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Published on April 14th, 2009 | by Darren Byrne


Back to Earth with a Crash

Red DwarfI am such a huge fan of Red Dwarf. When I was young, I would eagerly await each week’s new episode. Bear in mind, it only ran for six episodes per series (8 in later series), so those six weeks were important to me. As the years went on and the series became available on video and then DVD, I quickly picked them up. I felt the same anticipation before each series was released as I did before each episode all those years before. I rewatched them all, I watched them with commentaries. I watched the outtakes and the documentaries. I was a fan.

It ended 10 years ago with season 8 and the last set of DVDs came out three years ago. For the past ten years, I have been tracking the progress of the proposed Red Dwarf Movie. With bated breath, I read about possible scripts, I read about the location scouting in Australia, I read about their scramble for money and then I read how it all had to be abandoned. After ten years, it was probably for the best. Craig Charles had become a soap opera regular, Danny John Jules is still making efforts to break Hollywood (he was in Blade II, don’t you know), Robert Llewelyn has become a TV presenter and technology guru, while Chris Barrie…well, he hasn’t done much since playing the butler in Tomb Raider a few years back. My point is, they have probably all grown too old and weary to play the wisecracking, quick witted cast of Red Dwarf. Then the TV channel Dave (named after Craig Charles Red Dwarf character, Dave Lister) announced they were bringing the show back for another series, and sadly all my suspicions were confirmed.

Red Dwarf

Red DwarfI really wish I hadn’t watched it. The crew finally return to earth, but it’s not their earth, it’s ours. They soon find that they are nothing more than characters in a TV show who are destined to die soon. The premise, though ridiculous, would be forgiveable if the show was funny. Sadly, there was little or no comic timing (especially from the usually brilliant Chris Barrie), the lines were damp, the cultural references felt forced and immediately dated.

The show was divided into three parts, none of which had any of the emotion of the original series. Opening with a show that was just there to set up parts 2 and 3, it’s dismal overuse of CGI and long empty scenes was only beaten by the awful slapstick scenes with the giant squid.

Part 2 (on the second night of the Easter weekend) was just an episode of poor exposition and bad injokes. It ended with the crew wander into Coronation Street. At this point I swore I would not watch the last.

Red Dwarf

So, Sunday night came and we skipped it. On Monday, it was repeated (as it is likely to be ad infinitum on the satellite channel Dave), so we gave it a go. The first ten minutes continued right where the first two episodes left off. It was cheap, dull and vacuous. But then a glimmer of hope – we started to laugh. A few nice oneliners and a nice comic turn from Simon Gregson (Corrie’s Steve MacDonald) started to make it feel like the old show again. The best line of the three parts was delivered by the ‘real’ Craig Charles where he joked about his own time spend in The Priory.

Red DwarfThe show ended well. It wasn’t great but it was ok. Sadly all that preceded it proved to be too much to weigh it down and, though I am a completist, I will definitely not be adding this to my Red Dwarf DVD collection.

Did anyone else see it?

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Blogger, writer, movie buff, amateur dramatist and all round nice guy. When I'm not spouting about on Culch.ie, I can be found Tweeting inanities @DarrenByrne or @Culch_ie. I am the admin behind Culch.ie and if you want to contact me for anything, drop me a mail.

7 Responses to Back to Earth with a Crash

  1. travors says:

    I used to be absolutely obsessed with Red Dwarf, I even watched it right from the very first time it aired on tv (sadly I am that ancient). However I think the series really suffered when Rob Grant left after series 6. The fantastic scripts (remember when every episode had 2 fully fledged sci-fi stories blended together?) became a little silly and slapstick and the whole show just lost it’s edge, I stopped watching soon after.
    Bring back Grant I say!

  2. Darren Byrne says:

    They said it themselves that the ‘Grant Naylor’ entity was greater than the sum of its parts. Even if Grant was to come back at this stage, I think it’s beyond rescue.

    And yes, the early scripts were fantastic. The final 2 series suffered from over production and silly tricks to get them over the 30 minute mark. I enjoyed them…just not as much.

  3. Rick says:

    Jaysus, when will people stop going all postmodern on classic pop culture! Although “the awful slapstick scenes with the giant squid” did make me smile.

    I don’t watch TV anymore so I feel I lost nothing…

  4. Red Leeroy says:

    So disappointed to hear this, someone mentioned it to me the other night and I was really excited to see it, might just try and catch a few minutes but it doesn’t bode well judging by this review.

  5. Voodoolady says:

    I watched about ten minutes of it last night out of interest. My bro was a huge fan growing up so I became a reluctant fan.

    They looked so old and wrong. Pile o’crap.

  6. Lottie says:

    It made me very sad. I really had thought if it takes this long to do something, it can only be great. So disappointing.

    I can’t even remember the second installment as my mind had grown bored and had wandered off to happier pastures.

  7. Mark says:

    I don’t know if I would describe myself as disappointed due to the fact that I had such low expectations coming into this. I thought the cast played well off each other and it did have one genuinely funny moment with the end of Rimmer’s discussion on the ethics of killing a Hologram.

    Still I would hope that they leave the series alone and don’t go back to make another series which they were clearly hinting at.

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