Last night, Dave started advertising a “live Twitter commentary” for their Tuesday night showing of Quarantine, featuring Doug Naylor, the cast and surprise guests. We assumed this would be a text-based tweetalong, and would have made a much bigger deal out of it had we realised it was in fact a full video-conferencing-based broadcast along the lines of Rob, Paul and Ed’s efforts. Mind you, it’s probably best we didn’t. The last time UKTV did a Red Dwarf related live stream was Vindalunar. This was its spiritual successor.

First of all, we’d just like to set out from the start that none of the following criticism is aimed at any individuals. As a social media bod in the TV industry myself, I know that Dave’s Twitter person will be absolutely gutted right now, but these things happen. We’ve all got our horror stories. What matters is that they tried their damnedest to provide their followers with something brilliant to keep them entertained through dark times, whilst presumably working from home and battling against problems seemingly out of their control.

But fuck me, that was bad. Nothing had happened by the time the episode started airing at 9:40pm, until a tweet appeared apologising for technical issues. Two minutes after that, a Periscope stream with the snappy title “V2.mp4”. This was actually completely blank and silent for a full five minutes, until five faces appeared, stacked on top of each other, talking about the opening titles. This was seven minutes into the episode at this point, and it just started out of nowhere with nobody introducing themselves or what they were doing, which did not make for the smoothest experience for the viewer. What they were saying bore no relation to what was on screen, so it took a while to figure out what was going on, and a bit of squinting to realise that one of the faces – along with Robert, Craig, Doug and Hattie was none other than Maggie Steed.

After a while, a mysterious sixth figure appeared, wearing a loosely-fitted mechanoid mask. Then they wandered off. Then they came back and sat in silence for a couple of minutes, with nobody else referencing the fact that they were there. Fortunately, it wasn’t a hallucination, it was just Danny. In retrospect, perhaps there’s a more effective way of displaying six screens at once than stacking them all on top of each other. It was bad on a computer screen, but even worse on mobile, where it took up a tiny fraction of the screen.

Meanwhile, Dave reassured us that they’d be able to catch up during the ad break, but the commentary continued throughout the commercials, with Doug saying “this is a good bit” while a gambling advert played at one stage. A couple of minutes after the second part started, the stream ended abruptly. Then Dave tweeted a second stream, which was a little closer to being in sync, but was still nearly three minutes out. Switching to a new stream caused them to lose a fair few viewers too, which was a shame. The commentary itself was as shambolic as you’d expect from that group of people, but could have been a lot more entertaining in better conditions. As it was, it came across as sloppy and deeply confusing. The icing smeared roughly in the vicinity of the cake was when it came to an end – extremely abruptly, in the middle of Craig’s sentence, with nobody wrapping up or saying goodbye. Sigh.

The good news is: Dave have promised that they’ll be uploading the full commentary in the morning, where hopefully it will make for a much less confusing viewing experience. It’s fair to say this live event did not go to plan. But it did give us a good laugh, and that’s worth a lot at the moment. With far far more important things to get upset about, we’re starting to find what’s now a fine tradition of UKTV slightly cocking up Red Dwarf‘s promotion quite endearing. It’s hard to complain when these people are bringing us brand new Red Dwarf in two days, and the other half of Grant Naylor is providing a brilliant live commentary experience on a weekly basis for the foreseeable. With all this happening for the episode that contains the “Mickey Mouse operation” joke, it was actually kind of perfect.

22 comments on “Ain’t even Betty Boop

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  • Yes, I was definitely expecting a Tweetalong. I’d got the guys’ Twitter feeds open in different tabs. But yes, I agree with every word and opinion expressed above – definitely more of a ‘technical issues’ than cock-up.

  • If they’re not going to be answering questions, which given how much everyone involved in this loves to talk, is likely, surely a somewhat polished prerecord, available at the start of the episode, would have been better.

    Next time.

    At least they did something, it’s nice to see all the people even if it’s a garbled mess.

  • So gutted for them, but it certainly offered a very-much-appreciated moment of escape. There were some really fun moments of reflection in there. Inviting Maggie Steed along was lovely.

    I hope they’ve got the full recordings, and we find out what Craig ‘…didn’t realise you could predic-‘

  • I was also expecting a tweetalong, and that illustrates how lousy the communication around this was. Way too ambitious to do this live to a TV broadcast. I realise that Dave wanted people to watch their channel at the same time, but there was nothing to stop them pre-recording this and then playing it live.

    Um, yeah. I look at the Rob, Paul and Ed stream, and the fact that this compares so poorly is pretty embarrassing. Sadly, I’m not just talking about the sync issues, but also the entertainment value. I’m not overly inclined to watch this one back. Well, maybe to see whether Danny ever too the mask of. That was a bit odd.

  • If I had realised this was going to be more than just a livetweet thing then I would have checked it out as it happened. And then probably regretted that I did.

  • I assumed, going by the promo material, that this was a live tweet-a-long and all the cast/crew who were participating were just going to tweet things as the episode went on describing scenes or anecdotes etc. The video was a nightmare to follow and even to watch. I wonder whose idea it was to stack all the video in a vertical strip? Was this not even given a private dry run before yesterday to make sure everyone had it set up correctly?

  • What a shambles. The communication around what this was supposed to be prior to the event could have been a lot better. As has been pointed out, I expected a live tweet along … which are incredibly difficult to follow even as an active twitter user, so I had decided not to bother with it. At no point did they express it would be a live audio/video commentary. And it’s no wonder it went wrong. There’s too many things that could go wrong for it not to without some good experience in doing these things. Hell, me and some mates decided to do a live video chat as we watch an old punk documentary the other week, and it took us an hour to set it up and get all the pieces in place for it to work, and we’re not exactly inexperienced with IT communications in anyway.

    Regardless of all those issues, I’m glad they’ve tried something new and different (even if we have heard commentary for 4/6 of these people before) and I’m very interested in hearing what Doug and Maggie have to say. I’m really impressed with all the different and creative ways people are coming up with trying to stay sane and trying to help other stay sane whilst we’re all stuck at home, and this is another one to add to that ever growing list. Hopefully the upload later today is the full, uninterrupted video so we can just stick it on and hit play on our DVDs.

  • Was worth it for Doug saying that Quarantine was originally written to be another Marooned.

    Also for Danny arriving late and wearing the Kryten mask through the whole thing.

  • Did anyone pause their TV?

    Wouldn’t that have worked?

    After the odd starting/sync timing, I decided to stick Netflix on, and then try and work out exactly where they’d got to depending on which certain lines or events got specific reactions.

    The abrubt (or ‘series XI’, as Dan referred to it) ending wasn’t its crowning glory, though.

  • Did anyone pause their TV?

    Wouldn’t that have worked?

    I probably got a better experience than most because I was watching the DVD, so I was able to rewind it back to where the commentary was up to. It was still pretty confusing at first given there was no introduction, although I have to say I enjoyed DJJ mysteriously turning up in his mask from Siliconia. I was probably one of the few people who had an enjoyable live experience, which is a shame. The commentary being cut off mid-sentence at the end was particularly inexplicable.

  • Did anyone pause their TV?

    Wouldn’t that have worked?

    The livestream started without any introductions and I heard Craig remarking about Chris’s body. I assumed they were watching the middle of Terrorform and would then do an actual introduction before Quarantine. I realised way too late that they were actually watching the credits sequence and then tried to sync up without much clue.

    When they messed up the commercial break/ 2nd steam; I gave up on watching this at the same time.

  • Did they ever upload the full thing? I just finished the Balance of Power one and want to watch this, but not in two incomplete parts on Twitter.

  • With far far more important things to get upset about, we’re starting to find what’s now a fine tradition of UKTV slightly cocking up Red Dwarf’s promotion quite endearing.

    It really is. I don’t wish for things to go wrong but reading that Vindalunar got a follow-up is a joy.

    We feel that you, like us, have the courage and the dignity it takes to make it as a Dwarfer.

  • I went back and read that Vindalunar write-up (and comments) again and was almost crying with laughter.

  • Did the full stream get put up?

    Don’t think so, no. I did Tweet them myself – yesterday I think – but haven’t seen anything. Can’t see anything on the website, UKTV Play or YouTube.

  • Did the full stream get put up?

    Don’t think so, no. I did Tweet them myself – yesterday I think

    And no, I don’t mean the channel, I know it’s on Dave.

  • Maybe it’s just not worth uploading as it was half baked and was ill-thought through.

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