Despair Squid Got Me

Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by Laporbo, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Executive Officer

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    Woh there! Those are two shows that have, time and again, been surprising! Whether it be the discovery of what the 'Bad Thing' was, or a simple appearance on Countdown turning into a street battle, in the context of their formats, there's oodles of unexpectedness in those shows. (Jeremy ate a dog!)

    Regardless of all this, though, what drives me nuts about the 'Do you prefer the comedy or the sci-fi?' question is that it assumes such separation is possible. It's like asking 'Do you like the characters or the stories?' when, done right, the former drive the latter and the latter reveals the former. Or hey, do you just prefer jokes? (Seriously, good jokes appear in bad comedies all the time. We don't laugh because the stories are weak and the characters haven't grabbed us.)

    When people say they'd prefer Rimmer to be an intangible hologram rather than hardlight, is that a character - and therefore comedy - issue or a sci-fi one? When one argument against Series VIII is 'Lister should stay the last human alive', is that about story, tone, character or science fiction?

    It doesn't separate that easily. You can't simply pick one.

    Worst of all, comedy/sci-fi being seen as the two key aspects for preference totally forgets about story - yet it's storytelling that really makes the difference.

    The strongest story eps, the ones with clearest structures, are constant poll winners - episodes like Gunmen, Polymorph, Back to Reality - and stories that have structural issues peg lower. (The Pete two-parter, for example, which is a series of sketches with little character or story arc. It's also part of what caused Meltdown's backlash: holding back the information that the people we were meeting were waxdroids for such a long time alienated a lot of people at the time, prevented them from feeling comfortable with the silliness.)

    Good stories come from, and shed light on, character; they make the comedy stronger, and utilise the best tools available within the show's format - in Red Dwarf's case the sci-fi.

    Once looked at that way, once stated like the line above, how can we pull the show's appeal apart so divisively? They're too interconnected. Sure, we all prefer the show because it makes us laugh - we can get whacky universe-jumping stories for a gazillion shows - but those laughs are too connected to story, character and the sci-fi format to be seen as wholly separate.

    Or, to put it another way: if the sci-fi isn't key to the appeal, how come we're not all going to Ten Percenters conventions?
     
  2. Madwolf

    Madwolf Catering Officer

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    [/quote]It doesn't separate that easily. You can't simply pick one.
    Worst of all, comedy/sci-fi being seen as the two key aspects for preference totally forgets about story - yet it's storytelling that really makes the difference.[/quote]

    It was an unrefined question that wasn't readily understood by the DJ audience. There was more than one vote:? My initial appeal was that it was sci-fi with humour. That big red spaceship in the trailer in 1988 got my attention. Wihout that image and had it simply been another sitcom,I know I would not have bothered watching it. For others the hook would be that it was a new sitcom albeit set in space. For late entrants these simple and convenient divisions may continue to be influential. At that initial point the seperation is easy albeit arbitrary - red hat or green hat - we all love the same thing. That early sci-fi interest alone however was never going to sustain my interest. Whatever the first appeal of the viewer, which is one that will likely remain and be influential with other entertainment choices, Red Dwarf commands long lasting loyalty because it is so much more than than those simplistic divisions. As I said when it gets the equilibrium right with sci-fi, humour and story in relative proportion it has universal appeal to both basic sectors of the audience. I absolutely concur and reiterate that the stories/plots are what make the difference and they are the foundation of its success. Without them RD could be something fondly remembered but not often watched. That's why 23 years later I'm still watching and loving it. Sometimes it really can be just that simple why you like something or not and there's a danger you can over analyse pleasure and appeal. I like sci-fi but I love Red Dwarf.
     
  3. bedfordfalls

    bedfordfalls Deck Sergeant

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    This is a reaction that I don't think I'll ever fully understand in a viewer, especially one loyal to a particular show. What hooks and fascinates me on first watch about episodes like meltdown and, for example, the more surreal episodes of TNG is always how they were going to ultimately explain whatever weirdness was causing things. I almost always have complete faith in the show I like to do a satisfactory reveal at the end but even when I get nervous about where an episode is going I can't think of many shows that have ever literally pulled the rug from under my feet and walked off blowing a rasperry.

    Yet at the same time I know at least one person who "gave up" on Red Dwarf: BTE after part two when they "broke the fourth wall". I still can't believe that after twenty years of watching the show and knowing everything they did about it this person didn't think that it was going to have a twist up its sleeve to resolve things. Then again, the same perosn has also been known to walk out of movies half way through; another thing I could never imagine doing, even if the film wasn't great.

    I wonder if there were viewers who switched off Back to Reality half way through and never watched again! ;-)
     
  4. SoundableObject

    SoundableObject Catering Officer

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    Because it isn't out on DVD.
     
  5. Andrew

    Andrew Executive Officer

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    Red Dwarf wasn't out on VHS when the Fan Club launched.

    But yeah, I wish 10%ers was available.
     
  6. SgtSmileyUK

    SgtSmileyUK Console Officer

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    ok heres an Idea-
    do alternative versions of all the episodes again switching polarity comedy-serious sci-fi.
    What a treat that would be, Id kinda like to see the comedy side of bte and a serious side of the episode where we meet kryten for instance.

    That said I think this post has earned some more coffers for our megastars-
    Im gonna rebuy BtE and rewatch it with the above seriousness in mind and appreciate the other direction, this time round on a larger screen too :-D I am gonna soak up every single pixel, hope it fulfils that empty hole I felt after watching the first episode of BTE sorry everyone. I know ,shame, shame on me.I shall repurge this matter though ,not to worry ,but its not my fault the producers are schizophrenic , how was I to know? they seemed sane and safe.

    Also I might like to add that I wasnt into red dwarf at first until the advent of ceefax
    subtitles ( 888 )(**see footnote) as I wear hearing aids and rely on lipreading so missed all the humour, but
    was blown away when the words appeared before my eyes one day,I could actually understand Craig :P
    (I think they should make all movies contain subtitles that are hidden unless wearing special specs like the 3d ones , I know most cinemas have subtitle nights but its not ideal, my idea is. and maybe in speech bubble format :-D)

    **footnote (around the same time as the gulf war breaking out, got into a panic (thanks to a childhood full of nuclear holocaust films ,programs and cartoons prior to that era) and accidently switched channels over from the news to red dwarf. and the rest is destiny


    schizophrenic mode off
    sorry I think the Despair Squid got me
     
  7. Madwolf

    Madwolf Catering Officer

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    Might be worth watching Blade Runner before you give BtE another go. I hadn't seen it since last century so some of the references were familiar but forgotten. I enjoyed BtE much more when I watched it again after seeing Blade Runner. The final cut version is the one to go for. I bought a box set, 5 versions + a host of other extras, very good value for £10. I'd imagine a good percentage of the audience had never seen Blade Runner and probably wouldn't like it if they did. I took me a long while to appreciate it and I like dark, serious sci-fi though I'm not a sci-fi geek. Again another little reason why some may have felt excluded from BtE. And BtE like BitR benefits from being watched as a single episode. The Doug Naylor interview about BtE is also worth watching before you watch the episodes.

    I do understand the dissapointment so very much that many felt. I was fortunate to be in the audience for three episodes of Series 7 when the laughter track was being recorded and at the live filming of Pete. I hated the first episode of 7 I saw which was Stoke Me A Clipper. I felt like I was the only one in the audience not laughing or enjoying it. It was a shock to the system. The second episode we were treated to was Ouroborous and I loved that. After Epideme I was hooked and after just 3 episodes I was hungry to see more. Pete when filmed live was hilarious and my expectations were high for series 8 but sadly not realised when first broadcast. I like it very much more now than I did then. Although I still think it's too bright and colourful, has too many bodies and is more of a BBC1 than BBC2 comedy, I've accepted these and when viewed without too much prejudice the old Dwarf is still in there.

    The 10%ers was brilliant and funny for an ITV comedy, felt more like a C4 programme. I had them all on vhs tape recorded off the tv but the tapes deteriorated. I'd buy them on dvd.
     
  8. Madwolf

    Madwolf Catering Officer

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    In another thread I made mention that I've been listening to a lot of pod casts recently and over the last couple of days have listened to 4 about BtE by the Ganymede & Titan crew under the name Dwarfcasts which may also be worth listening to after watching BtE again.It covers their initial responses immediately after broadcast and then the DVD release a few months later. The pod casts are available to download for free. The conversation was intelligent, informed and not wholly appreciative either of individual episodes or overall so it mirrored the wider reaction. There were some very interesting points raised, considerations I hadn't thought of and some I had. What was very refreshing is that differences of opinion were traded in a respectful and civilised manner albeit punctuated with some expletives (no surprise if you've read the site) nothing was taken as a personal criticism. Obviously they all know each other very well but that aside, it emphasised how often it is easier to interpret the tone of a message better when spoken. Sometimes written debates can be lost in translation, subject to misinterpretation by the reader placing their own tone into the text that the author did not intend It seems all too easy for reasonable differences of opinion to become misconstrued and subsequent exchanges descend into unnecessary hostility and resentment. Inevitably it becomes disrespectful and condescending and opinions confused as irrefutable fact. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword...possibly.

    I'm inspired to watch BtE again this weekend by all this. I saw it twice last year on TV and once on my iTouch. The opinions in my Amazon review haven't changed and this extract succinctly sums it up for me.

    "Red Dwarf is well and truly back in orbit by being back on Earth! Although this show has polarised fan opinions more than those that love or hate yeast based spread, there is common ground and much hope that it will herald at least another series perhaps with a more nostalgic flavour, hopefully with a decent budget, longer episodes and a studio audience.....Whilst paying homage to, but not trying to emulate and recapture the shows glory days of the 1990's, it successfully and foresightedly developed a new standard for the future and I'm very confident that this evolution in chronicling Red Dwarf as comedy drama has many more light years ahead of it."
     
  9. Andrew

    Andrew Executive Officer

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    Oh, gotcha. Yeah, Dwarf is fearless about reformatting.

    One can only imagine what a potential new series would be like at this point...
     
  10. SurfboardingKillerBikiniVampireGirl

    SurfboardingKillerBikiniVampireGirl Catering Officer

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    I could never be able to choose one or the other. For me, they work synergistically - the comedy and sci-fi together become more than the sum of their parts.

    I'm one of the few who does like them equally. I wasn't entirely convinced on first viewing, but they've grown on me for different reasons after multiple viewings. 7 has plenty of depth, takes quite a few risks, and allows the characters to grow in new directions, and 8 is just good fun - a non-stop cheerful self-parody (plus, Kochanski finally gets some really good lines).

    Of course, there isn't a Red Dwarf series that I dislike to any degree.
     
  11. RegWorf

    RegWorf Second Technician

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    Having watched all the seasons for the first time and seemingly in a row (over the course of a month or two) I have to say that I started to notice a shift in the Comedy aspect of the show. It started a little slow for me, funny of course, but it really didn't blossom till midway through the second season when it really found its groove and was cracking jokes and puns that had me laughing for for days. The writers had fine tuned their craft and it showed.

    I had a similar opinion as the POSTER pertaining to "Back To Earth" -- I suspect the long lay-off may have caused the caused the script to suffer some. At times it almost seemed like they were pulling at strings to make it fit together-- trying to force a funny line into something that killed the joke entirely.

    I think it is just the way of things when a show takes a long (long long long) break like that. The Actors and writers get old and have to try to put themselves back into the mind-set that they had 10 years before -- its often hard to do. You see that with a lot of shows that try to make a 'Comeback', when you're gone for so long you lose something. Science Fiction to be effected that way more than other genres. The Star Trek Franchise is a prime example.

    I still thought Back to Earth was good for what it was. I am a good person to comment from the other side of the coin because I have no nostalgic feelings towards it-- everything was new to me.
     
  12. Madwolf

    Madwolf Catering Officer

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  13. bedfordfalls

    bedfordfalls Deck Sergeant

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    Kochanski is certainly alot more likeable in this series. As for whether or not a science fiction comedy already strong on parodying the tropes of other shows/films should decend into parodying itsself...that's another question.
     
  14. Bluey

    Bluey Science Officer

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    She's more likeable in 8 but less interesting and rather superfluous.

    Now that I've become a big fan of series 7 I've come to like the bitchy/whiny Kochanski. She's very much like the Kochanski in the Red Dwarf novel Last Human.
     
  15. tortexturtle

    tortexturtle First Technician

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    I'm sorry, but no she's not. She was strong and assertive in the book, but still sweet on Lister. She was not really all that bitchy and whiny. Sure she knew her stuff better and that's the same. But what little whining she may have done in the book had nothing to do with yuppy snobby crap like she did in series 7. (Ie. she never mentioned ponies, etc in the book).

    Oh yeah, and most important, there was chemistry between her and Lister in Last Human. In series 7 she wouldn't touch him with a 10 ft pole. (unless of course she was delusional from being concussed or whatever). Series 7's Kochanski was wrong in so many ways, that it's hard to figure out what was right about her. Oh wait, there WAS one scene where she came off as a navigation officer and not a spoiled little rich bitch.
     
  16. Mardroid

    Mardroid Console Officer

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    Ah, but if Last Human's Kochanski had been in the same shoes as series 7s, if she'd been trapped in another universe away from her lover with another Lister different for her own, I think she'd have some whining to do as well. And vice versa.

    That's not quite true. There was the bit in Ouroboros when they almost kissed before Kryten came along breaking them up. And I think that was before she was permanently separated from her own Lister. (I won't count the snogging scene earlier when she awoke, as she was confused and mistook Lister from her own.) She takes a more disinterested stance later as she is trapped and generally smegged off! We might be irritated by her reaction but it would probably be unrealistic if she hadn't acted that way! Besides she actually doesn't spend as much time whining as you might think, if watch. It's just, certain moments tend to stand out, (Duct Soup for example, which is largely concerned with her coping with her new situation anyway) but when she has to knuckle down, she does.

    They're not so different. They're just reacting to different experiences and situations.
     
  17. RegWorf

    RegWorf Second Technician

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    I agree with the negative comments about Kochanski, personally I did care for her for many of the same reason's stated (snobby, whiny) She wasn't a very enjoyable or interesting Character. Her role, to me, was almost as an object -- something desired by Lister for a reason that was only apparent to him. I never developed any feelings for the Character hence why when it was said that she was dead in "Back To Earth" I didn't care enough for her to care at all really. Kinda like "She's dead. Alright. Move along."
     
  18. tortexturtle

    tortexturtle First Technician

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    I share much of the same sentiment with you. Except of course for CP Grogan's portrayal. I can totally understand why Lister was crazy about THAT version of Kochanski. She was sexy, flirty, fun and actually seemed to LIKE him. In the book, "better than life", Lister's obsession is called out for what it is. A sick, unhealthy obsession that will likely lead to his death. BTE touches upon this thread as well (with him choosing to stay in the hallucination and dying, or returning to reality.) Of course his returning to reality is a bit less significant in BTE, because he still intends on chasing the real Kochanski through the cosmos.
     
  19. SurfboardingKillerBikiniVampireGirl

    SurfboardingKillerBikiniVampireGirl Catering Officer

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    I had the same problem with Annett's Kochanski - I just couldn't imagine the two of them ever dating, whereas he and Grogan's Kochanski had real chemistry. Of course, Annett's Kochanski suffered from the fact she had almost no good lines in Season 7 (primarily unfunny complaining) and a peripheral role in 8. She certainly had good reasons to be miserable, but it's possible to be miserable and funny at the same time - all of the other characters had been doing it for years. I didn't have a problem with her arrival on the ship (though I'd have liked to keep Rimmer on there as well), but she desperately needed some better dialogue and storylines. It wasn't the bitchiness that bothered me so much as the lack of humour - bitchy characters can be great if they have good lines.
     
  20. tortexturtle

    tortexturtle First Technician

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    quite true. in fact rimmer's a bit of a bitchy character really. and he's hilarious.
     

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