Skip to main content

From small red zombies to near-success

Warning - contains spoilers.

Red Dwarf was a TV phenomenon. What started as a so-so attempt at comedy in a science fiction setting became one of the funniest shows on the air. It got such a cult following that the UK satellite TV lads channel was named Dave after the human character in the programme, Dave Lister.

So it was with real anticipation that we got three new episodes of Red Dwarf after 9 years in suspended animation.

The first show was dire. The cast were like zombies, going through the motions of being alive but without anything really going on inside. The second perked up a touch, but was cringe-makingly predictable as they came through to the 'real' world and found that they were characters in a TV show. But then things got stranger with information from a character who made rubber noses, who was clearly a big reference to the movie Blade Runner (and suddenly the Cat's making little foil sculptures was an echo of Deckard's partner doing this in the movie).

With the third show, we were plunged into a surreal landscape, as the crew arrived on the set of the UK's longest running and most popular soap opera Coronation Street, where Craig Charles (who played Dave Lister) now works. This was entertaining.

Finally the Blade Runner reference was made much stronger, with a London that inexplicably had a Blade Runner style building plonked next to the Houses of Parliament, a recreation of the scene from the movie where Deckard crashes through shops hunting down a replicant, and an ending that owed more than a little to the more recent cult show Life on Mars.

Though the whole was not perfect, that last show dragged it up from disaster to surprise near-success. The whole thing was a bit of a showcase for Craig Charles - none of the other major characters really had much of the storyline. What was also very apparent was that of the two original writers, Rob Grant was the one who could do the funnies. He left two series from the end of the show, leaving Doug Naylor writing on is own, and after his departure it was never the same. This special was also written only by Naylor, and though the ideas were there, the humour was virtually non-existent.

A worthwhile exercise, then, and don't give up after the first show, but don't expect classic Red Dwarf either.

Comments

  1. You've pretty much summed up my thoughts on this, Brian. Rob Grant, Red Dwarf needs you!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou