So with the latest series of Red Dwarf just finishing on UK screens, I thought it time to look back on the series and see how well it has adapted to its new home on the UK channel Dave, and how the series progressed with a little breakdown of each episode for anyone who missed them.
Trojan (Episode One) brought the dwarfers back in a tale involving a new ship, Rimmers resentment files making him crash and a chance encounter with his brother who is now a captain and a hologram.
Fathers and Suns (Episode Two) has a depressed Lister missing his dad (who is actually Lister, it’s a time travel thing!). Lister starts recording messages when drunk to himself, to teach the hung over Lister how to be a man, while the rest of the crew struggle with a new computer programme they have installed which is doing more harm than good.
Lemons (Episode Three) has a faulty rejuvenation shower sending the crew back to the UK AD 23, where they meet a chap who seems very familiar, turns out his name is Jesus.
Entangled (Episode Four) has The Cat and Kryten stuck in a quantum tangle where they speak in unison, and Rimmer is lost in a poker game with the Gelfs. This all leads to a weird conclusion.
Dear Dave (Episode Five) Lister finds himself in a love triangle with two food dispensers and also struggles with the notion he could have been a father to a child long dead.
The Beginning (Episode Six) Rimmers back-story is looked into more while the crew get attacked by a bunch of rogue stimulants.
The series is a mixed bag, but mostly the episodes feel like the Red Dwarf we all know and love. The set design is different, with a lot more action happening in corridors and a selection of quarters and Kryten’s facial design looks a tad bizarre at first, but it soon grows on you. The great thing about the smaller budget means that the stories are more streamlined and back to basics. The feel of this series is very much like series one and two (minus Holly which is still a shame), with very few special effects and the scope of the episodes focusing a lot more on the characters and not on the developing story arcs. In fact this series has no real story arc, each episode is pretty much self-contained and can be watched in pretty much any sequence (with the exception of the last episode). This new episode structure means it is a great way for people who have never seen Red Dwarf to jump in and not feel too intimidated by the ongoing series. However the series is full of little references to other episodes which make it more rewarding for hard-core dwarfers. For example Rimmer is still trying and failing to pass his officer exams and still stuck in the shadow of his family (which we see throughout the series is not as successful as they appear), while The Cat has gone back to entertaining himself with his piece of string. The series is full of little references like this and recurring characters (The Gelfs and the Rogue Simulants appearing to cause the crew hassle). The balance between keeping the regular fans happy and the new viewers is spot on.
The new series is very character based, with a lot of emphasis on how the dwarfers get on together. The actors have not lost any of their magic and it warms your heart to see them interacting together again. The only downside is that the series is very Rimmer and Lister heavy with The Cat and Kryten only getting one episode that is their own and that is in a subplot. Not that they don’t pull their weight, some of the more restrained moments of hilarity involve these two, examples include Kryten blow drying cutlery with his blower attachment stuck to his anus and The Cat and Kryten speaking in unison. The series is full of little jokes like this, which really make it work. But the story development really goes to Rimmer and Lister. Lister has some interesting scenes involving him as a father and being his own dad, as well as how depressing his life has become now he is alone in the universe. Rimmer has some truly great scenes in this series; in fact this series has given him the most character development out of everyone. We find out his family is not as good as they appear, with a brother who was not a captain at all and a father who was actually a gardener and not a teacher as he imagined. All of the cast members are fantastic together and even the poorer episodes work because of just how great they are.
It is not without its problems however. Some episodes don’t hit as well as they could. Lemons, especially suffers from this, with one or two great gags, but a lot of just plain awful ones. It just seems like a lazy episode in some respects, with the Jesus story not really working. This is the weakest episode of the bunch, but Dear Dave also feels in places a little bit padded. But overall all the episodes are great fun to watch for one reason or another. One of the strongest is definitely Fathers and Suns which is a very simple episode but is just hilariously funny, with both plots diverging and coming together beautifully. The best episode in the entire series however is The Beginning with a great mix of pathos and humour and a nice turn for all the cast, but Rimmer developing so much as a character is the highlight. At the end of the day, when the dust from the series has settled, it still has it. This series was incredibly funny and although the episodes are more reined in, they have more magic to them than some of the later series’, which were special effects heavy but lost some of the Red Dwarf spirit. This has that feel, the characters are all there and more importantly the humour is there. Red Dwarf has always been a show about the crew and their chemistry together. It is great to see that after years without a full series, it is still there. A great return to form and a series that can easily be watched again and again. It feels comfortable to watch, with enough attempts to be daring that it does not seem to stagnate (even if some of the attempts fail). From one dwarfer to another, it was smegging awesome. Watch out world the slime is coming home!