Bloody hell. There is never a dull moment when you’re a Red Dwarf fan at the moment. Over the last few months, the show has expanded into other media with varying degrees of success, with merchandise, a mobile game and soundtrack albums hitting the virtual shelves. It’s no less than a popular franchise of this age deserves, but it’s still a little surprising after years and years of the brand being under-represented outside of its core fanbase.
Which is why we’re utterly gobsmacked at this photo being posted on the official Lego Dimensions Facebook page, with the simple caption “It’s cold outside…”:
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The UK release of the Series XI Bluray/DVD is a mere two days away. As is often the case with internet pre-orders, some lucky fans have already received their copies through the post. Imagine their delight as they rip open the packaging to take a look at their shiny Bluray steelbooks in the flesh for the first time. They turn it round to pore over the details contained on the rear. There’s a photo of the main cast, a list of exciting extras, the now-familiar series synopsis, and of course the list of… wait, that doesn’t say Twentica. And that doesn’t say Samsara. What the shitting crikey is happening here?
Yes folks, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but the slipcase for the Series XI Bluray steelbook contains the wrong episode titles. And I’m struggling even more to believe that I’m saying this bit, but not only that, they’ve actually printed the episode titles for Series XII instead. Needless to say, if you don’t want any further information, you probably ought to stop reading now.
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Yes, is the resounding answer to that question, and today’s TOS update reveals that our prayers have been answered before we even began praying. This is not an announcement that soundtrack albums are being planned, or that they’re a long term ambition, or even that they’ll be coming out soon – completely out of the blue, *four* albums are available to download right this very second, covering almost the entire history of Red Dwarf, with a fifth to follow once XII has been aired. Split across the four are a selection of cues from every series bar VIII and BTE (which is reasonable, considering there wasn’t any new, non-library music in those two series), personally re-mastered and remixed by Howard Goodall himself.
This is obviously amazing, particularly as there’s a mixture of used and unused cues, some of which have never seen the light of day before. And of course, given the lack of isolated cues on the Series X and XI DVDs, this is the first opportunity to hear any clean versions of that material. Not only that, but it seems from the description that the cues have been compiled into a series of individual tracks – again, hand-crafted by the god-like genius that is Howard himself – for a better listening experience. Even from the brief previews on the store pages, this is clearly well worth the cover price.
It’s not quite the perfect package – the cover art is clearly not the work of a professional in that field, and it’s a little bit fiddly to have to make four separate purchases, considering this is a digital-only affair that’s not constrained by a maximum length of any given physical medium. But bloody hell, this is a surprise, and a very welcome one at that. Absolutely incredible. And the title Eine Kleine Ductmusik may well have justified the existence of that episode.
After nearly two months, I’ve finally received most of the order that I placed with the Red Dwarf Shop on the day it opened. The operators, Sandbag, have not come across well during this minor fiasco. On October 25th, they sent an email to all customers still awaiting delivery, which anecdotal evidence suggests was pretty much everyone, to say that deliveries would on their way soon. It’s been claimed by various sources that at least one of the Krysis keyring, Starbug t-shirt and badges were causing the problem, but their policy of waiting until the entire order is in stock before sending anything, rather than just sending the missing stuff later, is a foolish one. Furthermore, I know people who didn’t order any of those items, but are still yet to receive anything.
It seems the best way to resolve the situation is to complain, which I did a week after the aforementioned email. The ‘contact us’ link on my initial order confirmation was not much use, but I eventually tracked them down to CustomerService@sandbaguk.com and sure enough, my order was dispatched (minus the pesky keyring and Starbug t-shirt) the very next day. It’s a sad state of affairs that this is what it takes to receive goods that you ordered before Red Dwarf XI even started.
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The last six Thursdays have been incredibly exciting for Red Dwarf fans; the sense of anticipation all day as we eagerly await the big, unmissable event in the evening. No, not the Dave broadcasts of episodes that everyone had watched six days earlier – the Ganymede & Titan Live Reaction DwarfCasts! All of these are permanently available to download and keep, exactly as they originally went out, complete with imperfect sound quality, awkward pauses and exponentially increasing levels of tiredness.
But listening to the full hour-and-a-half of inadequately prepared waffle is not to everyone’s taste, so those who value their spare time and sanity may be unaware of the numerous audio extras that accompanied said waffle. So, to help you cope with the huge gap in your Thursday night routine, we present some of those loo-break-enabling inserts for your listening pleasure. You’ll have to go back to the full shows to relive our always-hilarious #DwarfFacts series, our increasingly tenuous collection of Red Dwarf-themed adverts, and our rotating episode-specific intro music, but here are the things that might actually be worth listening to.
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Well, we were hoping to have the weekend off. But because the staggered, disjointed manner in which we all watched Series XI was so much fun, the extra features on the forthcoming Red Dwarf XI DVD/Bluray have been quietly and unexpectedly released on iTunes and Play Store. The extras were seemingly made available overnight to anyone who bought a series pass on either platform. Alternatively, the main documentary is available to buy on its own, while the deleted scenes and smeg ups are series pass only. The visual effects, model shots and image gallery are not available, but the trailers are there – for free on Play Store, but at the price of £2.49 on iTunes. Insert joke about Apple products being a rip-off here.
So, this was certainly a surprise. I assumed at first that this was a Krysis-esque fuck-up where things had gone live before they were meant to, what with the lack of any official notification, and the fact that we’re still a fortnight away from the physical release of this stuff in the UK. But the fact that it’s on both of these platforms makes me think otherwise. If this was a mistake, it’s pretty bloody amateurish. If it’s not a mistake, it’s also pretty bloody amateurish. Much like the way the release of the episodes themselves were handled, this is all a big mess.
So yeah, we at G&T are going to have to figure out between us how and when we start reviewing and discussing this stuff, but in the meantime… I dunno, use this thread for whatever. It seems that while the makers of the programme care about how its presented to the public, those in charge of its distribution do not give a solitary shit, so why should we?
UPDATE (30/10/16): They’ve disappeared from iTunes. The downloads will still play for those who grabbed them yesterday, but you can no longer buy them. It’s all still there on Google Play, though – if those disappear soon too, we’ll know the whole thing was a cock-up. Still, some sort of communication from an official channel would be nice, eh?
If ever an episode was under pressure to deliver, it was this one. Red Dwarf XI has been critically acclaimed and the fan reaction has been mostly positive, but there’s a handful of niggling doubts amongst the more hardcore elements of fandom, ourselves included, with regards to pacing, clarity and consistency. A finale that delivers on these points would surely put these doubts to bed, but to end on a duff note would leave a lingering dark cloud as we begin the process of revisiting the series and consolidating our opinions.
Not only that, but Can of Worms was specifically chosen as the final episode, the implication being that this is the one that they want you to remember while the show’s off air. You expect an episode six to contain higher stakes, an emotional punch, and a careful balance between a sense of closure and anticipation of what’s to come. What’s more, we also knew that this would be a long-awaited Cat-centric episode – arguably the first one ever – and that we’d finally see another of his species for the first time in 28 years. There was an extra frisson on top for anyone who’d read the spoilers in the Radio Times. It all added up to the expectation that this would be something special.
Of course, you know all this, but the point of this preamble is to explain why I really really wanted this episode to be a classic. I had visions of laughing, crying, applauding and then immediately firing off a couple of thousand words about how the show that I care about so much is now finally back to its best. Instead, I now have to attempt to articulate why I had the same nauseous feeling on Friday night as I did the last time my team lost the FA Cup Final.
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Well, there’s certainly a lot to discuss. Red Dwarf XI has been densely packed with ideas thus far, and this episode contains possibly the highest concentration yet. With spoilers aplenty for anyone who’s not yet watched the episode, here are some of what we consider to the most interesting of these ideas, neatly packaged into subheadings for your convenience. These are based on just one viewing and a quick scan through afterwards, which for the record took place following the deliberate release, as opposed to the brief accidental one.
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With the presence of that ampersand in the title card, it’s a wonder that there’s anything left to discuss, other than the fact that there is now officially an episode of Red Dwarf with the same initials as this website. While that may cause some confusion later down the line, the issue remains of what kind of episode we’ve lent our name to. Based on just the one viewing (and a bit of a skim through to clarify some of the finer details of the plot), here are the big six (count ’em) talking points from the episode.
One thing to note, if you’ve somehow managed to miss all the spoiler warnings: this episode benefits from the element of surprise, and deserves to be viewed without preconceptions. If you’ve stumbled across this article without having watched the episode yet, read no further.
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Ah, Give And Take, the episode with the title that’s just an ampersand away from perfection. [EDIT: Actually, it has an ampersand in the title card!] It’s time to finally come face to face with that weird scary robot fish thing, and presumably to finally put a name to it. Episode three of six will be winging its way online right about now, so this is your destination for spoilery discussion ahead of the TV broadcast.
EDIT: THE LORD GIVETH AND IS YET TO TAKETH AWAY.
We’ll have some Talking Points for you this evening, with the full written review to follow over the course of the week. The regular podcast version of our live Samsara DwarfCast will also be online later, and a huge thank you to those who listened live and joined in the discussion last night. It’s hugely gratifying to see so many of you reacting to the nonsense we say, and your contributions make for a much better show. Anyway, Give And Take it away…