When Lister's busy day of annoying Rimmer was interrupted by the discovery of a dimension-hopping leviathan in the ship's mile-deep water tank, transporting the crew back to Earth, all Lister's dreams appear to be coming true.
Lister's busy day of annoying Rimmer is interrupted by the discovery of a dimension-hopping leviathan in the ship's mile-deep water tank. New hologram Katerina arrives and immediately starts undermining Rimmer - right in front of his stupid, fat, ferrety face.Written by
Several references are made to events in Series 9. This series was never produced due to the BBC declining to commission it several years before. Technically, Back to Earth is the 9th season of Red Dwarf. See more »
[Examining the 'Information Droid']
Perhaps it's overheated. Are you usually that red? I'm going to place this instrument into your voice unit, and I want you to say 'Ahh'.
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Back to Earth: Too many plots and references for too few laughs
The return of Red Dwarf has been discussed frequently for many, many years. A feature-length film was the usual rumour but eventually TV channel Dave put its hand in its pocket and decided to bring it together for a three-part special which was screened over three nights on Easter weekend in the UK. I watched it as someone who used to watch it while I was a teenager but not a massive fan or someone who owns the DVD's etc – essentially what I am saying is that I came to the specials without some geeky fascination or fan-boy attention to detail or with an unreasonable expectation built on some nostalgic view of how good RD may or may not have been. All I wanted was to be entertained.
So the changes made, presence of advert breaks, lack of laughter track etc didn't really offer me any fundamental concerns so much as the "real" problems in it. And there are plenty of problems to pick from, and they are so connected that it is hard to know where to start in this review. I supposed the biggest thing is the simple lack of laughs. I think I laughed about three times total across the three episodes, which is a pretty poor return. I'm not suggesting that Red Dwarf was ever the greatest comedy ever, but I certainly remember it being entertaining and pretty funny – this was not the case here. It is not even that the jokes fell flat so much as there being surprisingly few jokes to laugh at. Instead we got handed two things – plots and references.
The plot in itself is not a bad idea and is certainly not something that hasn't been done before in different ways in other films and shows. Problem is that it is not done in a clever or interesting way but rather just, well, done and left at that. Everything is laboured as it goes and it seemed to be that there was too much narrative exposition and not enough comedy. The more annoying aspect though was just how self-referential this aspect of the special made it – although again this as a concept is not a problem. As a concept it should produce more comedy and also play well to those familiar with the show. In reality it doesn't do this and instead we get more dry moments that seem to be more to do with the plot than the comedy, which does make it feel duller than it should have been. On top of this we get loads of Blade Runner references – loads, and again none of them are actually funny. The heavy, endless use of this is sort of justified in the final episode and is perhaps a mark in the ground for fans but this is not the same as the references working within the specials – they may be justified but they certainly don't work and just feel like they have been done whether they work or not.
The cast are pretty good in it though and time hasn't changed them that much. They certainly seem up for it and none of them appear to be sleeping through it, it is just the material that means they can do very little. I mean, at risk of repeating my point, this is a show that takes Lister into the Coronation Street world of Craig Charles the rehabbing actor but yet fails to make it funny, far less sharp or clever. It is a real shame that such a heralded return turned out to be such a pointless affair. I'm sure there will be fans just happy for new episodes regardless of quality but for me I have to call it like I see it. Poor writing; far too few joke; even fewer laughs; nothing clever or engaging – I could go on. The end result is a dry and pointless few episodes that must have boosted Dave's viewing figures but did little else.
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