I spent many hours of my youth watching the wacky crew explore derelicts and distant planets, and when the special episode, Back To Earth, was shown last year the excitement that came over me had been unrivalled by any other show. However what followed was disappointment. Upon watching it was my horror to discover they had rehashed the despair squid episode from season five. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy what I watched, it just wasn’t what I expected although the storyline fitted in with the despair squid perfectly.
As with every tv show there are certain episodes or at least, parts of episodes that stick in your mind forever. What made Red Dwarf different for me is that there was at least one of those moments in every series. The episode in series two, Better Than Life is a particular favourite of mine. The ability to go in to a video game and live out your personal fantasy is something that almost everybody wants to try, yet while Lister and the Cat are living life to fullest playing golf and dating Marilyn Monroe, Rimmer somehow manages to turn his dream reality in to his own personal nightmare. That episode is only topped by one other, Body Swap; an inventive and hilarious episode which see’s Rimmer steel Listers body so he can live as a normal human for the day. However despite these great episodes the one that really sticks in the memory, in fact the first thing that always comes to mind when thinking of the show is Quarantine it is during this episode that the iconic cameo of Mr Flibbles occurs.
When Series 8 finished the show felt tired and almost stretched, Naylor had split from Rob Grant and the show became a lot more about science fiction and while the graphics became a lot better most of the gags where lost. However the creators have returned to what made this show so great, the four main characters alone on Red Dwarf, and it actually felt as if the show hadn’t taken a break from our screens. The show started with a very familiar scene, Rimmer failing the astro-navigation exams, again. Lister and the Cat are again wasting time watching tv and actually spend the entire episode on hold to a droid operated call centre ordering a coffee stir master, a sly dig at how corporations run the helplines today.
Upon discovering a derelict ship, Trojan, they receive s distress call. Rimmer takes it upon himself to answer the call doing his best Ace impression until discovering it is in fact his brother, Howard Rimmer; a captain in the prestigious space corps, or so we believe. This episode was certainly back to its best, it had plenty of moments where you found yourself roaring with laughter. The main story line involving Lister and his brother appears obvious however the twist is well concealed, and if you combine that with Listers side story which is hilarious simply because the viewer knows where it is going then you have a superb show.
Recently Craig Charles was interviewed and insisted that Red Dwarf X will hit the spots of its faithful fans while also attracting new ones. “The new series is good, but our lips have been sealed on plot details. Not long to wait now eh. Red Dwarf has moved on in terms of tech and what we can do with a small budget. I thought Back To Earth looked great, the effects had a filmic quality. Believe it or not I liked Series 8 and Back To Earth, they had good energy. Series 5 and 6 were about the best and Back To Reality was a real high.”
I personally hope this is a sign of what is to come. There have been rumours that the return will only be for one season, but if Doug Naylor can keep coming up with storylines like this Red Dwarf could be back for a while.