Like many people I was overjoyed at the news of Red Dwarf coming back for a new series. When looking at it with 20/20 rose-tinted vision Red Dwarf was brilliant, but how does the new Series 10 stack up to the classics?
Leaving aside the god-awfulness that was Series VII, Series VIII was a return to form that sadly never gave us any real closure. Back to Earth was unfortunately made on a budget of about 20p and didn’t explain how the ship survived the end of Season eight. But no matter since it was about as funny as watching a plane crash in slow motion.
So how does Series ten fair? Sadly, not well to begin with. The opening episode Trojan was a mess, with Lister and the Cat becoming obsessed with a shopping TV channel and Rimmer miraculously coming into contact with the hologram of his dead brother. It’s not that it was particularly bad, just that there was something missing that you can’t quite put your finger on. The moose gag was pretty entertaining though.
Fathers and Suns was much better, however. Not quite a return to form but the brilliance of Lister’s video conversations with his drunken self playing ‘dad’ lifts the whole show. The new ship’s computer was nowhere near as entertaining as Holly, despite the whole predictive text thing of it figuring out what orders would be before they’re given. Doug, mate, seriously just get Norman Lovett on board for the next season. Please.
Lemons. Accurately named. Yet another stupid plot about reaching Earth via time travel and not finding a way to get back to around Lister and Rimmer’s own time. And the whole alternative Christianity thing has seriously been done to death in recent years (ok, maybe I’m prejudiced by the number of conspiracy theory potboilers I’ve been reading lately, but still…). And the plot twist wasn’t really that twisty, realistically you could’ve seen it coming a mile off. The only thing that made the episode was the closing gag, sadly this appears to be on a par with the much-maligned Season seven. Or Meltdown.
Entangled, on the other hand, was a big improvement. I loved Lister losing Starbug and Rimmer in a card game to garbage-eating GELFs, but more so everybody’s reaction to the bomb strapped to his crotch. Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn deserve some sort of award for having to deliver the ‘quantum-tangled’ Cat and Kryten’s lines simultaneously – maybe the first FTN Award for Acting Aptitude In The Face Of Terrible Odds? If there was a downside to this episode it’s the stasisised Professor Edgington, a scientist with a PhD in being wrong.
Once again, the odd numbered episodes showed a decided lack of quality with Dear Dave. We find Lister in a love triangle with two vending machines while trying to find a letter from an ex-girlfriend explaining whether he is a dad or not. Largely a fairly flat episode with misfiring farcical jokes. The only two gags that saved the episode were Lister decrying his ex-girlfriend as a ‘slag’ when he finds out he isn’t a dad after all, and the retread of the ‘you’ll bonk anything’ routine from Polymorph when Lister knocks one of the vending machines over.
But finally the season goes out on a real high with The Beginning. Rimmer becomes a self-confessed working class hero, the crew is menaced by rogue simulants and a mad burnt-out droid who seems to be channelling Eli Wallach challenges Lister to endless duels across time and space as a way of relieving boredom. Best of all is the final “explanation” about how Rimmer saved the ship in Season 8. Brilliance, proving that Doug Naylor does still have the goods after all these years.
So, a little hit and miss. Bit of a mixed bag but overall a great effort. I know UKTV only managed to produce the show on a budget of a staff whip-round and whatever they found down the back of the sofa but with a few extra quid the old girl could still produce the goods in the future. So the big question remains: buy the DVD or not?
…Yep, it’s out now…
And by the way, you keel my brother!