Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf, the UK sci-fi comedy, finally had new episodes shown over Easter weekend. After being off the air for ten years and being turned down by the BBC for a new series, the satellite channel, Dave, put the money up for a three-part special called 'Back To Earth'.
The series had ended on a cliffhanger. How did they resolve it?

They didn't.

In fact, it was a bit of a rewind in spite of all that time passing with Rimmer, once a hologram who became human again, being a hologram once more. Why? Nobody knows.

But, hey, continuity isn't the most important thing in a comedy and this is sci-fi so anything can happen. The important thing is whether it was funny or not. And it was. For some of it anyway. Once the work of a writing partnership, Red Dwarf changed when one of the partners, Rob Grant, left. The remaining writer, Doug Naylor, could bring the drama and, sometimes, funny scenarios but seemed to lack the snappy gags. The quick throwaways that keep the laughter flowing. The same was true for much of this three-part special.

Most of the jokes seemed to be concentrated into the second part, with the guy in the sci-fi shop being a highlight. But the Blade Runner parody didn't gel in any shape or form with the real world stuff and commited the ultimate crime of bad parody - simply recreated scenes without actually doing anything to make them funny, as if the presence of the show's characters should be enough. It wasn't back when French and Saunders used to do it all those years ago and it's not now either.
But the actors were on top form and all delivered. The lack of a Holly hit pretty hard but the main gang still felt like the chemistry was there.

It wasn't bad.
But it wasn't great either. And, after ten years, I would have thought there could be a fresh take on it. I would have thought the writer would have matured and developed so the writing in these specials could actually out-shine the original show. Unfortunately, it didn't. And, given that this could potentially be the last we see of Red Dwarf, it seems like a wasted opportunity not to write an end.

A real end.


Andy Latham said...

I really didn't see that much in the specials. In fact I got to the end of it feeling that it had been far more of a drama than a comedy. I was aware of laughing only once to be honest.

I don't think it's the end of the world though as the final few series have been in decline. It's not like it's ruined an otherwise perfect show, because the show was not perfect by any means.

I really hoped both writers would come back together for this one-off, but alas it wasn't to be.

susan said...

Red Dwarf is my favorite TV show of all time. I am so glad to hear about the new episodes, but dang it, I am in the US and it's not over here.......

Very curious to see how , Lister and Rimmer aged.

was it as bad as series 7? my least favorite series. sad they didn't bring back Holly.

Sad that they didn't follow the ending from series 8. Sad that Naylor and Grant don't write together anymore. They were at the height of their brilliance in series 6, with such wonders like "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" and "Legion". Series 7 just seemed to be depressing as Craig Charles had just gotten out of jail and didn't seem to have his heart in it....And Rimmer wanted out.....

Smegging heck. At least it's back. I gotta see if I can get some copies from a friend in the UK and pay through the nose to have em converted. It's worth it. It's my favorite show as an adult of all time.

ps did they bring back kochanski?

Bitter Animator said...

Well I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, Susan. Personally, I don't think it was as bad as series 7 which was my least favourite too. But it was no better than series 8 which, comedy-wise, I felt was lacking.

As for Kochanski, well, I won't say but part of me was hoping they'd find a way to bring Clare Grogan back in the part. Given alternate realities and the lack of any real continuity, I'm sure it would have been possible but it was not to be. I thought she had a lot more spark.

Hopefully, it will be aired in the US soon to save you conversion costs! Or it may end up lurking out there on the internet somewhere, if it's not there already.

It was an amazing show at its height. They showed 'Gunmen' after one of the specials just the other night. Such a classic episode. And they showed the Polymorph episode too. That one is comic genius.

Brian Sibley said...

I missed it, but a conversation over dinner last night went...

Person 1: "Hadn't joke worn a bit thin?"

Person 2: "What joke?"

So I'm glad I was spared having to contribute to the discussion!!

susan said...

Bitter, i wrote about this on my blog and gave you a shout out.

Brian, the latest episode of 'South Park' had a whole thing about the world's funniest joke. it's called Fish Sticks, and it's on line if you want to find it. it's pretty funny.

susan said...

It finally came over here. A year later, downloaded from iTunes.

You are right about Claire Grogan, the last i saw her was on "Sirens", never cared for the other girl they had in series 7 and 8. The Russian girl they had this time was very pretty though.

I spent the last six hours watching those 3 episodes. Will blog about it shortly and put it up next week, behind on a few deadlines.

What I will say is I am so so sick for my beloved England and how I hate this part of the planet I live on. And how much I miss hearing Scouse accents.

They really named a channel after Lister? I thought I was silly by naming my cat after Holly!!!