You have have previosuly seen our compilations of all the guitar opening titles for Red Dwarf, where we decided to compile them all into one video just to see what they look like. It’s worth noting, we have a lot of free time. Well given there’s been a new series since our last update to the video, and given it’s the 30th anniversary and all, let’s take a look at an updated version. We’ll stick to some fairly basic observations based on looking at all of these images together but for an in depth look at both the opening and closing titles, we’d highly recommend this article on the official site.
These credits have been synced up based on the guitar version of Howard Goodall’s theme tune which first appeared during Series III, and with ten of these together, it produces a lovely wall of sound effect.
It’s notable that Series III has by far the longest lead in to the music starting several seconds before the guitar kicks in, perhaps reflecting the slower opening to Series I and II or more likely to provide a lovely mix from the continuity. It also features the most dramatic sound effect with the engine exploding to life (although without any corresponding movement on screen) before the music kicks in.
Both Series IV and V retained the first shot of Red Dwarf flying through space, although far shorter than the Series III version. Interestingly enough, all three use different cuts of this shot with Series III showing the ship from front to middle, Series IV going from the middle to the back and Series V just showing a moving mid section.
Due to the change of setting, Series VI begins with a shot of Starbug in space and replaces the deep rumble of the Dwarf’s engines with the ‘Bug’s more jet-like noise. Despite a return to the mother ship, Series VIII uses that year’s most visually impressive practical effect with the hanger bay exploding and curiously, the whole opening title sequence in this run only uses one exterior shot of Red Dwarf.
Back to Earth is the only series which begins with the logo which is superimposed over the Blade Runner inspired shot of London. For Series X, we return to the models with Blue Midget flying away from Red Dwarf but rather than giving it a couple of seconds in isolation, it begins in sync with the music.
Before the days of widescreen, it’s perhaps notable that three series have opted to create a more cinematic effect with the addition of bars starting with Series V. This series uses red bars bordered with black and barring a couple of shots, rather strangely actually squashes the picture so it’s in the completely wrong aspect ratio. Series VI uses far smaller bars in a similar colour scheme. Four years later, the show returned but retained the bars, this time in black which was fitting for the more cinematic look of Series VII. The bars disappeared for Series VIII, never to be seen again, but then this was the last series to air in the 4:3 aspect ratio.
The way the logo is displayed on screen differs too. Series III and IV are the only to use the same variation of the logo (although the Series XI logo is clearly inspired by this version). There’s a lot going on with this logo with the purple halo fading in, the red ellipse and the two Ds zooming in from the back and the “RE” coming in from the top and the “WARF” arriving from the bottom. Series V features another elaborate move with the ellipse spinning and zooming into shot with the two Ds fading in quickly as it reaches its resting place and the other lettering fading in. Series VI has the complete logo quickly zooming into screen. Series VII is a hard cut while Series VIII is the only logo that fades in with a black background in order to make the tally marks gag. The Back to Earth logo appears in a similar style to Series VI zooming from small to large, although this time imposed over a shot of the crew. Series X has a spinning ellipse with the lettering quickly following, this time zooming out. While the Series XI and XII logos fly onto the screen in a similar way, both their numbers have interesting quirks with XI suffering from a bout of interference and XII forming a IIII before crossing into the right formation.
Series V uses a new version of the logo in serif font. The ellipse now runs through the “R” rather than behind it and through the bottom “D” and behind the top one. There are also shadows cast on the “R” and the “A” as it crosses. If you look closely, it appears that Series VII is also using a variation of this logo, albeit much smaller. Red Dwarf VI uses a similar logo but with the ellipse returned to being joined to the two occurrences of the letter “D”. A similar version of this logo appears throughout other series, although Red Dwarf VIII added the trademark symbol and, Back to Earth has a 3D effect on the red elements and Series X added a grade on the white lettering. With the addition of Series XI and XII to this video, you can compare the logo to their reference point from Series III and while they are a decent approximation, the lettering is larger in comparison to the halo. In some ways, you could say it’s the definitive version of the logo.
Numbering first appears in Red Dwarf VII with the roman numerals dominating the screen showing a CGI Starbug flyby in the background. This is something of a missed opportunity as the credits would often just transition into another effects shot, and could have been a nice way to tie the credits into the episode. Series VIII uses the aforementioned tally marks and Series X becomes the first in the show’s run to have the standard logo and roman numerals as had become common on the VHS collection, with the X flying into the screen.
Back to Earth represented a number of firsts, being the first run of episodes transmitted in widescreen and also the first to feature on screen credits for the actors as well as created by credits for Grant and Naylor and a written by credit for Doug as well as the title of the special itself. For series X, many of these elements were retained with similar credits for the actors although those for the writing talent are omitted as the show returned to its more episodic format.
Series XI and XII titles have slightly different running times, a curiousity in itself given they were created in the same production run, although the extended shot of Starbug in Series XI accounts for this, while Series XII jumps right into the action. Curiously, the cast names don’t sync either which suggested there is absolutely no template for this and they’re just inserted at random intervals to suit the shots.
Finally, a couple of interesting quirks (if you’ve made it this far, you find this stuff interesting.) Starbug is in shot at twenty seconds in both IV and V. Kochanski is the most prominent figure in shot in both Series VII and VIII at around 28 seconds. There are shots of Holly in both the credits for Series III and V at around the 39 second mark. All timings are based on the video above. If you spot any more fascinating coincidences do let us know and we’ll write songs about you.
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