Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Dwarf: Back To Earth

I had a dream before the new series of Doctor Who was first broadcast in 2005. In my dream, I settled down to watch the new series filled with anticipation. And what I saw was dreadful. A boring parody of what had once made the series great. Unwatchable, incomprehensible and lazy. Fortunately, when the series did come back, it was awesome. Instead, it turns out that my dream was actually about the special three Red Dwarf episodes broadcast this Easter.

I finally watched them on DVD this week. And I’ll say this: if you are not a fan, then don’t watch them because you never will be. If you are a fan, then don’t watch this because it will make you wonder why. It is passable television in an era when Susan Boyles hairy forehead is considered entertainment, but it is crap when you compare it to the original series. Worse than thay, it is lazy. It assumes it will be great, it assumes people will watch and as a result it never really tries. Throughout the whole three episodes, I wanted to scream at the TV “If you can’t be bothered to try, then don’t fucking bother!”

The first episode was more padded than a DFS sofa with extra padding. I was genuinely surprised when the end credits started to roll – since nothing had happened. From there, the story picked up in pace. And our heroes found themselves in the real world. From there, things got duller as the characters visited a geek shop and had the sort of conversation that would have a first-year philosophy student weeping into their cheap ale. At one stage, our heroes are talking about Season 9. At that point, you have fictional characters entering a fictionalised version of our reality talking about a fictional session of a real show that these fictional characters are actually a part of. It hurts my head just thinking about it; for a truly good comedy show, you shouldn't need a degree in metaphysics. Some actually funny jokes wouldn’t go amiss, though.

From there, we drift well and truly into the arena of “Why should I give a fuck about all this?”, and the show doesn’t ever really answer that question. The nods to Bladerunner simply make you wonder why they would try to mimic that film when they don’t even seem to have the budget to mimic the series they are allegedly trying to continue on from. And then you get the payoff – that the whole story has effectively been a dream. It is like the writer wanted to really rub the viewer’s face in the fact that they have wasted the last 90 minutes of their life. Frankly, he needs a slap.

It isn’t a continuation of what was a great series, it isn’t even a homage to it. It is a slur to the original Red Dwarf, and proof positive that if you ever want the series to be popular and rewarding again, then you will need a new writer and a new cast. This series is screaming out for a reboot; nothing short of going right back down to basic and right back to the drawing board can save this series. In retrospect, Dave making Red Dwarf was always going to be problematic, but I never dreamt it would be this shite.

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