I really, really, really apologise for dragging this up again. I’m very, very, very sorry. And I seriously suggest that you all ignore this article. But I think I’ve figured out quite why I, at least, keep banging on about VII/VIII. (My position, for those who don’t know: really not that good, but with some good bits in them to make them not completely worthless.)It’s because I want to love them. I really, really, really, really, really want to love them. I adore Red Dwarf. It’s my favourite ever show. And I’d love to be able to say that I thought the last two series were fantastic. It really pains me that I can’t. I don’t want to drag them down. I really don’t.
But: Filthy Rich & Catflap. Rutland Weekend Television. Son of Cliché. Hey, Bottom, if I step away from being a slightly obscure comedy geek for a minute. I’m literally on the floor when I watch episodes of these. And really: when I compare them to the last two series of Dwarf… I’m sorry, but the Dwarf eps just don’t hold up.
There’s genuine bemusement here. I’m always one for going “Yes, yes, I can see where you’re coming from” in an argument – usually to the detriment of my own. Half the time I end up agreeing with the other person. But when it comes to VII/VIII, I just can’t see how anyone can view them in the same league as the first six series – or, as I say above, many many many other comedy shows. I just can’t. Where’s the jokes? Where’s the great characterisation? Where’s the fantastic plots? And most importantly, where’s that magic, indefinable ingredient that holds the show together and makes it greater than the sum of its parts?
This has got nothing to do with ridiculous theories that Rob Grant was the talented one in the writing partnership; that’s just bollocks, and rather offensive to Doug Naylor. There’s no agenda here, of any sort whatsoever. (It’s why I feel G&T can get away with bias – the bias is obvious, and not for any hidden reasons – so readers can still make up their own minds just as easily as if the story was written neutrally.) And it’s certainly not because I don’t like change; VI is one of my favourite series.
The discussion is never-ending. And when the VII/VIII DVDs are released, it’ll come up all over again. And again. And again. God knows, I don’t think people who like the last two series are idiots. Far from it. And I think most fans have respect for each other in this way, despite how things come across at times. (The odd misconstrued comment here, the odd angry post in retaliation, and the true feelings of the matter are obscured.) But bemusement is the order of the day, I’m afraid. Bemusement from someone who is usually so understanding about other people’s point of view.
It must be exactly the same the other way around, as well, mind you. And how can you tell someone they are wrong to laugh at something? You can’t. It would be bollocks. And this is why comedy is so difficult to discuss; far more so than nearly anything else.
VII/VIII aren’t worthless. Anyone who says there are I believe is being over-inflammatory, to say the least. “You’re quite right sir. As usual. How could I have made such an elementary mistake? As usual.” That’s one of my favourite lines in the entire eight series of Red Dwarf. I have no grudge. I just wish there was more stuff like that in the last two series. Many, many, many times more.
(I still think the Movie will be great though, natch.)