Going back to Earth

Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century

    Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century Supply Officer

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    The premise of Red Dwarf is that they drifted out into deep space for three million years for reasons that were never made clear, and are trying to get back to Earth. But they have, of course, returned to Earth several times now, just in the wrong time period! Which back-to-Earth episodes are justified and which pose more awkward questions than they're worth? The back-to-Earth episodes are, in chronological order, Backwards, Time Slides, Tikka to Ride, Lemons, Twentica. Hallucinations caused by genetically engineered squids don't count because they actually never left Red Dwarf.

    Tikka to Ride
    I enjoy this, especially the extended edition. I like the idea that running out of curry precipitates a crisis, and the final scene where he's locked in a room with a thousand curries seems like a weird fantasy, although I don't see any freezer or microwave. I'm a bit put out at a British programme worrying about America so much, was this an attempt to reel in an American audience? Plugged in London but ended up in Dallas. Well, could have been worse, could have ended up halfway under the Pacific Ocean I suppose. Or Wales. Understandable awkward questions about why the time-drive suddenly gained the ability to travel in space, but I think it's to do with the timelines merging to cope with the paradox of the future Dwarfers killing their past selves. The real awkward question is why not just use the time-drive to go back to current Earth.

    Backwards
    Look out, swirly thing ahead! I like the acknowledgement of sci-fi tropes where they don't bother explaining it, it's one of those swirly things that takes you somewhere else. At the time the effects probably impressed people. Good thing the Dwarfers somehow remained insulated by their own time-reference, because presumably once you entered Backwards-Earth you'd be part of it and start doing everything backwards from the get-go. There's no reason why the writing on signs should be backwards, is there? This episode is good because it doesn't pose any "why don't they stay there" questions. It's backwards, and they can't go back there again because it was a swirly thing they've long-since passed. But I tend to skip this episode because I find it a bit boring. People talking backwards only holds one's interest so long, after that you realise it's Red Dwarf at the pub. It was clever the first time around though.

    Time Slides
    Wacky idea, wacky episode. How many time-travel paradoxes can you fit into one episode. It does pose the usual question of why don't they use the Timeslides to go back to Earth - someone must have taken a photo of Earth when they left, so just fly a starbug into a giant photo of Earth somehow. Also, at the start they can't walk out of the frame, then suddenly they can.

    Twentica
    I don't like this because once again we've got a British programme going to America, like British history isn't cool enough. I'm guessing Doug has a particular interest in American history. JFK in Tikka, the Wild West in Gunmen, now Prohibition in Twentica. Am I the only one who wants to ask him why we've now been to three eras in American history and none in British history? I guess there were the brief Lister of Smeg and Jane Austen bits in AI. I don't want to slag off American history, but if it was an American programme do you think the characters would keep ending up in Britain? I doubt it. The Casket of Chronos raised a lot of questions, ie I thought they had to plug it into a temporal transporter so how did they use it by itself at the end, why was the Expanoid wearing it around his neck like Flavour Flav, why haven't we heard about Expanoids until now if they're such a big deal, why did they allow technology until the 1920s after cars and planes and film and radio and machine guns were invented. It's basically just another America dress-up episode.

    Lemons
    The Rejuvination Shower is the least convincing back-to-Earth device yet. And they don't even bother telling us where it came from. I suppose it transported them back to 1st century Britain because that's where their ancestors were from? Lister is obviously mixed-race. Craig Charles' ancestry is Guyanese/Irish, but I suppose we can assume the character Lister's ancestry must be part-British. I'm assuming it's to do with genetic ancestry because it's before their personal birth. But I don't know how it works for Kryten, being a robot. Was he constructed in Britain? Rimmer is presumably British-descended, but he's a hologram so I don't know how the Rejuvination Shower picked up on him. The Cat's ancestor Frankenstein was from Mimas while the Tomcat was from Titan, but presumably both cats go back to Britain before that. I assume the time-travel mishap was to do with rejuvinating them so far back through their youth they go back to where their ancestors were, why else would a beauty aid become a time-and-space-machine. Cat has three million years more ancestors than Lister and Rimmer, but the malfunctioning Rejuvination Shower transports them all back to the same place together despite Lister and Rimmer's differing ancestry, Rimmer being a hologram, Kryten being a robot , and Cat being a million generations out from the rest.
     
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  2. R.I.P. 2000

    R.I.P. 2000 Deck Sergeant

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    Well, they only went to North America twice. Gunmen was a sci-fi device inspired by North American culture. A mirror example would be when Professor Moriarty caused havoc on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise.

    Here are one or two examples where it's the other way round, and an American sci-fi show used British history or popular culture. Star Trek: The Next Generation seems to have the most, but a few of these shows did it more than once.

    Quantum Leap - episode called Blood Moon:

    The Time Tunnel - episode called Night of the Long Knives:

    The Time Tunnel - episode called The Revenge of Robin Hood:

    Voyagers! - episode called An Arrow Pointing East:

    Voyagers! - episode called Worlds Apart:

    Time Trax - episode called Night of the Savage:

    Legends of Tomorrow - episode called Leviathan:

    Legends of Tomorrow - episode called Camelot/3000:

    Stargate SG-1 - episode called Camelot:

    Star Trek - episode called The Conscience of the King:

    Star Trek: The Next Generation - episode called Qpid:

    Star Trek: The Next Generation - episode called Elementary, Dear Data:

    Star Trek: The Next Generation - episode called The Defector:

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - episodes called The Way of the Warrior and The Muse:

     
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  3. Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century

    Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century Supply Officer

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    Phew, I'm glad you only cited one or two! Hah.

    But look at it proportionately. I said "keep ending up" in Britain. Quantum Leap went to England once out of a hundred episodes. Every other episode was American history.

    In Lemons they did go back to historical Britain, but all we got were some trees for thirty seconds, before they turned up in India.

    Backwards Britain may have been 190 years before 2180, so "historical" to the characters, but it was contemporary to the viewer.
     
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  4. R.I.P. 2000

    R.I.P. 2000 Deck Sergeant

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    True, but Voyagers! did British history at least twice in twenty episodes; The Time Tunnel did it at least twice out of thirty. I suppose the difference is that these are time travel shows, so every episode has to go somewhere - unlike Red Dwarf.

    Star Trek: TNG
    is a fairer comparison - almost actionably so, according to the star! - and I cited 4 of 178 (not a Borg, btw).

    Well, I'd certainly like to see some future episodes of Dwarf with British historical settings.

    I'm not sure that the writers have shown much interest in history at all, tbh. It's more a case of plundering the stock of established "themes" for fun adventures. You wouldn't want the Dwarfers to go to Britain in the 19th Century, for instance, and accidentally repeal the Corn Laws.

    In Gunmen, "cowboys" was just a good theme for a virtual skirmish, that gave the episode a distinctive theme (supported by the rearranged theme tune).

    In Twentica, the sci-fi shenanigans drown out any actual history. I guess Prohibition-era America is just a witty nod to the plot - which revolves around the prohibition of technology - and, again, gives a distinctive theme (costumes, music, etc.).

    EDIT: The big exception is Tikka to Ride, where the history is central to the plot, and doesn't come with a whole wardrobe of instantly recognisable costumes. It clearly wasn't picked for visual impact, with the story coming later. Whereas I feel the starting point for Lemons was likely to have been... "Hey! Wouldn't a Bible-times episode be fun and different...?"

    There are only a few British historical settings that have such obvious instant theming (costume, musical cues, etc.), and they've done two of those too: "jousting knights" and "costume drama" ("For obscure reasons, the phrase 'costume drama' tends to imply something concerned with Britain between the Georgian era and the 1930s" - Guardian).

    "Sherlock Holmes times" and "Shakespeare" are two I'd love to see, but "Shakespeare" might - when rendered in cartoony sitcom form - end up feeling like the "costume drama" from Beyond a Joke (i.e., elaborate clothes, literary vibe and high-falutin verbals).

    One of the other biggies for British history is the European part of WWII, which has made numerous appearances - Timeslides, Meltdown, Stoke Me a Clipper - to the extent where a WWII episode might feel a bit "old hat". Also, WWII spans multiple countries, and the bulk of the action took place on the Continent. If we restrict our attention to settings with a strong visual impact ("fun themes"), a lot of UK-focussed eps would still be set elsewhere (e.g., India during the Raj, the trenches of WWI, or the excavation of Egyptian tombs). I do think the scenes showing Ace jumping out of a plane, etc., are as "British" as the total immersion game at the start of Gunmen is American.

    In terms of geographic focus, for actual or virtual visits to Earth, I count the following:

    North America - Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Tikka to Ride and Twentica
    UK - Backwards, Timeslides, Stoke Me a Clipper, Beyond a Joke, Back to Earth, Lemons (barely).
    Other real - Lemons
    Fantastical/nowhere - Better Than Life and Back to Reality

    ...but I note that some of the UK visits are comic asides or diversions, rather than the meat of the plot.
     
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  5. Mardroid

    Mardroid Console Officer

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    I would include Back to Earth. I know it turned out to be a sort of dream, but there we have two episode essentially set in an alternate twenty first century England!

    I can understand why it's left out due to the 'why didn't they stay' question (although, there actually was a much larger drive to stay in this episode than one of the true time-travel back to Earth episodes considering the nature of the Joy Squid ink, and the potential of Lister staying with Kochanski) but at least we have two almost whole episodes there which don't involve going back to the USA. I'm not sure where Back To Reality was primarily set, but I assumed it was a kind of alternate UK with some american tropes.

    It evens up the count of UK vs USA at least.
     
  6. Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century

    Deep_Space_in_the_15th_Century Supply Officer

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    The visits to the UK are always contemporary though. In both Backwards and BtE, they went back to the year it was for the audience, for no in-universe reason.
     
  7. R.I.P. 2000

    R.I.P. 2000 Deck Sergeant

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    Also, Better Than Life took them to Rhyl and Manchester :P

    EDIT: WHERE IS THE STICKY-OUT TONGUE SMILEY?! I'm not using the pervy-looking winky one!

    I'll have to use this saucy gent: :thanks:
     

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