Red Dwarf X: Trojan Review

trojan-review-banner

For the first time in my life, I’m sitting down and writing a review for a brand new episode of Red Dwarf.  Three years ago we all watched  Back to Earth, the first new Red Dwarf in 10 years, but soon after Series X was properly announced it was clear that it would be more of a true continuation of the show. A full 6 part series of 30 minute episodes is a much, much bigger prospect than a mini-series that was essentially one special anniversary show, and so it feels much more important and a much better indicator of what Doug and the cast and crew can really do with the show.

It turns out, in my own humble opinion, they can still do Red Dwarf real good. Real good indeed.

Doug’s pre-publicity interviews are very telling of who he’s trying to target with this series, and those are people who consider III to VI Red Dwarf‘s peak (i.e. a lot of people).  The primarily ship based setting, gag-centric scripts and the return of the studio audience are all things brought back in series VIII to attempt to win back these same fans.  Trojan feels like an episode that is trying exactly the same thing, only this time it’s worked for me.  It’s certainly not free of flaws, but it’s made me laugh, the plot has grabbed my imagination and the cast’s performances are memorable.  The good significantly out-weighs the bad. For me, Red Dwarf is back.

First broadcast: 4th October 2012, 9:00pm, Dave

Written by: Doug Naylor

Directed by:Doug Naylor

Main Cast:
Chris Barrie (Rimmer)
Craig Charles (Lister)
Danny John-Jules (Cat)
Robert Llewellyn (Kryten)

Guest Cast:

Mark Dexter (Howard Rimmer)
Susan Earl (Sim Crawford)
Lucy Newman-Williams (All Droid Jayne/Phone Voice)
Brian Bounds (All Droid Bob/Phone Voice)
Laurence Bouvard (Phone Voice)
Rupert Degas (Phone Voice)

Uncredited:
Robert Llewellyn (pig racing commentator)

Synopsis:
The Dwarfers’ mining ship is still creaking though the wastelands of unchartered deep space, but the posse soon stumble upon the mysteriously abandoned SS Trojan. As they inspect the ship, Rimmer receives an SOS distress call from an old foe and is suddenly faced with the dilemma of his life.

Set Report | Discussion Thread | Dwarfcast

Now, the details.  As seems logical, let’s start with the first thing we see: the opening titles.  They are, as fully expected, a collection of action and slapstick oriented clips, set to the rock version of the theme tune.  No surprises here.  It all hangs together quite well, although it could perhaps have done with being a little tighter, such as the final explosion and Blue Midget fly-by which probably goes on for about a second longer than it had to, giving the whole thing a bit of a saggy feeling at the end – compare it to the brief, violent explosion at the end of the series VI titles and you’ll see what I mean.  There are other model shots included in here, too, and while they’ll be talked about in more depth once they show up in an episode, I’ll say now that they look stunning.  Red Dwarf’s hull apparently being attacked by a fleet of ships, a strange vessel blowing the shit out of some asteroids, and Blue Midget flying along to a backdrop of two massive planets: these are huge, visually stunning shots.  We’ve definitely got a tonne of model based treats to look forward to in the next five weeks.

The final ‘Red Dwarf X’ title card is very nice, too, with a subtle but effective drop shadow on the logo (as well as all the other on screen captions).  However, the real font-based icing on the graphics cake is the episode caption, which is beautifully rendered in the familiar red, Eurostile font. This is the first indication of various callbacks in the production to the Red Dwarf of old, but this is more than something stuck in there to please fans, it’s simply the most striking and appealing way of displaying Red Dwarf’s on-screen credits, and it looks beautiful.

As we get into the episode we’re greeted with the series’ first proper model shot: Red Dwarf trundling through space.  It’s absolutely lovely, obviously.  We’ve already seen how nice this model looks, but to see as part of a proper episode was thrilling.  The shot itself could’ve probably benefited from lasting a little longer, but this is an episode that has a lot of cram in so we’re thrown into the action a little earlier than I expected, when I was just wanted to soak in the opening shot.  This is less of a problem as the episode goes on, though, and all the important shots get the time on screen they deserve.

The opening few scenes have come in for a fair bit of flak, and it’s easy to see why.   They’ve got a difficult job to do and don’t always do it very well. While the first Cat and Lister scenes economically set up two different running jokes, they do perhaps make the world seem a little too busy.  The concept of the All-Droid Shopping Channel is one I’m perfectly comfortable with (the idea of an automated space station like this endlessly floating through space broadcasting to almost no-one is actually quite bleak and appealing, and the performances of the All Droid presenters are very good), but I think the addition of the pig racing is unnecessary.  In all likelihood it’s just meant to be an internal video that Lister has decided to liven up with some gambling, but it still makes everything feel a bit too busy and lessens the impact of the shopping channel’s appearance, because it’s presented as being a live broadcast and, unlike the shopping channel, isn’t given any real reason for its existence. It’s also not a particularly funny way to open the first episode of the series, either, but once we get to the discussion of the moose based traffic accidents the scene picks up very quickly and I especially enjoyed the Cat’s increased exasperation with the concept and being offended on the moose’s behalf.

Rimmer and Kryten’s introduction is a much stronger scene and is probably where the episode starts to get properly into gear (and considering this was the first scene shot for the whole series, that’s quite impressive).  For the whole episode, the only character that we’re properly re-introduced to is Rimmer, and this is done very neatly and will hopefully leave new viewers in no doubt as to the core aspects of his personality.  His continued failure to pass the Astro-Navigation exam is one of the oldest pieces of Rimmer characterisation and it’s very neatly slotted in here to set up the plot, but also reminds the viewer of his past failures.  His newfound positive attitude, and subsequent breakdown when he gets his results, makes it very clear he’s deeply bitter and resentful about his failures.  Just for good measure, this is also a very funny scene, with Rimmer’s self delusion in his new positive thinking resulting in some nice lines, with “Ah, and here’s the clever part, I *expect* to fail” being a particular highlight.

While it’s a shame the rest of the characters didn’t get a similar re-introduction (something Psirens did so well) I think choosing to forgo a shorter and more general re-introduction of everyone is validated by the choice to concentrate so heavily on Rimmer, especially since his core character traits are so interesting and a good source of comedy. Rimmer’s introduction continues into the first scene involving all the Dwarfers, when they’re exploring the newly salvaged SS Trojan, with a nice recap of his history with his apparently more successful brothers, which finally results in his first resentment attack as he realises what he could’ve had if only he wasn’t so useless.

The resentment attack itself is a concept that’s proved to be problematic for some, and I can kind of see why.  For continuity reasons, it’s weird that something as big as this is only just being introduced, but on that score I’ve long since accepted that, if needed, you can treat each new series as a fairly clean continuity slate (especially when you’re dealing with technical things like the behaviour of holograms) so this wasn’t something that stood out as a big problem for me.  I think it’s a good, solid idea and a neat way to address Rimmer’s neuroses, although he does play it a little too broadly (and this then informs Howard and Sim Crawford’s own performances) when, considering how dangerous it’s supposed to be, it should’ve been something that was played straighter.  However, the effects applied to the attacks do rescue it a bit, showing the light bee glitches and dropping frames make the attacks feel a bit more violent and serious.

The Trojan bridge is our first look at a guest set and it’s really very nice indeed.  It might possibly be a *little* too sparse, but it gives the impression of a clean, corporate Space Corps vessel well and the teleporters are a nice, interactive part of the set.  There’s a lot of smart use of sets in this series, and despite there only being two standing sets for Red Dwarf itself, the inclusion of inter-connecting corridors (which is something they do with the Trojan set, too) help the space feel much bigger.

Interestingly, the crew use Starbug to shuttle too and from the Trojan.  While the movement of Starbug in flight seems a little off (although I think this is an adjustment we just need to get used to since they’re no longer using wires for the craft), the shots themselves mainly look bloody excellent.  What’s interesting about this is Bill Pearson (who was responsible for the re-mounted model shoot after the first was described by Doug Naylor as “disastrous”) implied in his interview in Thursday’s DwarfCast that he did not work with the Starbug model.  If what we’re assuming is correct, that means these Starbug shots are salvaged from the first shoot.  If this is true, they look much, much better than I expected and if we’re yet to see the main body of Bill’s work, then I’m very excited about what is still to come.  Hopefully the whole situation with the two model shoots will be clarified in We’re Smegged so we can have a clearer idea of exactly what we’re seeing in each episode.

The episode is made for me by its middle section, from the point where Rimmer and Kryten discover Howard, right through to the scene in which he arrives.  While the arrival of Howard could seem a little rushed (I know during the recording I was a little perplexed with the details) I think in retrospect the episode does a great job of quickly explaining the quantum rod and its uses before it immediately impacts the plot.  Unlike, say, the bloody mirror universe machine in Only The Good…, the quantum rod is a plot device that also serves a believable purpose within the universe (using a similar concept to the star drive of the Nova 5 in Infinity), and the crucial detail of it compressing space and time to allow for quick travel is important to the believability of what happens next.  As soon as Rimmer starts pissing about with the rod, you know something is going to happen and then the reveal of Howard has room to be enjoyed without it being undermined by not making any sense.

There’s a lovely moment at the end of this scene that I think sums up my general feeling about this series (or at the very least this episode) feeling like VIII but done right, and that’s Kryten’s memory wipe.  Just as I was thinking we were entering dodgy ground (I almost expected the Data Doctor to show up), there’s a lovely bit of physical comedy as Kryten looks around confused, and just walks away, punctuating the whole scene perfectly.  The performances in general in this episode are a curious mix, because they’re all clearly still derived from the much broader, physical performances of VIII but those flashes never usually overstay their welcome and are usually finished off with a good, solid laugh.

Speaking of good, solid laughs the payoff to the moose gag is probably my favourite moment in the whole episode, but once again it’s something that starts off on slightly dodgy ground.  When Rimmer first poses the moose question to Lister the audience instantly know what’s about to happen and I think Lister hams up the moment too much, which slows down the scene and gives the impression the joke is going to be milked too far.  However, what follows is a perfectly paced scene (all done in one take, which itself was the first take of the night) escalating the gag with Kryten barely breaking stride as he comes in, answers, and walks out the back door.  By the time the Cat enters, the audience knows exactly what is going to happen, and if you can make an audience give that sort of reaction to a character simply walking into the room you know you’ve done something right.  When Cat interrupts with “was he Swedish” it provokes a full on round of applause, and that’s because it’s been properly *earned*, not only with the slow build up in the scene, but the brilliant detail of the Cat interrupting Rimmer much, much earlier than the audience expects.  Not only is the Cat apparently smarter than Rimmer anticipated, but he also surprises the audience which just pushes the whole thing over the top.

By far the standout model shot in the episode was the reveal of Red Dwarf towing the Trojan, as part of the ruse the crew set up for Howard’s arrival.  The Trojan model is simple but beautiful and is treated to a lovely closeup here which, considering the issue of the RED cameras picking up too much detail on some models, it stands up to very well.  What is really odd about this shot, though, is that an audience laugh is pasted over the reveal of the towing, which felt unnatural and awkward.  I understand the technical reasons behind sweetening laughs and moving them around in the edit, but I think adding them to a model shot just feels too odd to justify.  It’s small point, though, and the slow-mo reveal of the crew togged up in the Trojan uniforms is lovely.

There’s a good amount of comedy wrung out of the crew pretending to be this elite force of space adventurers, even if the concept felt a little tired at times, but Rimmer’s inability to resist the temptation to undermine Kryten is excellent (even though he should be doing everything he can to talk him up) and “nope, we hosed him down and gave him a hat” and Kryten’s reaction is a brilliant gag that breaks up a slightly unoriginal set-up nicely.  The Cat is also very strong in this scene, being deployed at opportune moments to get the big laughs, usually in situations where he’s too slow to fully grasp what’s actually going on.

So, let’s finally talk about Howard, shall we?  Mark Dexter gives a great performance, and he’s clearly done his homework on Chris Barrie and his portrayal of Rimmer.  He perfectly conveys the family connection while at the same time making Howard his own character.  He’s more confident and more smarmy, presumably because he’s spent his life knowing he’s not the only brother who’s a failure, whereas Rimmer has always thought all three of his brothers were leagues ahead of him. Among all his bravado and pomp, we start to get the impression that Howard is more dim witted than he’s letting on and that the crew’s pathetic attempt to trick him is actually working.  The gig should’ve surely been up when Lister pretends to be a Touch-T but he’s entirely taken in by the thought that Rimmer and Listerton-Smythe are, in reality, his superiors and his dopey reaction to having his mind read is a beautifully played and funny moment, but it also gives us our first indication that he’s not quite what he seems.  It’s no massive surprise when he finally confesses, not only because of the subtle characteristics that we’ve seen showing through his broader exterior, but because he’s also dealing with the added shock that the brother he always thought was inept is actually a captain, and all of a sudden he’s the only failure in the family.

In general, I really think the plot hold together very well, but if there’s a point where it fails, it’s the ending.  When everything else feels nicely set up and explained, Sim Crawford being revealed as the killer of Howard’s crew feels too tacked on and convenient, because we’ve not been given any indications that this might be the case due to the fact that all the time since their arrival has been spent on Howard.  If you look a little closer, though, Crawford’s talk of wiping out humans and instigating a simulant uprising is something that, possibly deliberately, ties in with the overall mythos of the show quite well.  Howard and Crawford are from three million years in the past, and Crawford’s ploy could well be taken as a indication of the general simulant uprising that leads to the type of murderous monsters we meet in Justice, The Inquisitor, Gunmen of the Apocalypse and Beyond a Joke. In the context of the episode it feels rushed and under-explained, but I do like how her motivations seems to fit so neatly into what we already know.  That, along with Howard’s brief mention of thinking Rimmer had “gone down with” Red Dwarf show nice, subtle references to the show’s history without any overt and needless callbacks.

All things considered, Lister’s call centre subplot is definitely the weakest part of this episode.  The odd moment aside, at this point it’s not brought enough solid laughs (Kryten’s tantrum excepted) and here it’s involved in a fairly bizarre resolution.  In the end, Lister is overtly responsible for Howard’s death (and could easily have caused the death of anyone else, including himself) by making a dive for the phone, consumed with the madness that being on hold for so long has driven him to.  It doesn’t feel like a good enough plot to justify how much of Lister’s time it has monopolised in the episode, and in the end it’s purely used to engineer Howard’s overly convenient death, all the while having Lister act dangerously out of character.  The final reveal of using Crawford as a makeshift stirmaster falls a bit flat, too, and seems slightly mean-spirited (although, simulants *are* cunts, so fuck it) but the letter from the onboard JMC computer is a great punchline for the whole episode, as is the familiar trope of Lister, Kryten and the Cat gathering round to mock Rimmer for the final joke, something that happens more than once in Series V especially.  The added interactivity with the on-board computer is another nice world building touch, too, effectively replacing Holly.

I think I’ve got a little carried away with the details so far, so let’s finish off with a few general feelings.  The plot does have its issues, and it’s certainly too top heavy, leaving the arrival of Howard far too late, but as evidenced by the previous paragraphs of my hackneyed musings, it’s a plot that’s really captured my imagination.  There are loads of details to theorise on and everything seems to fit very comfortably in the show’s universe.  Making such a big change to Rimmer’s relationship with Howard is a bold move, but I think it’s one that works very well, I just wish we’d had more time to see the two interact.

The acting of the Big Four, in the main, was very strong.  Chris is pretty much exactly as he was in BtE, but here he has much better lines to deal with.  Craig’s performance has taken on a lot more energy and, if I was being picky, is probably the weakest of the four.  However, I’m pretty sure this is down to his limited material and if my memory serves me correctly, he’ll be flying high next week.  Danny is easily the best of the lot, not only because Doug has started to use him much more as a disruptive and punchline oriented character, but because his timing is absolutely impeccable.  It’s not easy to be the character who’s interrupting, or trying to steal a scene, but he nails it every single time, especially in the aforementioned moose scene.  Robert is also much improved from previous years, but he’s the only one that looked like he was having trouble getting some of his lines out confidently (although it’s only a very occasional occurrence), which can give some scenes a bit of an under-rehearsed feel, but when you consider the problems he’s had this year with the mask and comfort it’s a minor miracle he can still put in such a great and expressive performance.

The announcement that the new series would be once again scored by Howard Goodall was a huge, huge thing and, along with the model shots and return of the audience, one of the big reasons why this episode felt so comfortably like Red Dwarf.  Even though there was only one true piece of original music, it lifted the whole final confrontation scene beyond what it would’ve been with mere library music.  More musical treats came in the shape of three beautifully re-imagined pieces of classic music, the best of which being the very subtle inclusion of a sad version of the Munchin Song over Howard’s death scene.  He may not have the resources he’s previously enjoyed, but Howard as one man and his synth is clearly still a wonderful thing, and even if we mainly get re-recorded and re-imagined versions of his previous work that will be more than enough.

It may not be possible to summarise this messy collection of varied and probably contradicting opinions, but just in case it’s not clear, I loved Trojan, warts and all.  The whole episode was infused with a great sense of fun and silliness, and that intoxicating atmosphere helps carry the show through various bumps and iffy moments.  It’s not perfect, and it’s not even Red Dwarf at its best, but it’s left me with an overwhelming warm and fuzzy feeling.  That’s far more than I could ever ask for from a show that, over the years, has already given so much.  Doug, Chris, Craig, Robert and Danny clearly have a tonne left to give, and I’m taking every fucking last bit.

TINY TEASER: Gerald Hampton – this was the Cat’s nom de ruse aboard the Trojan.  It is funny.
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 24
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 2

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104 Responses to Red Dwarf X: Trojan Review

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  1. Nice stuff, Cappsy, worth the wait. Cheers.

    *goes to bed*

  2. >>it’s left me with an overwhelming warm and fuzzy feeling

    I’ve seen it four times now, and without picking it apart bit by bit, yes, this.

  3. Good review.

    I didn’t really think Howard and Crawford got pulled through time as well as space, what with him being a hologram and all, but that would explain a few things. Like why the lowest ranking office on his ship would be brought back as a hologram for instance. (And yes Sim Crawford’s* new-found rebelliousness.)

    I was curious about he Touch-T thing as that’s quiet a new concept for the Red Dwarf universe reminding me a bit of the Psi-corp of Babylon 5. A result of genetic engineering? Or a future mutation? I guess we’ll never know, but it was interesting to see, although I found that scene a little too silly, mainly how easily Howard was fooled.

    *I don’t like that name. Although the character wasn’t bad. She certainly doesn’t exude the menace of the simulants we’ve seen in other episodes, but that serves as a nice bit of misdirection. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing. With that expression they made a genuinely pretty lady look ugly and scarier in death (or effective death, I wonder if she’ll make a recovery later) than she was alive.

  4. I went into the first episode not expecting greatness but wow they really pulled it off, proper Red Dwarf again after all these years. Huzzah

    I might be wrong (having not attended any taping and avoiding all spoilers) but I think this episode had to pull double duty of being the introduction episode and setting up the larger series arc. I have to assume that the All-Droid Shopping Channel is/was run by simulants and the fact Lister rang them up then confessed being the last human during his rant at Sim Crawford about picking up the phone in the final scenes came back to haunt the crew.

    Also related speculation, Sim Crawford grabbed both usb drives and uploaded them, she then had the resentment from both the Rimmers jammed into her. Given she might have been pulled thought time, is it possible that this additional resentment was the true cause of the simulant uprising? She might have been either repaired or had the data extracted at some point.

  5. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing.

    I’ve seen a couple of people say this and I don’t get it. Why is it disturbing? He’s not turned Sim Crawford into a sex toy. It’s a simulant, a now broken machine… they just adapted the machine to stir tea. Would you have a problem if they’d adapted Talkie Toaster to stir the tea?

    With that expression they made a genuinely pretty lady look ugly and scarier in death (or effective death, I wonder if she’ll make a recovery later) than she was alive.

    This is the problem I think, maybe it’s hard to separate the character from the actress.

  6. Cool points of view, Mr Capps. I agree with pretty much all of them.

  7. One of my favourite details that displays how alike Howard and Rimmer are is that they both seem fixated on “the buttons, the blasters, [and] the tight elasticated jumpsuits” that come with being a captain. I also like how both Rimmer brothers get something totally different to what they’re expecting. Rimmer has always thought Howard to be successful and Howard has always thought Rimmer to be an utter twat failure, yet Howard finds out Rimmer is a captain (even though he isn’t) and Rimmer finds out Howard is a failure.

  8. Excellent review as always! Unlike the Mirror, they must have been looking in it, instead of watching the show.

    The Episode as a whole just worked, even at times manic, the pace set higher than before, not up to Who standards but faster than normal. Not giving time for past plot lines, but I really don’t mind this at all. Jump in, away we go!

    The Robert thing, could be just down to screen time. He’s done less time in front of a set and camera than the rest. But in a strange way it helps Kryten, lumbering, jittery definite anger management problems.

    I’ve people say, he’s just made this for the fans, he’s made it like the old Series because of the fans didn’t like the new ones. Firstly giant ball sack, second he’s not that swayed by fan opinion.

    I know what I like, and I like what I see.

  9. This is a truly fantastic piece, Capps. Very fairly written.

    I’ve stated before I have a few grumbles with the show and imagine I will with the series as a whole, but the way you’ve managed to pitch the balance of good and bad with just the right degree of infectious enthusiasm has actually made me see the issues I have in a new light, more excited about next week and keener to go back for another re-watch.

    I think this might be my favourite thing you’ve ever written. Well done for turning it around so swiftly.

  10. I was curious about he Touch-T thing as that’s quiet a new concept for the Red Dwarf universe reminding me a bit of the Psi-corp of Babylon 5. A result of genetic engineering? Or a future mutation? I guess we’ll never know, but it was interesting to see, although I found that scene a little too silly, mainly how easily Howard was fooled.

    Surely this was just another part of the Star Trek parody – the good ol’ Vulcan Mind Meld.

    Nice review – pretty much reflects my feelings about the episode.

  11. I’ve people say, he’s just made this for the fans, he’s made it like the old Series because of the fans didn’t like the new ones. Firstly giant ball sack, second he’s not that swayed by fan opinion.

    Doug clearly does have previous of being swayed by fan opinion. Series VIII had an awful lot of call backs after the criticism of VII and he’s said it himself. Whether he’s made this series based on what he thinks the fans want or based on what he wants is less clear.

    I guess logically to get a new series of Dwarf off the ground, you need to prove to your funders it can be a success. Returning to the mid-era format; the ‘classic line-up’ then seems a bit of a non-brainer, but then it’s to Doug’s credit that a sitcom can even be thought of as having different eras.

  12. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing.

    I’ve seen a couple of people say this and I don’t get it. Why is it disturbing? He’s not turned Sim Crawford into a sex toy. It’s a simulant, a now broken machine… they just adapted the machine to stir tea. Would you have a problem if they’d adapted Talkie Toaster to stir the tea?

    I wasn’t so much making a judgement of the Dwarfer’s morality* as the fact she looks really freaky during that scene, although her human appearance does add to that effect. Talkie Toaster, just looks like a toaster, so adding a whisk wouldn’t look that bad. With her, leering over you though… brrrr. It’s almost like sticking a corpse on a stick and applying electrodes to make it quiver just the right way….

    I’m not saying they shouldn’t have done this mind. Horror comedy is still comedy. (I’m a fan of Evil Dead 2 for example.) My being disturbed, is just an emotional reaction to an image rather than a judgement call. It’s a feeling of horror mixed with amusement.

    *Although I guess, being a sentient being, such a judgement could be made. But bringing up Talkie Toaster is an interesting point as, despite being obsessed with bread products, he does seem intelligent and self aware too. Recently watching White Hole, I found myself questioning if what Lister did with the lump hammer could constitute murder.

  13. If I could make a suggest.. next week could you also write the original scene count + smeg count you predicted in the set reports? Just so we can see how much you really ballsed it up!

  14. …Recently watching White Hole, I found myself questioning if what Lister did with the lump hammer could constitute murder.

    First degree toastercide!

  15. G&T Admin

    You’ll be pleased to know we’ve added a few links to the box-out, so all our relevant content is but a click away. We’ll do that at the outset from now on.

  16. …Recently watching White Hole, I found myself questioning if what Lister did with the lump hammer could constitute murder.

    First degree toastercide!

    Shoes have souls to, you know…

  17. One of my favourite details that displays how alike Howard and Rimmer are is that they both seem fixated on “the buttons, the blasters, [and] the tight elasticated jumpsuits” that come with being a captain. I also like how both Rimmer brothers get something totally different to what they’re expecting. Rimmer has always thought Howard to be successful and Howard has always thought Rimmer to be an utter twat failure, yet Howard finds out Rimmer is a captain (even though he isn’t) and Rimmer finds out Howard is a failure.

    And they both die thinking that one is better than the other.

  18. This is a brilliant review, Capps. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

    > although he does play it a little too broadly (and this then informs Howard and Sim Crawford’s own performances) when, considering how dangerous it’s supposed to be, it should’ve been something that was played straighter.

    I admit I, initially, felt the same, but if those moments aren’t played for laughs they would fall too flat, particularly the bit going into the break. Also, some people seem to find the faces they’re pulling somewhat disturbing, so you could say that makes the situation feel a tad more serious, at least for them…

  19. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing.

    I’ve seen a couple of people say this and I don’t get it. Why is it disturbing? He’s not turned Sim Crawford into a sex toy. It’s a simulant, a now broken machine… they just adapted the machine to stir tea. Would you have a problem if they’d adapted Talkie Toaster to stir the tea?

    I’m pretty sure her being outwardly female and made into a kitchen appliance in a heavily male-centric series might have something to do with this. But you know, it’s not Red Dwarf if there isn’t at least one thing per series to set your teeth on edge, and after being a fan for almost 20 years, I’m used to it. :-D

  20. I just put it down to the fact that Lister wanted the Stir master so much and because the simulant ruined that for him he put her to good use in the end lol

  21. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing.

    I’ve seen a couple of people say this and I don’t get it. Why is it disturbing? He’s not turned Sim Crawford into a sex toy. It’s a simulant, a now broken machine… they just adapted the machine to stir tea. Would you have a problem if they’d adapted Talkie Toaster to stir the tea?
    I’m pretty sure her being outwardly female and made into a kitchen appliance in a heavily male-centric series might have something to do with this. But you know, it’s not Red Dwarf if there isn’t at least one thing per series to set your teeth on edge, and after being a fan for almost 20 years, I’m used to it. :-D

    I honestly think that this reading far too much into it. I assume that if it had been a ‘male’ simulant then that would be fine? …isn’t *that* a little sexist?

  22. Touch T’s are New to dwarf. But psirens can Read minds and pleasure gelfs. Etc. And Dream recorders etc exsist if it än implant thing. I thought it was Nice dianna troy trek like spoof nöd. Blimey if Patrick Stewart stumbles across this episode late One night Its definately law suit phone call time again!

  23. I dont see anything wrong with a laugh put on a model Shot. The towing is a joke moment. Like the Blue midget drunk driving in Thanks for the memory. or rimmer ejector seat .in backwards or the rat in series 8

  24. I think it’s a great gag, a nice, positive payoff to Lister’s phone storyline. Not until I read the above post did I ever consider it to be in any way sexist.

    Incidentally, what IS with that plain blue wall on the Trojan set?? It’s as though there was going to be something up against it at some stage. Also, there’s absolutely no reason why that continuity error of Crawford walking out twice couldn’t have been avoided. Why not have the crew start their convo as we see the shot of her teleporting away? That way when it cuts back to them she’s already well out of shot. Strange how they just left it in…

  25. I don’t consider it particularly sexist.

    I also don’t consider it to be particularly amusing, but that’s another story.

  26. G&T Admin

    The thing that bothered me about Sim Crawford is that she’s treated as some sort of trophy, which is very unlike the crew. But then this episode seems to be a real mix of stuff that is very traditional Red Dwarf, and some stuff which really doesn’t belong there, IMO. As Cappsy says, the telephone shopping joke isn’t strong enough to be a plot device. I think Kryten erasing his memory is very unlike him, but could have been part of an interesting plot; instead, it was just chucked away with (an amusing) reaction shot.

    It was better than Back to Earth, but I found watching the episode rather frustrating; little bits of classic Red Dwarf kept poking through, swamped by out-of-universe jokes and strange stuff like the USB to-and-froing, which wasn’t set up at all, and so looked like a school play to me.

    But I did laugh several times, which makes me think that I’ll probably enjoy the series overall.

  27. I found her role as a coffee stirrer at the end quite disturbing.

    I’ve seen a couple of people say this and I don’t get it. Why is it disturbing? He’s not turned Sim Crawford into a sex toy. It’s a simulant, a now broken machine… they just adapted the machine to stir tea. Would you have a problem if they’d adapted Talkie Toaster to stir the tea?
    I’m pretty sure her being outwardly female and made into a kitchen appliance in a heavily male-centric series might have something to do with this. But you know, it’s not Red Dwarf if there isn’t at least one thing per series to set your teeth on edge, and after being a fan for almost 20 years, I’m used to it. :-D
    I honestly think that this reading far too much into it. I assume that if it had been a ‘male’ simulant then that would be fine? …isn’t *that* a little sexist?

    You said you didn’t understand what people saw disturbing in it; I attempted to point out something that I’ve seen mentioned as kind of disturbing (and that comment came from someone else I know who is a diehard fan, who loved the episode). For my part, I find it a jarring image with any human-lookalike, male or female, since it looks like a dead person propped in the corner with an electrical wire run up their arm as a mixer.

    I’m not running this through a feminist critique – to me, it’s a combination of low and high humor, as Red Dwarf has always been and I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve never particularly worried about sexism in it. But if you asked me “can you see where someone could be offended by this that way?” I’d have to admit that yeah, I can see where it could happen. Especially in a fandom that can apparently wring 8,000 comments out of people analyzing Chris Barrie’s hair weave. :-P

  28. I think it’s a great gag, a nice, positive payoff to Lister’s phone storyline. Not until I read the above post did I ever consider it to be in any way sexist.

    I liked it that way, too. She’s the one who screwed him out of a StirMaster (well, if you think about it, Rimmer did in convincing him to play Starfleet … speaking of which, who was monitoring Red Dwarf during their little stage play? Damn thing brings up more questions than it answers), so she’s the one who gets to stir his coffee.

    And is that one of Kryten’s spare hands over hers …?

  29. Speaking as someone who really didn`t like Series VII, VIII or Back to Earth this came as something of a relief as it was an improvement…

    The good points first…

    Getting back to the 4 main crew members was definitely a good move and I thought that Chris and Danny were right back in character.

    The look of the show, considering the budget, is also impressive and they have done a great job but the Trojan ship did indeed look too sparse. That was very noticeable and it did look like a typical sitcom set.

    There were also no truly embarrassing moments or dialogue like we`ve had in the past. There were a few genuine laughs and some enjoyable stuff.

    The bad points…

    The pacing of the show was certainly off. The ending felt desperately rushed and while many previous Dwarf episodes have contained genuine drama this felt more like, `we`ll expose her as the baddie, kill off Howard and be back to normal for next week`.

    Tanya mentioned things being `chucked away` and that certainly applies to Rimmer`s back story and not being concerned by Howard`s (albeit hologramatic) death. It`s been said before that Rimmer is Rob Grant`s character and nothing about this episode challenged that.

    The stirmaster gag was dragged out far too long. That was apparent while watching the broadcast and on repeated viewings it is probably the most tedious thing to have to rewatch.

    Tanya also mentioned it feeling like a school play at one point and I certainly felt that the tone was off. It didn`t feel like a genuine episode of Red Dwarf at times and it`s difficult to put my finger on why. I think part of it is that Craig seemed to be performing for the audience (in a way that he didn`t do in the first 6 series) and that the audience`s reactions were so big. Listening to laughter every time characters enter or exit scenes does affect the mood of the show (negatively in my opinion). I also think it is because of the rushed pacing and because there were too many ideas that were shoved together in too little time.

    It is obviously a tough ask for anyone to write and direct a show on their own and I do think Doug either having another director or writer to work with could have helped. Too much guff still slipped through the net.

    Still, don`t want to sound too negative as it was an improvement on more recent episodes.

  30. And is that one of Kryten’s spare hands over hers …?

    I saw that too, and had forgotten about it. It does have the modification used in BTE that Kryten used for the mailbox key…hmm.

  31. It`s been said before that Rimmer is Rob Grant`s character and nothing about this episode challenged that.

    Firstly, I disagree with this anyway. Secondly, even if I agreed with it, I’d say most of the second half of Last Human blows holes in that argument anyway.

    As does another episode in RDX, but obviously I’m not saying which.

  32. It`s been said before that Rimmer is Rob Grant`s character and nothing about this episode challenged that.

    Firstly, I disagree with this anyway. Secondly, even if I agreed with it, I’d say most of the second half of Last Human blows holes in that argument anyway.
    As does another episode in RDX, but obviously I’m not saying which.

    Ok. That`s cool. I was referring to what Jonathan Capps wrote on this site some time ago.

    I can`t comment about future episodes obviously…

  33. Tanya mentioned things being `chucked away` and that certainly applies to Rimmer`s back story and not being concerned by Howard`s (albeit hologramatic) death. It`s been said before that Rimmer is Rob Grant`s character and nothing about this episode challenged that.

    Maybe it was just me, but I felt like Rimmer was less on his guard around his crewmates than he usually was in the Grant era. Sure, he was still uptight and concerned with rank, but it felt less like he was trying to impress his importance upon Lister & Co. and more like only berating himself for himself. So that felt like a change to me – interaction we haven’t had a chance to see much sans Grant, since Barrie left right after and 8 and BTE were chiefly about dealing with external conflicts to the group.

  34. G&T Admin

    Ok. That`s cool. I was referring to what Jonathan Capps wrote on this site some time ago.

    I remember this. It was likely that I wrote it for my own site at the time and it has since been moved here.

    For the record, I don’t really agree with this any more.

  35. For the record, I don’t really agree with this any more.

    You were young, you were foolish…

  36. Ok. That`s cool. I was referring to what Jonathan Capps wrote on this site some time ago.

    I remember this. It was likely that I wrote it for my own site at the time and it has since been moved here.
    For the record, I don’t really agree with this any more.

    It`s not so important either way anyway. I guess the point that I was trying to make was that Rob and Doug`s version of Rimmer felt and acted very differently to the version of Rimmer that Doug has written solo. I don`t think there has been a truly satisfying Rimmer episode in the 20 that Doug has written alone (that have been broadcast thus far).

    In this episode it felt like a caricature of Rimmer to me as it did in Series VIII. The episode as a whole actually was similar in broad tone to that series. As I said earlier, I think it was superior to it but that`s mainly due to it being back to the main 4 characters and also due to not having the multi-part episodes. The jokes were mostly of a similar standard but thankfully without the truly horrendous moments of dialogue in that earlier series.

  37. >I was referring to what Jonathan Capps wrote on this site some time ago

    Jonathan Capps is a fucking idiot.

  38. Jonathan Capps is Gannon.

  39. G&T Admin

    the Trojan ship did indeed look too sparse. That was very noticeable and it did look like a typical sitcom set.

    Yes, it looked like a typical sitcom set.

  40. I did think that the ‘corridor’ scene was very obviously just them standing next to the far wall.

    But yes. typical sitcom set, straight out of Mrs Brown’s Boys or Citizen Khan.

  41. Yes, it looked like a typical sitcom set.

    It certain places it did and considering the budget that`s understandable. For example, the scene where Kryten angrily shouts into the phone. He is surrounded by nothingness. The corridor scene as well. The look of a show isn`t that important to me anyway but at moments like those it was obvious that it was a studio set and it was a tad distracting.

  42. It wasn’t filled with nothingness, it was filled with painted military grey.

  43. I honestly think that this reading far too much into it. I assume that if it had been a ‘male’ simulant then that would be fine? …isn’t *that* a little sexist?

    I agree. [EDIT- That was before I read Annie’s reply. Take that as, -I didn’t find it sexist. ] That certainly wasn’t what I found disturbing. If it had been a man that would have been freaky too. The facial expression had a lot to do with it, and I found the two Rimmers’ expression rather disturbing, if although not un-amusing. My reaction to Able’s expression when ‘jacking in’ was similar.

    Oh, and totally this:

    For my part, I find it a jarring image with any human-lookalike, male or female, since it looks like a dead person propped in the corner with an electrical wire run up their arm as a mixer.

  44. You all have differing opinions from each other. What’s going on??? O.o

  45. Jonathan Capps is Gannon.

    Now then, now then…

  46. > You all have differing opinions from each other. What’s going on??? O.o

    No we don’t.

  47. This just occurred to me… Is the scene where Lister squeezes Howard’s head an homage to BTE’s homage to Blade Runner? :))

  48. Does Trojan make it into anyone’s Top 20 episodes?

    Future Echoes
    Me2
    Kryten
    Better Than Life
    Thanks For The Memory
    Queeg
    Backwards
    Marooned
    Polymorph
    Timeslides
    The Last Day
    Justice
    Dimension Jump
    The Inquisitor
    Quarantine
    Back To Reality
    Gunmen
    Out of Time
    Tikka To Ride (Xtended)
    BITR (complete)

    Those are (subject to revision…) my twenty favourite episodes. Out of those, Trojan only really comes close to touching Tikka and BITR. Obviously it beats each individual part of BITR, and it probably would also knock Tikka out of there if we’re talking about the broadcast episode. Hmmm.

  49. G&T Admin

    Tikka and BITR in your top 20? Have you finally snapped?

  50. Trojan would probably sit in the category of “top 10 Red Dwarf episodes I would actually want to sit down and watch TONIGHT”, just based on the novelty of it being so new. That said, I really enjoyed it, and it has probably taken the crown of “best post-Grant episode of RD” from Tikka/Cassandra (depending on my mood).

    I’ve never really ranked my favourite RD episodes so whether or not it would make top 20 is something I would really need to think about. The fact that I’m not discounting the possibility is a good sign. I think Fathers and Suns may be a shoo-in, depending on how the edit turned out.

  51. >Does Trojan make it into anyone’s Top 20 episodes?

    It makes my top 50.

  52. I don’t think I’ve ranked my favourite episodes in about 10 years. *goes away and immediately finds list on blog from last year*

  53. It would make my top 40. It’s better than anything from Series VIII, BTE and all of VII aside from Tikka. Doesn’t come close to most of the pre-split stuff.

    Reminds me of Emohawk in that the structure of it is a mess but it’s got some funny stuff in it.

  54. Based on initial reaction – definitely!

    Time will reveal everything as Morrissey once said, and how wise his fat words seem.

  55. > Tikka and BITR in your top 20? Have you finally snapped?

    It IS just desperately trying to salvage something from VII and VIII, admittedly. I suppose it is ridiculous to think that I wouldn’t prefer to watch Bodyswap, Meltdown, Terrorform, Legion (which I still have a beef with), Emohawk, Rimmerworld, The End, Stasis Leak etc.

    I…..gah.

  56. There’s such a fine line between “favourite” and “stupid”.

  57. It would make my top 40. It’s better than anything from Series VIII, BTE and all of VII aside from Tikka. Doesn’t come close to most of the pre-split stuff.

    That`s close to how I feel. Trojan I would put on a similar level to Stoke me a Clipper.

  58. I don’t like to compare Episodes with the past, it’s the past, it’s gone, we are unlikely to see such gems again, but you never know. An open mind and a Top 20 that changes weekly . It’s hard to say where Trojan comes in the Top 50 pop pickers! It’s there, that’s good enough for me. Did I mention I do charity work?

  59. I think it’s okay to compare Red Dwarf episodes with other Red Dwarf episodes.

  60. Trojan currently joins Future Echoes, Queeg, Marooned, Camille, Quarantine, Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Stoke Me A Clipper, Cassandra, and Back To Earth part one in my list of “Favourite Episodes Of That Particular Series Of Red Dwarf”.

  61. Future Echoes, Thanks for the Memory, Polymorph, Justice, Back to Reality, Legion, Tikka, I don’t fucking care it’s all shit, BTE part 2.

    >I don’t like to compare Episodes with the past, it’s the past, it’s gone, we are unlikely to see such gems again, but you never know.

    A contradiction in terms there.

  62. > Legion (which I still have a beef with)

    Do tell.

  63. ‘Legion’ was the first real hint that VIII was on its way.

  64. I think it’s okay to compare Red Dwarf episodes with other Red Dwarf episodes.

    Yes it is, I didn’t say otherwise. I’m sure everyone will compare the tits out of the next Episodes. I don’t, take them for what they are.

  65. Future Echoes, Thanks for the Memory, Polymorph, Justice, Back to Reality, Legion, Tikka, I don’t fucking care it’s all shit, BTE part 2.

    >I don’t like to compare Episodes with the past, it’s the past, it’s gone, we are unlikely to see such gems again, but you never know.
    A contradiction in terms there.

    The first quote wasn’t me!
    Hey I can dream just like the rest of us. I hope by the end of the Series I’m eating words for breakfast, dinner and tea. But until them hey ho pip and dandy.

  66. >That was Emohawk.

    That was the second half of Emohawk.

  67. I’m sure everyone will compare the tits out of the next Episodes. I don’t, take them for what they are.

    Well, Episodes is nothing like Red Dwarf.

  68. I just watched ‘identity Within’ again and realised Lister gambled the keys of starbug away to the GELFS in that too!

  69. I’m sure everyone will compare the tits out of the next Episodes. I don’t, take them for what they are.

    Well, Episodes is nothing like Red Dwarf.

    Matt LeBlanc expression.

  70. From the set report:
    > There were two “bicycle jokes”

    Was one of them, “I’d like to order a Stirmaster, please” ? And what was the other one?

    > Plus, a bonus voice-over part for Chris Barrie; possibly a temporary thing that will be replaced later, but hopefully not.

    What was this?

  71. G&T Admin

    From memory, the two bicycle jokes were Kryten saying he’ll be able to talk to the droids calmly, with the cut to him ranting down the phone. I think the other one must have been the stirmaster, because I remember dealing with the whole “are you really going to pretend to be someone you’re not” gag separately, as an averted bicycle joke.

    I think that Chris is one of the phone voices, and if I’m right, then the same one from the recording night was in the final episode. But it might not be him.

  72. You know what I don’t like… In the first screenshot featured in this article of Red Dwarf just after the opening titles, you can see the back of the windows through the hole in the scoop… Really gives it away that it’s just an empty good looking model… like my ex wife.

  73. > you can see the back of the windows through the hole in the scoop…

    Surely those are the ship interior windows that look out on to the ‘scoop bay’?? ;)

  74. > you can see the back of the windows through the hole in the scoop…

    Surely those are the ship interior windows that look out on to the ‘scoop bay’?? ;)

    That’s how I saw it. Honestly, that would be a really cool place to have windows anyway.

  75. Is the other bicycle joke not Rimmer opening his exam results?

    I think the Scottish phone voice (the one that sounds remarkably like David Tennant) is the one we thought might be Chris? It’s definitely the same voice as at the recording, but given how many VO credits there are, it might be the case that none are Chris.

  76. Just out of interest, how many times have people viewed Trojan now (live recordings not withstanding)? It’s nearly 4 1/2 days since it first aired so just wondering how much people have milked it.

  77. I’m on nine.

  78. I’ve watched the whole episode 3 times, but I’ve skipped to the model shots about 9 times. Starbug with the lift music playing just made me so happy!

  79. I think I’ve watched it right through four or maybe five times, then forced myself to stop or I’ll be sick of it.

  80. I think I’ve watched it right through four or maybe five times, then forced myself to stop or I’ll be sick of it.

    This has been a bit of a worry for me. I’m debating whether or not to watch it again tonight.

  81. Just out of interest, how many times have people viewed Trojan now (live recordings not withstanding)? It’s nearly 4 1/2 days since it first aired so just wondering how much people have milked it.

    Four. (I feel like The Count. “Four! Four smegging viewings! Ha! Ha!”)

  82. Once at the recording. Once at the Dear Dave recording. Once at the premiere. Twice on my telly. Once on my phone.

    Six, then.

  83. Four (including the Premiere and the Dear Dave screening). Will watch it again tomorrow, probably.

  84. Bought the first Episode on iTunes, on a loop on the iPad, must be around the same amount Rimmer failed his Astro Nav.

  85. Today’s the first day I’ve not watched all week. And I’m on ten, not nine – I didn’t include the Dear Dave screening before.

  86. Six times including the recording and tonight’s pre-watershed repeat. Howard’s “utter twat” line was bleeped. ;)

  87. Once legally, and because I couldn’t record it, once again illegally. *shame mode*

    I justify it in that for every time I watch an illegally uploaded episode, I’ll add one friend to my list of people who are getting the dvd for Christmas.

  88. Four. (I feel like The Count. “Four! Four smegging viewings! Ha! Ha!”)

    This made me LOL! (I think I’m on the same number.)

  89. About 4 times. :)

  90. I feel much better now. I’ve watched it 5 times and I didn’t know if that was overkill or whether I was well below the average Dwarfer.

    In fairness though, I have watched the “No, we just hosed him down and gave him a hat” section about 15 times!”

  91. That is such a great delivery and reaction. People say the moose exchange was the highlight of the episode, but for me that was the line of the episode. Makes me laugh every time.

  92. Watching the repeat last night, Rob’s delivery in the middle part of that scene setting up Cat ftw was damn on perfect .

    Craig I’ve found very hit and miss in this series, although he can still pull off the emotional stuff.

  93. I agree with the review almost completely. Well done.

    As soon as I heard the Stasis Leak-music on the phone, I was sold on the episode. This ep was great, and the “Is he Swedish” bit obviously the standout moment, but this episode proves itself to be worthy Dwarf by being dense and rewarding subsequent viewings. I didn’t catch it the first time, but the perfectly-timed ‘Cat walking by with the map in the background during the standoff with the Simulant’ was probably my favorite or second-favorite moment, not for humor quantity necessarily, but for how understated that bit is. That could have been a punchline, but instead was just added in organically and was a mere part of an otherwise still-great scene. Stuff like that shows that Dwarf is indeed back.

  94. Yup, good episode. The ending wasn’t great but alas, still a good episode.

  95. Is the sound that comes up as they walk into Trojan. The same as some of the noises in Hitchhikers when they walking around the vogon ship.

  96. Don’t mention the Vogons.

    I mentioned them once, but I think I got away with it.

  97. Just noticed, watching back the “blighty’s hardest boozers” episode of the sitcom Still Game…
    That there is a joke where bobby the barman is telling the regulars that the film crew will be coming to film in The clansman.

    Victor replies “this pub?” He says yes, cus its full of character.
    Jack’ replies “this pub??” He says yes for the patter and atmosphere.
    they both reply “this pub?!”

    Reminded me of the “this ship?” Triple disbelief motif in Trojan,
    Though there is more at stake in the red dwarf fake ship set up by this stage.
    Are there any other examples of this device in episodes of shows anyone else has seen?
    Can you remember any?

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