Samsara has now been online long enough for the majority of you dirty UKTV Players to be fully caught up, so we now have a brand new 30 minutes to pick through with our grubby little fingers. As we did last week, here are some of the pertinent points and ponderings.
Here’s an unexpected delight. A friend of a friend of a friend got in touch with Kevin Eldon on our behalf, and old 4 Of 27 himself was only too happy to answer some questions via email. There are some extremely minor spoilers for Twentica below, but thankfully Kevin decided to take a somewhat literal approach to many of our questions. You won’t find much in the way of hard fact here, but you’ll hopefully laugh a fair few times. Our endless thanks to Jonathan ‘Jonsmad’ Young (who, along with setting the whole thing up, collaborated with us to provide the questions) and Harry Pye, without either of whom this wouldn’t have been possible.
As you will all be no doubt aware of at this point, September 22nd will not only be notable for the second official airing of Twentica but it will also see the release of the Red Dwarf XI mobile game on iOS and Android. Those with long memories will know that anticipation for a proper, official Red Dwarf game pre-dates even that for a movie. Since then mobile gaming has become a giant part of the business, however, so while the likelihood of a PC or console release has diminished over the years, a phone game is the best we can reasonably expect at this point.
As has been the case since Series III in 1989, the first episode of a new series brings us a new title sequence, which in turn brings with it several tantalising glimpses of future adventures. Some of them are already familiar to us from the various trailers. Others fall into context when you’re armed with frame advance and a list of synopses. The most exciting ones are the ones that could from anywhere, and there’s a fair few of those. By our reckoning, there are 29 individual shots (plus a title card) in the 35-second sequence, all of which are analysed and annotated below.
By now, most of the people who have chosen to watch Twentica ahead of broadcast will have done so, and there’s a hell of a lot to discuss. But there’s a problem. The nature of the online release means that not everyone watches at the same time, and so it’s tricky to give a structure to these discussions that would otherwise be covered by a live DwarfCast. To that end, and to plug the gap before our full written review in a few days’ time, here’s the first edition of our new feature.
Each week, usually on a Friday morning but we’re making an exception for the first one, we’ll summarise what we consider to the five biggest talking points from the episode. We’ll then use your responses to kick off the debate in the forthcoming Live DwarfCast, which will follow the Dave broadcast. Obviously, these are by no means the only talking points – just the things that are in the forefront of our minds after just the solitary viewing. So without further ado, get stuck into these…
Following yesterday’s trailer-for-a-trailer, the full thing has arrived – premiering in the middle of a repeat of Parallel Universe on Dave. Interestingly, there’s a few shots from the teaser that aren’t in the trailer, most notably the crashed ship that may or may not be the Nova 5, or at least another ship from the same fleet. But what do we have in this forty second bundle of joy? Watch it on Youtube below, then read our shot-by-shot analysis.
When people talk about antecedents to Red Dwarf, it’s often science fiction which is endlessly referenced. Films like Dark Star, in terms of the situation and portraying working class people in space, or Alien, which amongst other things directly influenced many sets in the show, to Blade Runner, which… erm… I got nothing.
When it comes to sitcoms, there’s the classic “Steptoe and Son in space”, which is often thrown around as an early concept for the show. Porridge is also mentioned, in terms of the claustrophobic trapped situation between characters which the show was trying to evoke. All of this is certainly true, but typically there’s very little analysis beyond mentioning a TV show or film, along with a one line description.
Recently, I’ve had the utter delight of watching Hancock’s Half Hour for the first time. And the episode The Tycoon (TX: 13/11/59) has a number of remarkable similarities to the Dwarf episode Better Than Life, broadcast nearly thirty years later. Moreover, I don’t just mean in terms of character work – the main plot beats of the episode are broadly identical, despite Better Than Life seemingly hanging off a science fiction idea which Hancock would find impossible to replicate.
Rather than vague hand-waving or simplistic single line reductions, let’s take a look at the episode in detail, shall we?
Hanging around on a deep, dark, unloved corner of the internet is an old version of Ganymede & Titan. The reasons for this are long and complex, but essentially amount to laziness: during one of our relaunches many years ago, we didn’t move all of our stuff over to the new version of the site. We thought until we did, the least we could do would be to leave all that stuff online.
We never did get round to moving it, of course, which means you can insert a certain Mickey Mouse operation quote here at your leisure. But clicking around on that old version of the site can be fun, especially for old-time G&T visitors. And one page in particular fascinates me: our links page, last updated in mid-2004. It’s an interesting snapshot of online Red Dwarf fandom at the time; a list of the sites we thought were important back then.
12 years later, how many of them are even still online, let alone important? I thought it’d be fun to go through the list and take a look at the fate of that slice of Dwarf fandom. And dare I say that it might shed a bit of light on the development of the web over the past decade? Tune in at the end to see whether I manage to tie that one up at all convincingly.
It seems strange now. Even though Red Dwarf is a current TV show once more, is popular enough to maintain an official fan club even during the ten year hiatus, and has always been extremely well represented on fansites, blogs and social media… a magazine? A whole magazine, dedicated to just Red Dwarf? In proper shops and everything? Monthly? It’s baffling.
But remember, back in the early to mid ’90s, Red Dwarf was a pretty big deal. Viewing figures were constantly on the rise, the likes of Ace Rimmer and Talkie Toaster were invading the public consciousness, conventions were being organised and the show was expanding into other platforms. The audience of teenagers and young adults were ripe for commercial exploitation, as books, videos, t-shirts, posters and more started to hit the shelves. So actually, why the hell not add a magazine to the mix?
In our forums, there is a spoiler, which came about from a careless photo posted by a crew member. It’s not a huge spoiler, maybe. I doubt many people will be upset reading it. But it’s the latest in a long line of spoilers about the show posted online since the recordings started late last year.
There’s an interesting thing about these spoilers, mind. Nearly every single one them have come from the cast, crew, and – in one notable case – an executive at UKTV. The large audiences full of excitable fans who came to watch the shows have remained generally shtum.