Red Dwarf XII: Timewave Review featured image

"'Allo, 'allo, 'allo, what's all this then?"
"Just my Timewave review, officer."
"I see...a comedian, are we?"
"That's very kind of you, officer."
"Smart arse. Lock her up."

I brought it on myself, I suppose. I did volunteer to take this episode on, even with the sight of Johnny Vegas in a pink helmet. That's the thing, though; I have enough of a personal investment to avoid assumptions with Red Dwarf, and it's this goodwill that the show puts to the test each week. Although I get the idea some don't really believe me, it's a genuine gut-punch when, as in this case, I finish an episode feeling disappointed and confused.

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Red Dwarf XII: Siliconia Review featured image

It's hard to think of an individual Red Dwarf episode that's had quite so much hype as Siliconia, and for such a sustained period. We've known about The One Where Everyone's Kryten for as long as we've known that there'd be a Series XII, it was the subject of the first series' first publicity shot, and it features one of the run's highest-profile guest stars. It would be fair to call it long-awaited, both in terms of how long we've been aware of the story, and owing to the manner in which many of us first saw it: very late on a weeknight, after a full day of frequent F5-ing. Could it possibly live up to the anticipation?

For a brief moment on Thursday night, I was suddenly struck with the feeling that I was watching something truly incredible. It was funny, it was moving, and it somehow just felt like Red Dwarf should. That had faded slightly by the end, but I was nevertheless shocked to go online and see that the general consensus was far less positive than I'd have predicted. I found myself agreeing with many of the criticisms, but still they didn't shake the warm, happy feeling the episode gave me. After several repeat viewings and a few days' thinking time, am I now in a position to make sense of all this? Let's find out.

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Red Dwarf XII: Cured Review featured image

Series XII is going to be a weird contradiction. As we’re all aware this series was written and filmed back to back with XI so while it’s reasonable to expect a very similar tone and style to the series we’ve already seen and analysed to death, that’s by no means a guarantee. Production efforts have been made to separate the two in subtle ways with changes to the main sets but what I didn’t consider before sitting down to watch Cured is how this double banking has the potential of making this series strangely unique. While we’re not aware of the writing order of the series, we do know that all of XII was filmed after XI had wrapped and a very short break, which means for the first time in actual decades a new series of Red Dwarf was not starting from scratch. We maybe even have to go as far back as the gap between the first two series to draw a proper parallel for this situation.

So what’s my point? Well, I feel like Cured greatly benefits from this. Confidence and general quality in writing, direction and especially in the performances that has produced an episode that despite some issues felt so comfortable and effortless, especially with the characterisation. If this is how things start to go when this team gets some proper momentum, then it’s a shame XIII and XIV aren’t following closely behind.

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Red Dwarf XI: The Game – Give & Take Playthrough featured image

A few days ago the ever reliable GameDigits delivered to us a fine Christmas present in the shape of their Give & Take update for Red Dwarf XI: The Game. It has ended up being an incredibly pleasant way to close out a year that's been stuffed full of Red Dwarf activity and so I have once again recorded my first playthrough of the entire episode, along with my own brand of unfocused and unprofessional commentary.

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Red Dwarf XI: Bluray/DVD Review featured image

Regardless of your opinions on the episodes themselves, the consensus concerning the way Red Dwarf XI has been handled by its various stakeholders seems to be that certain areas have been disappointing. The decision to premiere each episode on UKTV Play was... controversial, shall we say, leaks have been taking place left, right and centre (including the accidental releases of an episode and the DVD extras), the online store has been a heavily-delayed farce, and the rancid cherry on the top came last weekend when we realised what was printed on the back of the very Steelbook I'm about to review.

It seems that Howard Goodall and Ian GameDigits are currently the only ones successfully carrying the torch, at least without getting bits of lighter fluid all down themselves and accidentally causing a series of small fires. It's getting harder to ignore the cloud that's gathering over this series, but there's one area where Red Dwarf has always excelled: DVD/Bluray releases. The original releases of the BBC era remain unmatched by any other comparable show. The Back To Earth and Series X releases had a very different job to do, coming as they did so soon after broadcast, and XI is very much in the same boat. But despite the monumental cock-up affecting one of the three variants, is the content of these shiny discs good enough to distract from the recent shortcomings, and end this chapter of Red Dwarf's ongoing story in style?

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Red Dwarf XI: The Game - Samsara Playthrough featured image

Even after Red Dwarf XI has long since been broadcast, the mobile game that first launched alongside Twentica continues to recieve attention, with the first big content update in the shape of the Samsara episode being released last week. I decided to play through the lot and record my thoughts as I went, which might be of questionable worth but at least it's better than reading any form of news site or social media right now.

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Red Dwarf Shop Debagging Video featured image

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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Red Dwarf XI: Can of Worms Review featured image

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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Red Dwarf XI: Krysis Review featured image

I think it's safe to say that Krysis came with a fair bit of baggage. Out of all series XI episodes, this is the one people thought most likely to be shit, and not without some good reasons. At this point in Dwarf history, many are terrified of the the concept of the Kryten-centric story, with Duct Soup and Krytie TV weighing heavily on minds. Add to that the unenviable 'episode 5' position usually reserved for the weaker episodes and the striking visual of a Ferrari Red Kryten and we pretty much had the perfect storm of terribleness just waiting to tear through the fandom.

Shit or good, Last Day or last straw, Krysis certainly does continue the tradition of defying pre-broadcast expectations, and for good or ill the thoughts I had coming away from the episode ended up being a million miles from my expectations going in.

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