot in the door for the future.

    This is how i interpreted his comments over the years. I like BtE directors cut (my personal use edit even more) the best and i really think it achieves the stated goals. It seems best to me not to treat BtE as a season but rather a tv movie.

  20. Yeah I like BtE more as a drama than a comedy, maybe. I think it’s good. But RE: the creator slagging off his creation, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I find it endearing and genuine that somebody can admit that what they’ve made possibly isn’t the greatest thing ever. It doesn’t delegitimise the experience of anybody who did enjoy it – it’s still their for you to enjoy – Doug not liking it much shouldn’t cause you to like it any less. Like if he said VIII was the best series you wouldn’t have to agree with him.

    Edit: Couldn’t figure out how to quote somebody for days. Just noticed the reply button.

  21. I mentioned BTE in the latest episode of PortsCenter, actually (which, sidebar, involved me putting together an edit of the opening titles that didn’t feature the actor credits and discovering that rather a lot of those shots come from alternate takes). My memory of the time is that BTE was rather well received by critics and general audiences, even if fans weren’t quite as unanimous in their affection for the special. Now, though, it’s considered by everyone to be a bit crap. Audiences and critics alike all seem to share the consensus that it was always rubbish, but that’s definitely a revisionist attitude towards the special.

    It’s not unlike the critical shift Avatar went through. It made a squillion dollars and was loved by everybody, right up to the point when everybody decided they’d always hated it. That never quite sat well with me, and I haven’t seen the film at all as a result.

  22. It’s not unlike the critical shift Avatar went through. It made a squillion dollars and was loved by everybody, right up to the point when everybody decided they’d always hated it. That never quite sat well with me, and I haven’t seen the film at all as a result.

    I think that’s one of those films where everyone is so impressed by the spectacle they rave about it, but once that initial thrill of seeing something that’s never been done before is gone you realize how lacking in actual substance the film is. There’s special effects, but little else.

    And I personally never found the special effects convincing even at the time. They had that same cheesy uncanny overly choreographed look CGI tends to have, just used for more complex shots than other movies could achieve at the time. I’m impressed by the effort, but not the result.

    Or maybe I was just focusing too much on the effects because there was nothing else to hold my attention.

  23. Now that Johnny Vegas is announced as a guest cast member for the series.
    Was any there, at his episode recording, who can tell anything about the speech he made about appearing in the show?

  24. Its funny now i think about it i remember something that he might have revealed he was a fan years ago, think it was around 2002 though so it was that long ago.

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