It’s been a little while in the making but GameDigits have now returned with a pretty huge update for the Red Dwarf XI mobile game. Once again, I decided to record my attempt at a blind playthrough and my musings on the update in general.
A few days ago the ever reliable GameDigits delivered to us a fine Christmas present in the shape of their Give & Take update for Red Dwarf XI: The Game. It has ended up being an incredibly pleasant way to close out a year that’s been stuffed full of Red Dwarf activity and so I have once again recorded my first playthrough of the entire episode, along with my own brand of unfocused and unprofessional commentary.
Regardless of your opinions on the episodes themselves, the consensus concerning the way Red Dwarf XI has been handled by its various stakeholders seems to be that certain areas have been disappointing. The decision to premiere each episode on UKTV Play was… controversial, shall we say, leaks have been taking place left, right and centre (including the accidental releases of an episode and the DVD extras), the online store has been a heavily-delayed farce, and the rancid cherry on the top came last weekend when we realised what was printed on the back of the very Steelbook I’m about to review.
It seems that Howard Goodall and Ian GameDigits are currently the only ones successfully carrying the torch, at least without getting bits of lighter fluid all down themselves and accidentally causing a series of small fires. It’s getting harder to ignore the cloud that’s gathering over this series, but there’s one area where Red Dwarf has always excelled: DVD/Bluray releases. The original releases of the BBC era remain unmatched by any other comparable show. The Back To Earth and Series X releases had a very different job to do, coming as they did so soon after broadcast, and XI is very much in the same boat. But despite the monumental cock-up affecting one of the three variants, is the content of these shiny discs good enough to distract from the recent shortcomings, and end this chapter of Red Dwarf‘s ongoing story in style?
Even after Red Dwarf XI has long since been broadcast, the mobile game that first launched alongside Twentica continues to recieve attention, with the first big content update in the shape of the Samsara episode being released last week. I decided to play through the lot and record my thoughts as I went, which might be of questionable worth but at least it’s better than reading any form of news site or social media right now.
After nearly two months, I’ve finally received most of the order that I placed with the Red Dwarf Shop on the day it opened. The operators, Sandbag, have not come across well during this minor fiasco. On October 25th, they sent an email to all customers still awaiting delivery, which anecdotal evidence suggests was pretty much everyone, to say that deliveries would on their way soon. It’s been claimed by various sources that at least one of the Krysis keyring, Starbug t-shirt and badges were causing the problem, but their policy of waiting until the entire order is in stock before sending anything, rather than just sending the missing stuff later, is a foolish one. Furthermore, I know people who didn’t order any of those items, but are still yet to receive anything.
It seems the best way to resolve the situation is to complain, which I did a week after the aforementioned email. The ‘contact us’ link on my initial order confirmation was not much use, but I eventually tracked them down to CustomerService@sandbaguk.com and sure enough, my order was dispatched (minus the pesky keyring and Starbug t-shirt) the very next day. It’s a sad state of affairs that this is what it takes to receive goods that you ordered before Red Dwarf XI even started.
If ever an episode was under pressure to deliver, it was this one. Red Dwarf XI has been critically acclaimed and the fan reaction has been mostly positive, but there’s a handful of niggling doubts amongst the more hardcore elements of fandom, ourselves included, with regards to pacing, clarity and consistency. A finale that delivers on these points would surely put these doubts to bed, but to end on a duff note would leave a lingering dark cloud as we begin the process of revisiting the series and consolidating our opinions.
Not only that, but Can of Worms was specifically chosen as the final episode, the implication being that this is the one that they want you to remember while the show’s off air. You expect an episode six to contain higher stakes, an emotional punch, and a careful balance between a sense of closure and anticipation of what’s to come. What’s more, we also knew that this would be a long-awaited Cat-centric episode – arguably the first one ever – and that we’d finally see another of his species for the first time in 28 years. There was an extra frisson on top for anyone who’d read the spoilers in the Radio Times. It all added up to the expectation that this would be something special.
Of course, you know all this, but the point of this preamble is to explain why I really really wanted this episode to be a classic. I had visions of laughing, crying, applauding and then immediately firing off a couple of thousand words about how the show that I care about so much is now finally back to its best. Instead, I now have to attempt to articulate why I had the same nauseous feeling on Friday night as I did the last time my team lost the FA Cup Final.
I think it’s safe to say that Krysis came with a fair bit of baggage. Out of all series XI episodes, this is the one people thought most likely to be shit, and not without some good reasons. At this point in Dwarf history, many are terrified of the the concept of the Kryten-centric story, with Duct Soup and Krytie TV weighing heavily on minds. Add to that the unenviable ‘episode 5’ position usually reserved for the weaker episodes and the striking visual of a Ferrari Red Kryten and we pretty much had the perfect storm of terribleness just waiting to tear through the fandom.
Shit or good, Last Day or last straw, Krysis certainly does continue the tradition of defying pre-broadcast expectations, and for good or ill the thoughts I had coming away from the episode ended up being a million miles from my expectations going in.
Now, those of you following our Dwarfcasts know that me and Series XI…well, we’ve had a bit of a tiff. Perhaps we haven’t quite seen eye to eye. Which made the prospect of me writing this review a little daunting. Imagine my relief, then, when Officer Rimmer ended up being very much my cup of Earl Grey. Well, at least most of it.
Give & Take was the first episode of Red Dwarf XI to go in front of the cameras, and yet curiously it’s been shuffled into the episode 3 position in favour of an episode that, before broadcast, was being touted as a classic. Does this mean we’ve got a bit of a clunker on our hands? Is it really looking like this series decided to put its best foot forward and saved nothing for later? Were things a little bit rusty before production settled down into its mammoth multi-month and series schedule? Well, let’s see…
In the few days since Samsara was released online, the reaction seems to be mixed to say the least, with opinion split on whether or not it was better than Twentica. Some people are calling it a highlight of the Dave era, and some people are calling it an absolute stinker, although admittedly the majority lie somewhere in the middle of these extremes. Nevertheless, any review is naturally going to met with disagreement from one side or the other, so here’s the deal.
If you liked Samsara, then the bits that have you nodding with agreement mean that your goodwill will be punished with bits that will make you angry. And if you hated it, all the insults you fling at me for being wrong will be rewarded by the time you reach the end. For I believe that this episode is a perfectly balanced mixture of equal parts great Red Dwarf and terrible Red Dwarf. Let’s go back to the beginning to explore why…