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TV review: Smegging good! Red Dwarf makes a promising return
The cast of sci-fi fave, Red Dwarf. Image. Dave
The boys from the Dwarf are back! After a three-year gap, the much-anticipated 10th series of the space-set comedy once again hits digital channel, Dave.
The return to a sitcom with studio audience following the previous series' tumbleweed comedy-drama format.
As always with this show, its Achilles heel is the hit-and-miss material and some dated jokes.
Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast. Yes, the adventures of Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten onboard the mining ship Red Dwarf beamed back on Dave. And if you're a long-time fan who can quote lines from any series off the top of your head (why are you looking at me?) I've some good news.
There were more laugh-out-loud moments in the first 15 minutes than in the entire 90 minutes of their last outing, in 2009.
In fact, judging only by the opening titles, the signs are promising. It looks like they've put some effort into the special effects, a crucial element to this show because the expensive-looking backdrop and realistic explosions are essential to carrying off the contrasting cheap-shot dialogue.
"Judging only by the opening titles, the signs are promising."
And after so many years set in the wilderness - Starbug, the ship's prison deck, Earth, of all places - we were back on comfortingly familiar ground in Rimmer and Lister's old quarters, complete with bunk beds, a throwback to the early days of Red Dwarf.
As was Rimmer's latest (10th) attempt to pass his astronavigation exam and become an officer, an enduring premise from the pilot episode.
It was also reassuring to see recurring jokes, the main strength of series eight, holding the opener together and driving the comedy (the moose gag in particular is an instant classic). Lister taking his phone everywhere while on hold to an android shopping channel for hours on end was equally joyful.
The plot was simple but effective and presented a chance for Rimmer to exorcise his inner demons and resentment at his brothers' apparent success, which, of course, he chose not to.
Just as well too. After all, Arnold J Rimmer minus the neuroses and personality flaws would make for one heck of a dull character, unless he happens to be Ace Rimmer.
Did you like the new episode of Red Dwarf?
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- 97 %Yes - it was great
- No - it was poor
There were some lovely touches: when our heroic/shambolic quartet, wearing Space Corps uniforms (including Kryten looking like Frazer from Dad's Army), walked down a corridor in slow-mo - it was like that bit from Independence Day when the Yanks were about to save the day. And then Lister cut through the heroic music by putting the phone to his ear, still on hold to the All-Droid mail order shopping channel.
The final scene, where Rimmer's brother posthumously received the highest Space Corps decoration for bravery, along with the renaming of Red Dwarf to SS Howard Rimmer, to Arnold's dismay, closed the circle neatly.
However, this has never been a flawless sitcom and such wilted lines as: "Your brain's smaller than the salad section in a Scottish supermarket," is hardly breaking new ground and will do nothing to gain new fans.
But I suppose that's the point. It's a cult show on a cult channel with a cult following and it's showing no intention of trying to be anything else.
Long may it continue.
- Verdict: A promising start to series 10 which harks back to the good old days of a simpler, stripped-down Red Dwarf.
What other reviews say
The Independent - "Its best jokes aren't transcribable because they sit in the air between the characters, but I laughed."
The Guardian - "It's like watching a lost episode where the characters have suddenly aged 20 years for reasons that go unexplained."
What people on Twitter said
@CameronYardeJnr - "That was like series 3-6 of Red Dwarf. That's a good thing. Nice one Dave."
@DannyODwyer -"Wow, Red Dwarf X was actually bloody great. Felt like a classic episode. Congratulations to everyone involved, not an easy task. Brilliant."
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