MattGHC Homepage

The Lower Ranks (2015 - 2016)

Project Status: Complete (September 2016)
Episodes: 8
Medium: Stopmotion animation
Technical Info: Shot on Nikon D7100
Edited in Sony Vegas
HDV 720p25 16:9
Runtime: Approx 1 min to 1 min 30 sec per episode
Collaborators: Timothy Johnston (voices, guest writer)
Sarah Johnston (voice of T)
Connections: Spin-off from The Murkum Show
Follows Greasy Food with Gonce

Jump to · Character Guide · Episode Guide · Screening Room · Wallpaper Gallery

About the time I started planning the first Murkum Show spin-off, Greasy Food with Gonce, I also decided that the parent show's third season would end with Murkum's retirement, and decided it would be followed by a second spin-off series, centred around the Gamma-3s (who would be banished to live at the Nice Charity Station by Murkum's successor) and provisionally titled The Lower Ranks.  There were a few minor technicalities, such as the fact that I didn't have a clue yet what would actually happen, but I chalked it in to follow Series 3 anyway.

In parallel to that thought process, I'd also been thinking it would be an interesting exercise to try and do a project, either as a comic strip or a video series, where the plot followed a prop or a piece of information as it got passed between various characters, rather than following the characters themselves.  I didn't end up doing this for The Lower Ranks as such, but the concept did help to inform the show's eventual shape, where seven out of the eight episodes are taken up with the Gammas' reaction to the threat of 'New Pains'.

The narrative wasn't quite as thorough as I'd hoped in terms of giving every single Gamma-3 an airing, but it did cover the majority of them, with about a dozen out of the 19-strong contingent getting speaking parts, and all of them at least having a couple of silent cameos.  It did, however, achieve what The Murkum Show Series 3 didn't when it came to the state of the set - there was some damage by the end of Series 3, but I'd stopped short of destroying the whole building; the Lower Ranks finale belatedly got round to finishing the job, with the set getting thoroughly trashed mid-way through shooting Episode 8.

Character Guide

Character photography by Sarah Johnston

Photo: Name: Rank: Role: First Appearance: Voice Actor:
--- THE BOSS ---
Character mugshot: Atkun Atkun Foundrum Beta-2.01 Chief Engineer Prologue; Episode 2: The Phone Call Matthew Colclough
Atkun is one of the longest-serving and more competent Murk Army members, and got promoted to Alpha-2 and put in charge of Fort Murk (which he renamed 'Fort Foundrum') after Murkum's retirement.  He never appears on-screen in The Lower Ranks, but can be heard at a few crucial moments as the voice of Authority.
Character mugshot: Captain Eggs Mos "Captain Eggs" Vondir Gamma-3.06 Low-ranking dimwit Episode 1: Crunch Time Matthew Colclough
"Captain Eggs" is regarded as one of the Murk Army's most useless members, and was among the first to get demoted to Gamma-3.  His two worst characteristics are a compulsion to gamble at every possible opportunity, and a losing streak which has gone unbroken for a decade and a half, racking up total debts on the order of billions of pounds (although, fortunately for Eggs, nobody except Solter has managed to keep anything like an accurate record).
Character mugshot: Left-Handed Bob "Left-Handed" Bob Snudd Gamma-3.24 Low-ranking dimwit Episode 1: Crunch Time Timothy Johnston
The ultimate misnomer, Left-Handed Bob not only isn't left-handed, he doesn't have a left hand at all.  Oddly enough, this doesn't seem to stop him trying to do things with his left hand, and leads to him spreading even more chaos and debris than the average Gamma-3.  Following the G3s' banishment to the Charity Station, Bob seems to have ended up as a de facto sort-of local leader.
Character mugshot: Mouldy "Mouldy" Tig Stennids Gamma-3.04 General-purpose goon Episode 2: The Phone Call Timothy Johnston
One of the most annoying Gammas in the Murk Army, and the earliest remaining Gamma-3 demotee - knocked down from Gamma-2 on account of his tendency to shoot his superiors with his ancient shotgun every so often.
Character mugshot: Helmet-and-No-Shirt Man Omoli "Helmet-and-No-Shirt Man" Pashkishiwu Gamma-3.29 Muscle, and little else Episode 3: The Protectionists Matthew Colclough
"Helmet-No-Shirt Man" gets his nickname from his self-imposed dress code, and where he gets his self-imposed dress code from is a mystery.  His strengths include brute strength, and weaknesses include low temperatures (due to his refusal to ever wear shirts, coats etc) and any task involving much use of the brain.
Character mugshot: Komlin Komlin Dalphozwa Gamma-3.09 Cannon fodder Episode 3: The Protectionists Matthew Colclough
Komlin believes himself to be the rightful Hezzom (i.e. King) of the distant galaxy of Sardastian - which has never actually had a king.  He works for the Murk Army for somewhat less than the minimum wage, on the understanding that "when" they take over the universe he will be given Sardastian as his share of the loot.  There was an incident once when he briefly managed to set himself up as King over a bunch of his fellow Gammas, but none of them really enjoyed being his Peasants.
Character mugshot: T Claeve "T" Taarae Gamma-3.18 General-purpose goon Episode 4: Iron Perimeter Sarah Johnston
T is actually female, but nobody in the Murk Army (herself included) ever pays much attention to that fact, as she thinks and acts very much like one of the lads.  Being a Gamma-3, "like one of the lads" basically means "ineptly".
Character mugshot: Ambrus "Angry-Teeth" Ambrus Ambrugedge Gamma-3.36 General-purpose goon Episode 6: All In the Head Matthew Colclough
Ambrus gained his nickname, "Angry-Teeth", from his habit of biting people and objects which get on his nerves.  The same goes for his mismatched and largely metallic dental equipment.  He makes himself useful as a loose-cannon-type self-propelled weapon in melee combat, but not for much else.
Character mugshot: Fass Twins Grammum & Glogmun Fass Gamma-3.61 & 3.62 Useless Episode 7: Being Proactive Timothy Johnston
The Fass Twins are so identical, and so monumentally stupid, that even they can't remember which one of them is which.  The consequences are never pretty.

Episode Guide

P Block: Episode: Title: Featured Characters: Writer(s): Release Date:
n/a A Prologue All the Gamma-3s; Atkun (voice only) Timothy Johnston 9 July 2016
In the aftermath of Murkum's retirement, Atkun is in charge at the Fort, and he's getting fed up with some of his less competent underlings...
LA 1 Crunch Time LH Bob, Captain Eggs Matthew Colclough 1 September 2016
Captain Eggs may or may not be in trouble with an as-yet-unidentified figure at the top of the Murk Army command chain
2 The Phone Call LH Bob, Mouldy Stennids; Atkun (voice only) Matthew Colclough 8 September 2016
Left-Handed Bob gets a sinister call from Fort Foundrum
3 The Protectionists LH Bob, Komlin Dalphozwa, Helmet-No-Shirt Man, Captain Eggs, Mouldy Stennids Matthew Colclough 15 September 2016
The Gamma crowd try to get their heads around the prospect of being punished with 'New Pains', and start trying to think up some novel ways to protect themselves from whatever nameless horrors they think might be approaching
LB 4 Iron Perimeter Helmet-No-Shirt Man, Mouldy Stennids, T Matt Colclough & Tim Johnston 22 September 2016
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned barricade to keep people out of your ex-motorway-service-station hideout, is there?
5 Enter With Caution LH Bob Timothy Johnston 29 September 2016
Left-Handed Bob tries to protect the Charity Station by setting up an overcomplicated booby trap for the Pain Men
6 All In the Head Mouldy Stennids, T, Helmet-No-Shirt Man, Mr Woffy, Captain Eggs, Angry-Teeth Ambrus Matthew Colclough 6 October 2016
Mouldy and comrades invoke the power of the mind - among other solutions - to try and get around the looming problem of the Pain Men.  Might have worked, if they had any minds.
LC 7 Being Proactive Angry-Teeth Ambrus, Fass Twins, Derk Molgrick, Rodeo Rame, Komlin Dalphozwa Matthew Colclough 13 October 2016
Angry-Teeth Ambrus sets up a combat training session for his comrades.  What could possibly go wrong?
8 The Glass Man Cometh All the Gamma-3s; Atkun (voice only) Matthew Colclough 20 October 2016
The long-dreaded 'New Pains' arrive at last... how will the Gammas cope?

Screening Room

Wallpaper Gallery

Episode 1:
Crunch Time
Episode 1
1440p Widescreen
Episode 2:
The Phone Call
Episode 2
1440p Widescreen
Episode 3:
The Protectionists
Episode 3
1440p Widescreen
Episode 4:
Iron Perimeter
Episode 4
1440p Widescreen
Episode 5:
Enter With Caution
Episode 5
1440p Widescreen
Episode 6:
All In the Head
Episode 6
1440p Widescreen
Episode 7:
Being Proactive
Episode 7
1440p Widescreen
Episode 8:
The Glass Man Cometh
Episode 8
1440p Widescreen