Twelve. 12. Zwolf. Douze. Damn.
Red Dwarf has returned to stateside stores, which means only a few things… one of which being that it’s time to review Red Dwarf again! Continue reading
Twelve. 12. Zwolf. Douze. Damn.
Red Dwarf has returned to stateside stores, which means only a few things… one of which being that it’s time to review Red Dwarf again! Continue reading
“Well, gentlemen, congratulations. Scrambling in a red alert situation, a new record time – one hour, seventeen minutes, thirty-nine seconds!”
After a wait of a month and a half since its premiere in Britain, Red Dwarf XI has made its debut on America’s iTunes.
I’m assuming they saved the iTunes release until today in order to keep the DVD sales at least somewhat respectable. Then again, given that the show debut a week before it’s TV release on UKTVPlay, one has to wonder what Dave was thinking.
Nonetheless, I’m glad the show is out stateside, and that I can review it without dealing with viruses from a Torrent. (Yes, I’m a dork.) It’s the first Red Dwarf since 2012. In that time frame, there have been an entire series of Olympics, four Super Bowls, a change in the British Premiership and its relationship with Europe, and America is torn between the two least liked presidential candidates since the 19th century.
Yeah, this show will provide a bit of an escape. Continue reading
“Kryten, set a course for Red Dwarf. The slime’s coming home!” – Rimmer, at the end of “The Beginning”.
This September, Red Dwarf returns for a new batch of episodes. Red Dwarf XI will mark the first series in four years, after Red Dwarf X‘s run on Dave led to rather high ratings and overall good reviews. The general consensus of Series X was that, while not as sublime as the earlier series, it was a return to form compared to the controversial previous three series. Continue reading
Imagine if there was a show about rocks – gems, to be exact. Expect to see it on Discovery, or the Science Channel, right? (I kid, I kid – it would air on ESPN.)
Now, imagine if these rocks were war veterans of various strategies and personalities, part of a quasi-militaristic race of aliens, and trying to interact with humans – even living with/raising a half-human who is about 11/12 years old, because the team’s sorta-leader married a guitarist.
Welcome to Steven Universe.
There used to be a fourth member, Rose – the former commander of the Crystal Gems – but Gem science being what it is, when she gave birth to Steven, she “gave up her physical form”. Thus, Steven all but lives with the Crystal Gems – in effect, their guardians. He does occasionally hang out with (and get advice/stories from) his somewhat bumbling father, Greg Universe.
The dilemmas they face range from an odd job gone awry in the town of Beach City, Delmarva to saving the entire Earth. It’s a strange show.
Of course, as we see later on, this show is more complex at a closer glance. It touches on topics such as love, family, risk, diplomacy, insecurity, rebellion, psychosis, and war crimes. It’s one of the most well-developed shows on TV… and every episode only lasts 11 minutes!
So… wanna watch?
Same rules apply with watching – we start from episode 1. (Not the actual pilot – I want to get seasoned into reviewing this show first.)
Now, because these are 11-minute episodes, giving a “Favorite Scene” and a “Least Favorite Scene” will be pretty pointless. Instead, while the “Favorite Scene” will remain, I have decided to replace the “Least Favorite Scene” with two features: a “Best Character”, which is what it says on the tin, and a “Memorable Quote”, also self-explanatory (the latter started in my Futurama blog). This only counts to this show, so the “Least Favorite Scene” will remain for my other reviews. Hell, I might spin off the “Best Character” and “Memorable Quote” to other shows.
Also, if these are successful enough, I might spin these off into a separate blog, with more expanded commentary on SU on that blog.
Well… time to believe in Steven.
|(DVD cover taken from the behemoth called Wikipedia)|
Oh, boy. Season 10. The second of four (and change) we’re going to be covering… at a snail’s pace. I guess.
Because of the wide swath of episodes this season, I will not be listing them like I did with my reviews of Red Dwarf. I will, however, mention a few of the casting changes and guest stars that will be seen this season. Some of this info I got from Wikipedia, others I got from the Dead Homer Society. I’m not really a professional. Continue reading
No matter what the critical response to Red Dwarf: Back to Earth was, the ratings were deemed to be extraordinary. Gaining the highest ever ratings for the Dave network, speculation was rampant and immediate concerning a tenth series. The first word came out in June 2010, when the actors stated that more Red Dwarf would be made. However, nothing was confirmed then. It wasn’t until April 2011 when UKTV finally confirmed that Red Dwarf would be back for a full series.
The reaction was cautiously optimistic. TV series have been revived before due to strong interest. Doctor Who was brought back in March 2005, Family Guy was brought back two months later, Futurama was revived twice, etc. However, the quality of these revivals has been debated time and time again. While Doctor Who came back to rave reviews for it’s more character-focused plots, Family Guy and (to a lesser extent) Futurama got a more lukewarm reaction, accused of lacking the magic the original seasons had, or going in a more crass direction. On top of that, the past three installments of Red Dwarf have been blasted as being far weaker compared to the original six series. (You saw me getting more frustrated with the show as we ended the eighth series!)
So, would Red Dwarf get the same critique as other shows? Or would it be a return to form?
Well, before we dive in, let’s just see how the production went. This will be quick, because the fact of the matter is that it all depended on the budget… which was, yet again, barely there. Doug Naylor had to fight just to get a studio audience. Once the sets were dismantled, any extra scene had to be shot in front of a green screen- any episode containing these were aired to a studio audience, not taped like the other episodes.
However, this series did go “back to basics”. The Red Dwarf models were brought back (thank smeg), the sets gained vibrant colors again, Howard Goodall was brought back to do the music, Howard Burden was back to do the costumes… it really felt like the show was being returned to the “tried and true”. Granted, budget limitations constrained the episodes. Ambitious projects such as “Back to Reality”, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, and “Dimension Jump”? Not done this time around. This was more like Series II- back to basics.
So, what was the end result? Was the show back to form? Or was it proof that Red Dwarf should’ve ended with Rimmer blowing the Time Drive out of the sky?
Well, here’s the episodes!
“Remember: only the good die young.”
“That’s… never happened before.”
With those two sentences (and “The End”/”The Smeg It Is” slides), on 5 April 1999, Red Dwarf VIII faded away into Britcom history. Initially hailed as a return to form by many a fan, it’s reputation slipped quite a bit over ten years. By 2009, those that hated Series VIII loathed it. I consider “Krytie TV” and “Pete Part II” to be the worst episodes in British sci-fi history and British comedy history. Yes. Worse than “The Twin Dilemma”. Worse than The Wright Way. The only worthwhile episode in that entire piece of schlock is “Cassandra”, and even that’s held back by off pacing and awkward character moments.
Yet, at the time, it was popular enough to bring up a question: will there be a movie?
Wait, There Was a Red Dwarf Movie Planned?
Movie spin-offs of TV shows are relatively commonplace. Yet, it would be a testament to the power of Red Dwarf if there was an actual theatrical spin-off. Theatrical movies directly spun off from sitcoms are something of an unusual breed (correct me if I’m wrong), and almost unheard of when it pertains to Britcoms.
Ultimately, the film never really went through.
Actually, if Doug Naylor is to be believed, a script was written, and they had plans for production. However, setback after setback, false funding after contract failure, damned the project. The BBC didn’t feel the script was up to par for a theater. Maybe they learned their lesson from Series VIII. Or, maybe they were too busy concentrating on what appeared to be their new cash cow in the making, some little show called Doctor Who.
So, the project was going nowhere. However, between February and August of 2008, BBC Worldwide appeared to strike a deal with Naylor: produce a miniseries consisting of three episodes, at least two of which could easily be strung into something resembling movie.
Thus, Back to Earth was born.
So, How the Hell Was This Thing Produced?
Intended to be two episodes and Red Dwarf Unplugged, the movie was expanded to three episodes.
A big problem facing production? The thing barely had a budget. With the script’s plans, the writers decided to (yet again) kibosh the studio audience to save money they barely even had. By kibosh, I mean it was decided not to even bring an audience in to record their reaction as the episodes aired. Thus, for the first time in history, Red Dwarf was literally laughless.
Sets were done on the cheap: half of the sets were built out of things they found in the closet. Camera work was done to try and make it seem the thing had a bigger budget than it actually did. The crew was brought in to be extras. Yes, they didn’t have money for extras.
Speaking of which, the casting was, well, troublesome. Norman Lovett was told to clear his schedule for filming dates. Ultimately, it was decided that he wasn’t needed. Thing was, he was never informed that he wasn’t needed until it was too late. Infuriated, Naylor went on record to declare that, as far as his acting career went, the franchise was dead. (He appears to have since reconciled with Naylor.)
Chloe Annett was also asked to join up. It would appear that her experience with the movie went far more smoothly. Why? Well… they used a picture of her at the beginning, for one. The producers and her agent must’ve gotten along well.
This episode also seemed to eschew the “traditional” camera yet again, going back to a filmized-style seen in Series VII. This time, the red-camera system was used. Effects seemed to reach a happier medium, with a cross between CGI and models used. Red Dwarf, for example, had it’s model rebuilt (thank god).
So, what was the end result? Guess it’s time to watch.
It’s back to Red Dwarf.
It’s Back to Earth.
Yes, folks! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again! Gravity Falls is indeed coming back. Mark your calendars! Those in the US, “Scaryoke” premieres August 1st in the US on the Disney Channel. Those in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia… I’ve got nothing right now. BUT IT IS COMING!
I’ve made it clear that Gravity Falls is one of my favorite TV shows currently in production, and one of my all time favorite shows, period. Season 1, at it’s best, didn’t really break the mold as much as it created an entirely new mold. Even at it’s worst, it wasn’t really bad; it just didn’t excite me as much as the best episodes did. It’s characters, plots, symbolism, and art… all of it ranged from “pretty damn good” to “sublime”. Even characters that seemed like they didn’t get development actually have so much potential to develop, that I’m willing to excuse their lack of focus.
So far, here’s what we know:
Barring any changes in my schedule, I will be able to catch episode 1 when it airs.
Now, what do I want in this series? Let’s run it down, lads!
Well, we’re here. Series VIII. The last of the 51 episodes commissioned by BBC Two. To steal a line from Russell Wilson, it’s been a long road, getting from “The End” to here.
Now, Series VII had received a lukewarm reception amongst fans, many of whom (including yours truly) deriding it for shaking up the formula in a manner that replaced an interesting character with a bland, static character; replacing the beautiful models with low-quality CGI; mishandled almost every character; and, maybe most damning of all, syphoned the depth out of the show in favour of stock sci-fi plots and sitcom humour.
So, how was Doug Naylor to appease fans after such a radical change? ANOTHER RADICAL CHANGE!
First off, a combination of the love of his work on Series VII and sudden emptiness in his schedule (The Brittas Empire had been cancelled) convinced Chris Barrie to reprise his role as Rimmer full-time. A hole in the cast dynamic had been filled… seemingly, at least.
Doug Naylor seemed to have tired of the “Starbug putzes around in space” storyline of the past two series, and desired to bring the “small rouge one” back. Yet, he also had been watching Series I-III for the remaster (side note: stick to the originals). For some reason, he wanted to elaborate on the conflict between Rimmer, Lister, and Captain Hollister. So, it was decided to make it so that the core four (plus Kochanski) were no longer alone.
To facilitate this, Red Dwarf was essentially turned into a prison comedy, allowing Rimmer and Lister to interact with the Captain and others.
Yet, the actors that played Petersen, Selby, and Chen were not available on a regular basis. All of them had become successful and couldn’t fit the show into their schedule. Ultimately, new characters had to be created, such as Kill Crazy (played by Jake Wood) and Warden Ackerman (played by Gavin McTavish).
Strangely enough, a combination of an eight-episode series plus a low budget meant that two stories had to be stretched out. “Back in the Red”, originally an hour-long two parter, was transformed into a 90-minute three-parter. “Pete” (originally titled “Captain’s Office”) was also transformed into a two-parter, changing from an episode dominated by Lister and Rimmer’s troubles with Captain Hollister into one where the crew have to fight… a dinosaur.
The end of the series was actually devised to be used in case the series wasn’t renewed. The crew would’ve wound up back at Earth, wrecked up the place, and traded insurance details with the few remaining people to restore damage. It was going to be epic… until Doug Naylor took a look at the budget.
Thus, another finale had to be devised, which had four, count em, four endings planned. The one they went with was actually whipped up at the last minute.
Ultimately, this series proved to be controversial, much like VI and VII were. It’s worth noting that, over the course of the series, half of the viewing audience left. “Back in the Red” premiered with 8.05 million viewers. By “Only the Good”, only 4.24 million were still tuned in.
Initial reception was relatively positive, claiming that the show had “returned to form” with the return to more comic strips and Red Dwarf. Now? Well, fan site Ganymede and Titan did a survey in 2013 to commemerate the 25th anniversary of the first ever Red Dwarf episode. The bottom 5 episodes? All from Series VIII.
Overall, Series VIII took a beating in the poll, ranking as the worst series overall. Unlike VI, which shook it’s initial controversial reception to become relatively beloved, and VII, which always seemed to be derided, VIII has gone from being a relatively beloved series to one that is considered the death kneel for Red Dwarf.
So, what else is there left to lose? May as well dive in.
Oh, one thing: this series has two multi-parters. I have decided that it would be best if I reviewed every storyline, rather than every episode. I’ll still give the episodes separate grades and note the difference between the parts, but it will allow for the reviews to have more of a “flow”. Also, it might be a while between reviews.
Anyway, like always, EPISODE RUNDOWN!
Ah, Red Dwarf VII. Plans for the series began in 1993. Taping began three whopping years later. So, the question of the day is…. what happened?
Filming was also pushed back in 1994. In July, Craig Charles was accused of rape, apparently by one of his ex-girlfriends, and was denied bail. He was only granted bail after he was attacked by a fellow prisoner in jail in October. He was cleared of the charges March 1995.
Then, another dilemma. After two seasons of production troubles and troubled shootings, the lure of the small rouge one had been broken for Chris Barrie, and he demanded to have his screentime effectively halved. The writers responded by writing out Rimmer in one of the first episodes of the series, and bringing him back for flashbacks/dream sequences/whatnot.
So, who could possibly replace a character that many regarded as the heart of the show? Who could possibly stand up to the plate to try and keep the audience interested?
Well, they had a plan in mind. Rumours persist that to get funding for a Red Dwarf film, they needed to add a female to the cast. So, why not bring back a supporting character from the first two series?
…as portrayed by Chloe Annett.
You see, Claire Grogan was deep into her role as a talk-show host at this point. Therefore, she couldn’t make filming. Instead, Doug brought on Annett, knowing her from an audition of The Ten Percenters. In comparison to Grogan’s spunky take on the character, Annett portrayed her in a more posh manner (not even bothering to imitate Grogan’s Scottish accent).
Production began in 1996. Filming was radically different compared to other series. Red Dwarf VII eschewed the live studio audience in favour of showing the series to test audiences. This did allow for the sets to have four walls, allowing for more camera angles.
Another radical change came in terms of special effects. The first six series used models 99% of the time for special effects. CGI became cheaper and easier to use between VI and VII. This became the first series to use CGI, which became standard in VIII.
The series also brought back a familiar face at the end of the series. Who is it? You probably know, but hey, a little suspense never killed anybody.
Lastly, the scriptwriting also changed. While Series V dealt with character comedy, and Series VI was more of a sci-fi sitcom, Series VII edged closer to a comedy-drama, with more drama and intense plots, as well as the continuation of the “Find the Small Rouge One” arc of Series VI.
Red Dwarf VII premiered in January 1997. The ratings were high, peaking at 8,000,000 viewers. However, current reception has not been too kind to the series. Reaction since it’s premiere was that it was the worst series. Only recently has it been removed from that position, partially due to re-evaluation, and partially because Series VIII was worse according to fans.
Of course, we have to take a look at the “menu” for the next few days/weeks/months. This time, we have eight- count them, eight- episodes to dissect.