Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Red Dwarf retrospective

I've got the whole week off work (the company I work for now is the very sensible kind of company that completely shuts down between Christmas and New Year), so I'll catch up on all those things I said I'd ramble on about in my blog. First off, Red Dwarf XI!

With hindsight, and having watched all six episodes of the new series multiple times, I think I can safely say it's a very good one. If it's not quite as much fun as watching the episodes from the golden age (series 3-5, say), it still does justify making new ones - there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, quite a few clever plots in the classic Red Dwarf style, quite a lot of things that generally make me say 'ha, yes, that was a good one!'

So, let's start by complaining about things (because, y'know, this is the internet, I'm an opinionated nerd, it's what we do) before moving on to talking about the good stuff. Lighting - turn down the blue, people! Seriously, nearly every scene is bathed in harsh blue light and I don't really see the point of it. Every now and then they move into a setting that's lit more naturally, and it's a real relief. Acting - I just don't get the sense that the actors are enjoying it, which is weird. I'm sure they must be, since nostalgia is the main reason for the series existing, but if they are, they should show it more. Go over the top now and then and don't look so restrained! The day job - the Red Dwarf crew's purpose in life now seems to be to travel around the universe, salvaging technology from derelict spaceships. Firstly, why do they need a purpose in life at all? I miss the days when Lister gave his occupation as 'bum'. And secondly, if they're going to have a driving raison d'etre, what happened to Lister's stated purpose of a few years ago of finding Kochanski? Originality - all the episodes are variations on themes of earlier episodes, there's nothing particularly new or different about them, and there's a limit to how long you can do that without it getting old...

Okay, now the good bits - there's some hilarious dialogue, like the Captain Bollocks scene in "Give and Take", and basically everything with Snacky in the same episode. One particularly brilliant visual gag with the 3-D printer in "Officer Rimmer", which might be the single funniest scene Red Dwarf has ever done. Lots of clever dialogue in "Twentica" especially with the technological speakeasy. Ingenious and brilliantly silly time-travel stuff in "Give and Take", not to mention a new character who we need to see again (shame that they filmed the next series at the same time as this one, so if we do see him again it won't be for a long time...) Nice character moments for everyone, even Cat (who spends a lot of time just standing in the background) which really make the most of the dynamic between them. It's all very promising for the future, so here's hoping it goes on beyond series twelve and lasts forever!

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