Well, Ian GameDigits promised us that Give & Take, the next playable episode of Red Dwarf XI: The Game, would be released this month and that does indeed seem to be the case. After some initial concerns about the slow roll out of content I’m actually enjoying the pleasant surprise that each new update brings, and we now get to enjoy playing through many people’s favourite episode of the series while drinking eggnog and wearing our hilarious Christmas jumpers.
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Having thoroughly gorged ourselves on the meaty morsels provided by six brand new episodes of our favourite show, G&T has been having a bit of a post-series nap for the last couple of weeks. But we’re awake now, refreshed, and with plans in place for a whole host of features throughout the coming months, while we wait patiently for the Series XII publicity machine to roar into action at some point in 2017. And as a new month dawns, there are enough tiny pieces of news to warrant this brief festive-flavoured roundup, so read on…
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?
We all understandably got a little over-excited on Wednesday when it emerged that Red Dwarf would be making an appearance in Lego Dimensions. My limited knowledge of the game lead me to assume that the presence of the bunkroom set meant that we’d be getting a fully playable Dwarf-based expansion pack, but it soon became clear that there’s a precedent for some franchises making smaller, cameo appearances within other levels. Today’s TOS update confirms that this is the case with Dwarf; scenery from the show forms part of the Fantastic Beasts expansion pack, released today. There won’t be playable minifigs of the crew, but the areas will be explorable using the main game characters of your choice.
It would be churlish to feel too disappointed by this, because if we hadn’t have initially leapt to a dream conclusion, today’s announcement would still be totally mind-bogglingly brilliant. The TOS update features a new set of screengrabs that showcase the beautiful science room area, complete with bio-printer, along with corridors strewn liberally with JMC logos and what looks to my untrained eye like the raw materials required to build a little Lego skutter. It looks fantastic, and I remain incredibly impressed that our little show has been chosen for such treatment. The social media reaction to the initial teaser on Wednesday showed just how much enthusiasm there is for a full Red Dwarf console game, be it as part of Lego Dimensions or otherwise, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is just the start.
Bloody hell. There is never a dull moment when you’re a Red Dwarf fan at the moment. Over the last few months, the show has expanded into other media with varying degrees of success, with merchandise, a mobile game and soundtrack albums hitting the virtual shelves. It’s no less than a popular franchise of this age deserves, but it’s still a little surprising after years and years of the brand being under-represented outside of its core fanbase.
Which is why we’re utterly gobsmacked at this photo being posted on the official Lego Dimensions Facebook page, with the simple caption “It’s cold outside…”:
The UK release of the Series XI Bluray/DVD is a mere two days away. As is often the case with internet pre-orders, some lucky fans have already received their copies through the post. Imagine their delight as they rip open the packaging to take a look at their shiny Bluray steelbooks in the flesh for the first time. They turn it round to pore over the details contained on the rear. There’s a photo of the main cast, a list of exciting extras, the now-familiar series synopsis, and of course the list of… wait, that doesn’t say Twentica. And that doesn’t say Samsara. What the shitting crikey is happening here?
Yes folks, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but the slipcase for the Series XI Bluray steelbook contains the wrong episode titles. And I’m struggling even more to believe that I’m saying this bit, but not only that, they’ve actually printed the episode titles for Series XII instead. Needless to say, if you don’t want any further information, you probably ought to stop reading now.
Yes, is the resounding answer to that question, and today’s TOS update reveals that our prayers have been answered before we even began praying. This is not an announcement that soundtrack albums are being planned, or that they’re a long term ambition, or even that they’ll be coming out soon – completely out of the blue, *four* albums are available to download right this very second, covering almost the entire history of Red Dwarf, with a fifth to follow once XII has been aired. Split across the four are a selection of cues from every series bar VIII and BTE (which is reasonable, considering there wasn’t any new, non-library music in those two series), personally re-mastered and remixed by Howard Goodall himself.
This is obviously amazing, particularly as there’s a mixture of used and unused cues, some of which have never seen the light of day before. And of course, given the lack of isolated cues on the Series X and XI DVDs, this is the first opportunity to hear any clean versions of that material. Not only that, but it seems from the description that the cues have been compiled into a series of individual tracks – again, hand-crafted by the god-like genius that is Howard himself – for a better listening experience. Even from the brief previews on the store pages, this is clearly well worth the cover price.
It’s not quite the perfect package – the cover art is clearly not the work of a professional in that field, and it’s a little bit fiddly to have to make four separate purchases, considering this is a digital-only affair that’s not constrained by a maximum length of any given physical medium. But bloody hell, this is a surprise, and a very welcome one at that. Absolutely incredible. And the title Eine Kleine Ductmusik may well have justified the existence of that episode.
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.
The last six Thursdays have been incredibly exciting for Red Dwarf fans; the sense of anticipation all day as we eagerly await the big, unmissable event in the evening. No, not the Dave broadcasts of episodes that everyone had watched six days earlier – the Ganymede & Titan Live Reaction DwarfCasts! All of these are permanently available to download and keep, exactly as they originally went out, complete with imperfect sound quality, awkward pauses and exponentially increasing levels of tiredness.
But listening to the full hour-and-a-half of inadequately prepared waffle is not to everyone’s taste, so those who value their spare time and sanity may be unaware of the numerous audio extras that accompanied said waffle. So, to help you cope with the huge gap in your Thursday night routine, we present some of those loo-break-enabling inserts for your listening pleasure. You’ll have to go back to the full shows to relive our always-hilarious #DwarfFacts series, our increasingly tenuous collection of Red Dwarf-themed adverts, and our rotating episode-specific intro music, but here are the things that might actually be worth listening to.