In amongst all the excitement of Twentica being unleashed to the world, the launch of the brand new Red Dwarf shop has understandably taken a back seat. But on any other day, this would be a huge deal, so let’s take a closer look. The first impression is that the site is functional but attractive. Nice big pictures and prices of everything on offer on the front page, with sub-indexes divided between “clothing” and “accessories”. It’s a bit of a shame, however, that the pictures are quite low-res, and that there’s no option to zoom in to take a closer look at the items you’re expected to pay good money for. There are details you can make out in last week’s TOS update that you can’t actually see on the shop itself!
As for what’s for sale, we have a choice of nine t-shirts (one long-sleeved, one polo, the others regular), all of which are available in S-XXL and presumably intended to be unisex. There’s also two hoodies, a mug, a bag, a poster, a postcard set, a lanyard, a badge set and a keyring. It’s worth noting that none of these things are actually available yet – you can order them all right now, but they’re all listed as shipping in October 2016. Prices are decent, particularly for the clothing, although the lanyard and keyring seem a bit steep at £8 each, before p&p. I placed a massive order earlier, and the shipping cost seemed very reasonable, but I’ve since seen unconfirmed reports that there’s a minimum shipping cost of £5.60 per order, no matter how small.
On the plus side, while we’ll have to wait to inspect the quality of the finished goods before making a declaration on value for money, the designs are consistently good, with a mixture of subtle and blatant branding to suit every need, and great use of the show’s iconography. A handful of the designs appear to make references to specific episodes and characters from Series XI, and it’s strange to see potential spoilers being put out there in this manner, especially as these are all pre-orders anyway – they could have been held back until the episodes in question have been on TV. Aside from anything else, they don’t know yet how the fans will react to these episodes – what if we end up all hating whatever “Captain Bollocks” means?
The single most intriguing item in terms of episode teasers has to be the postcard set. Six photographs feature: two of them are previously released stills (top left, middle left); two were first glimpsed in yesterday’s SFX (middle right, bottom right); and the other two are completely new (top right, bottom left). Again, the image available on the site is irritatingly small, but we can make one assumption: we know that the first still is from Twentica, the third from Give and Take and the fifth from Krysis, so it would make sense if there’s one from each episode, and that they’re presented in order.
In other news, it really is all go in the world of Red Dwarf on the internet – TOS has been redesigned, including a new banner which indicates that it’s now actually called “TOS” for the first time. The basic chassis of the site appears to be the same, but a new stylesheet has provided a simpler, cleaner, more up-to-date look to the content. Navigation is greatly improved, with big friendly blocks in the sidebar of each page, a much more intuitive nav bar at the top, and a rejigged front page, with thumbnails and lists replacing the old image slider, which makes it a lot easier to find updates that are more than a week old, and indeed to notice new content when they post two things at once. Basically, I approve.
And, it has to be said, UKTV Play’s servers coped very well with this morning’s demand. It took us by surprise by being so damned early – the episode was live just after 9am – but it all seemed to go smoothly from where I’m sitting. I’m not hugely enamoured by the picture quality on offer, and it’s a shame that many people’s first experience of the new series will be in inferior quality to how it will appear on TV, but I can confirm that the version on Sky set-top-boxes is HD, and looks pretty close to broadcast quality to my semi-trained-but-admittedly-quite-sleepy eye. Sky Go, on the other hand, looks dogshit, so don’t watch that.
So, if you have watched Twentica on demand, the place to discuss it is right here, and you can be as candid as you like in the comments. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can read the post itself, but don’t venture in to the comments. It’s worth everyone taking a look at our updated spoiler policy, if you haven’t already.