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Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by SimplePlan2k8, Oct 10, 2009.
Extras and The Office were really funny?
Yes. In fact there's quite a telling scene in series 2 of Extras that shows why a studio audiance comprised entirely of fans is not always the best way to guage whether or not a show is actually funny. During filming of his awfully outmoded BBC sitcom Gervais's character looks out into the audiance who are laughing hysterically at writing and jokes he knows in his heart to be terrible, recycled drivel. He sees an audiance full of catchphrase spouting T-shirt wearing geeks who are laughing hysterically at his recycled jokes and familiar mannerisms simply because it's 'their show' and the only sort of thing they're comfortable with.
Ring any bells?
No. But those with an anti-VIII bias might use it. I was actually in that audience for most of the recordings, and it was a lot more balanced than that tedious suggestion allows.
But since Gervais isn't basing the scene on experience - his entire experience making a sitcom at the BBC was the polar opposite of what was shown on screen - it's hardly reasonable to use it as proof of anything. (And there's yet more hypocrisy in dissing catchphrase comedy then performing 'that dance' on request.) So it's only 'telling' in that it represents an opinion, not any specific factual experience.
Extras series one was funny, for me. Series two devolved into self-indulgence. And the finale actually played unreasonably with the truths of the characters. Series two and the finale also marginalised Maggie in favour of making it Andy And Friends, which I thought was a big loss.
Couldn't get into The Office to be honest, is Ricky Gervais really THAT funny??? I just don't GET IT!
Oh I couldn't disagree with you more, bedfordfalls. Going back to being a sitcom format is one of the things Series 8 did right!
As we discussed previously, Series 8's shortfalls really were over-milking jokes, NOT that it was a sitcom over a dramedy. Last I checked this isn't "As time Goes By".
I absolutely LOVE Red Dwarf. It is hilarious. But a lot of times its a crude humor. Which is definitely a good thing. I mean some scenes are just so raw and funny that the show itself contributes an awesome form of humor to the world. But let's face it, this is not the kind of humor that is the make-up of a dramedy. You argue that BTE succeeded in being a comedy-drama. I say that it didn't. The balance was off. Ironing sneezes followed by a touching rememberance garden scene seemed like it was too large of a gap between the crudeness of the sneeze scene and the poignancy of the rememberance garden scene. While each scene worked by itself, together it was weird. I mean I can't place whether the sneeze cheapened the pathos of the garden scene, or whether the garden scene cheapened the humor of the sneeze scene. All I can say is I personally liked the garden scene more because it was funny and touching. But mostly because it was funny "I pray to God there's a car chase in this one."
And what about the "slapstick" rakes and nut shots that came right after Lister dramatically kills their maker. Vomitization.
So what's my point? Red Dwarf BTE hasn't yet succeeded in being a comedy-drama. I personally found it funny when it didn't seem like they were trying too hard to be funny. For some reason the "rake and nut shots" scene seemed especially forced. There were other moments in BTE that also seemed that way ("nothing lasts forever, not even...banks"). Just individual lines here and there that seemed out of place. Plus I could do without all the re-shot scenes of Blade Runner that a few times were funny parody ("uncrop") and at other times were agonizingly re-shoots of an already overrated film (And I like Phillip K Dick).
Here's another random opinion I have to offer (not directed at anyone in particular) but Doug Naylor sure can write. How do I know? I read "Last Human" and I thought it was an exciting, funny book. And some people say that it wasn't funny to which i say poppycock (yes, poppycock). "Last Human" would be the PERFECT way to write Red Dwarf if Doug wanted to add more dramatic elements. The book didn't nose-dive into self-parody like Red Dwarf the show sometimes had (think series 8's Dibbley family). It was funny, it all made sense, the humor wasn't out of place or forced.
In keeping with that let me offer one other nugget of useful comedy advice: Getting an audience to react by basically saying "Remember this/do you know what this refers to?" Is not the same as making an actual [funny] joke. For example again, the Dibbley family. Maybe it was "funny" at first because the audience said "Oh yeah I remember Duane Dibbley...So i get it. what a great inside 'joke'". Guarantee you have anybody else watch that as the first episode of Red Dwarf and they'll say "What the smeg is everyone laughing at? that isn't funny." and when you explain it to them, they still won't think it's funny. They'll say "Oh, well that's stupid." And why will they say that? because it is. It's a half-baked attempt at a joke that is neither funny nor original. Just like in BTE when the cat goes "I'm going to eat you little fishy". It's like "Ok, you're trying to recapture something, but not even Danny John Jules is feeling it."
In summation: New Dwarf needs to be genuine, new, original material with no lame attempts to "please" the core audience by throwing half-baked self-references into the mix just so some fan can shallowly assess the show as "back to being good old Dwarf" simply because of something stupid like the Cat saying "i'm going to eat you little fishy" or even worse more returns of Duane Dibbley and family.
And the last time I checked Red Dwarf is whatever Doug Naylor wants it to be, not what you, I or some fan dressed as a Red Alert Bulb at a convention wants it to be.
Probably why the bits you go on to mention (ironing Sneezes, rakes, etc) failed when Doug tried to force them into one to please fans who expect that kind of thing from 'their show'.
Good examples, except you fail to mention any of the areas where the show DID succeed in its selected style, such as the philosophical bus scene, the bittersweet ending, the ongoing "what really happened to Kochanski" story, the meta-fictiony Craig Charles stuff etc. Picking a few well discussed examples from the generally poorly received first episode doesn't damage the show's overall success in the way you seem to think it does.
You're right when you say that those jokes seem out of place, they are! That's not Red Dwarf failing at being a comedy drama though, that's it failing to sufficiently excise jokes that would be more suitable in a sitcom format. However as the comedy drama bits were done beautifully and the sitcomy bits felt "forced" then I don't understand why its the comedy drama route you think would be the wrong one to pursue. All the bad jokes and sight gags you've mentioned would have survived in a regular sitcom and I don't think they'd have been any funnier for it.
Are you sure you're actually "disagreeing" with me, I think if you reanalyse you'll find you're calling for the same thing I am!
Err, this was precisely my argument for why judging comedy value on the reaction of a studio audience can be disengenuous and misleading. How exactly are you disagreeing with me again
This is what I've been saying all along!...I give up
I don't see why you think Gervais can't be basing the scene on what you loosely define as "experience".
It is safe to assume that Gervais has eyes and has observed this type of obsessive fan behaviour empirically in his everyday life (particularly while being asked to do the dance over and over again). One doesn't have to have a track record of involvement with audience based sitcoms or be internally involved in television to see it.
You just have to have eyes to see people in pubs spouting "garlic bread" or "yeah a'know" like its the funniest thing ever while irritating students (who Gervais and Merchant captured dead on in the Ian McKellen episode) have been self congratulatorily quoting Monty Python and falling about laughing about Dead Parrots for decades now.
You only have to go on youtube to find footage of a certain convention where Chris Barrie sings the Rimmer song on request turning what was once a really funny TV moment into something that's as cringeworthy by its repetition as a fan-pleaser as the Gervais dance you mention. I'm sure it still brought the house down at the convention though and that's my point about not judging the quality of something on the reaction of hardcore fans. Fan's will laugh at things they are familiar with when the star is doing it right in front of them (the dibbley family, anyone?) however they might also cringe at it when they see it later on TV.
Nothing to do with a "VIII bias" then, more to do with what can be empirically observed from contact with fans in day to day life.
I have to agree with a lot of what Dwight Henson said.
Red Dwarf at it's best (like all classics comedies) was always able to strike a balance between the tears & laughter, Marooned being a perfect example of this.
I think Red Dwarf has suffered on two fronts.
1, Originality was starting to wane by Series 6.
2, The balance of the show was ruined in Series 7 with a change of characters.
Even though BTE wasn't great I still think with it just being the 4 original members back on Red Dwarf it was a lot better than 7 $ 8.
So I'm hoping the same structure is maintained for a Series 10.
But if series 10 weak, I think it's best to leave it be.
Right. I won't lie. I'm slightly confused as to who to agree with and who actually thinks what!
I certainly don't agree that BTE was a failure. A lot of people on this forum seem to consider things only in a simple black-and-white binary sense; it's either good or bad, success or failure, loved it or hated it. "I don't just see clean or dirty - there are many subtle levels".
I would consider BTE a 70-80% success, which is actually a reasonably high score. Yes, it has it's problems namely in misplaced humour for the tone and some moments of needlessly hammy performance, but I laughed out loud on more than one occasion so a total failure it most definitely is not.
BTE is exactly what it was meant to be. A loving tribute to and celebration of Red Dwarf. It has a lot of self reference because of this fact. This does not necessarily mean that the new series (note that I am not calling it Series X or 10 because it isn't officially called that yet) will keep on in the same vain.
However, I would absolutely LOVE the new series to be just like Last Human, my favourite of the books. In fact, this book PROVES that Doug can write both funny and dramatic all at the same time and that Kochanski can actually be a very good character when she stops being so bloody uptight. The scene in which her doppelganger bleeds to death is astounding.
So I think my vote is still very much going to the comedy-drama route. I think Red Dwarf could become Britain's "Firefly".
Yes, whatever the reasons behind it Doug has not yet had the opportunity to write a series featuring just the four core "original" cast in the original setting. Alot of people seem to forget this when saying he can't write Dwarf by himself. The occasions he's had to do this are Tikka to Ride and Back to Earth. The former was easily the strongest episode of series 7 and 8 and the latter was, while flawed, in my opinion a quality piece of television.
For this reason I look forward to what he can do with a whole series.
Um what? Granted Chris Barrie left for part of series 7 but there was nothing to stop him using just the four original cast in the original setting. Doug was the one who wrote it so it was his choice.
Surely with Chris Barrie leaving in Series 7 Doug didn't have a choice?
but he was back for 8
But it wasn't the original Chris Barrie, it was one created by the nanobots. :?
But Naylor wrote it that way...
was there a series 9??