Well, this is a relief. After almost a week of ignoring the massive elephant in the room (an elephant that is now back online), Red Dwarf XI‘s full episode list has been officially sent out into the wild. Episode titles, synopses, they’re all there. Despite the unfortunate early release, it’s nice to get this information in this way rather than the previous method of rooting through BBFC’s bins. So, let’s take a look, shall we?
To start with, I did not see any of the following episodes recorded so I know little to no details about their plot points or quality or anything. TOS confirms that this is not the original order of recording (something that was strongly suspected by people who were at the Twentica recording), but everything you see here was filmed in the first block in the latter part of last year. As always, if you were at any of these recordings please refrain from any spoilers, or even strong hints, as it’s just too much fun to speculate on the small amount of information we have here without some Billy Big Bollocks coming along and tapping his nose knowingly.
“The Dwarfers find themselves in an alternative version of America where modern technology is prohibited, making Rimmer and Kryten illegal. The Dwarfers infiltrate the tech savvy underground and try to bring down the authoritarian regime.”
This is obviously the one episode title we’ve seen before and a chunk of this synopsis was also included in the general series summary. To me, this sounds like a barnstorming opener in the spirit of Tikka to Ride, and it actually feels like quite a brave move. 2012’s Trojan was very safe ground, with a good chunk set on Red Dwarf and a nice easing back in to the core premise. For your first episode to throw the audience into a very unusual situation – and one with such a strong core idea – is exciting. It seems this is one of the ones that got a lot of people excited last year, and I feel like there’s a very good reason why this is being shown up top.
“When the Dwarfers investigate a crashed ship at the bottom of an ocean moon, Lister and Cat become trapped together and Lister’s nightmare begins. Meantime Rimmer and Kryten discover the ship is controlled by a dark force.”
Two episodes in a row with oblique and unknowable titles? While Samsara might be the name of the ocean moon, or more likely the ship, it’s currently nothing more than a standard sci-fi sounding word (edit: I’m an idiot, see comments for a better take on the word). That aside, though, I really like the sound of this episode, and it’s worth noting that this sounds like yet another off-ship adventure. We’re really starting to see real hints about greater ambition and scope in this production, and it’s incredibly exciting, even though the last time Lister and the Cat were trapped together it didn’t produce the most amazing results.
3. GIVE AND TAKE
“After an altercation with a deranged droid Lister has his kidneys organ-napped. The only solution is to ask Cat, the most selfish creature in the universe, to give him one of his.”
Gah, if only this episode used an ampersand, we could be claiming that this is a reference to Doug Naylor’s favourite website! SO CLOSE. Aside from that, it’s probably a safe assumption that the deranged droid in question is the one we’ve seen in this excellent production still, and it’s interesting to note this could be the second episode in a row with some more close Lister and Cat interplay.
4. OFFICER RIMMER
“After a scandalous piece of good fortune Rimmer saves the life of a bio-printed Captain and is promoted, fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming an Officer. He immediately opens an Officer’s club, which is out of bounds to the lower orders, and uses the bio-printer to fill it with versions of himself.”
Setting aside the fact that Rimmer has become an officer approximately 435678345835 times at this point, this episode features a concept that is very reminiscent of Me2. Presumably enough time has passed for Rimmer to forget what a nightmare that was for him, although there’s a great opportunity to show how much he’s changed since then and how that plays out with his clones. This synopsis has bags of promise in it, and bio-printing feels a good, solid, Dwarfy sci-fi concept to hang an episode around.
“Kryten has a mid-life crisis and changes his body cover from Mech grey to Ferrari red. The posse try and show him how much he’s achieved in life by taking him to visit a mechanoid from his old fleet.”
This is probably the episode I’m now most fascinated with. That first sentence sounds like the setup for a terrible episode (post-VI Kryten drama is never a good sign) but the It’s A Wonderful Life sounding premise of the second sentence sounds great! By “old fleet” do they mean the Nova 5? And could this be the long awaited episode where everyone becomes a mechanoid? Out of all of these episodes this is the one that feels on a knife edge between brilliant and balls, and it’s an Episode 5 to boot.
6. CAN OF WORMS
“Cat takes time off from being in love with himself to fall head over heels in love with a lady Cat with a big secret.”
Considering this is clearly an episode that’s been anticipated for years now (and was almost made with Identity Within) then I can see why it may merit the Episode 6 slot. The Cat hasn’t had a true episode dedicated to him since Waiting For God, but since then it’s sort of become received knowledge that the character isn’t at his best when he’s the focus. He’s a side character that enhances the comedy of others’ storylines, and while we were all very glad to see that role return to proper form in Series X, it’s encouraging to know something different is being attempted with the character. All that’s needed is to not make this purely about him getting his end away, and we might end up with a bit of a sleeper hit out of a premise that, on the surface, doesn’t seem massively promising.
Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but that has got me incredibly excited. Contained within these six synopses is a lot for fans to latch onto, and within a few weeks we’ll be starting see them all come to life. This is a new series of Red Dwarf and it’s happening pretty damn soon. And you know what? After this we’ve got another.
If you fancy seeing Twentica a little early, then TOS has revealed there will be a BAFTA screening on the 12th September, tickets for which are available from this afternoon. Personally, I’m saving myself for the broadcast date so I can watch it along with the rest of you smelly, common oiks. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I’ve swapped London for the deep, dark Pennines, and can no longer easily go to fancy London events with all the soft, Southern twats.
We’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of us, so stick around and we’ll make it worth your while.