Saturday, 6 October 2012

Smoke me a kipper...

Through Gaynmede and Titan,
yes sir I’ve been around. 
But there ain’t no place,
in the whole of space,
 like this good old toddlin’ town.

I remember the first time I saw Red Dwarf.  I was very young and couldn’t sleep so I wandered into the living room where my parents were sat watching television.  They had Red Dwarf on and let me watch it until the end when I had to go back to bed.
That was my first taste and I loved it.

For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, Red Dwarf is a science fiction sitcom.  Set in deep space, the mining ship Red Dwarf lost all of its crew to a radiation leak.  The only survivors were Dave Lister (Craig Charles) who was in suspended animation and his pregnant pet cat who was safely sealed in the hold.  Three million years later, Lister is awakened and joined by Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), a hologram of his former bunkmate, Cat (Danny John-Jules), a creature which evolved from Lister’s cat and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), a service mechanoid which the crew discovered in a derelict ship.
Other reoccurring characters include Holly (Norman Lovett/Hattie Hayridge), the ships computer, and Kristine Kochanski (Chloe Annett), the lost love of Lister’s life brought into the crew during an alternative reality episode.

I have been enjoying Dave’s countdown to the new series of Red Dwarf, now showing on Dave, Thursdays 9pm.  I especially relished in reminding myself of the very first series which was starkly different to the proceeding episodes.  Series 1 is duller in colour and focuses purely on Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Holly.  Kryten first appears in series 2.

This isn’t to say that the proceeding series’ are bad, in fact they are brilliant, right up until series 7 when Red Dwarf sadly lost it for me. 

A number of changes were made after series 6, including the loss of the live studio audience which was of particular importance to the atmosphere of the programme, the introduction of Kochanski and loss of Rimmer.

I never liked the new Kochanski much.  To me, Red Dwarf has always been about a group of men, one dead, one mechanoid, one a new species and one the last human left alive, living together in the depths of space.  To bring a woman into the mix ruined the humour balance and destroyed the sexual tension of Lister (interestingly I had no problem with the female version of Holly).

I stopped watching Red Dwarf during series 7 and so have missed the last two and a half. Series 10 of Red Dwarf is back in front of that live studio audience, Kochanski is gone and Rimmer is back in full Arnold glory.  The first episode aired last Thursday to much anticipation.

I was sat in the cinema loving Looper when it aired so I missed the nerves and the dreadful hope that it would live up to its origins.  A quick check of Twitter when I returned home told me that it had been well received and I had no reason to worry.

Still, when I watched it yesterday I was still a little nervous.  These are characters that I grew up with and loved and I was worried that this new series would be the end of them.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I reached my first laugh out loud moment.  I was even more thrilled when I discovered it wasn’t the only laugh out loud moment.

While the interaction between Cat and Lister felt a little silly and predictable, it was Rimmer that I felt drawn to.  Perhaps he has always been the most developed character and the funniest, but the focus has always previously been on Lister.  During the first and second series, the interaction between Lister and Rimmer was something of pure comedy gold.  Now, it seems, Rimmer can do it on his own.

That isn’t to say that Kryten, Lister and Cat aren’t also back on form.  Of course they are, heart warmingly so, although I can’t say that I like Kryten’s new head.  The first episode was a success, with only a few moments where I felt the need to cringe.  It isn’t back to its original glory but then how could it be?  People change, times change and Red Dwarf long ago evolved far away from its roots.  All I could expect (and wanted) was a new series with the characters I love so much and some belly laughs and that is what this first episode delivered.  I await episode 2 with great anticipation.

What a shame that Holly is not back.

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