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.