Part of the fun whenever there’s a new series of Red Dwarf is in the anticipation, trying to skip ahead and find out what’s coming up next. Having previously analysed the shit out of a teaser and a trailer, it’s time to round off the trilogy of impatient speculation by combing for clues in the Series XII title sequence. This is the landmark tenth title sequence of its type, with a fast-paced montage of clips from the across the series, set to the guitar-based version of the theme tune. Several of the shots within are things we’ve seen in previous promotional material, and a fair few are taken from Cured, but there’s a lot of new material to take in here. Off we go…
Firstly, an apology for the poor quality of some of these screengrabs. This is what happens when you’re taking them from an internet stream instead of a recording of a HD broadcast. Luckily you’ll have already seen a much less dark and murky version of this first shot:
It’s Starbug leaving Red Dwarf’s landing bay, which we now know comes from Cured.
We then see Cat and Lister materialising in mid-air in one of Red Dwarf’s corridors, before stumbling to regain their balance upon landing. There are service lifts either side, making this similar to sets seen in Give & Take and Officer Rimmer. Perhaps one, both or neither of these lifts will be voiced by Daniel Barker.
Then a shot from the first teaser, of Kryten and Rimmer stumbling around in the Science Room, meaning we’ve seen all four of the regular cast in such a situation within the first few seconds of the titles. Still no idea what that fruit bowl is for.
The now familiar shot of Starbug in the landing bay, and isn’t it lovely that we’re now familiar with seeing Starbug in the landing bay, after having not seen it since the 90s? This is from Cured, but might well be one of those model shots that’s reused whenever relevant in future episodes too.
Then we see some sort of emergency taking place in Starbug’s cockpit, from an episode as yet unknown. Lister and Rimmer are horrified by a monitor readout to their top left, while Cat desperately tries to keep control and Kryten wobbles about a bit.
A glimpse of Danny John-Jules’s portrayal of a mechanoid in action, from The One Where Everyone’s Kryten. He’s demonstrating his ability to pull his finger all the way back, to a mechanoid who seems to be wearing glasses. Did Robert forget to take them off after rehearsals?
In keeping with the rest of the Dave era, the on-screen credits for the four main cast members return; Chris’s is illustrated with a shot of Rimmer trapped in a flaming waste disposal unit, from Cured.
Then another shot from Cured, of Lister and Kryten peering down at Cat in a water tank…
…followed by another shot from Cured, of Lister jamming with the leader of the Third Reich. We don’t see him in this sequence, which is understandable for many reasons.
Sticking with Cured once again, here’s Starbug approaching the moon base. There really is a very high concentration of shots from the same episode here, which creates an impression that the title sequence isn’t as varied as we’re used to. That was certainly what I came away with after first seeing it, but actually, now that I’ve broken it down bit by bit, that’s not representative of the piece overall; there’s only one more thing from Cured in the remainder of the sequence.
This one looks similar to a moment in Cured at first glance, but instead it seems to take place in the far end of the Science Room, with Lister, Kryten and Rimmer urging someone else – quite possibly the Cat – not to do whatever they’re about to do.
Then it’s Craig’s credit shot, of the old-aged Lister morphing back into the middle-aged Lister, which we’re presuming is from M-Corp. It seems weird that they’re showing us the transformation this way round; the brilliant make-up is definitely something you want to show off, but it’d surely be more dramatic to see Lister being turned into an old man, rather than Lister being turned back to normal.
Then there’s a scene set on the gas moon Rimmer, which could conceivably be part of any of the last five episodes. Lister and Cat look on while Rimmer carefully carries something he’s cradling in his hands. He seems scared by it, so it could be anything.
Next up, Cat looking gleeful as he mimes shining Lister’s shoes. Not sure exactly why this scenario is taking place, but my theory is that it could be from Mechocracy – according to Doug’s clues in SFX, that’s the one where the Cat needs glasses, so maybe he thinks he’s actually buffing Lister’s shoe.
Then it’s a shot that we’ve seen before in both the teaser and the trailer – Starbug being pulled through a tractor beam into a flying saucer.
And then it’s another shot from the trailer, of the mechanoid that we’re almost sure is Craig, fighting a fellow mech with a big pink mop.
Here’s some more miming of a menial task – Lister pretending to brush his teeth, in a scene vaguely reminiscent of Rimmer in Confidence & Paranoia. Could it be that his toothbrush has become invisible? In which case, this’ll be M-Corp.
As will this shot, again familiar from the trailer, of three of the crew beaming into a very white room.
Then a nice looking effects shot, with Starbug speeding towards the camera over a rocky surface.
Danny’s credit is accompanied by him dancing into the sleeping quarters, as he is wont to do.
Then we see the baldy, non-hologrammatic, R-scarred Rimmer. It’s a different shot to the one from the teaser and trailer; he’s turning from left to right, rather than rising into the frame. Again, thanks to Doug’s SFX clues, we can assume that this one is from Timewave.
This is one of the most intriguing shots of the whole sequence. In a red and moodily lit sleeping quarters, Kryten, Lister and Cat are dressed in dark monks’ robes, performing some sort of sacrificial ceremony on a prostrate and terrified Rimmer. By candlelight, Lister plunges a knife in the vicinity of Rimmer’s heart. Blimey. It’s hard to identify exactly which episode this fits into, but my Kryten-style best guess would, I suppose, be Skipper, just because alternate dimensions could account for any number of strange scenarios.
Ah, there’s that remaining Cured shot, of Rimmer wondering if he’s next to be incapacitated, whilst being incapacitated.
The last of the credit shots is, unsurprisingly, Robert. Kryten comes up and cleans a camera, then nods in acknowledgement of it. This will either be him cleaning an on-board security camera, or there’s an episode where Kryten starts a vlog.
We’re getting towards the end now, and here’s the first and only example of what appears to be two continuous shots from the same scene. In the sleeping quarters, Cat sprays Lister with some sort of liquid that he can fire out of his hands…
…and then we see the reverse, of Lister receiving a big load of the Cat’s special fluid all over his astonished face. But still, where did the lighter fluid come from?
The very final shot of the sequence could well be the most significant. Rimmer is in a corridor that looks very much to be in the style of Series 1-2 Dwarf, wearing his original costume. He’s stood in front of what appears to be a stasis booth – it’s not identical to the ones we saw in the first series, but it’s certainly in the same ballpark, in much the same way as the corridor in which Rimmer talks to Holly in the teaser. This is one fairly short continuous shot, but here’s an extra screengrab from a few frames later:
Rimmer dematerialises just in time to avoid being hit full in the face by a nuclear explosion. We knew that Skipper would be taking us back to early Red Dwarf, but we weren’t sure whether it would be pre-accident or post-accident. Could it be that we’re actually going to see the accident itself?
That’s the last thing we see before the title card, in which the “Red” flies in from the left, the “Dwarf” flies in from the right, and they’re met in the middle by the ellipse which grows from the centre, and four individual columns that pop up from the bottom. These first two figures then cross over and resolve into…
…the Series XII logo, thankfully without the trimmed-off versions of the W and A, as seen in the teaser. Much has been made of the significance or otherwise of those initial four figures. Some have suggested it’s because this is the fourth Dave series as well as the twelfth overall, but I don’t buy that – literally nobody counts them like that, and Back To Earth isn’t a fully-fledged series anyway. It could be that they’re there to represent the four main characters, and maybe that would be the case if they had a H, dreadlocks, fangs and a chest monitor respectively. But my pet theory is just that someone thought it would look cool and then put it on the titles on the basis of it looking cool. I’m yet to see an alternative interpretation that isn’t a bit of a stretch.
I’m not sure whether I necessarily agree that it looks cool. It’s a bit of a distraction really, as the last couple of days of discussion would prove. Looking at the sequence overall, I was a little underwhelmed at first, thanks to the perceived high concentration of clips that we’d seen before or that we were about to see in the first episode. But then again, the purpose of the title sequence isn’t merely to reveal secrets about the rest of the series, it’s also there to set a mood for the episode and show off the full range of what the series can do.
On that level it’s certainly a success – as with the Series XI equivalent, there are so many different settings and scenarios on display, indicating that we’re in for a run of six varied and distinctive episodes. There was bound to be some crossover with the promotional material, but I’ve actually found myself with much more to say than expected on the bits we haven’t seen before. My appetite for Series XII is sufficiently whetted, and I can’t wait to fill in all the blanks.