I didn't watch Red Dwarf at the height of it's popularity; I was too young and it was on past my bedtime. I came to it with it's later, less beloved series, before backtracking to watch the earlier shows on VHS.
One result of this backwards viewing is that I never really subscribed to the notion that the later seasons were somehow inferior; after all, they were good enough to hook me and make me go out and buy the earlier shows, so how bad could they really be? To my mind, none of the runs are flawless; point me at the show that is; but neither are any of them worthless.
|The crew in the early days. Before Kryten.|
There were some, and I won't name names but you know who you are, that scoffed at the very notion of Red Dwarf coming back; flogging a dead horse was a phrase I saw bandied about rather more than was seemly; and my question is, why? Why is it flogging a dead horse to make a new run of a show that has, in it's 25 year life, produced less episodes than the average US sitcom produces in 3? Was Cheers scraping the barrel after 3 seasons? 30 Rock? Friends? Don't answer that last one.
So I'm a long time fan who was all in favour of of the show's return from the off. Now that we've established where I'm coming from, what did I actually think of the new series so far?
|The crew now. Hardly aged a day.|
There's no Holly; of either version; but the rest of the core cast are present and correct and with the exception of a few wrinkles on the face and inches on the waist, look like they've never been away; they seem as comfortable with their characters, and with each other, as they do in any S4 or S5 episode. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised, since aside from their wealth of experience working with each other they're all accomplished comic actors in their own right; Chris Barrie in particular would have been a mega-star if there was an iota more justice in the world.
Best actors in the world would struggle with duff scripts though; just ask the cast of Doctor Who: The End of Time; so it's a relief that the old magic has been well and truly in evidence from series co-creator and writer since episode one, Doug Naylor. There's been the tiniest hint of Rimmer; never the subtlest of characters to begin with; slipping ever so slightly into self parody, which I suspect can be put down to Naylor trying a little too hard to please the fans and giving them too much of a good thing. Happily such tendencies were quickly reigned in and we're left with some incredibly tight stories. True to the 'glory years', these episodes work as 30 minute nuggets of top notch sci-fi, as well as comedy, which is just as it should be.
Personal highlight of the new series for me has been Lemons, which by all accounts has proven divisive. Partly because I do love a bit of time travel, partly because you have to give props for having Jesus as a central character (and figure of fun), and partly because the Church of Judas bit is a classic bit of 'insanity masquerading as logic' comedy. Mainly though, I love it for the palm calculator;
as perfectly timed a piece of physical comedy as you're likely to see on television this year. I'm telling you, Chris Barrie is a f*ck*ng legend.
It seems that the show is setting and smashing all sorts of records for Dave (the channel it now screens on) so I'm quietly confident (and begging on my knees) that this run won't be the last we see of the boys; indeed, there's no reason at all that that season 10 couldn't be the beginning of a regular run to rival the shows original BBC2 stint, in length and indeed in quality.
Come back next week when I talk about something or other. Could be Caprica, or I'm leaning towards something to do with Wizards Vs Aliens. Which, now that I've typed that sentence means it almost certainly won't be either. We'll see.