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New Red Dwarf Series Threatened By the Twitter Era 228

Posted by timothy
from the wouldn't-that-be-good-buzz? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The announcement that the new series of Red Dwarf is likely to be shot in front of a studio audience, which hasn't happened for the show since 1998, has made one of the show's actors wary of the practicality of it. Commenting on his blog, Robert Llewellyn, who plays servile robot Kryten in the hit British SF comedy show notes: 'The fear among the producers now is that it's impossible to imagine an audience of around 400 people at the recording of a TV show like Red Dwarf, where nobody does a bit of a hint on Twitter, or sneaks a picture on Facebook or posts a bit of badly shot video on YouTube.'"
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New Red Dwarf Series Threatened By the Twitter Era

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  • This is why (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuantumBeep (748940) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:12AM (#34949400)

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    • Re:This is why (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KevinColyer (883316) on Friday January 21, 2011 @09:52AM (#34951596) Homepage

      I always thought viral marketing was a good thing?

  • Even more shocking is that the new series might be doomed because of a sensationalist headline on slashdot!

    The fact that they are doing the new series is worthy enough news, you don't need to build up a non-existing story to promote it. Even the summary shows what a crock the headline is when it says that one of the show's actors was "wary of the practicality of it". If it was such a concern, then they could just not film it in front of an audience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JunkmanUK (909293)

      Except that the perceived downfall of Red Dwarf ties in with the omission of the studio audience.

      It has long been touted by comedy writers such as Richard Curtis (Blackadder) that a studio audience gives them a very solid gauge of what is working and gives them feedback on how things could be done better.

      Plus, news that "there will be a new series of Red Dwarf" is one for the TV websites. A story on a technology site about concerns about social media accessibility and it's effect on TV series production is

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        Studio audiences get a lot of stick but Red Dwarf is proof that it can improve series. The mini series just felt a bit soul-less without the studio and the interplay between characters didn't work. Of course the fact it was an overly mawkish not-as-funny-as-it-should be Blade Runner parody didn't help either.
        • I suspect that they did actually have a studio audience, but they gave the show as much laughter as it deserved. As soon as you go so self-referential as the mini series did, then it becomes more cringeworthy than funny. It just looks line a fanfic film.

          I think that if you get to the stage of hearing the audience response before finding out if something is funny, then you aren't making a masterpiece. But what would I know? My favourite seasons were 1 and 2, which most people think were the worst. It was bef

        • by dbIII (701233)

          The mini series just felt a bit soul-less

          I'm reliably informed that there's never been a Corination Street crossover (which is what it was) that was worth watching. Even a Dr Who one with Leela in it fell flat.
          The final series with the prison jokes wasn't their best but was certainly picking up towards the end.

  • Faraday Cage? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:23AM (#34949460)

    Would it be plausible to record in a Faraday Cage or equivalent, negating both cell phone and internet device access for the duration of the recording?

    I can understand the appeal of actors being able to react subtly to the audience - but I always found the blurts of audience sounds annoying - ESPECIALLY in shows with canned laughter or artificially "enhanced" audience reactions.

    Red Dwarf seems like it would be better with a smaller audience of insiders anyway - comedians playing to other comedians are always filthier, funnier, and less self-censoring, and I think that would be a better result.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re:Faraday Cage? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cwix (1671282) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:28AM (#34949480)

      A faraday cage isn't going to stop them from actually recording it on their phone and uploading it later.

    • by reezle (239894)

      No, since they would record and post later, the only sensible solution is metal detectors at the gate.
      Perhaps the TSA could join the production?

      • by TheoGB (786170)
        Unless they also have some sort of brain-wiping techniques it's still not going to stop someone Tweeting about it later.
      • Even then, it doesn't stop the audience just remembering what they saw and typing it up later. If they feel the storyline needs to be a surprise at the time of broadcast, then they need to make everyone in the audience sign an NDA (easy) and have a reasonable expection that no one will break the NDA (nowhere near as easy)
    • by mug funky (910186)

      this.

      it might be tricky with things like radio mics and such, but i can imagine they can hide the gear in a quiet corner inside the cage. i'm surprised the faraday cage thing hasn't been done at many other venues where mobile phones are an annoyance.

      of course they could post the scripts online before taping, or release artwork, modes, stills or synopses before the fact where, while not giving anything away, provide a value-add and enough of an appetizer to prevent people spoiling it.

      i think the main fandom

    • by Canazza (1428553)

      Also, health and safety wouldn't allow it nowadays. You have to be able to call emergency services and a faraday cage would block that. Same goes for cinemas.

  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:30AM (#34949486)

    All Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube posts will do is generate extra hype for the show at no extra cost to the producers. No one is going to watch a shitty YouTube cell phone capture instead of the actual show. Free advertising is always good and word of mouth is extremely valuable. If someone sees a commercial for a TV show they just file that away with all the other advertising they ignore. If they get the pitch from someone they know or better someone with similar interests they're way more likely to pay attention. If I was making a TV show I'd beg my audience to talk about it on every channel they had available.

    • by Aranykai (1053846)

      Absolutely. Leaked punch lines and secrets are only going to server to generate publicity. If anything, I would chose to film the first ones live, even if the rest of the series wouldn't be.

      • by TheoGB (786170)
        The trailers will spoil more jokes than a dozen Twitter/Facebook feeds ever could.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      They're not worried about piracy, they're worried about spoilers.

    • "If I was making a TV show I'd beg my audience to talk about it on every channel they had available."

      Seems to me that's exactly what they are doing, it also seems to be working.
  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:38AM (#34949522) Homepage

    I am very cross. You shouldn't have run away from me. What are we going to do with those twitter posters?

    I have an idea, but who would clean up the mess?

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:45AM (#34949542) Journal

    Red Dwarf is a classic Sci Fi series and something I grew up on and still enjoy today, but it is clearly a series that doesn't work any more. They tried to revive it before when they did a mini series and it was by far the worst episode(s) of the entire thing.

    People always cry for remakes and updated versions of older TV series, but some things just don't work in the current climate. Doctor Who is a prime example of a TV series that doesn't work in the modern climate, so when it was brought back it was massively retoned to suit modern TV. But Red Dwarf can't be retoned, when they tried it, it just didn't work. Some times you just need a budget of £10 an episode and a dude wearing a spandex suit rather than massive CGI scenes and unlimited funds.

    Red Dwarf is an all time classic and something I hope anything I spawn will get to watch and enjoy as I did, but it feels like the actors have no careers any more (especially Craig Charles, who is now badly dubbing Japanese game shows for cable channels) and just want to milk sucess 30 years ago.

    • by zmollusc (763634)

      I seriously don't understand what you mean by 'doesn't work any more'.
      If they have actually got some funny scripts then hurrah. I think it was the material, not the format, which spoiled the specials.

      • by Mendy (468439)

        I seriously don't understand what you mean by 'doesn't work any more'.

        Since Rob Grant ceased to be involved with the writing (after series 6) the quality of the episodes has been generally poor. As it's now been over 10 years since the series was on (Dave specials excluded) they would likely have to assume viewers weren't familiar with the characters and do a lot of work setting up their personas which might bore fans of the existing episodes. The writers may also struggle to come up with anything new to write about after 8 series as they can't cover "relationship humour" wit

      • by FlopEJoe (784551)
        Re-imagine it! Lister... now a gritty, edgy, cigar smoking, tattoo armed, blond babe. The cat can be a gruff, bald, alcoholic, XO who re-finds his wife. Cryton will still be a robot but, get this, look like a human. It can work, man!
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by VVrath (542962) on Friday January 21, 2011 @04:23AM (#34949670)

      [I]t feels like the actors have no careers any more (especially Craig Charles, who is now badly dubbing Japanese game shows for cable channels) and just want to milk sucess 30 years ago.

      Craig Charles has been on the UK soap Coronation Street since 2005 [wikipedia.org]. Given it's one of the most popular shows on UK TV, I'd say his career has significantly improved since the days of Red Dwarf.

      • In the land where soap operas receive more respect than science comedies, perhaps. That's a pretty fucked-up place, in my opinion.
        • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by 6031769 (829845) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:32AM (#34950002) Homepage Journal

          It has nothing to do with respect and everything to do with ratings. Welcome to TVland.

        • by Xest (935314)

          That land being the whole world you mean?

          Shit like Coronation Street, Friends, Sex and the City has always rated better than science comedies simply because there are more brainless drones in the world than there are people who appreciate science enough to get the jokes in science comedies.

          It doesn't matter where you are, mass market stuff that anyone can get into is always going to do better than more targetted sciency stuff.

        • by funkatron (912521)
          Soaps are the closest an actor can get to a steady salaried job. Career wise, that's a lot better than doing odd comedy shows here and there and always having to look for the next role for when your current season finishes. Granted, most comedy is far more watchable than corrie but settling into a soap is probably a good way for an actor to go.
          • by Xest (935314)

            Particularly in the UK where soaps are much higher quality productions and are held to a much higher standard than in North America, and particularly as UK series tend to be short (maybe only 7/8 episodes rather than the US' usual ~22 - 24 episodes).

            Working in a soap, particularly one like Coronation Street which is about the longest running soap going and regularly wins awards is good work in the UK, not only is the salary regular but it's high too.

            As I pointed out elsewhere, you can be sure that Craig Cha

    • by muridae (966931)
      I don't understand the desire to leave shows like this untouched. It is like some collecting impulse where a fan can not bear the actors coming back for another season because it might ruin the value of what they have already. The actors get paid, we get a new season of a show we like/love/hate. Everybody wins in this regard. Except the smeg heads who hate Red Dwarf.
      • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jimicus (737525) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:50AM (#34950090)

        Probably because the last time they touched it since the end of series 6, they messed it up horrifically.

        Series 1 was not fantastic, but then both the writers and the actors were still finding their feet. Series 2 was OK, but it definitely needed the refreshment that took place at the beginning of series 3.

        4 and 5 were also great series. By series 6, however, it was pretty obvious they were running out of gags. 7 and 8... ugh.

        Then they remastered series 1 and 2. The net result was:

        Scene 1 - characters sat around wearing grey boiler suits on a grey set which was obviously cobbled together some time in the 1980's from a bit of scrap wood and a special deal on grey paint.
        Scene 2 - characters wandering around a fantastically cheap grey set.

        Cut to swishy modern CGI spaceship animation with lots of colour and pretty FX. Maybe a starfield in the background and a few bright colourful planets.

        Scene 3 - character walks in on a cheap & nasty grey set.

        The mental jarring was painful.

        Then they did "Back to Earth". I couldn't watch that through, it was so bad, and I don't think I'm alone.

        • by delinear (991444)

          The sets were meant to be cheap and nasty and grey. The whole premise was that these guys were living what would seem to be the dream life to many, visiting faraway planets on a mining ship the size of a city with advanced AI, yet to them it was just a tedious day job. The original plan was to tone it down even more - you wouldn't even know they were on a spaceship, it was meant to just look like any corridor in any office in the country. The mental jarring between the boring scenery inside and the stunning

          • by TheoGB (786170)
            He was specifically talking about the 'remaster' when he said about the 'jarring'. If you're actually defending those then you've gone beyond the Lucas defence field and there may be no helping you!
      • I don't think anyone minds them bringing it back, in theory. It's just that they've already tried it twice and it sucked both times. Now it's pretty clear that they're doing it for one more chance to milk an existing franchise because they've run out of original ideas. If I thought that they were bringing it back to produce something good, I'd be excited. I disregarded the reviews of the last one and watched it anyway, and didn't laugh once for the entire two hours of 'comedy'. Rewatching some of the o
    • by bloodhawk (813939)

      but it is clearly a series that doesn't work any more.

      The show, the comedy, the characters all work fine, all the 3 episode special proved is that if you use a shitty script it will still stink regardless of the quality of the cast and how much the series is loved. The original series still works today extremely well, it is one of the few comedy series I can watch over and still enjoy the humor.

    • by Xest (935314)

      "but it feels like the actors have no careers any more (especially Craig Charles, who is now badly dubbing Japanese game shows for cable channels) and just want to milk sucess 30 years ago."

      To be fair on the guy, back in the 90s during Red Dwarf's peak he was victim of a false rape allegation which delayed the later series and harmed the ratings somewhat as a result. After that he seemed to dissapear from public view somewhat.

      Still, since 2005 he's been on the UK's longest runnning, most popular, and regula

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <[ten.00mrebu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:46AM (#34949548) Homepage Journal

    The WWF (now WWE) has had to deal with this for ages, as their shows are often broadcast days after they're actually performed.

    Their solution? Do jack shit.

    The fans who don't want to be spoiled, don't look up the spoilers.

    The fans who do, do.

    Nobody really loses out unless someone on the cast has an unexplained need for secrecy. This isn't Survivor.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      Plus, people who like the WWF usually can't afford computers, anyway, so there's no chance of them finding out until it's aired.

    • by Pastis (145655)

      Exactly. How often can you solve problems by just getting rid of the fear ?

      People are afraid all the time.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Spoilers? There was a film about some hobbits and a ring and many people knew what the story was and how it ended, yet still many people came to watch it.

  • 'The fear among the producers now is that it's impossible to imagine an audience of around 400 people at the recording of a TV show like Red Dwarf, where nobody does a bit of a hint on Twitter, or sneaks a picture on Facebook or posts a bit of badly shot video on YouTube.'

    Wow just wow . How about adapting and embracing new technology instead of moving a step backwards ? This confirms still, how old fashioned some in the entertainment industry think. E.g. why not offer a 'live' showing per stream in HD ? If it is a good show and not some _crap_ then why are they so afraid of twitter, youtube, etc etc. Actually if enough people talk positive about it isn't that a bonus for the show? There are many possibilities how to adapt to new models but instead of thinking about the posit

  • They could always just fill the seats with robots.

    Then at the flip of an executive-controlled switch, they could all burst into cold, robotic laughter. Even better, special appearances from Robot Wars contestants could make their way into the program to give the audience something to relate to. Kryten might even end up the next Justin Bieber.

    • by Legion303 (97901)

      I don't see why they would waste money on robots when Kryten has several perfectly good spare heads available.

  • I don't know what kind of time is needed between a show being shot, the networks needing the content, and the actual airing, but if this is such a big issue, why couldn't they drop the "live studio" part and screen the episode for the audience shortly (i.e. days) before its premier, record the audience noise then, and tack it on?
    It obviously "just wouldn't be the same", but if you're that worried about it...
    (Which apparently they aren't, because according to the summary, the only one known to be worried i
    • Just use samples of the nerds laughing from Revenge of the Nerds. No one would notice.

    • by delinear (991444)
      The point of a live audience here isn't to "tack on a laugh track" - the interplay between the audience and the actors is meant to enhance the experience. If you watch any of the outtake shows from the earlier studio audience series you can see that everyone is really having a good laugh and there's a generally good atmosphere whereby the actors are feeding off the energy of the audience. I'm not sure how feasible it would be to shoot very close to airing as a compromise. In the early days it was probably e
  • I have a crazy idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Friday January 21, 2011 @04:26AM (#34949694)

    How about, I don't know, getting rid of one of the single most annoying thing about British comedies. The damn studio audience. I swear they bus in the most idiotic people around for them. I've heard the people involved with I.T. Crowd mentioning that they have to give a lecture to the audience to try not laughing at anything too dumb. In particular I remember hearing someone mention being exasperated because the audience would laugh at toilets. Not doing anything with a toilet, just, apparently, the fact that a toilet could exist.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Friday January 21, 2011 @04:48AM (#34949794)
    Big deal, think of it as pre-release publicity, for free. As long as you have an audience there will be leaks.

    As to the show itself, even though I thought the old cast was fantastic, go for a new one. Obviously base it on the original British version, not that horrible American version that never got released.

    And as a small note, even though I loved the show, that last thing they did,"Back to Earth", was horrible and should be forgotten with as much prejudice as possible.
  • Whenever they reboot, respin, retcon, or remake something I love, I'm usually just happier watching what I love. The original Red Dwarf episodes are amazing. If a recombobulation ever does come to be, have a watch party and pop in the classic.

  • Just borrow a TSA squad - complete with embarrassing scanner - from the USA. That'll fix it. Leave your guns AND your gadgets (and your privacy) at the door, buddy!

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:55AM (#34950372) Homepage

    He's a likeable chap, but not the sharpest droid in the box. To wit, he's rabidly in favour of electric vehicles, to the point where he accuses anyone pointing out the obvious flaws with current vehicles - production costs, bad and reducing range, battery recycling issues, and that the vast majority of the electricity still comes from fossil source - as being biased shills.

    So, well intentioned fellow, but rather superficial in the thinking department.

  • by DominicSayers (781748) <dominic@sayers.cc> on Friday January 21, 2011 @07:27AM (#34950574) Homepage
    And yet The IT Crowd somehow manages to survive being shot in front of an audience of geeks.
  • wont matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday January 21, 2011 @08:08AM (#34950820)
    The types of people that will read about the episodes on twitter or watch terrible videos from the audiance on youtube are the same types of people that will watch an episode 15x so they can come to work and annoy me with sad quotes. Then they'll buy your show on DVD, the "Editors edition" DVD, the "Extended cuts" DVD and then the box set.
  • by RichiH (749257) on Friday January 21, 2011 @08:17AM (#34950878) Homepage

    Use that to create buzz and get people more excited about the whole thing.

    Yet another example of someone not getting the Internet. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Friday January 21, 2011 @08:40AM (#34951002) Homepage Journal
    If they are so concerned about Spoilers, then why not do it as live television in front of a live audience? Or are modern series so stuck on special effects and multiple takes, that this can't be done like a stage play or vaudeville? Gee, it might even be "different."
  • by yakumo.unr (833476) on Friday January 21, 2011 @09:09AM (#34951192) Homepage

    Honestly, surely it can't just be me who thought the audience laughter canned or not was the worst thing about Red Dwarf by far.

    Shoot it without an audience, and don't add any recorded laughter either.

    Solves both problems.

  • Paranoid anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc.rrTIGER.com minus cat> on Friday January 21, 2011 @10:16AM (#34951876) Homepage

    The people watching are fans the people seeking out the sneak peeks, virals, bloopers, etc are also fans. Its not like they are going to loose anything by letting this stuff get out. Most fan sites are good about hiding "spoilers" for those that don't want to know..and for those that do all it does is generate hype and buzz...which usually is something niche programming clamors for.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI

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