Product: Red Dwarf Calendar 2006
Supplier: World of Calendars
Price: £7.99 from RDSUK (+ £2.99 P&P for UK)
Ah, it’s a nice feeling, walking into Calendar Club, not being able to find the Red Dwarf calendar, sighing in frustration… and then spotting it in the bestsellers section. Yes, Dwarf is just SO DEAD, obviously. Still, is this something you’ll want on your wall for 12 months?
Firstly, the predictable moan out of the way first – it’s a shame that the Re-mastered version of the ship is used on the front and inside. It’s understandable why it’s used – there are simply far more decent pictures of the thing to use on merchandise than the original model – but it’s a shame we’ve got the situation where the DVDs use the old model of the ship, and yet this isn’t reflected in the merchandise. This does matter less for the calendar, however, as once you get into the actual monthly pages, its nowhere to be seen.
Flip the calendar open, and we get a page each dedicated to Dwarf and Starbug, with a picture and description of each ship. The one for Red Dwarf is “transcribed from the original Red Dwarf JMC publicity video, hosted by Bing Baxter (“Sure, it has a small moon imbedded on its underside, but hey, it just adds character!”), and the one for Starbug is a “transcript from Channel 27’s ‘Watchdog: Shuttlecraft Special'”. Both are amusing enough; although I don’t need to tell you that the stuff about the moon doesn’t really fit with a big piccy of the Re-mastered ship. The Starbug piece does manage to both highlight and explain away many odd continuity problems – you’ve got to love a piece of writing that explains away why a piece of model footage was used twice.
Oh, and by the way… yes, I am an ugly cunt.
Flip. Luckily, they’ve resisted the urge to do a hilarious time anomaly gag, and we get: January 2006. A big picture of Lister holding a Bazookoid, with a character profile, quotes, and some white squares with the date in. What more could you want from a calendar? Flip again, over to February, and instead of character profiles, we get Space Corps Directives (with the odd Rimmer Directive one thrown in). Very amusing. This pattern is repeated to great effect throughout the rest of the calendar. And yes, we do get the extra Space Corps directives as in the Red Dwarf Log No. 1996 – “997 Work done by an officer’s doppelganger in a parallel universe cannot be claimed as overtime.” For what it’s worth, they could have appeared in every episode ever and they still wouldn’t have got boring. How one joke an episode managed to annoy so many people is beyond me.
As for the actual calendar itself – the way the numbers are presented in the actual calendar squares themselves doesn’t look quite right to me – centred, with a bit of awkward white space round them. I think it would have worked better if they’d been in the left-hand corner, or something. More irritatingly, the day on the far left is Sunday, rather than Monday. Yes, I know technically Sunday is the start of the week, but emotionally it certainly isn’t – so it just doesn’t feel right. You think of “a weekend” – not two days at opposite ends.
In general, though, I love the design – very Dwarfy. There’s a certain style of Dwarf graphic design that’s very VIII – most evident on some of the posters, on the front of the VIII scriptbook and videos, and merchandise about two or three years ago. It’s not that I minded it per se, but it wouldn’t have been suitable for something encapsulating other series. The DVDs showed a major move away from this, and the calendar continues it to some extent, once you get past the cover and first page. For some reason, the way the Month/Year title works at the top pleases me greatly, for no adequately explainable reason.
A word about the main pictures. You have a total of: 5 piccies from IV, 1 piccy from V, 2 piccies from VII, and 4 piccies from VIII. On first glance this seems rather unevenly spread out, but we have to excuse the lack of III piccies due to Paul Grant owning the rights – therefore they would cost far more than for other series. (We’ve not had a calendar for the last few years due to budget, so there’s not a huge amount of money to throw around.) With 1 and 2, there aren’t loads of colour photos in existence – but on the other hand, there are some, so it’s perhaps a shame at least one wasn’t used. I also can’t see a problem with using black and white photos for at least one month either – it’s obviously not anathema to calendar companies, as the Are You Being Served? calendar I was looking at had one gorgeous one.
Still, whilst I could pick (it’s a shame there isn’t a VI piccy there, either) – we aren’t facing a calendar only consisting of of VII/VIII piccies, even if they are half of them. And as one of those used is Rimmer sitting with the ‘Engaged’ sign over his eyes, which is one of my favourite Dwarf publicity photos ever, it seems churlish to complain too much. Although sadly, whilst I can see what they were trying to do with the Holly toupee (linked with the ‘ginger toupee’ Space Corps Directive), it just doesn’t work, in my opinion. It just looks silly, but not in a particularly amusing way.
A word about picture quality. Sad to say, some of the large piccies are rather blurred – I’m thinking of Ace Rimmer on the June page in particular, but the quality isn’t stellar on a few others. I suspect this is due to both the age of some the pictures, and also how much some of them are cropped and zoomed to get the right proportions. You won’t notice it from across the room, mind you. (Also, I have to say: the character pictures on the front are awful – the colour is all off, especially Lister, who looks like David Dickinson. This problem isn’t present in any of the main piccies though, so it’s not much of a problem.)
Of course, as well as the main piccies, we get smaller pictures dotted around the various pages. These are great to see, and (outside DVD picture galleries), some of them aren’t published very much. Look at the picture of Rimmer and Cat at the bottom of February’s page – I’d not seen it before, and it’s one of the most hilarious Dwarf pictures I’ve ever seen. CHRIS BARRIE’S FACE.
So, worth buying, then? An unequivocal yes, despite the criticisms – it’s always easier to find the words for something negative to say about something, rather than just repeating the word “good”. But believe me – March will be a very happy month, purely for that month’s picture. Hopefully it’s sold enough that we’ll be seeing another next year. I was going to use it at home, but I might stick it up at work to cheer me up. No self-respecting Dwarfer should be without one.
If there is such a thing, of course.