Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum Everybody's alive, Dave.

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    I was in a second-hand bookshop in Wales today, and happened to see and purchase a copy of “The Making of Red Dwarf”. At the till the shop’s owner revealed himself to be a fan of the show, and whilst we were chatting I realised he had no idea whatsoever about the show’s Dave output. As far as he was concerned, the show had ended in 1999. He was absolutely genuinely floored when I told him of the existence of four new series, and that I had been in the audience for one of the episodes to be aired in a month or two.

    Now, I should note the major caveat that this was quite a remote town in Wales (if he’d wanted to buy a new DVD release he’d have had to drive a fair distance to the nearest city), and the guy was a self-proclaimed Luddite whose TV apparently didn’t receive Dave. But it led me to wonder… can there be many more like him, a big fan back in the day totally unaware of the show’s revival because it’s no longer on the BBC? Maybe even some closer to civilisation?

    Stephen Abootman

    I find that quite a lot of casual fans are aware of Back to Earth but nothing beyond that. The conversation usually goes along the lines of “there’s a new series? I watched that special they did a few years back, didn’t like it”.

    John Hoare

    The ongoing fragmentation of the media is an absolute fucker sometimes.


    I’ve found even the people that aware that there’s new series aren’t really that interested. After the sheer bloody awfulness of 8, and the weirdness of BtE, trying to persuade people that “10 was alright and 11 is a lot better!” is a pretty hard sell to make.


    I must admit, I’ve never spoken to or met anyone other than hardcore fans who don’t like VIII.


    I think some feel bringing the show back is just milking the cow for all its worth when it should have stopped a long time ago.

    I am in 2 minds about it personally because i am glad the show is still going and there is a new generation getting into the show… but man is it a rocky road since Series 6.

    For my own personal love of the show i really would like Rob Grant to come back to help write the show because the way the last few attempts have gone down just disappoint me.


    For all my grumpiness and moaning about post-’93 Red Dwarf at times, it’s not once felt like an old fashioned cow milking.

    Doug, the crew and the cast really do love the show and what adventures can come next. I mean, I may not like some of the episodes but, and you’ll all understand this, the DVD extras, the commentaries, the documentaries, the sheer amount of material handed to us where they could simply dish out vanilla episode-only discs for £12.99 is astonishing.

    Look at ‘We’re Smegged’, the Series X making of. The only non-Dwarf documentary I can think of that gets into the heart of the subject so well from all sides and all departments is ‘Dangerous Days’, the 2007 Blade Runner making-of.

    And we’re talking about a half-hour sitcom set in space, it’s mental.


    While I’ve never ever felt that post ’93 Dwarf has been milking the cow, I do get the occasional sense from watching some of them that Doug was using Red Dwarf as a vehicle to explore his other filmmaking aspirations. ‘Back to Earth’ being the more obvious example. Does anyone watching Back to Earth really feel that Doug was genuinely trying to make the best episode of Red Dwarf, the comedy? Or was he at least partly just using the commission to have a go with some Red Cameras, and bone up on his directing skills.

    Ian Symes

    I think it’s unwise to assume people’s intentions in general, but more so when it comes to Back To Earth, the direction of which was guided much more by necessity than creative choices.


    Necessity dictates that you put forward a blindingly funny script first and foremost before you go shooting what is at the end of the day, a half-hour sitcom, on cameras more commonly found in multi-million dollar Hollywood productions, especially circa 2008-09. What the fuck was Doug Naylor thinking he needed a 4K camera for back then? To make it four times as clear that it’s not funny?

    Back to Earth aspired to look fancy, feel fancy and failed because all other elements of the production were scraping by on picked-up pennies and it was as comically dull as ditch-water. The comedy felt like the last element to be slotted in.

    It was a tribute to Red Dwarf, nothing more. Not a total loss like Series VIII, more like a strange remake of a show you liked a long time ago.


    I’ll put it like this, a tad more succinctly.

    The dynamic changed in the writing after Series VI, from wanting to write comedy as the priority and from that, finding situations that fit the premise of Red Dwarf to what we seem to have now, which is finding situations and scenarios and in that, placing the comedy, regardless of how good the joke is.

    Now at first, it doesn’t seem that different, maybe even the same but it’s a subtle shift in the thinking of how to approach a standard half-hour script. The whole dynamic of the show changes at that point. The end result, the comedy, the drama, everything is contained in the premise rather than the premise ably assisting the number one priority, the comedy.

    Series VIII is the gold standard from which all writers, all that aspire to make people laugh should watch and remember every single time they get more excited about the premise rather than the set-up, the woofer and the need they have to make the audience laugh.


    Back to earth was basically Doug getting a chance to make something close to being a red dwarf movie.

    Doug had this 4 walls set, his super HD camera and movie-esk effects to play with.

    Back to earth visually looks quite movie-esk but its just not very good.


    I really like Back To Earth as well.

    And how did this become yet another ‘all RD after 1993 is shit’ thread??


    It’s a shame in a sense because he had three episodes worth of time to play with. If Dave had gave him six extra months and a budget, he could’ve made a moonshot for the movie and adapted it for the telly. I mean, follow the Pratchett on Sky TV route, get your resources in place, get your crew drilled and you adapt. You slim down certain action-heavy parts, you ramp up in other places, bingo. You may not have the big-screen movie you wanted back in 2002 but you’ve got something special and something that suits Christmas perfectly that isn’t so fucking obviously done on the cheap.

    In hindsight, it’s bizarre why they never went for the movie. I can understand that Doug took a look at the budget, took a look at the format being offered and said I’ll do a multi-parter. Perhaps he was tired of thinking about the movie or it never even crossed his mind. A push here and there and a promise to deliver a television movie with all the rights, international sales, DVDs and all that malarkey that goes with it.

    So in the end, we get what is essentially one episodes worth of material stretched out to three with a couple of fancy effects but the zero-budget foundations and the structure of it all is so painfully clear. He can’t go outside certain elements because he literally has no resources to work with yet he’s somehow able to utilise virtual sets, 4K cameras and introduce a film-esque feel to certain scenes.

    Back to Earth was built off the back of a promise to make a one-off special but without any of the resources you actually need to make it worthwhile. Now, there’s another puzzle, why not do three episodes? Why not dial back and type up some nice scripts that invoke the slower, steady pace of Series I & II? Couple of sets, bring in an internal threat if you must, have Lister and Rimmer examine their place in the cosmos. Nice and theatrical, little wink to Marooned, hey presto.

    Damn frustrating at times. Red Dwarf has been damn frustrating for a long time.


    I think Doug felt like BtE had to be ‘big’ in some sense or another. As a piece of event television it kind of works. A potentially one-off return can’t just be Rimmer and Lister sitting around in the bunk room. I’m not even convinced Doug could have done it at the time.

    I absolutely loathed BtE when it was on, thought it was worse than VIII. Then introducing RD to my girlfriend rejuvenated the show for me – all the tired jokes I was able to recite word for word suddenly felt fresh and hilarious just through her enjoyment of them – and even though she gave up at the start of VII, I trudged on through to the end. Having only just watched I-VI through those semi-fresh eyes, VIII felt even more removed from the classic series than it ever had before, and BtE suddenly felt like a breath of fresh air in comparison. It felt like actual Red Dwarf again. Far from classic Red Dwarf, but the characters, the setting, a lot of the dialogue, it just felt like it was actually part of the same universe as those earlier shows. So for all its flaws, I’m very fond of BtE now. If the department store bunk room scene had been included, and the letterbox android routine taken it, it would even go up a star for me.


    *’taken out’, obviously. ‘Taken it’ doesn’t even mean anything.


    It’s so strange the wide reactions to VII and Back to Earth as I see Series VII very much as Series VI – Part 2. I have a strange affinity and need to protect Series VII as most of it is quite endearing to me and it’s not linked to memories of watching back in ’97. I just like the tone of it, I like Kris, I like watching her and the boys adapt to each other and I like the way it takes on a more dramatic look but still maintains the evolution of the visual aspect of the show and sets from Series III onwards.

    I can’t reconcile Back to Earth though. I mean, I don’t hate it, I don’t put it in the non-canon pile with Series VIII but boy, I’ve maybe watched it all the way through once since 2009 and I think I’ve watched the department store scene a few times since then but that’s it really. It’s a drag, you get to a scene where it starts to ramp, things are happening and then the tyres burst again and you’re left waiting around for another plot point to show up because Doug backed himself into a corner regarding the amount of material he had versus the running time.

    Series VIII is a load of wank shit fuck wank cunt piss fuck cum fuck wank fuck.


    One of these days, I get the feeling Richard Naylor is gonna offer me out for a rumble.

    And he’d be right to.

    Stephen Abootman

    In regard to the original post, I see that Dave is on Freesat now, opening up XII to even more people who perhaps haven’t seen Dwarf for a while so that’s a bonus.


    BTE is fairly forgettable for me.

    John Hoare

    For the record, my opinion post-VI:

    VII: Best game of all time
    VIII: Junction system is flawed, but the story and characters are some of the best in the whole series
    IX: Severely underrated, some wonderful sidequests, but what the FUCK happened with Fran?
    X: Wasn’t sure at first, and it’s far too linear, but it gets really good about halfway through
    XI: Never played, can’t really be bothered with MMOs
    XII: Some amazing gameplay, but it takes itself *far* too seriously

    Ben Paddon

    Golf clap, John.

    I’ve been rewatching VII of late – my partner has become quite taken with Red Dwarf, so we’ve been watching it. They’re seeing it for the first time, which is immensely enjoyable. We just finished VII, Rimmer is gone and I’m keeping quiet about whether or not he’s gone forever, though I was able to point to that “wild horses…” quote, so they seem pretty well convinced he’s gone for good. That’ll last all of six seconds into VIII, mind.


    I’ve always been a staunch defender of VII – even as the comedy wasn’t quite up to scratch, or certain bits of characterization changed, I’ve always been fond of the attempt to blend in the drama. And, on this more recent rewatch where my writing and storytelling senses are a little more honed (it’s probably been, I dunno, maybe a decade since I watched it top-to-bottom), it’s clearer to me now that it doesn’t quite work.

    But I love the ambition of it, and I remain fully convinced that within that dram-com blend is a version of Red Dwarf I can quite happily fall in love with. BtE veers dangerously close to that at times. It’s hard not to get a bit Those Darned Onions about Lister walking away from Dream Kochanski toward the end.

    But a big part of me – a huge part of me in fact – would like to see Red Dwarf given a reboot in the style and tone of Battlestar Galactica. Single camera, maybe go a bit handheld, screw down the Space Corps aspect of it so that it doesn’t become the farcical organization it appears to be by the time we reach VIII, and see if that particular paper airplane makes it across the room.

    Oh, and it should be funny, obviously. That’s the important bit.


    I just couldn’t get into Final Fantasy after FF7. The main draw for me was the sheer openness of the world and the ability to drop in and out of the story and find yourself in obscure yet believable locations talking to characters who had little to say regarding the main plot but had a lot to say about themselves, their lives and hometown. Regardless of the fantasy elements of the game, the world, the characters and the story were utterly engaging and grounded. From FF8 onwards, it started to become more linear, more tightly wound towards the main story and random characters were either scaled back or spoke more about the plot. I never felt as if I could explore the world within FF8 and I was always gently pushed towards the next stage of the story. FF9 is a load of twee mince and FF10 was where I swapped my PS2 for a Gamecube and never looked back.

    Ian Symes

    I think I might have to expand Symes’s Law to cover Back To Earth as well.


    Is it along the lines of no matter the initial thread subject matter, it always descends into a discussion about post-’93 Red Dwarf?


    In regard to the original post, I see that Dave is on Freesat now, opening up XII to even more people who perhaps haven’t seen Dwarf for a while so that’s a bonus.

    Huh. I have Freesat and didn’t know that. They kept that bloody quiet.

    I guess you might pick up a few more people channel hopping, as I presume they repeat them fairly heavily? I’ll still be watching online if they do that whole ‘new episode online week before on telly’ thing.

    Pete Part Three

    Can’t help thinking that there’s a generally accepted belief that everything on the UKTV channels is repeats. Mainly because 95% of it is.


    There’s something whimsical and relaxing about watching Bullseye repeats on Challenge late at night. As if you’re the last human and you got to schedule anything you liked.


    Its fair to say there are many who feel the show isn’t as good as it used to be and i have seen people question whether they have just outgrown the show purely they don’t understand why the show doesn’t seem as good to them anymore.

    It reminds me when people often make out the issue with Back to earth was that there was no audience because i think thats a weird way of looking at it since that just means something is more funnier aslong as you hear people telling you its funny.

    John Hoare

    Anyone want to talk about The Strange World of Gurney Slade?


    I have to question whether or not there is a large percentage of people who are just laughing along with the studio audience when watching sitcoms and not actually at the jokes themselves.


    First episode is amazing John, the series doesn’t quite live up to that later on for me.
    I havnt seen stop the thread i want to get off.


    I tried watching it but boy does it drag.

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