It comes to something when the most controversial thing you can say about a project is that you’re optimistic about it. Nevertheless, this is the situation with Red Dwarf: The Movie; fans, who have been waiting a long time for the film, are so convinced that the movie will be crap that they refuse to note any of the good omens surrounding it. It is our firm belief that the movie certainly won’t be as bad as people are making out, and that it will be well worth the wait.

Just to clarify, in this article our views are given in normal text, and the bits in bold are us playing devil’s advocate. A lot of these remarks are based of things people have said in various forums. You know who you are. Off we go then…

Series VII and VIII weren’t very good. How can the movie possibly be any better?

Well, we agree that VII and VIII were poor, but we don’t necessarily think that this automatically means the movie will be as bad. Doug Naylor is a fantastic writer – we can all agree on that. He acknowledges his past mistakes and has a history of putting things right by basing them on what the fans want. There are brilliant moments in each and every episode of VII and VIII; the problem was inconsistency. Given that Doug has written a two-hour movie as opposed to a four-hour series, it is likely that his hit-rate has improved.

Not only that, the Script Editor is Andrew Ellard, a talented writer and genuine Red Dwarf fan. Surely Andrew knows what we as fans want from the script, and he is able to advise Doug directly. It seems to be working too; Andrew has said that every draft of the script is an improvement on the last.

Look at Last Human – which being a complete story rather than having to be episodic, is in many ways a better thing to base hopes for the movie on. It’s a fantastic book; compelling, thought-provoking and funny. The characterisation is spot on, and the plot is amazing. If the movie is as well-written as Last Human we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Ed Bye isn’t directing – Doug Naylor is. And what directing work has he done?

Well, a significant chunk of Series V, actually. Doug Naylor has always taken a keen interest in the production of the series, right from the early days, as you can tell from the interview on the Series II DVD. He’s been a producer/executive producer since Series III, so he knows a fair bit about how to work behind-the-scenes. His directing work on Series V is exemplary – that series has a unique and exciting atmosphere. It is a shame that a talented director such as Ed Bye isn’t involved, but he wasn’t involved with Series V and VI either, and look how good they are.

The Movie will have Kochanski in. I don’t like Kochanski.

Again, we refer you to Last Human. The character of Kochanski works very well in that situation; she has some great banter with Rimmer, in which the contradiction of him not liking Kochanski, yet still following her orders, is highlighted excellently. We do feel that she has a negative effect in VII, but she was much better in VIII, albeit with a much smaller role. Besides which, there’s the simple fact that Chloe Annett is a good actress, and in a situation where she is part of the team from the start, as opposed to being thrown into the middle of Series VII, she can shine.

Red Dwarf‘s time has passed – there hasn’t been any new stuff since 1999.

Oh, don’t talk such rubbish. Read that in SFX, did we? Well, it’s wrong. The show survived between 1993 and 1997 (the ratings for VII were a significant improvement on VI), and so there’s no reason why it can’t survive between 1999 and 2004. Besides, Red Dwarf does still have a fanbase – the DVDs have sold very well, and the Official Fan Club and Dimension Jump are still up and running, admittedly on a smaller scale than they once were. Even if it didn’t have a big fanbase, since when does a film need fans to succeed? The majority of films are one-offs, so how can they possibly have supporters before they are released? SFX are clearly fools.

Series VII proved that Red Dwarf doesn’t really work when it’s shot filmically, and without a studio audience.

Let’s face it – the main problems with VII were nothing to do with the way it was shot; it simply wasn’t as funny as previous series. If you look at older episodes, a lot of sequences were shot without audiences, half of Gunmen of the Apocalypse, large sequences of Dimension Jump and the whole of Body Swap, for example. All of these episodes work well; two of them in particular are widely regarded as classics. The comic timing is spot-on, and no audience was required for that to work.

Even so, without a laugh track, it just won’t feel like Red Dwarf.

Well, it won’t feel like the TV series, granted. But you don’t need a laugh track for the books, do you? They prove that Red Dwarf can work in other media, with each medium having a unique feel. We believe that the movie will be able to successfully stand separately from the TV series, in the way that the novels do.

I’ve got a few issues with the plot. Firstly, it’s going to start the whole story again. How will that work, continuity wise?

Simply imagine that the TV series and the film take place in different realities. People do this automatically for the novels without much fuss, so it shouldn’t be a problem for the movie. Besides, it’s a good idea for the movie to not follow on from VIII; it won’t have to spend time resolving the cliffhanger for a start. This way, it can leap straight into its own story. And, as someone said very astutely in Better Than Life recently, if the movie followed on from the series, viewers would need prior knowledge of the TV show in order to enjoy the film, which would involve watching a lot of episodes, in order to catch up with the plot. Starting from scratch means that new fans can be drawn in, which is something that wouldn’t happen if you were required to research the series before you went to the cinema.

I’m not sure about the Homo Sapienoid story either.

Why not? It’s an interesting sci-fi concept. Besides, we don’t think that the Homo Sapienoids are the whole story. As the official site reported recently:

It misses the bit where Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten come together, obviously. It also misses out Holly and Kochanski. It misses the actual plot, in fact.

(DISCLAIMER: This next bit is pure conjecture, and shouldn’t be considered to be fact.) We reckon that the Sapienoid arc is merely the back story; something which will probably be set up at the beginning, and then left alone for a while. Then the actual situation will be set up – radiation leak, three million years, holograms, etc. After the premise is established, the Sapienoids will then be brought into play. As we say, that’s wild speculation, but it seems likely. A lot of people thought that the Sapienoids would change the whole premise, with the fully-crewed ship on the run from the predators, but the afore-mentioned statement from the official site more or less catergorically denies that. You have nothing to fear – the Sapienoids are likely to be just another enemy for the crew, in the way that simulants and GELFs were in the series.

Surely GNP won’t be able to come up with anything near enough money to actually make this thing.

Well, the budget has been given £11 million, which is plenty of money compared to the series. Remember, one of the factors that contributed to Series VIII’s problems was the lack of money, and at the moment it looks as if this matter will not affect the movie.

If the same crappy CGI from the series is used on the movie, it’ll look awful on the big screen.

Well, it’s a good job that this won’t be happening then. Doug has said that physical model shots will be used, and they will be enhanced with CGI. This is clearly good news, and yet another reason why the movie will be good.

We feel that we have proved beyond doubt that it is wrong to be too pessimistic about the movie. After all, the basic premise of Red Dwarf lends itself to the film medium. The story has an epic nature, more so when you add in the Sapienoid sub-plot. There is plenty of scope for good sci-fi action sequences, and the storyboards published on the official site ages ago suggest that these will be present. Let’s not forget that a lot of the elements of the series will be used in the film – the original cast, the original writer, and no doubt a lot of the original crew. Surely these are good indications that the film will be as popular and successful as the series from which it derives?

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