What's wrong with Series VII and VIII?

Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by Cepillo, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. gem5ie

    gem5ie Catering Officer

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    You've just reminded me of something else that annoyed me today!! I'm a professional orchestral musician and for me, the music for series 7 was BRILLIANT- as is the rest of Howard Goodall's work on Dwarf- but the library stuff used throughout VIII really grated. I really, really hope that HG works on series X (and if anyone at GNP is reading this, I'd love to play on it if he does.... ;-))
     
  2. simulant37

    simulant37 Science Officer

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    Really? It basically rewrites the whole premise of the show, in a horrible way!
     
  3. jaybo1973

    jaybo1973 Catering Officer

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    Well I have just finished watching series 7, 3rd time ever. If I am totally honest, it wasn't quite as bad as I remember. By no means is It on par with what came before and it still doest feel like dwarf to me. It only felt slightly dwarfy when we see Norman right at the end.

    Now to tackle 8 again, more people seem to slate it than 7 these days. Will I make it through?
     
  4. ori-STUDFARM

    ori-STUDFARM Supply Officer

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    I remember saying to my work mate after the second episode that I wasn't sure if I was enjoying it or not...I think I was, but nowhere as much as usual. He shrugged and pointed out that it was time for a change to try and keep it fresh and that they can't just keep on without trying new stuff as the show will just go stale. Next week I watched it with this in mind and actually enjoyed it a lot more. It was easier to forgive the parts that grated as a trial and error for a new direction.....which is odd as that was Back In The Red part 3 which is just awful...Part 1 is really good, but I hate part 3. And this was the first of series VIII that I really let myself enjoy.
     
  5. thecogre

    thecogre First Technician

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    really, it throws a great new loop in the endless loop of the show. it saddens me that fans are this militant about it.
     
  6. jaybo1973

    jaybo1973 Catering Officer

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    I have just watched back in the red part 1. It's been a while. I really did enjoy it, and from memory, I did originally. It's just a shame I know where its heading. I remember part 2 being ok but then Pete comes along and from then on it just gets worse.
     
  7. talkie3000

    talkie3000 Deck Sergeant

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    the prison subplot really didnt work well for the show, it just doesnt feel like the same show, it might aswell of been a kids tv show set at a school where the kids get in trouble with the headmaster every week
     
  8. jaybo1973

    jaybo1973 Catering Officer

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    I would love to see the script, will it ever be available online, or maybe used for a book?
     
  9. Seymour_Clufley

    Seymour_Clufley First Technician

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    Well I've never commented on series 7 or 8 on this forum, so please forgive me if I do so now at considerable length.

    I can see why a lot of people feel special hatred for series 7 and 8, but for me there was something wrong from the very start of series 6. The whole tone felt strangely different, a bit off-key. Rimmer was more pompous than pedantic, Lister was disgustingly slobbish, the Cat was constantly going on about his nasal intuition as if it was the only characteristic he had. It was also in s6 that they started re-using gags - endless space corps directives, the return of the polymorph (which felt nothing like as well-done as the original appearance) and Duane Dibley and Ace Rimmer. I also didn't like the loss of the main ship - perhaps this was just a case of not liking change from the format I'd got used to, but I still don't think it works very well. They've already got a raison d'etre (to return to Earth)... why obfuscate things with a new, totally unrelated problem? But series 6 was still a lot better than what followed.

    When series 7 eventually arrived, it felt like a completely different show. It had become inflated beyond its bounds - orchestral music, film-like appearance (was it actually shot on film? I can't remember now) and a general sense that the makers really wanted to be making a movie.

    Kochanski as a regular character never worked for me. Chloe Annett was fine but the material was execrable. And it changed the whole thing. Up till that point, Red Dwarf had been a show about men - simple as that. With the addition of a woman, especially in a media landscape that was starting to "yearn" for "strong female characters" etc., the whole thing changed. Namely, Lister became this awful late 90s New Man figure, which I found nauseating and irritatingly PC. And what about Kryten? With Kochanski there, he became a pathetic, whining child with ridiculous, badly-handled neuroses ("in and out bits", FFS).

    I also found the idea of our Rimmer becoming Ace, becoming a hero, very unbelievable, incongruous and "lite" in terms of character/moral handling. What's more, Ace's accent (perfect in s4) had become a kind of sub-Kenneth Williams warble.

    I'm also with those fans who resent Tikka to Ride for making the show's entire premise redundant. They could get back to Earth effortlessly, and at any time period! Well, then the search for Red Dwarf becomes totally pointless. Why not just go back to wherever they lost it, at whatever time they lost it? In fact, why bother with Red Dwarf when they could just go straight back to Earth the year they left? It was a complete F-up. When Ed Bye smugly and patronisingly said on a DVD, "why do people get so worked up about this? It's a fictional show" (or words to that effect), I felt like punching him. What's the point of building up a fictitious world if you then rip out the core of it? Seriously, how dare he be so dismissive about it?

    Anyway, as other people have said, series 7 was very over-blown. It was too early to be placing so much faith in CGI, but they did it. The awful filmic look made all the characters look as if they lived in a sauna. Even the music by Howard Goodall isn't nearly as fun as the music he'd done for earlier series, precisely because it is so cinematic. For example, the new Ace Rimmer theme was over-the-top and obvious, whereas the original (a pastiche of the Top Gun theme) was both hilarious and perfect for the character.

    I consider Red Dwarf to be primarily a sitcom. There's only so far you can inflate it (with huge sets, special effects, orchestral music, etc) before it loses the simplicity which made it work in the first place. A Red Dwarf movie may well be fine, but it should be either a movie or a sitcom, not some hybrid thing that is neither, and not very good at what it is. This, among other factors, made s7 the failure it was. It was also my worry about BTE; Mr Ellard was raving about it being shot in ultra-high-definition with surround sound and all the rest of it. I was thinking... "right, what about the characters, dialogue and story?" If I want big-budget, blow-your-mind-with-the-spectacle-of-it-all stuff, I can watch a blockbuster. With a 30-minute TV production, I expect something more special, something more condensed and modest.

    Yet another problem with series 7 is that it was moving in the direction of "comedy drama" as opposed to "sitcom". (At this time, sitcom was going out of fashion - a trend accelerated by The Office a few years later. I think we're only now pulling out of this media-centred idea that sitcoms are naff. Things like The IT Crowd have shown that three walls and a good script actually are all you need.) So series 7 was more of a comedy drama. Well, unfortunately it fell totally flat as drama. I think of moments like Lister committing suicide, or Kryten finding his brother, or Rimmer becoming Ace, or Lister finding out his origins in Ouroboros. None of these felt dramatically convincing. For example, if you want to do the unthinkable and make Rimmer a hero, have him save the rest of the crew like he did at the end of series 6 - don't turn him into Ace! Especially when the Ace you're turning him into is a much more pantomime character than the guy we met in s4.

    I don't know if these dramatic things would have been done better in earlier series. Probably. But then, the earlier series didn't go in for such OTT stuff. Rimmer talking about his father in the Observation Dome in series 2 felt, for me, far more interesting and convincing than anything in series 7 - it was understated, simple, and spoke of familial problems I think most of us can understand. By contrast, Rimmer becoming Ace? Toffee.

    From the over-blown, pseudo-Hollywood tripe of series 7, we "progressed" to series 8. At the time, I was working in a chip shop - grim, nasty, unhealthy, unrewarding - and I still associate the series with that experience. I used to set the VCR to record it while I was away working. I'd get back and watch the tape, and be very disappointed indeed. I stopped after about the 4th episode. I actually stopped watching Red Dwarf, which for me was a huge thing because I had loved the show since series 3. But I just thought it wasn't worth watching anymore. Not only was series 8 a depressing sign of how far Red Dwarf had sunk, it was actually, in itself, bad television. Weeks later, I somehow caught a clip of the episode with the T-Rex and had to look away in despair. To think we'd gone from Quarantine to this childish crud.

    Why was it so bad? For a start, they were spreading ideas far too thinly. Then there were the characters... Rimmer was supposed to be the series 1 Rimmer, but acted nothing like it. Lister continued his transformation into a New Labour "bloke" - slobbish, stupid, feckless and hopeless without the guidance of a woman, of whom he is naturally in awe.

    The secondary characters are mainly rubbish. Ackerman would have been a good villain in a late 90s children's show (one of those stupid things like The Demon Headmaster which tries to scare you by being funny) but was totally out of place in an adult programme. And Hollister seemed to have lost about 50 IQ points since his last appearance.

    Then there were little things - the crew uniforms didn't match the s1 uniforms - why not? Why introduce a continuity error like that which could easily have been fixed? Either you're returning to the past, in which case do it properly, or you're not, in which case it's fine. For example, I had no problem with the ship being different because that was explained in the story. But things like the uniforms weren't, and for me it felt like an unnecessary burden placed on the audience's suspension of disbelief. Of course most of them would neither notice nor care, but some of them would notice. Why insult those people with deliberate continuity errors?

    Aside from such pedantry, I think I can safely say that the humour in series 8 was the most consistently tedious and childish in the programme's history. So Lister hasn't heard the news, eh? Well then, let's see how long Kryten can string that out for. What a cracker! Comedy gold! Years later, I saw that episode with the time wand and I could not believe how tedious it was, with the gags drawn out to the point of agony. That guy going "we've got to moo - oo - oo oo - ove" or something. Jesus Christ... am I meant to find this funny or is it intended for use as a psychological aid in the lavatory?

    There's a lot more I could say about series 8, but I'll leave it with this: the whole thing felt like a standard, low-brow BBC1 sitcom rather than a special cult show from BBC2. I thought it was abysmally bad. And the less said about the ending, the better.

    However, I do have optimism about RDX. I think Doug Naylor has learned from the opprobrium that (deservedly) surrounds s7 and s8. I think he knows, for example, that it should be shot in front of an audience, that the 30-minute standalone format is better than an extended 90-minute runtime, that special effects are no substitute for character, that drama should be understated, that Red Dwarf fans generally respect clever humour over toilet humour, and that they don't tolerate gags being stretched out or repeated. The G&T reports are very encouraging. I hope that Red Dwarf (by which I mean Doug Naylor) is now happy with itself as a sitcom, and not trying to be something else. That is really the crux of the matter. Other things went wrong with s7 and s8, but none was so grievous to the show than its attempts to mutate into Hollywood garbage. (It only managed BBC1 garbage.)

    So, roll on RDX!
     
  10. Seymour_Clufley

    Seymour_Clufley First Technician

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    I'm not sure what you're referring to here. Do you mean the existence of the prison changes the show's premise?
     
  11. bedfordfalls

    bedfordfalls Deck Sergeant

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    A running joke is not the same thing as "re-using gags". You're implying the sort of laziness that is present in, for example, recycling the "Spiderman/batman outfit" line in two different episodes.

    Running jokes arn't down to such laziness of writing, they are a deliberate attempt to create humour from invoking an ongoing source. It's not as if Doug and Rob sat about scratching their heads for filler and thought "ah sod it, we'll just make up another Space Corps directive"; the very idea is to invoke humour through familiarity. It's a conscious writing process.
     
  12. simulant37

    simulant37 Science Officer

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    Er, the premise of the show is the last man alive in the universe stuck with a hologram of a guy he hates, a cat & (later) a robot. Bringing the crew back totally rewrites that premise!
     
  13. longusernamebecausetheforumwantsone

    longusernamebecausetheforumwantsone Second Technician

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    Maybe, but Seymour makes a great point that I totally agree with. S6 is so widely regarded as one of the show's "best series," but I only rank it marginally above S8, which is at the bottom of my list.

    It wasn't just about the Space Corps. directives. If that's all it had been, it probably would've been fine. It's also about, like Seymour indicated, the Cat's constant nasal intuition commentary. It made the character seem extremely one-dimensional compared to the previous series.

    It's also about the constant "We're deader than ..." gags. I would place these in the category of "reused jokes" rather than "running gags," as I would the poor re-use of the Ace, Duane, and Polymorph characters. That entire "Polymorph II" episode really epitomizes everything that's wrong with S6.

    S6 and S8 are the only two series I'll generally skip episodes when watching. S6 had some great moments, which is more than I can say for most of S8, but the writing was exponentially below the par set by S5.

    I'm probably one of two people here that loves S7, and I'll happily rank it as the 2nd best series ever, right behind S5. The writing style changed dramatically from S6, which I find an improvement in every regard. The gags didn't come a dime a dozen anymore, and the stories WERE more drama oriented than previously, but it worked for me. Cat was back to his old self, no reusing jokes, and the show was striving for something a little different. About the only negative things I can say about S7 involve the extensive use of CGI and whiney Kryten.

    S8's problems are too plentiful to touch on all of them. The series as a whole was a gigantic misstep, in my opinion. Things started off strongly enough with Back in the Red, Part 1. Then Part 2... OK, not too bad. But Part 3? This was an episode that could've easily been condensed into a solid two-parter. There is so much unfunny filler here (Blue Midget dance, claymation "screen saver" bit, the "Dibbley family," etc). This would go on to become the trend for the entire series. The only episodes worth watching are "Cassandra," "Only the Good..." and "Back in the Red" if I'm in a tolerant mood (or fast forward through the filler). And what the hell happened to Hollister? He's been reduced here to a bumbling, inept goon. He was a great character in S1 and S2, but the Hollister here bears no resemblance to that character. I don't have as much an issue with the crew being revived (in theory) as everyone else, but I do have a problem with the mishandling of Hollister and the rest of the supporting cast. Ackerman was about the only supporting character that was handled correctly, and don't get me started on Kill Crazy. The whole "Floor 13" thing, however, seemed a little far fetched for my tastes. This was a Jupiter Mining ship, not a prison ship. Why the hell would a mining vessel need such a huge, dedicated prison facility? I understand the need for a small brig perhaps, but a gigantic jail doesn't really seem plausible.
     
  14. Seymour_Clufley

    Seymour_Clufley First Technician

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    We could quibble over term forever. I think it depends on varying the joke - not just slotting a different noun in and calling it a new joke. For example, here's how they varied a "running gag" in series 4 and 5:

    In s6, the repeated space corps directives are essentially the same joke re-used because the joke is never varied. It's just a unique number quoted by Rimmer, followed by a unique silly rule quoted by Kryten. The format is identical every time, and therefore not surprising.

    To be honest, I think that's exactly what happened. They were running out of ideas.



    I must say I'm surprised to find support from a lover of s7, but you take it where you can get it!

    Yes, it was like "here is Cat's characteristic - you'd almost forgotten about it, hadn't you!"

    Agreed. Even though I think there are some funny bits in that episode, it really feels like a programme that's run out of steam and is just going through the motions.

    Yes, like I said, it's as if he's lost 50 IQ points. He's just a joke, not a character anymore. The s1/2 Hollister I could easily believe captains a ship - the s8 version I wouldn't put in charge of a cake stall.

    I think that, as you say in theory, it could possibly have worked, even though it completely changed the premise of the show. I suppose in a sense it's just one of those things you always want to happen - to see the ship populated with lots of busy people, just for the novelty and a weird return to "the old days". But like returning Kochanski, it's one of those things that is best left as a "what if?".

    I also think it may have worked better if they hadn't explored new bits of the ship (eg. the prison, the captain's bedroom, etc.) but had shown all these people working in the rooms we'd seen over s1-5. The s2 science room, the s3 science room, etc. That would have been more rewarding for the long-term viewer. Instead, it feels like a completely different ship with a completely different crew. I barely recognise it as the Red Dwarf ship.

    Okay, he wasn't dreadful. I admit I actually find him quite fun, a ludicrous camp psychopath. But I still think he was too pantomime - better for a children's programme than Red Dwarf.

    I think Alien 3 was maybe influential in this regard. What could be cooler than a dilapidated sci-fi prison?
     
  15. bedfordfalls

    bedfordfalls Deck Sergeant

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    Quibbling over the terms isn't what we are doing here. You are (if I'm not mistaken) directly accusing the writers of following a cynical thought process aimed at cheaply rehashing the same gags by using a cookie cutter formula and hoping nobody will notice on the grounds that they were running out of ideas (which doesn't make a great deal of sense given that one episode, Out of Time, for example, often has enough ideas jammed in it to have sustained multiple episodes on its own.)

    I'm arguing that you accusation is an insulting thing to say, and it shows a complete lack of understanding of a well known comedic, and indeed literary, technique and is totally misunderstanding the creative process behind the writing...blimey I'm starting to sound like Andrew! :?

    Okay let's play it your way and actually analyse the jokes you list.

    This is a fairly typical joke and would work fine on its own. It points to Cat's naivety and simple minded nature and is well played by straight man Kryten.

    Note the subtle variation. Rather than just repeat the same forumla, THIS joke, while superficially quite similar actually finds it's humour not just in Cat's naivety but instead in Kryten's pedantry and his own slightly uppity sense of humour. Similar premise, different punchline.

    This is a variation of the second joke, itself an actual evolution of the first. It's elevated by hammering home Cat's stupidity, not because he is making things up out of naivety but actually because he is unable to distinguish between television and real life...even if real life is a science fiction environment! What it's also doing though is setting up the punchline to the overall running joke which is....

    Now the joke has come full circle and become self-knowing. The brilliance of it is that by this point Naylor and Grant have judged the life expectancy of the joke and kill it off with even Cat starting to recognise where it is heading.
    This knowing when to stop, is something that requires a good sense of comedic timing and is something that was painfully lacking in series 8. Series 6 however, nailed it. In my opinion.

    I agree with you that these were more repetitious...but, and its a big but, the jokes were always funny and therefore the running nature of the gag was justified. In actual fact, far from being a lazy afterthought the Space Corps Directives jokes actually pull off something rare in Red Dwarf: Continuity with past episodes. Rimmer is given the manual by Kryten and Holly in Quarantine so it makes perfect sense that he would now have read it and be constantly trying to one up his despised crewmate Kryten who had spent the earlier series countermanding Rimmer's orders with these regulations. Again this should be all the evidence you need that the directives were not just introduced as a way to recycle cheap gags.

    If you want to see a bad use of this joke then look no further than Back to Earth. Again though, series six got it spot on in my view.

    You're entitled to think that, but in turn I am entitled to show why I think your argument doesn't hold weight. When jokes are badly shoehorned in or recycled in an A+B=C manner then we get...well, something like the latter half of series 8.

    What's funnier and more inventive?: Officers with false teeth performing oral sex in zero gravity or Paris being a kind of plaster?

    The latter was an original joke that stood on its own and was about the worst, least inventive thing I've ever heard on Red Dwarf. The former was another SCD running joke but has never failed to make people I've watched the show with laugh, because of the superb invention involved in the dialogue.

    I get that you don't like the running gag format but I don't think it was born out of a lack of ideas or from laziness. It's the same argument I've had with people who don't like BTE and accuse it of being slapdash or lazy as a result.

    The words "Red Dwarf production" and "lazy" just don't belong in the same sentence. Anybody who knows anything about the love, care and dedication put into the show knows this. It simply isn't in the mindset of either Rob or Doug to produce lazy television.
     
  16. Bluey

    Bluey Science Officer

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    That's something that I've often thought. The subplot about Lister being revealed to be a robot for instance could, with a bit of expansion, hold its own as the plot of a full episode.

    In recent years I've come across quite a few people who didn't think much of series 6. Previously it hadn't really crossed my mind that some might consider it substandard. I assumed it was one of those things that everyone loves, like Marooned and Back To Reality. Series 6 took Red Dwarf to places it had never been before. Gunmen speaks for itself, while the end of Out Of Time featured the most epic final scene of any episode (by turns melancholic, tense, enthralling, exciting...even tragic). In my view, series 6's only slight weaknesses are the episodes Rimmerworld, which, as well as its simiarity to Terrorform, leaves the 'planet populated by Rimmer clones' concept under-explored, and Emohawk, which goes a bit too far into fan-pleasing territory by bringing back Ace and Dwayne. But even these two episodes are really good stuff.
     
  17. Seymour_Clufley

    Seymour_Clufley First Technician

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    BedfordFalls,

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond and analyse the jokes I listed, but you seem to have misunderstood. I was citing those jokes (where Cat makes a suggestion and Kryten knocks it down) as being excellent comedy writing. They're from s4 and s5 - not s6. It's the fact that they were varied, and not just in "slot in a different noun" ways, that makes them surprising and therefore funny. Each one follows an established format then twists it.

    That is what I believe is missing from the running gags in s6, namely the space corps directives and the "deader than..." jokes. All they've done is slot in a different noun (literally). The new joke works in exactly the same way as the old joke did, so for me at least, it's just not funny. In fact it's irritating. In each case, the joke has exactly the same format - Rimmer pompously cites a directive, but then Kryten shows him up by quoting the directive and, hey presto, it has no relevance to the situation they're in. Time after time after time. There are no surprises here.

    You say these jokes are "always funny" - well, not for me they aren't, but this unfortunately brings us to the point where we have to admit that it's all subjective and neither of us is right or is going to convince the other etc. all down to personal opinion etc. etc.

    I don't like the word "accusing". I'm not out for the severed heads of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. I'm simply explaining why I think s6 is inferior to s5. If I'm not allowed to have that opinion, or not allowed to explain why I hold it, then I wish someone had told me in advance. Either way I'm sure Mr Grant and Mr Naylor are not quivering under a desk somewhere, dreading my next accusation. ;-)

    I agree, it's a good episode and has lots of stuff in it. In fact, with the exception of Emohawk, all the episodes in s6 have lots of good sci-fi ideas - but the jokes and characterisation aren't as good as in s5.
     
  18. Mardroid

    Mardroid Console Officer

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    It's interesting because, at the time, I liked those jokes. Even though I knew what was coming... that actually added to the humour for me.

    That being said, they did grate a bit when I watched them back on DVD as did the 'deader than' gags. It think maybe the way I watched it might have been a factor, i.e. on DVD I would often watch the entire series within a couple of days. On a weekly basis I think it worked okay.

    As for variation though, I thought that the space corps directive gag worked incredibly well in Gunmen when the simulant captain was present. Particularly that Rimmer feels he's been showed up in front of 'an amoral xenophobic killing machine (or words to that effect). His response is great comedy.

    I think Series VI is still one of my favourite Red Dwarf series. But then that's as much for the stories and ideas as the comedy, which still works well. The "... someone who really needs a pen" joke was hilarious.
     
  19. longusernamebecausetheforumwantsone

    longusernamebecausetheforumwantsone Second Technician

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    See, I always thought the other way-- it's only recently (perhaps since starting to read these forums) that I've come across quite a few people who champion S6 as one of the best. In my "circle" it was usually always considered the worst of the classic series (this was pre-S7/S8 days).

    Gunmen is a spectacular episode, and it really stands out against the rest of the S6 ensemble. I also think Out of Time is a fantastic episode, but neither one is completely exempt from the problems that plague the rest of the episodes. I also enjoy and will watch Legion from time to time, as it not only has a solid sci-fi premise but some comedic gold moments as well (the look on Rimmer's face when Legion first identifies him, "...so he can't hurt me, right? ..... Wrong!" etc)

    I do agree with you about Rimmerworld, and especially Emohawk/Polymorph II being the weakest of the series, but I certainly wouldn't consider either "really good stuff." Rimmerworld actually was a decent concept botched by a poor script and poor execution, while Polymorph II was ill-conceived from the beginning. These episodes, along with the likes of Pete (1&2) and Krytie TV make up the bottom of my RD episode list.
     
  20. Mardroid

    Mardroid Console Officer

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    From the beginning? I thought the gelf bartering/marriage stuff at the start was amongst the funniest stuff in Series VI, and possibly Red Dwarf as a whole.

    I didn't particularly dislike the rest either, but I can certainly see peoples' points concerning the Ace and Dibbley stuff that came later. It did seem a bit too large a wink* to the fans, but even then I didn't think it particularly bad.

    *If winks came in sizes... oh I'm sure you get what I mean!
     

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