VII/VIII “Discussion”

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.)

9 Responses to VII/VIII “Discussion”

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  1. Shout me down for not being a ‘proper’ fan like you lot if you want, this is only a suggestion.

    Series VIII could be considered not as good because they added a load of characters, therefore loosing the dynamic that they had between the 4 original cast members.

    Although, from what I have seen of this series I quite like it. This isn’t a well formed opinion, mind. For me to have one of those I’d have to refresh my memory of every episode ever produced.

  2. > Although, from what I have seen of this series I quite like it. This isn’t a well formed opinion, mind. For me to have one of those I’d have to refresh my memory of every episode ever produced.

    I’m working on it. I can’t promise my teaching will be particularly unbiased, though.

  3. “Shout me down for not being a ‘proper’ fan like you lot if you want, this is only a suggestion.”

    We’d never shout anyone down for that. If anything, your opinions on something like this are *more* valid, for the simple reason that you’re unbiased and can look at the shows in a fresh way.

  4. My answer becomes more concentrated as the years pass.

    Series 1-6: Character driven sit-com.
    Series 7: Character driven comedy-drama. No audience, No Rob, No Rimmer.
    Series 8: A patchwork of comedy sketches and Panto gags. Characters became charactures that made great gags but on repeated hearing don’t ring true.

    Well ok not as concentrated as I had hoped.

  5. I actually like that little rundown, Karl. I’d tweak it here and there but it’s not worth it, because a) it’s your opinion and I have no right to meddle with it, and b) I’m working on my own opinion piece currently.

    But nice. I like the “concentrated” approach. Prepare yourself for my “big fucking meaty” approach.

  6. I tried to resist commenting on this but, as with many people who come here, it’s a subject close to my heart.

    Yeah, Karl nailed it. I don’t think that liking Series VII and VIII means that you’ve got something wrong with you. More so, the fact that I-VI must appeal to you for very different reasons than the way they appeal to the VII and VIII haters.

  7. Just wait’ll you see what I’m doing for Fuchal. It’ll bring new meaning to the phrase “ridiculously over-the-top and unnecessarily in-depth”.

  8. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It seems compulsory to have an outburst about VII & VIII every so often! I’ve gone on about them way too much already so won’t add to it….after all, we’re not just meant to blindly slag them off anymore, according to Andrew Ellard, are we?…..we wouldn’t want it affecting VII/VIII DVD sales………….

    One thing I haven’t said is that EVERY show, especially one as long running (for the UK) as Dwarf, has it’s SHIT episodes/series. Dwarf just decided to have them at the end!! They were 2 series too many, and if it wasn’t for the idea of reaching 52 episodes VII & VIII probably wouldn’t have been made anyway! Well, the BBC wouldn’t have wanted them made, but the idea of 52 episodes and popularity abroad was the incentive for them. I think they would like Dwarf back right now because of Doctor Who returning. If people enjoy the sci-fi.

    There are three key factors in the quality of VII & VIII. 1) The Grant Naylor split. 2) The 8 episode format (to reach 52). 3) The BBC not giving two fucks (budget same as Dinnerladies etc)

    A few minor points are – a) Chris’s leaving and returning. b) Doug’s aim to make a movie (thus VII film effect and bringing in Chloe). c) Allowing Robert Llewellyn’s pen near an episode. (harsh maybe, after all much of it was Doug-penned) d) Turning Kryten’s character to a shit whinging maid spouting shit one-liners.

    OK, there are more but I’m just getting too worked up again which I know I shhhhhhh….*hand, pick up the ball!* ARGGHHHHGh flemmmmy messsssmegmasandwichhhhhhhhhhhh………..

    Er, I too am looking forward to futher Red Dwarf productions. Whether they be in novel form or otherwise.

  9. Agreed with the above. I would put together a far more constructive opinion across if it wasn’t for the plain and simple fact I’ve worked 12 hours today and want to sleep forever.

    The fact that the “weaker” Red Dwarf episodes occured in the last two series, evidently there are reasons for why this happened and are many theories out there, none of which I can back up right now. But, as aforementioned above, all sitcoms suffer from the occasional blip, and I would also agree that Red Dwarf went two series further than it should have. Unfortunately, when I ask many people what their opinions of the programme is, although they are usually praising it to start off with, there is normally a comment about VII and VIII, which I find sad that people (or the lesser informed public/fans) would judge a sitcom based purely on what they *didn’t* do right. As far as I’m concerned, I will be buying VII and VIII and even though I think they are considerably weaker, they are still part of the history. They are certainly not my favourite series by a long stretch, but in light of the fantastic writing and acting that appeared in earlier series, I don’t hold anything against anyone.

    Maybe that made sense, but it probably didn’t. Sleep.

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