RED DWARF: THE MOVIE THAT NEVER WAS


Running from February 1988 until April 1999 on the BBC, Red Dwarf was one of best and most ambitious Sit-coms to find its way on to TV. Clearly owing a lot to Douglas Adams’ Television adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (1981), the iconic Sci-fi series followed the exploits of the last human, Dave Lister (Craig Charles) 3,000,000 years in the future.

His only companions are a hologram of his uptight and dead bunk mate, Arnold Rimmer, a humanoid which had evolved from Lister’s cat, and the senile computer, Holly. The comedy is rambunctious but the science fiction is used well. It doesn’t mire itself in complex explanations, as most of the concepts are just that, and are beyond any simple exposition but play out well for comedy effect.

Space and time are played with weekly and the irony that humanity is represented by the world greatest bum and a hologram of an uptight looser is not lost.

Today, sees the return on Red Dwarf to our screens after 13 years, with the exception on what is now considered to be Red Dwarf IX, Back To Earth, which was half Dwarf and half comic relief style spoof, made for cable and satellite channel, Dave here in the U.K. Dave has become the home of Red Dwarf and clearly demand in still there after 24 years for this classic series.

The cast is older now, and I mean A LOT older, but it will remain to be seen as whether there’s any life left in this franchise.

But back in the early 2000’s, following Red Dwarf VIII, the buzz was all about a Red Dwarf Movie, in which the universe would have been somewhat different.

RED DWARF THE MOVIE is set in the distant future where Homo Sapienoids, a fearsome combination of flesh and machine, and the next stage of human evolution, have taken over the solar system and almost wiped out the human race.

The only survivors are the crews of long-haul space freighters that left Earth before the conflict began. The Sapienoids send forth fleets of Death Ships to hunt them down. One by one – the human ships fall, until only one remains.

Its name – Red Dwarf…

The synopsis above is quoted from a promotion flyer from 2003, at about the time that the movie rumours and reports dried up. Personally, I didn’t like the sound of it one bit. Red Dwarf’s concepts are brilliant, simple and effective science fiction, and quite possibly, they just wouldn’t translate globally as a feature film, and that may well be why they went this reboot road.

The first two novelisation of the series, both by series creators Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, Red Dwarf and Better Than Life were a rich source for a film in my opinion, as they were adapted the first three series and brought the elements together in more cohesive and slightly darker way.

The following two books, The Last Human (Doug Naylor) and Backwards (Rob Grant) followed the pair’s spit, which changed the tone of both novels. Naylor and Grant ended their collaboration after Series VI, resulting in VII and VIII never living up to the previous series’.

VII was made in 1997, after a four-year break and in the middle of the sci-fi revival of the 90’s and as such seemed to take itself way to seriously. Doug Naylor would have been in the director’s chair for this one and I hope that maybe he could have pulled something off but in the end, as with The Hitchhiker’s Guild The Galaxy (2005) film, science fiction of this kind is best left to TV, books and radio. Feature films require a distinct style and Red Dwarf is TV at it’s very best.

For more information on this movie or anything else Red Dwarf, then visit Red Dwarf.co.uk

Good Luck with Red Dwarf X.

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