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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We all understandably got a little over-excited on Wednesday when it emerged that Red Dwarf would be making an appearance in Lego Dimensions. My limited knowledge of the game lead me to assume that the presence of the bunkroom set meant that we’d be getting a fully playable Dwarf-based expansion pack, but it soon became clear that there’s a precedent for some franchises making smaller, cameo appearances within other levels. Today’s TOS update confirms that this is the case with Dwarf; scenery from the show forms part of the Fantastic Beasts expansion pack, released today. There won’t be playable minifigs of the crew, but the areas will be explorable using the main game characters of your choice.
It would be churlish to feel too disappointed by this, because if we hadn’t have initially leapt to a dream conclusion, today’s announcement would still be totally mind-bogglingly brilliant. The TOS update features a new set of screengrabs that showcase the beautiful science room area, complete with bio-printer, along with corridors strewn liberally with JMC logos and what looks to my untrained eye like the raw materials required to build a little Lego skutter. It looks fantastic, and I remain incredibly impressed that our little show has been chosen for such treatment. The social media reaction to the initial teaser on Wednesday showed just how much enthusiasm there is for a full Red Dwarf console game, be it as part of Lego Dimensions or otherwise, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is just the start.
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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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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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So it seems the second, Samsara focused, content release for Red Dwarf XI: The Game is starting to roll out. I say “starting” as it seems those with iOS devices currently have it, and those with Android devices do not, but we imagine this will right itself pretty soon, alleviating us from yet another case of split-fandom syndrome.
We’ve already got some of you talking about the new content in our Forum mega-thread, so it’s probably best you keep any specifics in there. It also has the added advantage of being the chosen hunting ground for Ian GameDigits to merrily swoop in from time to time, grab your feedback with his game developer talons, fly back to the GameDigits nest and dillegently digest the feedback using his powerful stomach acids before vomiting the result into the gaping beaks of his hard working development team young.
I’m planning on another Let’s Play style video for the Samsara mini-games, following on from the modest success of the last one. I’m flying a tad blind with these videos though, so do feel free to throw any suggestions for the type of video you’d like to see or you think would work well, as I’m perhaps looking for something slightly different than just seeing how far I can get within a 40 minute recording session.
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?
So here we are, after seven weeks Red Dwarf XI has finally been released in its entirety and so ends our own immediate coverage of the series. At least until the DVD and Bluray come out, that is! So, for the final time this year, please join Ian Symes, Tanya Jones, John Hoare, Jonathan Capps, Danny Stephenson and perma-guest Jo Sharples as they pick through the final episode and the series as a whole and try to work out where XI currently places in the pantheon of Dwarf.
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And here we are, after a whopping seven weeks we’ve gone from Twentica‘s premiere on UKTV Play right through to today where Can of Worms finally makes its way onto Dave at 9pm tonight. In our little world we know that the vast majority of people have already seen it, but on the offchance you’re one of those people with immense powers of restraint then once you’ve watched tonight’s episode you’ll almost certainly want to be catching up with the discussion, as well as reading Ian’s excellent review.
We’re all starting to get a little bit sleepy here in G&T towers, but we’ve all got just about enough strength left in us for one more Live DwarfCast starting at the helpfully regular time of 10pm (BST) (well, 9:40 if you like our nice collection of pre-show music). We’ll be sure to do our best to make it a good one, so it would be marvellous if as many of you make it a long as possible so we can see out the series in style. Our Spreaker page (link coming closer to broadcast) is always busy with chat so it’d be great to see you all there, and don’t forget that we’ll also be keeping an eye on the comments here and on Twitter so we can steal your opinions, parrot them back to you and then pull a clever face.
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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