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Red Dwarf (TV Series – ) - IMDb
Its script, by writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor , had spent three years being rejected by just about anybody with any commissioning power at the BBC; its cast consisted not of established sitcom actors, but instead a poet, an impressionist, a dancer and a stand-up comic; and it was a show that combined two genres - comedy and science-fiction - that almost everybody had advised against marrying.
Nearly thirty years later, Red Dwarf is one of the most well-known sci-fi franchises on the planet - and arguably the most popular science-fiction comedy ever created.
Its original BBC run spanned eight series and 52 episodes across eleven years, while a twenty-first century revival for digital broadcaster Dave has so far resulted in a three-part anniversary special followed by three full six-episode series. What's more, the story has been adapted and expanded into novels, comic strips, a radio production and a wide range of best-selling merchandise.
It has made household names out of its stars Craig Charles , Chris Barrie , Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn , and its influence continues to be felt in both the sci-fi and comedy genres. Additionally, having worked on so many drafts of the script, Naylor had plenty of ideas to go on. Red Dwarf X features a number of gags, scenes, and concepts that were originally conceived for one version of the movie or another, but more importantly, it's a run that zeroes in on the original concept of the last human alive, lost in space with his misfit mates. Adapting much of the basic plan for the movie, it's the standout of the run.
As well as being jam-packed with great gags and character moments, it serves as a properly satisfying series finale, just in case they don't get to do this again. With the exception of Timewave an uncharacteristically topical episode that definitely would have had more to grab onto if it had been written and shot at the end of rather than the beginning , they're all pretty good ones too. By the time we get to the back-end of XII, with a blinding run of Mechocracy , M-Corp , and Skipper , the series is arguably back its very best form.
In the best way, any one of those three scripts could have been made 20 years ago, with the possible exception of M-Corp and its Black Mirror -esque pisstake of in-app purchases but the episodes still benefit from Naylor's experience plus the input of the programme's webmaster-turned-script-editor Andrew Ellard and the general uptick in production value afforded by TV-level visual effects.
As good as it looks, Red Dwarf still doesn't have the budget of a Doctor Who , but the way in which the series has offset this by reviving the formula of sci-fi chamber pieces based around four spacefaring smegheads means that the show has yet more potential to be fulfilled. We've been hearing for a while that Series XIII will start shooting at the beginning of , but aside from the release of the new Blu-ray boxset of the first eight series, there's been no more Red Dwarf news this year so far.
The cast have all variously confirmed that they're raring to go on another series, but at the time of writing, the most recent word on what's happening is Naylor's. In keeping the original cast intact, scheduling has been an issue. Going back to shooting one series, as opposed to the back-to-back production of XI and XII should mean that we get some new Red Dwarf within the next 12 months.
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However, post-production on the episodes shot in reportedly lasted eight-nine months, so even if doing one series halves that time, then we're looking at the end of at the very earliest, or possibly early next year. Wait though, what was that about a tour? It's hard to even imagine what Red Dwarf Live At The O2 absolutely not an official working title would look like, but it's the sort of mad new idea that feels on brand for the show's digital renaissance. The mentions of two further series afterwards don't go unnoticed either, because the Dave era has left us in absolutely no doubt that they could do it.
What's most impressive about the post- Back To Earth series is that they haven't relied on warm nostalgia for the show.
Granted, we've had running jokes and callbacks galore, but they've largely been framed within new stories, in episodes which are markedly more characterful than conceptual. Somehow, somewhere along the line, Red Dwarf turned back into a really solid sitcom. The audience figures for the series show that it's still popular, and although we'll leave the consideration of whether you could fill the O2 with the Dwarf faithful to those who have to sell the tickets, a progression to the stage feels like a more natural extension of what we've got at the moment than a big-budget movie could have.
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But moreover, it's got a cast and crew who are raring to make the time to make more. As we said at the start, that's not bad going for a year-old sitcom that has kept the same core cast throughout most of its run. Mathematically, we must be closer to the end of Red Dwarf than we are to the beginning. But in Red Dwarf , The End was the beginning, and having breezed past the just-in-case finale The Beginning with flying colours, it feels like there's still lots more to come.
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