Red Dwarf XI: Twentica Review

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A new episode of Red Dwarf has been shown for the first time in just under four years, and for the first time ever – whether you like it or not – premiered online. G&T were there, but what follows are my own personal take on the start of a new era for the show.

Those of you who listen regularly to our DwarfCast commentaries will know a common observation is just how quickly some older episodes can fly by, and how much ground they can cover in such little time. It’s one of those things we vaunt about the old series for, and it’s something that is very evident here. Twentica opens unlike any episode we’ve seen in years, as we’re thrown right into a Starbug cockpit scene, the plot immediately kicking off with an encounter with a Simulant ship, and it keeps the pace up throughout the whole episode. Plot, jokes and action scenes alike zip by, rarely outstaying their welcome and creating what is a dense and satisfying episode. Taking the opening scene as an example, there is little in the way of the waffle that X could suffer from, and instead we have immediate peril and jokes born directly out of the situation. It’s impressive that the introduction of yet another flavour of Simulant also comes with an interesting new concept in the form of the Expanoids, with a nice solid sci-fi backdrop to them. The idea of Simulants with exponentially increasing power might not make a huge amount of sense when you think about it (just ask Richard Herring about the crazy logic of exponential growth) it’s a scary concept nonetheless and their appearance in this scene is, for now at least, incredibly menacing. The timey wimey trick with Rimmer’s kidnapping is a neat idea, but also shows they’re a formidable and crafty foe.

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To match the pace of the story in this scene, the jokes also come thick as fast, all of which I enjoyed. Aside from the familiar back and forth seen in Starbug cockpit scenes in series VI and VII, Kryten marching up and down to recharge his coils while continuing his normal expositional dialogue was a particular delight. It’s been a long while since Red Dwarf has felt this dense with good jokes, which is presumably a testament to Doug having a sensible amount of time to craft and tweak his scripts. The cast, also, seem at ease and comfortable in their roles here slotting back into the incredibly familiar surroundings and bouncing dialogue back and forth confidentially.

First broadcast: 15th September 2016, 9:00am, UKTV Play

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:
Kevin Eldon (4 of 27)
Lucie Pohl (Harmony)
David Sterne (Einstein Bob)
Sam Douglas (Bouncer)
Rebecca Blackstone (Big Bang Beryl)
Kyle James (Nearly Dead Guy)
Suanne Braun (Cpt. Dorothy McCutcheon)
David Menkin (Lt. Clarence O’Neal)
Alexis Dubus (3 of 63)

Synopsis:
The Dwarfers find themselves in an alternative version of America where modern technology is prohibited, making Rimmer and Kryten illegal. The Dwarfers infiltrate the tech savvy underground and try to bring down the authoritarian regime.

Set Report | Let’s Talk About | Talking Points

As for the new Starbug cockpit, any worries we might’ve had about the prominent blue lighting are dispelled here as this new set, and the way Doug and Ed (not that one) chose to light and shoot it, is gorgeous. Most importantly of all, it feels instantly like the Starbug we’ve always known and that is certainly no mean feat considering everything other than the chair positions and camera angles have been completely re-thought. It was also pleasing to see the episode throwing an impressive model set piece at us early on, too, and it represents the main effects set piece of the episode. While it’s by no means poor (and so far ahead of X it’s not even funny), I’m afraid things are still a little way off capturing the quality of the BBC Visual Effects Department’s era. The new model is beautiful but its movement and compositing in some shots (especially mid-crash and while travelling through the vortex) left a little to be desired. This is a definitely a case of picking at small details, though, as the crash sequence taken as a whole is very well put together, and allowing the crash to play out for a relatively long time, cutting back and forth between the cockpit and the ship, ends up being very effective.

To be honest, though, I’m more than comfortable with the fact that nothing really has a hope of capturing the consistent quality of the BBC era’s model work, and the episode uses what it has here to great effect and even includes the impressive extra effort of creating a Simulant ship for only a brief appearance at the start of the episode. Comparisons with the perfection of the BBC days aside, it’s so good to see this level of ambition in the effects work still existing in the show, and when it comes to on-set effects (such as the post-crash cockpit scene) things are as good as they’ve ever been. Since we’re talking about production value, the much mentioned outdoor set is comfortably one of the most impressive spaces the show’s ever created. All of it is created in a studio space, but the detail and lighting create a flawless illusion of this being a location, aside from a few telltale moments where the space is obviously being reused from a different angle. Taking advantage of the fact that this was the last episode recorded, the extra space generated by the removal of one of the standing sets also allowed for the creation of The Lady Be Good Club making this the first episode of the Dave era that’s had the opportunity to create a whole two episode specific sets, a far cry from the black curtains and candles The Beginning had to settle for at the same point in Series X’s production.

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It’s inside said club where the episode really hits its stride comedically as guest star Lucie Pohl as Harmony feeds us an exhausting quantity of science based gags. If one doesn’t quite land then it doesn’t really matter because yet more gags closely follow. Even as the climactic scene was playing out Harmony just would not stop making science jokes, showing impressive commitment to the science speakeasy idea. It’s also great to see Rebecca Blackstone return in a small role as Big Bang Betty, and getting a huge laugh out of a facial expression and a wave. It’s all in all a very fun sequence made funnier by the inclusion of Einstein Bob with his string and potato based nonsense.

It’s at this point that I think it’s about time we talk about The Actor Kevin Eldon. Comedy fans of a certain era have held him in high esteem for decades now, and to see him in Red Dwarf is an utter joy. Not only that, but despite a relatively small amount of screen time I felt like he was used incredibly well here. Starting off as menacing and serious, the descent into the comedic bickering in the final stand-off was perfectly executed by Eldon. The decision to make the villains ultimately comic has definitely been one of the big discussion points on G&T in the last few days, but I’m firmly on the side that it was a very good move. There’s nothing to say that Red Dwarf can’t mine humour from wherever it likes, and just because it’s not been massively common in the past it doesn’t mean it’s one of the magical laws that made the old shows so good and thus should never be broken. The very funny through line that the Expanoids love a hackneyed old cliche had already set them up as being slightly ridiculous, so why not go the extra mile and give Kevin Eldon an excuse to make a face?

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With an episode featuring such a dense concept and story in a short space of time, it’s inevitable that the conclusion would need to be wrapped up quite quickly, but again I think this is turned into another plus for the episode. Einstein Bob single-mindedly figuring out how to put together the capacitor, spurred on by the fact he’s been convinced by the crew that he’s brilliant, is actually a really nice heartwarming detail to the resolution and makes the inevitable quick wrapping up of the story still feel satisfying. Good for you, Bob. What perhaps doesn’t work as well, however, is the strangely tacked on coda to the episode. In Gunmen style, it would’ve been nice to see the credits roll straight after Lister takes the controls and steers them home, but instead there’s a slightly out of place but decently funny ‘thought of the day’ moment between Lister and Kryten, very reminiscent of series IV where you couldn’t move for Lister’s reflective moralising.

Twentica is clearly already a divisive episode among fans, but it’s one I enjoyed hugely. When recent episodes have been beset with the problem of thin plots having to be bolstered with even thinner B or C plots, it’s incredibly refreshing to see an episode that left me feeling like I wanted some more. A strong central idea, a guest cast that are tremendous fun to be around, the main cast in fine fettle and a plot that has so much wrung out of it in the 30 minutes gives the impression that Doug was bursting with ideas and inspiration when writing this. Absolutely nothing about this episode distracted from the warm fuzzy feeling that the tone and comedy in the this episode gave me. Twentica was unrestricted, unfettered, and showed all the love and attention to detail that clearly went into making it. We’ll have to wait to see if this is indeed a case of putting your best episode first, but even if that’s true I think what we’ve seen here is a clear statement that the show is once again capable of capturing that illusive old spirit, while still confidently striking out with its own direction and tone.

TINY TEASER: Resistance Bunnies – The name by which the group of underground scientists refer to themselves
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 14 (Series total: 14)
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 1 (Series total: 1)

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90 Responses to Red Dwarf XI: Twentica Review

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  1. Couldn’t agree more. Fantastic start to the new series.

    The ending wrap up did feel a bit tacked on, but that’s no deal breaker.

    My one big foible so far is the look of Kryten. His costume and new mask just don’t measure up to even X’s costume. Bobby is not that fat! Why they didn’t use the established, workable looks of VI – BTE I just don’t get.

    But that said…. That was bril-smegging-tastic.

  2. Nicely summed up! :)

    I still can’t quite believe this is out there and yet it’s not been broadcast…it feels weird. There are people I know who want to wait to watch it next week, so I can’t bloody talk to them about it!! A very very silly idea….

    Also…why is smashing up a toaster such a hilarious image?? I know it’s something that’ll make me laugh on every viewing. :D speaking of that…how many times have people watched Twentica so far? It’s 4 for me, and about to be 5. That’s more than I’ve seen Entangled and Dear Dave, probably…

  3. Smashing the toaster made me think of Lister taking the hammer to Talkie Toaster. That was a bit of technology that didn’t need to exist, and it needed to be exterminated! The other toaster was just a plain old toaster that had nothing special about it. Watching the cop beating the crap out of it was kind of ironic for me.

  4. I’ve now watched it three times on a TV downloaded from SKY on demand and the repeat viewings have been more rewarding than first view; the second I watched with family all of whom love RD. The laughter was genuine. It’s a busy episode with lots of opportunity to find something new and further enhance my appreciation. For me that was easily the best Dwarf episode post series 6. It’s certainly on a different level to X and displays a much more confident style and cast performance. A good example is comparing the dialogue of the crew sat around the table in the market in Lemons with them sat around the table at the Lady Be Good Club. 1 of 11 you are on form.

  5. Will they count the online viewings towards the ratings and viewing figures? I hope so.
    Great episode. Definitely a lot more confident now. So what if there were a few duff jokes. There were plenty of them in earlier series. I found it funny and clever.

  6. I think the only thing that’s really bothering me about the episode (beside Kryten’s costume which is more a “series” issue) is that I don’t feel that Lister was very Lister-like. This has drawn a lot of comparisons to series 5-6 and I agree, but if you look back at those two then the character who is the least like their counterpart is probably Lister. I appreciate the less-broad performance from Craig, but I miss the “cheekiness” that wasn’t entirely absent from X so I’m presuming he’ll feel more like our lovable space bum in future episodes.

    Besides that, I really did enjoy it. I didn’t find it overly thick with plot and it was entertaining enough to zoom by.

    Thinking of the plot, this is definitely one that I’d like to see explored in more depth as they have tended to do with some storylines in the novels, should Doug actually return to that media as he’s hinted in the past. I think there are a lot of interesting places you could take the concept of the Dwarfers landing on a planet where technology is not only outlawed but disabled upon entry.

  7. Also, I think I’ve realised that the reason I disliked the “mars bar” joke was purely the wording.

    If Lister had have said “Kryten’s more fried than a Scottish Mars Bar” rather than “a Mars Bar in Scotland”, I think I would have laughed rather than groaned.

  8. But Mars Bars don’t come from Scotland, so there’s no such thing as a Scottish Mars Bar.

  9. No true Mars Bar.

  10. But Mars Bars don’t come from Scotland, so there’s no such thing as a Scottish Mars Bar.

    That’s what would make it funnier to me, the veering into the ludicrous, as opposed to an observation that Scottish people like to fry stuff.

  11. Although, just to add, my mum watched the ep and the Mars Bar line got the biggest laugh from her, probably joint with “I went apple-bobbing in a cement mixer”.

  12. I think we should just bin the torturous similes altogether. BlackAdder took them as far as they could go, and the ones in Dwarf leave me as cold as a service station chip or some such bollocks.

  13. Great review Cappsy, thanks for the write-up.

  14. I think we should just bin the torturous similes altogether. BlackAdder took them as far as they could go, and the ones in Dwarf leave me as cold as a service station chip or some such bollocks.

    It’s tempting (and probably accurate) to think of the similes as something brought in for VI to ‘gag up’ the dialogue as a result of Rob and Doug having a glorious time in the writers room on the US pilot. Here’s something to think about though – given that VI-onwards Dwarf’s simile gags are (intentionally?) pure Blackadder, and the show came extraordinarily close to originally being produced by (and therefore almost certainly script-edited by) John Lloyd, it could have happened anyway, meaning the one-liner element of the show was potentially lurking dormant in its DNA since the beginning.

  15. I quite like the similes personally . I enjoyed them in VI And VII . Like I’ve mentioned before I found VI a lot funnier than III . Yes Marooned is good but to me . I preferred the plots in III anyway. Other than Timeslides . Which is my least fave episode

  16. I expected Eldon to show up in at least one of the new dozen out of sheer probability’s sake, was quite astonished when it was the first three minutes of show one! Along similar casting lines, I will eat my hat if Peter Serafinowicz doesn’t show his face/voice in one of the other eleven…

    That’s nothing anyway, I just found a comment from 2007 where I stated my hope that G&T should put a book out on Lulu. CRAZY FUTURISTIC PIPE DREAMS.

  17. There were two points in this episode that stood out to me and made me think of weird parallels with Trojan while watching this.

    First, both seem to make references to Star Trek: First Contact (Trojan uses imitations of the Starfleet uniforms first seen in First Contact, while Twentica makes Borg jokes, and uses a lot of plot elements, from the same film).

    The second odd parallel is that both make random jokes aimed at the Scottish, at roughly the same point in the episode, Trojan with it’s salad bar at a Scottish supermarket, and Twentica with fried like a Mars Bar living in Scotland.

  18. G&T Admin

    I have no trouble with the similie gag as a concept – the problem has always been is that they were inelegant and generally shit all too often. The Mars bar one was pleasingly written and nicely delivered.

  19. Clearly the similies have been around for a lot longer than you all remember – surely ‘Kryten’ set the standard with Rimmer’s “They’ve got less meat on them than a Chicken McNugget”.

  20. Well, I thought it was clunky and I just don’t think there’s any skill to comparing something to something else. The art of simile is as easy as Rimmer’s mum.

    And it’s not something that would ever be said in real-life. They’re as unrealistic as The Cat’s chances of winning MasterMind.

    This comment is deader than…oh, I don’t bloody know…an unfashionable item of clothing item of clothing?

    Clang. Clunk. Clang.

  21. That post was as subtle as an episode Tales of the Unexpected.

  22. You’re as mean as the calculated central value of a set of numbers.

  23. I think it depends how believable the jokes are as part of conversation. Some of the similes in Twentica felt like people reading one liners to me, whereas almost all the VI ones felt conversational. I’m not sure whether that’s writing, performance, direction, over-critical viewing or a mix of the lot (most likely), but it definitely didn’t feel like it flowed as well to me.

  24. ironically the confrontation with the villains in this episode fell flat for me just like the confrontation with sim crawford in Trojan.

  25. What about “dead as a can of spam”, does that count? That’s in the first episode. I’m fine with them as a concept, it’s all about delivery and the Mars bar one was delivered well. Could argue it lacks the punch as it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it was funny, I chuckled, maybe not as hilarious as it is to an excited live audience, but funny.

  26. Toffee Crisp. Topic. Coke Adds Life. Pot Noodle. Chicken McNuggets.

    Are people really complaining about Red Dwarf referencing a real-life junk food brand at this point?

  27. As stable as an Italian taxi driver whose got stuck behind two old priests in a Scoda.

    Still love that one :)

  28. >What about “dead as a can of spam”, does that count?
    I’d wager it gets a laugh because spam is officially a funny food, and “can of spam” is a neat phrase. Its not particularly torturous and extended though.

    “Death is like being on holiday with a group of germans” is a much more interesting simile, and flows naturally from the dialogue. It conjures up a mental image and tells us something about Riimmer’s stated of mind. It’s more interesting than a thought of “Huh, they do fry Mars bars in Scotland, don’t they?”.

    The frequency which they’re relied on (and the saturation point was Series VI, no doubt) is pretty wearing. And then you’re in the situation where Ainsley Harriot is describing his GELF costumer as so hairy “it was as if Robin Williams’s back had mated with his old dinner lady”.

    >Are people really complaining about Red Dwarf referencing a real-life junk food brand at this point?
    No, that’s not the criticism at all.

  29. ironically the confrontation with the villains in this episode fell flat for me just like the confrontation with sim crawford in Trojan.

    To be fair, I don’t think they were as bad as Sim Crawford in Trojan…that scene stands as one of the worst moments in the entire show. To be fair there are some funny jokes in the confrontation in Twentica, “a real big spender” and “we really aren’t so different, you and I” did make me laugh….but when they started bickering it kinda left me cold.

  30. I just think the Scotland / fried Mars Bars joke is a bit of – well, a hackneyed old cliche. The joke feels about fifteen years out of date. The similes used to be more imaginative.

  31. Also, I think I’ve realised that the reason I disliked the “mars bar” joke was purely the wording.

    If Lister had have said “Kryten’s more fried than a Scottish Mars Bar” rather than “a Mars Bar in Scotland”, I think I would have laughed rather than groaned.

    I wasn’t a fan of that joke either but to be fair the line was actually “a mars bar living in Scotland”. The “living” part is key. The idea that an inanimate object could be living somewhere.

  32. I think we should just bin the torturous similes altogether. BlackAdder took them as far as they could go, and the ones in Dwarf leave me as cold as a service station chip or some such bollocks.

    What I like about similes in Red Dwarf is how they tend to be vehicles for 1980s/90s, working-class, or parochial references. As well as providing a nice juxtaposition to have things like Spam and Helen Shapiro crop up in a sci-fi environment, it’s pleasing to think that something as inane as Toffee Crisp or Berni Inn might survive into the 22nd Century. Come to think of it, it’s a smaller version of the big joke that the last human in the known universe is Dave Lister.

  33. There’s something surprisingly heartwarming about that delivery, it’s a really intelligent acting choice of Craig Charles’ to make it Lister cracking a joke to Cat to relieve the panic. It’s what would happen in reality as opposed to a sitcom.

    Does anyone get a father/son vibe from Lister and the Cat from recent episodes? If it’s intentional, it works. This may go out the window next week, mind.

  34. We all talk a lot about Red Dwarf. We go on about it, and annoy the ‘normal’ people around us, so we head to G&T and talk about RD to other fanatics, and we can obsess and dissect stories, episodes, writing, performances and whatnot.
    But at the end of the day, it is a comedy, and as I sat and watched Twentica for the first (and so far only) time, before I could dwell on every line, and overthink everything that happened or what was said, the Mars bar gag, there and then – it made me laugh. And that’s the main thing.

  35. Yeah, but you’re all weird anyway. I’m still getting over people finding Kryten’s nipples funny. I thought it was really crude.
    I’m incredibly comfortable knowing I’m almost certainly the only person who feels this way.

  36. I have to disagree with your comparison to the BBC model effects unit when it comes to the Starbug crash in this episode. I think there’s an element of rose tinted specs when it comes to the model effects in earlier series. Don’t get me wrong, they are amazing. But look at the crash in this episode and compare it to the likes of the crash in ‘Dimension Jump’ which looks very much like a small model hitting a small rock, especially when it comes to a stop. It shakes around like the small model it is. The footage being slowed down didn’t help either. The model crash in this episode really felt like Starbug had weight, and the added detail of the sand falling off really completed the illusion. As much as i love the model unit, i think it’s unfair to say that whoever is doing it now is not as good, when the model effects in this episode I think were top notch. Definitely the best Starbug crash out of all series in my opinion :)

  37. I note that the Mars Bar line is being subjected to greater scrutiny here than it is at Cook’d and Bomb’d, which as we all know is the home of the most rigorously analytical comedy aficionados on the planet. (They seem to like it so far!)

    I enjoyed it too, though it wasn’t the best thing in the episode. As I said in the other thread, my standout scene was Rimmer’s “English whom” speech, which not enough people are talking about!

  38. I note that the Mars Bar line is being subjected to greater scrutiny here than it is at Cook’d and Bomb’d, which as we all know is the home of the most rigorously analytical comedy aficionados on the planet. (They seem to like it so far!)

    There was a fairly harsh comment about the quality of the American accents in the episode, given that everybody who plays an American in the episode is actually American.

  39. >Rimmer’s “English whom” speech, which not enough people are talking about!

    I wasn’t totally on board as it brought to mind a similar scene in BTE. And then he said “lady” and all was forgiven.

  40. The Starbug crash was great at the end but a bit wobbly everywhere else. As you say, the large detailed model in the final shot with the sand falling off looks amazing, one of the best model shots ever, but the descent looks a bit pants because it’s not actually happening (composited, you can tell by the lighting) and the smaller flying model isn’t as high quality as the crashing one. It’s shiny and low detail. I’d say the fairer comparison would be Bodyswap, as that’s a similar sort of sandy/ rocky planet, that really shows off The Model Unit and what they bring to the table.

    Anywhere else on the internet, it was fine, but here, I think we can be a bit more critical.

  41. Does anyone get a father/son vibe from Lister and the Cat from recent episodes? If it’s intentional, it works. This may go out the window next week, mind.

    It’s something that’s kind of always been there (at least, when the characters are being written, and played, well). Rimmer and Lister are the married couple, with Cat as the kid and Kryten as the fussing granny. :p

  42. It’s owner/pet in s1, then ‘best mates’ from s2. In the Dave era, with its character-developed Lister but still developmentally-arrested Cat, the dynamic feels more ‘dad and wayward teenage son’. Similarly, Lister and Rimmer have more of a fraternal thing now. The crew basically like each other these days. Like I said though, Samsara’s probably going to mess this theory up.

  43. There’s still some antagonism between Rimmer and the rest of them though, which is necessary. So much time together means they get on, but they still find him an annoying pillock.
    One thing that I hated about VIII (here we go) is how Rimmer and Lister basically became best mates, particularly in Pete.

  44. I also get the impression that the Cat likes Kryten. Or at least tolerates him the most.

    I dunno…

  45. Speaking of Cat. I may be the only one but I liked in series VI when they made use of the Cats feline senses to help sense danger when navigating . I thought it was a great little development.

  46. I may be the only one but I liked in series VI when they made use of the Cats feline senses to help sense danger when navigating

    You possibly are. I found it generally preposterous, even in the realms of sci-fi, that a cat’s senses could pick up on objects before radars and scanners (that are a few hundred years more advanced than anything we have available today). It led to the odd funny line, or Rimmer (mis)quoting a Space Corps directive, but I couldn’t buy into it at all really. In fact, over 61 (62 now!) episodes, that and whiny Kryten are the only two things I’ve really struggled with.

  47. I quite like “I didn’t even know it had a duty free shop”.

  48. I quite like “I didn’t even know it had a duty free shop”.

    Same :)

    “Plain as a Bulgarian pin-up” is another one that I liked in Psirens :)

  49. I found it generally preposterous, even in the realms of sci-fi, that a cat’s senses could pick up on objects before radars and scanners

    Our cat knew my wife was pregnant before a testing kit did. It’s less far-fetched than you might think!

  50. Our cat knew my wife was pregnant before a testing kit did. It’s less far-fetched than you might think!

    But if the testing kit was ‘always on’, like I assume the radar and scanners are, then I would suggest the scientific test would pip the cat to the post!

  51. Cat may have had heightened senses in series VI, but it was also the series where he stopped being vain but cool, and became vain and plain stupid.
    And his hair looked pony.

  52. I’m not a big fan of what I call the ‘procedural’ cockpit gags from VI, especially the Cat senses ones. Cat is now IMO the best he’s been since series 1 & 2. Doug knows exactly what to do with him and Danny delivers it superbly.

  53. Cat may have had heightened senses in series VI, but it was also the series where he stopped being vain but cool, and became vain and plain stupid..

    Cat seemed about the same to me as he has ever been, he has always had his stupid moments, his cool moments and his vain moments, only real difference for 6 was the heightened senses and being given the role of main pilot

  54. It’s nice to see Chris Barrie’s wig has taken a back seat to Mars bars this time around.

  55. For me, IV is Cat’s peak. Almost every line he has in the series is great, almost all of them jokes at Rimmer’s expense. I’m glad that Doug’s returned to this for X and, seemingly XI. Much as I prefer the show to move forward and each series have its own identity, Cat had become such a non-entity of a character by VIII that there had to be some back pedalling, and this was the perfect way to do it.
    Just had a horrible flashback of Cat’s brief appearance in Can’t Smeg, Won’t Smeg. That’s how to do it badly.

  56. I found it generally preposterous, even in the realms of sci-fi, that a cat’s senses could pick up on objects before radars and scanners

    Our cat knew my wife was pregnant before a testing kit did. It’s less far-fetched than you might think!

    Does “your” son or daughter have whiskers and a tail, by any chance?

  57. For me, IV is Cat’s peak.

    Likewise. Series IV Cat is just cool. But RDIV is my favourite series anyway.

    I’m glad that Doug’s returned to this for X and, seemingly XI.

    I was happy with Cat in RDX, cooler and cattier. Twentica has given me good vibes about the character in RDXI, especially with Can of Worms coming up.

  58. Cat has always been a great character. Whenever I write RD fanfics, he’s the one I love writing for the most. He just speaks whatever’s on his mind. He’s like a really good-looking coffee maker with a crappy filter.

  59. Yeah, IV Cat is what they should be striving for. I swear his teeth (or Danny’s “use” of them) were different in VI-VIII; he kinda juts them out in a lot of later episodes and it looks goofy.

    I don’t like a lot of the Cockpit stuff in VI because it becomes incredibly generic. There’s a bunch of Space Corps Directives and Cat’s “Deader than…” lines that all blur into one in my head. No idea what specific episodes they’re from, which was unusual for RD “jokes” until that point.

  60. But if the testing kit was ‘always on’, like I assume the radar and scanners are, then I would suggest the scientific test would pip the cat to the post!

    Not sure how you’d turn off a stick covered in piss.

  61. I found it generally preposterous, even in the realms of sci-fi, that a cat’s senses could pick up on objects before radars and scanners

    Even with heightened senses how could he possibly smell things in deep space where there is no air to carry the smell? And less than one series later he is unable to realise he is eating a roasted human thinking it’s chicken! *I knew it didn’t smell right*

  62. he kinda juts them out in a lot of later episodes and it looks goofy.

    The Dibbley Effect.

  63. Not sure how you’d turn off a stick covered in piss.

    You know perfectly well what I mean. Unless your wife takes a pregnancy test every time she takes a leak, then it’s really more ‘on demand’ than ‘always on’. I remain certain that if she had taken a pregnancy test every day, the scientific measure of the pregnancy test would beat whatever sign the cat gave to indicate s/he “knew” your wife was pregnant.

    But then you know this.

  64. G&T Admin

    And now we argue about Cats vs Piss Sticks.

  65. It’s the Rule of Wee.

  66. Dense, yes. Good jokes, not so much.

    Definitely came out of that one counting more positives than negatives, which often wasn’t the case with X. The sheer volume of ideas being thrown at the screen was a huge positive, although the execution often felt ‘lumpy’ rather than the smoothness of the Grant Naylor years.

    Some of the expostion felt incredibly contrived, and I’d probably have to agree with those who favour straight rather than comedic villains and less hackneyed simile jokes. Still I thought things picked up from Rimmer’s ‘Whom’ speech onwards. Ultimately, it’s a comedy it’s meant to make you laugh, and laugh I did, often out loud.

    Couple of cracking guest performances, Lucie Pohl super-hot to boot (Touch of the Nirvanah Crane’s or was that just me?). Lucious production on what I expect was a less than Luscious budget, so presumably props to BabyCow.

    All in all, I’d rate that somewhere between 4 and 100%

  67. Can you toast Mars Bars in it?

  68. No, the people of nineteen twenty-fifty are waffle men.

  69. Personally I like cheese and ham brevilles.

  70. Well, I watched it for the third time this afternoon and it’s definitely growing on me. Still not bollock-bouncingly hilarious but certainly not bad.

    Mind you, I also watched some VII earlier and found myself quite enjoying it. So maybe I’m unwell.

  71. Mind you, I also watched some VII earlier and found myself quite enjoying it. So maybe I’m unwell.

    I’ve rewatched the whole lot over the last four weeks, and I was surprised at how many more times I laughed at series seven *and*, dare I say, eight. Although I found Back to Earth a bit disappointing, as well as (blasphemy(!) series six…

  72. I love VII, especially the Starbug cockpit parts. Shame about the lack of Rimmer

    “Kissing Rimmer? I’d rather go bobbing for apples in a communal latrine at the Reading Festival ” still makes me smile

  73. Having seen some footage from the game and heard mention of a Car level. I’m wondering what came first in the writing process with the car. They are in a world where technology is limited. It is established that the car is steam powered etc. I know there was a comedic car scene featuring the poor mans process of driving in front of a rear projection backdrop etc was cut from the episode in the end, so im wondering whether the car scene was written to establish at what point technology in this era stopped at, being an out of date car for the 50’s etc, and steam powered, wether it was put in for that gag that got cut, or wether it was planned in for a computer game reason. It seems to me going from the street straight into the bar scene would have been quicker.

    I note that Rimmer gets to do the “Leggg It” shout in this episode.

    I also find Bob the Bum’s “It’s a Raid” rather like General ackbars famous “It’s a trap!!”

    I think the blocking is weird on the final scene on Red Dwarf. Were they once again shooting against green screen? like dear dave, or here is a theory were they doing a close up so we dont see much of the ship set cus it was a pick up filmed during series XII block and the set had changed slightly. As Lister js sort of full frame in the dark facing front it’s a strange close up position (ok it’s near bed time for the dark bit) he just feels at a weird angle, almost into camera. Like a news reader. Which is maybe why the tag doesn’t quite work as well. It surely wasnt so late in the year, that craig charles had his foot in bandages was it?

    Of all the great spots of faces mentioned in tonights live dwarf cast, i would like to add Rimmers face after Harmony explains one of her long sentance about science right at him. It’s pricelessly baffled, he almost looks like a scared beaker from the muppets lol.

  74. It’s 12:38 AM in the states, 5:38 for you guys, and I am going to sit here and wait for Samsara to exist. If it doesn’t happen in the morning like last week, then I start mailing letter bombs to UKTV for mildly affecting my sleep.

  75. > I think the blocking is weird on the final scene on Red Dwarf. Were they once again shooting against green screen?

    I concur. If it’s not green screen, then the set is half-dismantled so needs to be zoomed in. There seems little point of starting so tight on Lister, without an establishing shot.

    Also not keen on the Dwarf fly-by immediately before, which also seems a little rushed. There’s a couple of bits that could have been trimmed earlier in the episode (like the tired old “sorry, wrong pocket” gag with the dying man) if they were so tight on time. It makes that scene already seem a little rushed.

  76. > I think the blocking is weird on the final scene on Red Dwarf. Were they once again shooting against green screen?

    I concur. If it’s not green screen, then the set is half-dismantled so needs to be zoomed in. There seems little point of starting so tight on Lister, without an establishing shot.

    It was mentioned in the set report that they stopped filming on the night before doing the last two scenes. (I presume Kryten nicking the Casket back was the last thing done in front of the audience.)

  77. > I think the blocking is weird on the final scene on Red Dwarf. Were they once again shooting against green screen?

    I concur. If it’s not green screen, then the set is half-dismantled so needs to be zoomed in. There seems little point of starting so tight on Lister, without an establishing shot.
    It was mentioned in the set report that they stopped filming on the night before doing the last two scenes. (I presume Kryten nicking the Casket back was the last thing done in front of the audience.)

    A scene in starbug was the last bit filmed. I was there.

  78. I put my hand up as someone who likes a simile joke and as someone who didn’t like the Mars bar joke. It’s not often I disagree with Mr. Capps but I think it was badly worded and badly performed. But it’s all subjective, innit.

    Frankie Boyle does a good simile joke. After Blackadder and Red Dwarf, the next contender for a good sitcom simile is Men Behaving Badly, because they do them for real, as a normal person might think of one.
    “Are you madder than Brian Mad? Of Mad castle… Are you?” Subverting the form is an easy laugh but Martin Clunes has a funny delivery.

    >There was a fairly harsh comment about the quality of the American accents in the episode, given that everybody who plays an American in the episode is actually American.

    That’ll just be the quality of the acting then?

    I was worried that the actor Kevin Eldon might annoy me in this, as I am one of those “cunts” who like the genuinely threatening villains, and was worried he would play it completely for laughs. But I surprised myself by actually enjoying his “leave it” at the end. He was subtle throughout. (As, of course, he can be. See much of Jam and Big Train and that poet character he does…) My only gripe would be that *because* it was Kevin Eldon, I didn’t really believe there was any threat at all.

    Fuck this. At this point, who really cares…. I’m watching Samsara online.

  79. >the next contender for a good sitcom simile is Men Behaving Badly, because they do them for real, as a normal person might think of one.

    YES.

    >“Are you madder than Brian Mad? Of Mad castle… Are you?”

    I’ve said this too many times in my life.

  80. >
    >“Are you madder than Brian Mad? Of Mad castle… Are you?”
    I’ve said this too many times in my life.

    I also say this far too often.

  81. I think MBB’s reputation as being a bit of a bawdy lads’ show (Paul Alexander being a fucking idiot on the VII DVD, for example) is really sad, because it’s one of the very few sitcoms that actually has jokes that I can imagine real people saying. So many funny things are like that – slightly crap similes that are pulled off because they’re delivered in a realistic way. And so, so many jokes that are ACTUALLY the characters telling jokes to each other. It allows for daft lines to be said without breaking the reality.

  82. “Do you want another oyster?”
    “No thanks mate, they disagree with me.”
    “NO WE DON’T!”

    Being a great example.

  83. That one’s utterly tremendous.
    There are a couple of cases of one of them telling an absurd, outlandish – and very funny – story that in other sitcoms would be taken as is, but is then followed up by “Is that true?” – “Course not! How could it be true?” which just endears the whole show and its reality to me so much more.
    Of course the reality is punctured by massive continuity issues over Gary going to university and being able to drive. I hate Simon Nye, what a wanker.

  84. I still think of the oyster joke whenever I eat something that gives me a dicky tummy. That and “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight / red sky in the morning, barn on fire”.

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