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Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by sanja, Aug 10, 2010.
I remember that was the only one of series 10 that simulant liked, I think.
Fathers and Suns, last night.
Despite the lack of a sizeable budget meaning that Doug could not afford virtually any location shoots, it is welcome that the most part of series 10 is set on Red Dwarf. Although I do still feel series 5/6 are the top 2 with all their sci-fi, deep space adventuring some of the fans wanted there to be more time spent solely on the Dwarfers' mothership ahead of series 6 and mostly the 2012 run granted them their wish. It is simply fun to have all the time for dialogue between the characters on ship - a bit like a return to series 1/2 - and IMHO this is the very tightest and most comical script of the 2012 episodes. The Lister Senior and Lister Junior scene is comedy gold and a highlight amongst all the other great humorous moments throughout. Meanwhile, the sci-fi concept of the computer with predictive capabilities is one of the cleverest and most sophisticated ones of the series too and harks back to series 2's Queeg (the finest episode of 1988 IMHO) which is welcome nostalgia with a twist. All the sub-plots are genuinely worthwhile and I even find the Chinese Whispers one with the vending machines pleasurable and was pleased they returned on this occasion.
The resolution again exemplifies how series 10's storytelling is much superior to the final 3 episodes of 1999 because again all the sub-plots - like Lister's tooth being extracted with the laughing gas - come together and the Lister junior pay off is an intelligent and reasonably unpredictable way of rounding off the main Pree story. IMHO, the Dwarfers' acting is the strongest and most recognisable to their old characterisations during the show's heyday in a long time and Rebecca Blackstone with her speedy talking is exceptional too. The only thing I would say is because the last 2 episodes which were going to feature Chloe Annett again were dropped it is quite amusing too to hear some of the redundant Kochanski lines.
Overall, Fathers and Suns is definitely up there with classic Dwarf IMHO and could have been the series 10 opener it is so excellent and even better than the actual first. However, it is understandable that Trojan got that honour because of the finale also examining Rimmer's family history. Ultimately, this is the best Red Dwarf episode in a long while (since mid-series 8) and the finest half hour of 2012 - definitely one that fulfilled Doug's pre-series 10 hype that RD was "back to its best." 9/10.
Lemons, last night
When this was first broadcast back in autumn 2012 I was initially unimpressed. However, after repeated viewings since, this episode has really become a grower for me. I think the main thing that annoyed me were the issues with the script where it was nonsensical. For example, a few of the characters from ancient India have really good English, there is a Geordie Jesus of Caesarea and there is a gaping plot hole in how did the Dwarfers travel all the way from England to the Eastern world? Additionally, the rejuvenation shower sending Dwarfers back in time and space did seem a bit fortuitous and convenient, though they did not assemble it correctly and perhaps it "rejuvenated" them back into the past. Despite this after a few watches, this episode began to appeal much more to me because really it is like Backwards in that there are bits that lack logic and it would be a double standard really to not similarly make allowances for that in this later period RD also.
The rest of the storyline is fantastic anyway and although there are a couple of small, highly amusing subplots in the tales of Lister's organs (harks back to Tikka to Ride too) and Jesus' kidney stone, this episode is one in series 10 that will satisfy the fans who want to see a main plot being concentrated on more like it was during the BBC series. This is surely one of the most hilarious shows of series 10 too and I especially enjoy Jesus being called "a bit of a knob" (even funnier than "utter twat" in Trojan IMHO) because it is so ridiculous calling who they think is the son of God that. But that is the point because despite this being a heavily religious themed main storyline it is in no way offensive due to the magical twist in the end that it is not "that" Jesus the Dwarfers have alienated from religious teachings. The real Jesus of Nazareth is alongside Judas at the end which fulfils the great gag about how Rimmer got his middle name. Additionally, Michael Ralph's studio sets for India are phenomenal and convincing looking IMHO, especially given the lack of financial clout behind this first Dave full series.
However, the episode is not totally perfect because again a bit of the tightness of the Grant co-written years is missing. For example, the opening Lister-Rimmer scene in which the latter criticises Shakespeare is funny, but the humour is nowhere near as mindblowing as it was back in 1988-1993. But still, ultimately this episode is one of the most comical of the 2012 run otherwise, with a very strong time travelling and adventuring on Earth story (I like the re-use of the woods in Rimmerworld as an outside location for England) and is probably along with Fathers and Suns a top highlight of series 10. 9/10.
Entangled, last night.
After first broadcast almost 8 years ago I felt this was one of the standout episodes of series 10 and last night was the most I have enjoyed it in quite a long time. The sci-fi concept of the quantum entanglement of the Cat and Kryten (their synchronised speech shows what great actors Danny and Robert are) is very inventive and has a series 4-5 vibe IMHO. Although it is a positive that the crew are mostly on RD for most of the 2012 run, it is pleasant to see them travelling around in Blue Midget for the first time since series 3 (I think) and the CGI (?) moon looks much superior to that in series 7.
Meanwhile, a lot of the script is very funny and I appreciate how - despite the relationships between Rimmer and the other Dwarfers improving since BtE - there is an antagonism from Lister and The Cat towards the petty hologram again, even if the amusing "the man" or "the system" joke contradicts the events of series 4's Justice. The resolution to the main hilarious groinal exploder plot is provided with cleverness due to the irony ("Irene E") coincidence that Professor Edgington has in fact got the last one in the combination correct and it is to Doug's credit that he wrote this scene into the script at the last minute. Additionally, some fans are not happy with the final moments in which the Professor gets killed off but I do not mind it. It has to be - apart from the better parts of series 8 - that Lister is the last human and the further irony that she trips over Rimmer's bulky health and safety forms and into the airlock is what makes it so comical.
However, there is one definite fault with Entangled in that although the BEGGs look satisfactory, they at the same time appear a bit cheap compared to Steve Wickham's previous appearance as a GELF back in series 6 (though money was probably tight at this point). Additionally, once again the script is not as watertight as it was when Rob Grant was on board, but ultimately it does not matter too much as a lot of it is genuinely funny and the very strong plot's sophistication is so much that it paved the way for the heavier sci-fi in the next 2 back-to-back series. 8.5/10.
Beyond a Joke
I don’t think I’ve watched this episode for about five-six years. I always remember hating it and thinking it was the weakest episode of series 7.
Well, it’s not as bad as I remember. It’s a good little story but not particularly funny. Not the strongest performance by Robert Llewelyn as Able. It’s another one of those scripts that more dramatic than “hahaha funny”. Also the ending is appalling. Otherwise I’d give it a 6/10
This is another one of those episodes that everyone seems to hate and I love. I probably hated it originally considering how much I disliked season VII at the time (now I'm a big fan of the season) but now I consider it to be one of my favourite episodes of all time. It's not all that funny admittedly, but I love the story and it's certainly in my top ten episodes. Even Kryten being annoying again like he often was in season VII doesn't ruin it for me.
And I did actually like Robert as Able. I always wished that Able could have stayed on as a regular character, but that of course would never happen. Don Henderson as well deserves a mention for his performance as the deranged Simulant character. Sadly, he died not too long after the filming of this episode.
My thoughts on Can of Worms.
The original Polymorph is a classic, Emohawk is pretty good...and then we have this. Making a sequel is always problematic as it will be compared to the original, and unfortunately this contains some of the worst aspects of late Dwarf. It feels like a collection of ideas that have been bolted together rather than a coherent plot.
The Personality Tuck Machine is a semi-interesting idea, but the opening scene has few laughs and it doesn't end up resolving the plot at the conclusion.
Mentioning the Gelfs and having Kryten talk using their language again is pretty desperate and the virginity scene that follows isn't handled particularly well. It's not remotely offensive, but it drags on and Danny's overacting doesn't help.
There are also two terrible "than" jokes:
"The signal's weaker than the San Marino reserve team."
"These Mercenoids are nuttier than a vegetarian's breakfast."
Doug absolutely loves this style of joke - and there are some good ones in the early series - but these are incredibly lame.
The Mercenoid then serves very little purpose and is quickly disposed of, the female cat is 1-dimensional before quickly disappearing and the ending is so perfunctory that it is almost insulting. It feels like Doug really had to rush this one and should have written 2 or 3 more drafts.
The idea of Lister having no emotion and turning into a killing machine could be quite interesting if handled in the right way. It was wasted here.
If I was looking for positives, then I'd say that the reveal of Rimmer running away at the end of the first scene is quite nicely done. And Lister's "miles away" face, despite being a borrow from White Hole, worked well.
My thoughts on Cassandra.
For a few years Series VIII was the most recent Dwarf that we had and it’s interesting that a lot of people spoke up for the series (among those who didn’t, obviously). In fact, probably the most common debate on the boards at the time was whether Series VII and VIII were good or bad. It’s only in the last few years that an awful lot of people – including those involved with the show – seem to have turned against Series VIII.
I think Cassandra is probably the best episode of that run – albeit partly because it’s one of only three self-contained stories – and many aspects of it could have come from a different series. While Kochanski is important to the plot, most of the other minor characters may as well not be there which is no bad thing.
The plot itself borrows heavily from Future Echoes, as the script acknowledges, but it does at least have a solid science fiction base which is more than can be said for most episodes from this era.
It also has some good lines (the Cat’s lines about drinking coffee and helping to dig the whole, for example), a fine guest actor in Geraldine McEwan and some decent interaction between the main characters.
The negatives are that it is over the top in places, there are some bad jokes that ought to have been cut and some of the gender politics is a little off (though not as much as in certain other episodes).
Speaking of over the top, I also find the audience really irritating throughout a lot of series 8. Much like series 10 onwards to be honest (I should know, I was one of them for two eps!!!)
Yeah, I remember in one of the Dwarfcasts over on G&T that somebody mentioned that the audience, "laughed at everything!" I think that's pretty much been the case since Series VII (though I know that wasn't actually filmed in front of an audience).
My thoughts on Kryten.
As this episode was covered in Rob, Ed and Paul’s stop-start Zoom commentary yesterday, I will post a few ponderings.
My fandom started with Series III to VI and it was only after these were broadcast that I was able to watch this ep. I remember being excited when this was repeated on BBC2 to see how Kryten joined the show and I was so disappointed as a kid to see the dated sets (in comparison with Series VI) and the rather clumsy make up. Nowadays though, I can fully recognize the quality of the writing and the acting throughout.
David Ross is a superlative comedy actor as he also showed on Rob and Doug’s radio sitcom Wrinkles (anybody who hasn’t listened to it really should), but all of the cast members are on top form here. They seem a lot more confident than Series I, the audience are enjoying it more and it helps that there are so many excellent lines.
I can even enjoy the “than” joke:
“They’ve got less meat on them than a Chicken (Mc)Nugget.”
And while the remastered episodes are understandably not popular, I think they did perform one reasonable edit here by removing the Chroma Key disaster of the Cat walking in slo-mo.
My thoughts on Tikka to Ride (I have time on my hands now during lockdown).
I remember my feelings when this was first broadcast. I found the opening explanation to Series VI’s cliffhanger to be deeply underwhelming, the middle of the episode drifted along amiably enough and I thought the original ending was atrocious. I recall saying to my housemate at the time, “Is that it???” I think in the DVD commentary the cast confirm that they didn’t have a planned ending and it shows. I presume Doug regretted it which led to them filming the new ending a while later.
Doug must have been fascinated by JFK, but the plot feels shoehorned into Red Dwarf. Not only by changing how the Time Drive works, but also by turning Lister into a 1-dimensional character. With him acting like a child and Kryten having no guilt chip, it means that Rimmer is left to be the mature one discussing Kennedy’s merits. It wasn’t the best way to reintroduce the characters after a long break.
The cast aren't at their best and I think Chris is the only one who fully found his character without the audience. His delivery of the flatulence, Tonka Toy and “One minute your down…” gags shows just what was missing for most of Series VII.
The production standards are top notch for the most part and, not for the last time, they probably blew most of the budget on the series opener. Although it’s been described as a comedy drama, I don’t think the slapstick moments really fit in with that or are particularly well executed (no pun intended). The tone feels a little all over the place.
And it is kind of amazing that the opening introduction and the Kennedy assassinating himself idea completely contradict each other.
Finally, far too many “than” jokes again. The last one alone would have sufficed imo:
“Duller than an inflight magazine produced by Air Belgium.”
“You’ve had more RAM than a field of sheep.”
“We’ve been copied more times than that poster of the tennis girl scratching her butt.”
My thoughts on Marooned.
One of the finest episodes without question…
If I was nitpicking, I would say that the opening drill pun is pretty lame and Robert’s “Blue Midget is loaded” line is delivered terribly.
Apart from that though, it's pretty much faultless. The premise, while not exactly original, is genius as it adds a sense of tension and a time limit to their predicament.
And Marooned probably contains more classic lines than any other episode. Alexander the Great, Bonjela gum ointment, Lister losing his virginity, Porky Roebuck, Richard III, art college…
The remastered version deserves a mention for its inexplicable changes. The Cliff Richard gag is cut, the audience laughter is removed from the “Still snowing?” gag and a couple of terrible shots of Starbug in the snow have been added. Plus, some cockpit shots look really ropey. All of the changes make the episode worse.
The final reveal that Holly was responsible wraps things up perfectly. This was back in the days when the plots for the show actually made sense!
I feel slight contradiction about this episode. In my opinion, it's not as bad as most of fans say. I like the idea with Cat losing his virginity with a polymorph and having baby polymorphs, even the "ship of the week" exploration is alright, but there are a lot of ideas that should be got rid off. For example the emotion cut machine stuff feels rushed and almost pointless.
I agree with you that the script needed more rewrites, because then it might be quite good episode based on a strong idea.
The "than" jokes are quite typical for Red Dwarf and they're usually very good. These two are weak, but I quite like the second one.
But there's one trully terrible joke in this episode and that's Kryten's "Einstein was wrong" line in the very first scene. One of the most crappy lines from RD ever, it's up there with most of series VIII.
I thought it was ok. Speed of light, Hologram and all that.
My thoughts on Duct Soup.
Some have compared this with Marooned, with the only difference being that one is considered a classic while the other is considered one of the low points of the show’s entire run.
The first big difference for me is in the storytelling. In both episodes the crew’s lives are supposedly in danger, but in Marooned that feels a lot more urgent. Lister has to eat the dog food in order to stay alive. They have to apparently burn the guitar in order to stay alive. Throughout the episode we are being reminded that they are in peril, whilst in Duct Soup it feels more like the characters are having a series of unrelated chats.
The standard of characterization is also way off. Replacing Rimmer, arguably the show’s most interesting character, we have Kochanski. It’s ironic to me that Doug criticized the American pilot’s version as being “fundamentally unlikeable”, before writing a very similar Kochanski himself. I understand why she was added to the show – partly to try to get funding for the movie and partly as an antagonist – but she is deeply annoying to watch and turned Kryten into a deeply annoying character at the same time. The line about being brought up in the Gorbals in Glasgow does Chloe Annett no favours, as I doubt anyone finds it remotely convincing.
Suddenly making Lister claustrophobic for this episode was pretty lazy and the explanation that “I don’t always get it” is beyond feeble.
There are some decent lines in the middle of the episode though, with the Cat at his most insensitive. I can’t say I particularly mind the “Bent Bob” line either, as Lister has never been a paragon of virtue and it is fairly believable.
The less said about the embarrassing ending the better…
Dear Dave, this afternoon.
This was written very hastily by Doug due to the final 2 episodes of series 10 that were to re-introduce Kochanski being dropped (due to the well-known production problems) and is the 2012 run's equivalent to a bottle-type one. It will not please fans who desire the incredible sci-fi of series 4-6 as it is very much in the style of space sitcom and with the mail pod arriving (Better Than Life-style) especially, it harks back to the first couple of series in that it is all set on Red Dwarf. But I think it has a worthwhile place amongst the 2012 shows as it has some of the funniest comedy of the entire series. Lister/Rimmer's football commentary-like competition over finding letters to themselves is highly comical and the finger wetting gag has to be one of the greatest ever in RD history. Even though the "moves move" Lister/Rimmer scene fails to reach the indomitable standards of series 1-6, I still found it very enjoyable and amusing, especially the ridiculous "Jacobean" bit.
There is a bit of padding though like some of Rimmer's attempts to prevent being demoted and the Cat's charades, but for some reason on this re-watch I did not find them anywhere near as annoying. Additionally, the finest story line is the main one about Lister possibly being a father to his old girlfriend's child while the vending machines sub-plot is inferior and Lister humping dispenser 23 is totally anti-classic Red Dwarf sci-fi, but it was not as irritating to me on this occasion and actually quite positive.
However, there is one definite fault with the final line including the word "slag" at the end. Quite a lot of the stuff that has been deemed offensive in the recent RD was incorrectly so IMHO, but I do object to that term being used in Dear Dave. It is like Doug was in such a rush to finish the script at the eleventh hour that he impulsively rounded the episode off by including this unpleasant word and it comes across as an awkward and uncomfortable end (though Lister's finger wetting gesture is funny).
However, although I did not enjoy Dear Dave too much on first broadcast back in Autumn 2012, its effect has really grown on me over the years. Yet again it does not reach the seemingly unbeatable standards of the Rob Grant years, but it is still definitely strong Red Dwarf quite successfully conveying the feel of the two 1988 series - skilfully cobbled together at the last minute too - and is all the better for not re-integrating Kochanski. 7.5/10.
My thoughts on Twentica.
This must be a contender for the strongest episode since Rob Grant stopped working on the show…
Firstly, rather like Tikka to Ride, they clearly spent a large part of the budget on the series opener. The look of the sets is really impressive when you consider that Dave probably don’t give Doug a huge amount of money, and there's a large cast of both actors and extras.
It also makes a big difference to have a very solid actor like Kevin Eldon as a guest star. Too many other episodes have suffered from having camp and over the top villains, but 4 of 27 is nicely restrained.
Doug’s decision to actually focus on one plot idea is also massively preferable to the multiple plot strands that he sometimes tries (and fails) to weave together.
The self-awareness of the “hackneyed old cliché” dialog is another nice touch.
That’s not to say that I think it’s perfect Dwarf as there are stretches with few laughs, Danny’s performance is very big and the final scene is a weak ending.
Doug also still has a habit of cramming in bad jokes at inopportune times. The “Brace” gag is a rewrite of the earlier seatbelt joke, but misses the mark.
And he can’t resist slipping in yet another “than” joke:
“We’re deader than Galileo’s theory of tides.”
My thoughts on Dear Dave.
Or “Red Dwarf: The Sketch Show” as some have understandably labelled it. It feels like a collection of unrelated scenes that have been bolted together which, of course, it was.
I don’t have a problem with episodes set solely on board the ship, but the plotting and characterization has to be absolutely right and here it is way off.
In the Jacobean scene, for example, we are clearly not watching Rimmer. This is Chris Barrie/Kenneth Williams performing a sketch that simply doesn’t fit.
The vending machine sex scene (did I really just type that?) is also a massive misjudgement. Not only does it recreate one of the most famous moments in the show’s history, but it doesn’t make any logical sense. Nobody attempts to pick up a heavy machine while lying on top of it but it seems like nobody thought about the question, “Would the character ever really do this?”
The same problem comes with the entire b-plot of Rimmer and Kryten removing toilet rolls in order to placate a computer. Not only is it a story that is entirely devoid of drama, but it ignores the fact that they are now alone in deep space and are their own bosses.
I think “devoid of drama” is how I would describe all of the scenes involving the vending machines as well. I don’t think they have ever been a particularly important part of the Red Dwarf universe, despite liking Tony Hawks in Series I, and their scenes here are all trivial and don’t really move on the plot.
Reusing the post pod scenario from Better Than Life needn’t have been a bad idea but, like many reused ideas in the show, it is handled much less effectively than the original. In Better Than Life you have plenty of comedy, but you also have the heart with Rimmer and Lister’s conversation about their dads. This episode could have done a similar thing if they’d explored the idea of Lister possibly being a father and imagining how his child could have turned out. And the comedy could have come from Rimmer belittling him at every turn.
Finally, not enough time is spent building up the relationship with Hayley Summers and the time when Lister speaks most positively about her is simply to provide a counterpoint to the final “absolute slag” comment. Judging by the reaction after the show aired, I think it’s fair to say that Doug would have been better off not using that word. I personally don’t think it is entirely out of character as Lister’s attitude to women has never been perfect – he saves the disgusting page of Lolita in Series III, uses the VR machine to have sex with jailbait ball girls in Series VI and watches Kochanski in the shower in Series VIII – but it is still a very harsh way to end the episode. I don’t think the alternative “trollop” would have been believable and they probably should have had a big rethink.
I can understand why this has regularly been called the worst of Series X.
Like I said a couple of weeks ago I used to think it was the weakest of the 1997 run too. Now, it's still not classic Dwarf to me but it is pretty good and I prefer it to Ouroboros and Duct Soup.