*RELATIVELY SPOILER FREE*
Like most Red Dwarf fans, I’ve had to defend my all-time favourite show a lot as of late. I got down on my knees and begged my friends to overlook the smegging car-crash that was series eight, and reassured them that the weird silence of the Back to Earth trilogy was just a blip. I stuck with the show, knowing full well that writer Doug Naylor and the cast still had the potential to work magic on-screen
So when series X was announced, I’ll freely admit it was ‘squeaky bum’ time again for me. But as broadcaster Dave slowly drip-fed advance teaser trailers across the internet, I found myself actually laughing at them, and wondered just for a moment whether Red Dwarf could really be funny again like the seasons of old.
Today I got the answer I so badly craved, as I’m delighted to say the new series is truly smegtastic, once you get over the first five minutes that is
The first thing fans will notice is how old and portly Kryten looks, and I found myself wondering why the costume designers had seen fit to give the android bags under his eyes. It actually looks as if the mechanoid hasn’t slept for a couple of million years, which, I guess, he hasn’t.
Entitled Trojan, the initial episode opens with Arnold Rimmer attempting to pass the astronavigation exam for an unprecedented tenth time. As for whether he succeeds or not, you’ll have to wait and see, but let’s just say he’s building himself up to fail.
Dave Lister and the Cat are up to their usual tricks, and are busy making the most of their time watching pig-racing and an ‘all-droid’ shopping channel, the latter of which makes for a very funny long-strung-out joke.
The Red Dwarf sets look fantastic, with some of the action taking place in a ‘cockpit’ of the spacecraft, reached via a spiral staircase. Lister and Rimmer’s bunk room is back too, spruced up and very 2012 with hints of glories past. Starbug and blue midget also feature, but there’s no sign yet of the crew’s computer companion Holly, though more on that below.*
The plot focusses around a derelict space craft that the crew come across. When touring the abandoned vessel, the foursome unintentionally intercept a distress call, leading to an angry Rimmer receiving a surprise and very unwelcome visitor.
The jokes come fast and thick, and are for the most part spot-on and hilarious if you disregard the first part of the show, which is somewhat obvious and immature in comparison. However, putting aside this shaky start, Red Dwarf is very much back with a bang, and if this showing is anything to go by, it looks like it could be a classic to be remembered (I was honestly in stitches by the end of this episode).
Speaking to Doug Naylor after the screening, he suggested that viewers may see a pixel or two of Holly or Hilly in the series at some point. He also hinted that fans may finally get to see the missing ending to season eight, which saw Rimmer kick the Grim Reaper in the gonads before legging it away.
In addition, I managed to grab a few words with Chris Barrie, who reassured me that we are going to be treated to plenty of scenes with just Lister and Rimmer, with the pair’s endless putdowns never failing to raise a smile. Chris also told me that we may again see Rimmer taking on the persona of yet another character, with the actor previously playing his many alto-egos brilliantly. There was also a wry smile on the Brittas Empire star’s face when I mentioned a certain Kristine Kochanski- could she be making a return later in the series?
Overall, there’s a lot of positives to be had in this episode, and I truly feel that we could be over the Red dwarf rough patch, and back to the magic of old. The opening credits look really exciting too, showing plenty of other spaceships, lots of explosions and general chaos amongst everyone’s favourite foursome, and I for one can’t wait to see the rest of the series.
Here’s to stocking up on flat lager and vindaloos- what a month October will be for us dwarfers!