Thursday, April 10, 2008

Big Sci-Fi with a Little Budget

Since we haven’t had the time to really go into that great realm that is science fiction, I thought I would bring up a series near and dear to my heart – which very few people around here have heard of. Red Dwarf ran for 8 wonderful seasons from 1988 to 1999 – an excellent run for a sci-fi comedy. Now what makes Red Dwarf different from all others of its kind is that it (for seasons I - VI) was filmed with a live studio audience. That’s right; a show that takes place on a mining ship that is 6 miles long is shot with a live audience.

For those who aren’t familiar to the series (which I imagine is nearly everyone – it was a British show that started running when we were babies), Red Dwarf follows the misadventures of David Lister, the last living human on the ship, Arnold Rimmer, a hologram, the Cat, an evolved form of an ordinary housecat, Kryten, an android, and Holly, a computer program who occasionally switches gender. Now, something that really adds to the overall humor of the program is how small the show’s budget was and what they did to work around it. For example, the only thing that distinguishes the holographic people from the living ones is an H on their foreheads. And even though they’re on a huge ship, we only ever see a few rooms. In order to not offend people, Red Dwarf developed a rather catchy language of swear words – all based on the word ‘smeg’.

Despite it all, Red Dwarf has had more than its share of notoriety. An episode from 1994, entitled “Gunmen of the Apocalypse” won an International Emmy Award. The series has also won a British Science Fiction Award and the Royal Television Society Award for Special Effects. Surprizingly, in 2007, the show was voted "Best Sci-Fi Show of All Time" by the readers of Radio Times magazine - despite the fact that there hadn't been new episodes since 1999.

Now, it might seem odd to suggest that a series that ran for 8 seasons ended before it’s time, but Red Dwarf seems to have done just that. The final episode of season VIII does not have a definitive conclusion. Keeping in mind that there were 2 years between the release of seasons VI and VII, it could be that they are just waiting for the right moment to add more to this epic series. Over the years, there have also been many attempts to make a Red Dwarf movie…maybe someday they’ll be able make it reality. Anyway, Happy 20th Anniversary Red Dwarf!!!!

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