Calling all fans of classic British comedy – Red Dwarf is returning to our screens later this year for a 90-minute special called Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, and just to whet our appetites a teaser trailer has just dropped which you can check out below.
For those of you who don’t know, Red Dwarf has been broadcast on the UKTV channel Dave since 2009 with the airing of Back to Earth. Although that episode was made almost as a re-pilot for Dave, with minimal budget, the show has since gone from strength to strength, and this writer can sincerely say that the three Dave seasons – X, XI, XII – contain some of Red Dwarf’s strongest episodes. Crucially, the series’ co-creator, and now sole writer and director, Doug Naylor, took the decision to focus on the main cast, so no Kochanski, and to film in front of a live studio audience, giving Red Dwarf the same feeling of its classic seasons, something that was definitely lost towards the end of its run on the BBC.
But onto the new teaser trailer. It would be fair to say that not much is being given away. The visuals look impressive, an element that has improved incrementally for Red Dwarf on Dave, with new sets and models having been built episode by episode. Here we have a flotilla of threatening battle-cruisers that are impressive in their design, a glimpse of Starbug looking fantastic as it swoops past what could be a space station, some atmospheric interior shots, and an explosive chase sequence. Certainly we’ve come a long way since Back to Earth and Series X.
Surprisingly, the tone of the trailer is rather serious. The boys from the Dwarf are in peril, and despite Rimmer’s usual self-loathing, “You don’t need me. I’m not sure you ever did,” this seems to be an epic, perilous adventure for Lister and co, that will require the team to pull together to survive. Nonetheless, this writer has no doubt that Doug Naylor and the rest of the crew will bring plenty of funny, as the very best Dave episodes match Red Dwarf in its BBC heyday laugh for laugh. So why would this special feature-length episode be any different?
As to what it’s all about, the title The Promised Land, with its religious overtones will be a giveaway for Red Dwarf fans from the show’s early days. As explained in the Series I episode Waiting for God, Lister is a God to the race of cats which evolved from the pet he kept on Red Dwarf, prior to his being put into suspended animation thus avoiding the blast that killed the entire crew. The cat race even based their idea of heaven on Lister’s plan to save up and live on the planet Fiji. Does the new feature-length episode reach this far back into Red Dwarf’s history? The presence of a threatening, fanged, and very cat-like figure in the trailer would certainly seem to suggest this.
Red Dwarf has included lengthier stories in its past – most notably Back in the Red, from series VIII, which was essentially a feature-length episode split into three parts, and which saw the crew return to a fully manned Red Dwarf, as well as the aforementioned Back to Earth. None of these can quite be considered classic Dwarf. Nonetheless, based on recent form there’s plenty to be excited about for Red Dwarf fans past and present, as well as fans coming to the show for the first time.
Red Dwarf: The Promised Land is released on the UKTV channel Dave April 12th. Read the official synopsis below.
Three million years ago… David Lister, a vending machine repairman, was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister remained in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form. The cats now roam deep space in a fleet of their own…
The special will see the posse meet three cat clerics (Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Lucy Pearman) who worship Lister as their God. Lister vows to help them as they’re being hunted by Rodon, the ruthless feral cat leader (Ray Fearon) who has vowed to wipe out all cats who worship anyone but him.