Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Dwarful

Well, the wait was finally over last week when the crew of Red Dwarf returned to our screens after nearly a decade's absence.

I was hopeful for a noteworthy comeback due to financing from Dave and improved production values since the last series. I got a sense that there was a concerted effort to get the long-running series back on it's feet with the desire to see a RD 'revival'. I read somewhere that successful re-runs of the show on the the Dave cable channel helped make it happen, showing that there was still a demand for this classic sci-fi comedy.

Sadly, what we got was something of a disappointment.

What didn't work for me:
- the crew are getting on a bit. Dave and Rimmer were showing their age (odd, since Rimmer is a hologram ... hmmm)
- a re-hash of old material (basically a reworking of the brilliant 'Back to Reality' story)
- tired jokes
- numerous references to better epidodes when RD was on BBC 
- a three parter that felt like a one-parter uncomfortably sliced into thirds
- no Holly

What did work for me:
- the Blade Runner references
- Doug Naylor's cameo
- the return of the skutters
- er...
- that's it.

I think RD should be laid to rest forever. Each new episode has become more and more disjointed and disparate from the original two series from the late 80s. I have always maintained that series 1 and 2 were the best. The moment the BBC started shelling out more money, it seemed the writing took second place to shiny sets and special effects.

I don't deny there are gems in later series - Back to Reality, Dimension Jump and Gunmen of the Apocalypse, for example  - but on the whole they just got sillier and sillier. Which is a shame, because the basic premise is a brilliant one. The idea that the last remaining human is a total slob, trapped on a gigantic spaceship light years from earth with the most annoying characters to keep him company is genius. For some reason, someone didn't know when to say 'enough is enough - let's do something new'.

To be fair to the BBC, though, they did commission Hyperdrive. Only running for two series, it blows the more recent incarnations of RD out of the cosmos. Ruddy hilarious!

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