Friday, 10 April 2009

Boys from the Dwarf.

Red Dwarf isn't perfect. Of course it's not. But when I was a kid, sitting up round my nan's house on a friday night while my family played cards, and I finally had control over the TV, Red Dwarf was the highlight of my evening. It was funny, and silly, and sometimes had wibbly rubber monsters in it and it was pretty much my favourite programme. After... how many series? 8, I think, was the last one... it's easy to look back and see where it started to go wrong, for me at least. Over time, the writing was less sharp, the jokes less funny- odd, unnecessary things like emotion and "proper story" started to intrude. The essential "git" at the heart of each character was "redeemed" and I lost some affection for them. Rimmer performing a selfless act? It just isn't right. By the time they reintroduced the dreadful Kochanski (with all new actress and accent) I'd sort of given up, but kept watching anyway... CGI became more important, the lovely and endearing model shots were replaced with slicker graphics, jokes seemed more forced and plot given more importance (when did plot ever matter with Red Dwarf?), and Kochanski got on my bloody wick. I eventually gave up, I think, somewhere at the beginning of series 8. Our DVD collection reflects this, ending abruptly at series 6, essentially the last time we laughed at it.

And tonight, on Dave, we have new Red Dwarf. I wish I could write about a return to snappy dialogue, model shots, daftness and slobs in space, but really, there isn't much to report. Stuff happened, they all look a bit older, I didn't laugh once. It's probably true that it suffers from the lack of a laughter track, but when an entire sequence is given over to a new character doing vaguely scientific things in a lab, without a single joke in sight, I don't think some canned laughter would help that much.

It's kind of painful that Dave have followed it directly afterwards with a really good episode, Gunmen of the Apocalypse. It's worth remembering, I guess, that it was brilliant once. Ten year old me certainly thought so. Bob bless Red Dwarf, the only science-fiction sitcom that was ever any good.


  1. I was disappointed as well. It wasn't the carcrash I half expected it to be but it was just completely inconsequential.

    I'm in complete agreement about the 'no need for plot' aspect - the first few series' alone have so many inconsistancies and plotholes that it's just completely useless to even try and set up some form of timeline.

    It's not the funniest show in the world, but I used to like it because it was silly and tacky and a little bit of escapism - I think the newer ones (this one included) kind of miss the point. I'll tune into the next episode to find out what happens but I'm really not expecting all that much.

    My DVD collection ends at series 6 as well.


  2. True! It used to be that Red Dwarf was so unconcerned with plot that something mad would happen at the end of one series, only to be completely ignored at the start of the next ;) That's sort of one of the reasons I likde it.

  3. For my money, Red Dwarfs big failing was with the loss of the writing duo Grant & Naylor. When one of them left it was obvious that one wrote the stupid stuff while the other tempered it with more straight forward plotting and gags.

    Once the duo split, the series became a parody of itself. Red Dwarf 6 was the last of the good seasons and I think thats when the split happened.

    In any case Red Dwarf hasn't aged well in my eyes, I laugh at old ones on DAVE but I'm not sure if I'm laughing because its funny or because I remember it being funny. What I know I feel is that I had no hope for this new series and seeing the trailer on DAVE last night (after I'd already missed the first episode) left me with no urge to catch up. It looked like that god awful Star Trek Fan Fic films populated by out of work Trek actors.

    The sort of stuff that makes a tiny piece of your soul die just by looking at images let alone the films themselves.