Talking Points: Samsara

Samsara has now been online long enough for the majority of you dirty UKTV Players to be fully caught up, so we now have a brand new 30 minutes to pick through with our grubby little fingers. As we did last week, here are some of the pertinent points and ponderings.

A Beautiful Opening

For the second episode in a row we were treated to a big and ambitious model sequence, this time telling the sad tale of the demise of the Samsara, and its escape pod’s journey towards Red Dwarf. Add to that the beautifully apt music and we ended up with a sequence quite unlike anything we’ve really seen in the show before. Given the undeniable phallic image of the Samsara plunging into the depths, do we think this was a deliberate call forward to the oncoming skeleton fucking?

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The Return of Bunk Room Bantz

We’ve endlessly and tediously gone about the fact that just because a scene between Rimmer and Lister is set in the bunk room does not mean it’s automatically hilarious, or in any way an automatic return to form. But what about its return here? How close did did this scene get to the warm fuzzy feeling of that old back and forth? It certainly seemed to be strongly evoking Series IV, right down to Kryten appearing on a monitor and interrupting their fun with some bothersome news about the plot, but how successful are the undeniably old school flirtings of Series XI for you?

Meet the Fuckers

In what is quite possibly one of the biggest story-telling departures of the last 20 years (yes, including Back to Earth) Doug interwove a mini-arc of flashbacks into the episode, telling the audience the story of the Samsara’s fate, specifically the story of the philanderers who inadvertently caused the disaster.  The crew were left none the wiser, allowing for an interesting dovetailing of the two strands at the end as both the audience and crew pieced everything together independently. Was this structure satisfying or perhaps a way to fill up some minutes and cheapy get across the main plot points?

Speaking of which and whom, the roster of guest stars for the this series continued to grow with Green (played by Dan Tetsell which, despite being a fan, UTTERLY ESCAPED ME until the credits) and Barker (played by Maggie Service) featuring prominently. Did these two relatively low key and personal feeling characters work within the story Doug was telling?

tp-samsara-2

Jyuuurstice

This week, the role of bad guy was played by an off-shoot of an old friend – the Justice Computer. I think we can all agree that it’s a damn good job it didn’t try to be funny, but what do you think of bringing back and re-using an old concept, considering this has been a controversial topic in the past? Does the fact that Doug was up-front about the back reference make any difference to the re-use of an old idea, or even the very diverse way the idea was used this time around? Not only that, but were you satisfied with the manner in which Kryten and Rimmer pieced everything together after finding the computer, or was this perhaps another case of hasty exposition at the expense of believability?

Is it shit or is it good?

There’s already been heated debate in the comments, but did Samsara tickle your funny bone? Did the touching and personal story of two adulterers in love destroying an entire vessel and its crew touch you in special places? Will you forever see the sight of half a dozen skellingtons performing fellatio on each other when you close your eyes at night and allow your hand to drift south? These are all good questions, but perhaps for you things got a little out of hand and this story just does not fit in Red Dwarf as you know it?  It’s well known at this point that Doug grabbed some budget from this episode to give to Twentica, so did that affect the episode negatively, or did some creative directing and storytelling make good with little money to speak of?

All these questions and more will be answered in far too much depth during our Live DwarfCast for Samsara, at 10pm on Thursday 29th of Smegsmegsmegber. Keep checking G&T for our full-length written review, which will be coming into your eyes soon.

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61 Responses to Talking Points: Samsara

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  1. >Was this structure satisfying or perhaps a way to fill up some minutes and cheapy get across the main plot points?
    The second one.

    >did Samsara tickle your funny bone?
    No, it hacked it off, buried it and then did a shit on it.

  2. Prefer this to the opener/”filmed final show”, the secondary tale was interesting especially the way the uniforms mirrored the Kockanski verse style, seen in VII’s Ourobos. overall solid 9/10 👍

  3. Enjoyed this episode! love the spacey sciency episodes over ‘Earth’ based shows.
    The dark vibes and heavy science give it that ‘V’ feeling. Interesting science idea that the Justice tech was not just utilised in one place. Love the evolution but devolution banter between Cat and Lister.

    8.5/10

  4. I didn’t mind that the karma drive was made by the same sorta science as justice world but just don’t make a habit of it Doug, we already had the joy squid as an alternative to the despair squid in BTE and that really is when the show starts to feel like its out of ideas.

  5. It was definitely an interesting way to tell the story rather than in one big lump at the beginning/end, or by Kryten just telling the story. It felt dramatic in a way that Twentica didn’t. I didn’t buy into the tension of the first episode (despite liking its story), but this one had a nice, mystery narrative that I wanted a resolution to. It wasn’t particularly funny. But I didn’t mind. They were such short clips that it didn’t matter.
    Kind of reminiscent of Stasis Leak. And obviously DNA/Psirens (what happened here?) meets Justice.
    Really liked it.
    But as I mentioned somewhere else I was watching online so not properly paying attention. I had to track back on the Archimedes scene. Not many people are saying that.

    Was it just me or did Lister seem to know too much about Formica?

  6. I think this was better than Twentica overall, the model work was great, it was a lot more sci-fi which I like, and Rimmer was at his Rimmeriest for a long time, great stuff. And the jokes were properly amusing, the whole Cat and Lister conversation was fantastic, though unless Lister has done an Open University course we don’t know about, he’s a lot more knowledgeable than we’re used to. Guest wise, the lovebirds weren’t too bad, but I feel like the Captain let the team down a bit, didn’t seem very authoritative and he was a bit quiet I also think I heard a music cues from Demons & Angels (very similar if not) which is cool.

    Karma drive had me worried it was going to go a bit ‘Entangled’ but it was fine in the end, I enjoyed the format with the flashbacks, makes a change from Kryten just figuring it out and telling everyone else.

    I don’t mind if Doug reuses concepts either, it’s in universe, why not? All sci-fi with an established universe does it.

  7. A BEAUTIFUL OPENING: That might be one of the best openings the show’s ever done. I kind of wish Series XI opened with this episode instead of Twentica (this whole episode was paced way better then Twentica). The eerie atmosphere and lead-in to Red Dwarf would have been a stellar beginning to a series. Obviously the opening shots are gorgeous, but the music on top of that, going right to a badass shot of Red Dwarf with the eerie music still playing. Gave me chills. Absolutely fantastic. The fact that it went right from a badass opening like that right to a classic-style bunkroom scene is icing on the cake. A seamless mixture of the old and the new. (Speaking of beautiful: that Science Room. My god, it is glorious.) This whole episode is beautiful. The effects, the direction, the sets. Also, please tell me that the Series XI DVD Cover is going to be light metallic blue; I’m seeing it a lot so far in the sets, in Starbug, the Science Room, and the Samsara, and it’s a good look for Red Dwarf.

    THE RETURN OF BUNK ROOM BANTZ: Finally. This is what I’ve been waiting for. The “moves move” exchange from Dear Dave and the Hoguey the Roguey scene in The Beginning held me over on I-II style exchanges, but this is more like it. Both the Mine-opoly scene and Rimmer’s curse anecdote with the charmed life argument were great.

    I’ll admit it took me a while before I figured out that the Karma Drive was what made the dice constantly become a two and a one. Before that, since Lister already cheated with the cards, I figured he also did with the dice. He just seemed so certain about the two and the one and seemed conspicuously unsurprised that it kept coming up that I was convinced he had rigged them somehow, so I was waiting for a punchline explanation that never came. Why wasn’t Lister sharing Rimmer’s reaction of “WTF. Seven times in a row?” So my initial reaction of that scene was a little skewed because I was distracted by that bollocks. Watching it again, yeah. Zero complaints. Great scenes, exactly the kind of thing I think we’ve had in mind when we called for more bunkroom scenes.

    Kryten appearing on the monitor to me was a callback to the shitty effect in Timeslides “Something quite strange is happening,” where he interrupted another bunkroom scene. It looks just so awesome, I almost feel like it’s apologizing for how crappy that effect looked in Timeslides. III-IV was the transition point between I-II and V-VI tonally and structurally, as we had a gradient shift from bunkroomy scenes (a little more prevalent in III) and then easing into the action and exploration aspects (a little more prevalent in IV). The bunkroom scene subject matter and execution in Samsara evoked Series II and III, and the scenes on the ship itself evoked comparisons with DNA, White Hole, Justice, and obviously some Back to Reality. And if we’re being fair, Duct Soup. Now even given the enormous drag factor of Duct Soup, I still think we have something truly special: a hybrid of II, III, IV, and V that manages to still be its own thing. It’s one thing to have a bunkroom scene or explore a derelict with skeletons. But Lister and Cat essentially have some bunkroom scenes ON a derelict with skeletons. I don’t think that’s really been done before, that particular mixture. Their exchange and the fact that they’re putting the glowsticks inside the skeletons as they’re hanging out is just SUCH a nice touch and to me symbolizes what this episode is doing and also how it’s blending the older and middle series into something new and special.

    MEET THE FUCKERS: I feel like this issue needs to be split into sub-issues:

    1) Were the flashbacks a good idea, and do they belong in Dwarf? – YES. There’s a first time for everything, and everything is new until you do it. The storytelling here really works with them, and it’s the kind of thing that not only works in these modern days of peak tv where flashbacks are more prevalent, but this could have easily worked in the classic series. In Stasis Leak, they basically physically go into flashbacks. This seems to me a natural extension of any other time Red Dwarf has done flashbacks, especially involving the pre-accident Red Dwarf.

    2) Did the guest stars work? – Yeah. They were fine. In fact, the way the crew was portrayed in general walked the fine line between sci-fi and comedy. The “fuckers” weren’t inherently hilarious but that’s okay since they weren’t meant to be and in a hard sci-fi show like Red Dwarf, a dollop of humor is all you need for supporting characters like that. The apple pie whipped cream exchange hit just the right note of indicating that there was still room for humor, and the actors including the actor for the captain hit just the right note for me. Definitely a far cry from the overly broad Red Dwarf crew in VIII.

    3) Did the flashbacks actually work in execution? – Yeah. I thought the information was doled out in good fashion. I honestly didn’t see it coming that the Karma Drive was reversed. Maybe in hindsight the exchange between the woman and Kryten in the Science Room could have been more substantial, seeing as we actually got to know her by the end. And I’ll just say, I was surprised at first but then really impressed by the transition shots between the present exploration and the pre-accident flashbacks. Just really well-done, good direction and storytelling. Flawless. And plot-wise the characters themselves were an excellent way of explaining the Karma Drive concept and the cautionary tale of its dangers.

    JYUUURSTICE: I absolutely LOVED the callback to Justice here, both the callback and the way the concept was built upon with punishments and rewards. Actually, to me, this improves upon Justice, as Rimmer pointed out my niggle I’ve always had with the Justice Field in that who’s to say what is moral? When Kryten explains that it’s programmable which makes it dangerous, that just totally works for me for both Samsara and Justice. I’m still not sure how it actually alters reality but that’s okay. Reality bubbles are also a thing, so I can let it go. The idea that someone can reprogram one of these fields and even reverse it is a superb idea. Referencing Justice is one thing, but building on it and subverting it? Excellent. (I’m still not sure why the rest of the crew were killed. If there were having an orgy and strangling/stabbing each other, why did they get killed? Wouldn’t that have saved them form being flash fried? Also, why couldn’t the computer scientist just turn off the Karma field or make a small adjustment so that having affairs was okay without messing with the rest of the field?)

    Also, it was a nice touch that Rimmer got a shock by being nice to Kryten, and they mistakenly thought it was because he was being insincere. It’s something I didn’t catch on first viewing, but it’s the kind of imaginative narrative sci-fi logical detail that you see in the best Dwarf and Doctor Who.

    I also really liked the scene in the Karma Drive room where Kryten pieces together the situation with Rimmer. The direction of them walking around the Karma Drive was just fantastic. Also, I really appreciated the seriousness of the discussion. There aren’t a lot of jokes in that exchange. When Kryten explains the drive and Rimmer points out that morality changes over times and cultures, it’s not funny. He’s actually just making a good, legitimate point. I really like this. Because it’s not boring, it’s informative, and it shows that the Dwarfers are capable of having serious, productive conversations. It also gives the idea of the Karma Drive the weight it deserves. Because it is potentially scary. Not just in how it can kill you but how you must submit to someone else’s morality (and the added piece of bullshit that you can’t privately commit “immoral” acts, as the computer will know and report it to the captain). The skeletons were scary, but it its own way, the fact that the lovebirds couldn’t shag and had to submit to the captain’s morality is equally scary. Lister pontificating about free will in Justice was a bit preachy, but he had a point.

    Speaking of callbacks, if I had one complaint about the episode, it was Rimmer’s “we’re in big trouble,” line. I knew it was coming before he said it. The obvious Inquisitor callback was too much of a softball, too obviously teed-up, and even if it is an obvious callback, it didn’t quite work for me (though in fairness, Rimmer adding “big BIG trouble” did kind of work.) At least this felt like a deliberate legitimate callback, instead of the derivative quasi-callbacks in X with the practice rectum and “Listy, you’re up.” But that one line is my only complaint in an otherwise perfectly excellent episode.

    IS IT SHIT OR IS IT GOOD: It’s good, if not quite hitting the memorable highs of Twentica. But I really liked all of it as a whole and had zero problems with any particular aspect. It’s kind of like Series IV, where it’s consistently solid even if there isn’t a “classic” high to make it as memorable. But I’ll take it. Not only is Samsara good. It’s easily Top-36 good, at least on par with Twentica, and probably a little higher, though I get the feeling this one will rise ever further in my personal rankings overtime. Its balance of exploration, sci-fi concepts, character moments, modern narrative styles, and yes, bunkroom scenes make it basically what I had in my head when I imagined what good, modern dwarf can and should look like. Loved it.

  8. When it comes to reusing ideas I always think about Star Trek where The Next Generation tried to keep things fresh as possible and then by the time we got to the prequel Enterprise it spent to much time desperately revisiting anything that would be fan service to make the show look good or tripping over its own feet by doing similar ideas to other trek episode they had done previously, it’s a curse of a long running show unfortunately which makes the universe feel a lot smaller.

  9. by the time we got to the prequel Enterprise it spent to much time revisiting anything that would be fan service

    This is it exactly. It’s pulling an Enterprise. Moffat Who does it too much as well. Bang on.

  10. I don’t have a problem with new episodes having loose links to past ones. Reminds us that this is all one big universe and not, y’know, random inconsequential guff of the week.

    My biggest problem with the episode it that it just sort of… stops. Like this post.

  11. “Not only that, but were you satisfied with the manner in which Kryten and Rimmer pieced everything together after finding the computer, or was this perhaps another case of hasty exposition at the expense of believability?”

    Having watched it through a second time today I actually enjoyed the story more than I did in my initial comment this morning in the other thread, however it’s this but here that bothered me on both occasions. I get Kryten is often used as an exposition machine, but I do wish they’d allow 10 second in the script for him to be curious and investigate a little first.

    Rimmer: “what is it?”

    Kryten: “I’m not sure sir” *types at computer console* “according to this, it appears to be Karma Drive”

    Rimmer: “a karma drive?”

    Kryten: “yes, it seems to run on similar t chnology we saw in the justice computer ….”

    Etc etc

    Kryten knowing everything just isn’t credible I don’t think. That can be debated I’m sure but it’d feel a little more natural, for me, if he had to figure some things out like anyone else would.

  12. 1. Opening – It was a very atmospheric opening and I think the model work throughout this episode was better executed than in Twentica.

    2. Bunkroom Bantz – I liked how Kryten interrupted Lister and Rimmer on the vid screen because it made Red Dwarf feel a lot bigger than it has recently. In X if Kryten had wanted to tell them something quickly it seemed like he just walked in the room and told them, which made the mining ship Red Dwarf feel like two rooms and a corridor rather than absolutely massive.

    3. The Fuckers – I think the flashback scenes were a great idea and worked for the story, but possibly some of the acting in them was a bit below par.

    4. Jyuuurstice – I felt the reuse of the Justice computer was fine because they changed the idea and in a way that made it more sinister. Instead of simply enforcing black letter law as the Justice field did, the karma computer enforced the morals of the company operating the spaceship, which given the treatment of adulterers seemed to be rather old-fashioned and it was bordering on, or maybe just full on, oppressive given the sanctions that were applied.

    5. Shit or Good – It is good. As I said in the let’s talk threat, I preferred Twentica but Samsara is still a solid episode.

  13. My biggest problem with the episode it that it just sort of… stops.

    I do wonder if that’s going to be this series’ Thing where X had kinda sorta clunky set-ups.

  14. > Jyuuurstice

    Emohawk, and the appearances of the luck virus in series VIII, were examples of direct reuse of old concepts without much of a twist. But other than that, when Red Dwarf has reused old concepts it’s often been to showcase the opposite aspect of the way it was handled the first time. So in VIII Rimmer experiences the downsides of the sexual magnetism virus, Back to Earth presented what would be (in a somewhat contrived and tenuous way) the crew’s joyous fantasies. Pree took the precognition aspect of Cassandra and asked what would happen if they were used in a genuinely threatening way by a by-the-book AI like Queeg (though admittedly that wasn’t really a direct reversal). And Dear Dave reversed Better Than Life’s mail delivery by… er… making it Lister rather than Rimmer who received a devastating message, I suppose?

    (I accept that this overarching theory has some holes in it.)

    I completely agree with Dax101 that calling back to concepts from classic episode can come across like fan service. However, assuming it’s executed well, I don’t really mind it as long as the reverse twist is as interesting as the original version, and different aspects of the concept are emphasised. The mere fact the show has changed a lot in the decades since series IV is also enough to make it worth seeing how an old idea would be handled now.

    In the case of Samsara, we saw an exploration of an inverted Justice Field, which was depicted in a way that also doubled as an inverted Luck Virus (but the implications weren’t explored to the extent they were in Justice and Quarantine), and the episode ended with a kind of inversion of the end of Terrorform (but the peril, and the characters’ struggle to behave in a different way, weren’t emphasised to the same extent). Along the way we had a mystery presented in a flashback format that’s new to the series, and a lengthy Cat/Lister scene that’s unusual for taking place in the middle of an off-ship adventure.

    For me, all these things were enough to justify revisiting the concept of a Justice Field for the first time in 25 years!

    Naturally plenty more could still be be done with the idea. Perhaps in a book? It’s worth remembering that a lot of concept recycling took place between the novels and the TV series. Better than Life, Backwards Earth, pleasure GELFs, Gunmen of the Apocalypse, the DNA machine, and Ace Rimmer’s backstory were all handled very differently in the novels. Not just because the inherent difference in medium let Rob and Doug explore these ideas in more depth, but also because they approached the same ideas with a different tone. (Usually a bleaker, more threatening one!)

    If Doug were to write a novel expanding on some of the underused concepts from VIII, BTE, X and XI, I wonder if it would be welcomed? Could the setting of Twentica be sustained for a third of a novel, in the same way that Better than Life and Backwards Earth were?

  15. It hadn’t occurred to me that it might be controversial to re-use old concepts like the Despair Squid in BTE and now the Justice (in the voice of Martin Sheen) computer – I guess since I happen to be very fond of both Back to Reality and Justice I just went with it. Now you mention it, that does seem a bit desperate.

    This episode seems controversial – so much so that I decided to finally make an account to mouth off. I adored it. To my tastes – among the (if not the) best episodes since Out of Time. I’m always in favour of heavy concepts, ones that Doug can really get his teeth into – he seems like he’s never happier than when he’s coming up with an elaborate SF idea like ERRA or the Samsara’s demise, and it comes across in the writing. I like to share that excitement with the script. As well – I’m VERY happy with the flashbacks. Not because they were especially enjoyable or well-played, but just because they were decidedly not comedic – they were a pause in the gags. I feel like series 8-10 had a tendency to throw too many gags at us, like they were nervous about not appearing funny. This episode finally has the confidence to take a deep breath and pause between jokes.

    Also as a couple of people have said already – in many ways this episode feels like a bit of a ‘return of Rimmer’ – not to diminish The Beginning, but there was a feeling of ‘oh there he is!’ when Rimmer spoke, when he rolled the dice, when he wore that adorable hologrammatic dressing gown. I like that the character has changed and mellowed after Out of TIme, Stoke Me a Clipper and The Beginning (this episode for example reminds us that he and Lister now get along better than Cat and Lister), but I miss the old feel of the character. It came back naturally here, for a few moments.

    And the Cat stuff – for me, that was a huge treat. I feel like Danny is the one actor who has been consistently great in his role and is always ready to be hilarious when the scripts will make time for him. To me the highlight of series 10 was the line, ‘And his finger-wetting machine was working overtime….’ just like the highlight of 7 was, ‘So is it because you’re born that way, or are you just kind of sissy?’ Series 11 will have a damn hard time beating ‘super-swingin’ monkey arms’ for me. That line in particular was an excellent bit of sci-fi as well as humour, I thought. Once again, Doug is happiest and his work flows best when he’s not forcing woofers but musing about science with a slight smirk. Here’s a scene where a man descended from apes and a man descended from cats bicker about how the evolutionary process works and what the better starting point ought to logically be. Brilliant.

    Bizarrely sudden ending, obviously. Not the first time – Legion ended too quick, so did Meltdown. But very jarring.

  16. Further thought that occurs: The bunkroom scenes. A welcome return and the acting was much better during these scenes (especially from Chris), BUT … on reflection (and now I’ve had some time to digest the episode), it didn’t feel ‘natural’ to me. Take an episode from S1-S6. For argument’s sake: Better Than Life. The bunk scenes and reflective moments are all there, but they exist to serve the narrative, and they actually forward the story in some small way. In comparison, and as good as these bunkroom scenes were for New Dwarf, they did feel like Doug ‘just wanted to have some bunkroom scenes’, so he wrote some in.

  17. To be honest, the show could have gone without referencing Justice at all, and all people would have complained about was that the concept of a karma field was a bit too similar to the Justice Zone. By referencing it, it just makes the technology a bit more logical and established for the world we already know, and means you can skip over exposition a bit more quickly.

    For me, it’s very similar to the opening of Demons And Angels with “we’ve adapted the matter paddle”. Could they have made it a brand new concept instead? Yes. Would that have required a bit more work to explain the tech, for not much gain? Yes.

  18. Further thought that occurs: The bunkroom scenes. A welcome return and the acting was much better during these scenes (especially from Chris), BUT … on reflection (and now I’ve had some time to digest the episode), it didn’t feel ‘natural’ to me. Take an episode from S1-S6. For argument’s sake: Better Than Life. The bunk scenes and reflective moments are all there, but they exist to serve the narrative, and they actually forward the story in some small way. In comparison, and as good as these bunkroom scenes were for New Dwarf, they did feel like Doug ‘just wanted to have some bunkroom scenes’, so he wrote some in.

    I’m not sure I agree with this. The scenes with Lister winning the boardgame by cheating, and Rimmer complaining about Lister getting all the breaks in life and not deserving them, both tied directly into the reverse-karma idea of the main plot.

  19. Its good not shit. Just not anything more, its not reaching very good.

    Yes that opening is nice, looks a bit computer gamey,
    But its trying something different as a shot, and establishing nicely at least half of the story really.

    The early bunk room stuff, yes that all works well for me.
    Even chris barrie delivery its good to me he is clearly trying and failing to be a good loser again
    And that will be directly relevant later when the karma drive requires a game of his emotions.

    The flashback fuckers. It was used well on the Pompeii like corpse jokes but very poorly on the mystery reveal, kryten exposition ing away something that could have been revealed more to us in flashback and made us worry more about the crew. As the karma drive seemingly killed the escape pod people for just the act of being nice and telling others of the danger it would have been nice if like kryten and rimmer had found out the danger but couldn’t risk telling lister or something it would have made the punching even funnier. I thought ultimately the guest couple were a bit shit. And i dont know them from any other shows.

    I’m fine with the justice reuse. I saw entangled and luck virus very different i see justice and karma subtly different too and if anything it was good shorthand to mention it as a concept related here.
    There are other borrows that show up more to me on rewatching. Krytens bing bong is robert doing Hatties job!!!
    And then the ashes reveal right down to rimmers now is pretty much series II kryten skeletons meets everybody is dead Dave.

  20. Yeah, I can see WHY they were included in this episode , but it was all to do with ‘plot’ rather than ‘story’. At least, that’s what I took away from an initial viewing (whereas BTL for example, again, used those moments to further character situations/motivations — it felt more ‘genuine’, like there was a reason for those characters to be going through those moments at those times).

  21. I have no problem with proper sequels that continue and build (I love Stoke Me A Clipper and Back To Earth), but virtually *every single beat* of Samsara, even visually, mirrored something they’d done before. It was excessively, strangely so – at least the second half of Emohawk was fairly broad and open with what it was doing, whether you like it or not.

  22. I’m not sure I agree with this. The scenes with Lister winning the boardgame by cheating, and Rimmer complaining about Lister getting all the breaks in life and not deserving them, both tied directly into the reverse-karma idea of the main plot.

    i don’t know whether rimmer moaning about not getting the breaks was tied into the karma stuff since it was just rimmer giving the not getting the breaks speech that he does ever so often.

    They probably could have cut away after rimmer lost the game.

  23. they did feel like Doug ‘just wanted to have some bunkroom scenes’, so he wrote some in.

    Sadly some of them do feel that way yeah like the rimmer and lister talk in lemons which added a very poor expression joke through out the episode

  24. Re-watched Twentica and Samsara back-to-back last night. I watched them with my girlfriend (a casual RD viewer) instead of alone and in a more relaxed frame of mind than my first viewings. And you know what? They are flippin’ good. Excellent in fact. Smart ideas, funny jokes and (above all) that properly Dwarfy feeling. Thank you Doug and team. So far, you’ve done practically everything right.

  25. The Nostril, Minotaur and spine chill, jokes would have been funnier had I not heard them so much in trailers. (Especially on Radio X where they were doing a RD competition- incidentally there was joke about Fifa but I forgot it).
    But at the same time I’m glad they are all now seen in Samsara so the rest of the gags in later episodes will be fresh :)

  26. I’ve just noticed that when Lister claims he’s spilled lager down Kryten’s back, Kryten turns around and we see no stain or wetness on his back. 0/10 stars. Worse than Pete part 2.

  27. A Beautiful Opening: Indeed, model work and compositing looked to be a step up from last week. Shame the submerged Samsara lacked scale. Looked tinty.

    The Return of the Bunk Room Bantz: A good scene. I wonder if Rimmer’s childhood love of Mineopoly at all influenced his choice / compromise of career on a mining ship.

    Meet the Fuckers: As I’ve said in the other thread, the flashbacks seemed superfluous when we also had an info-dump from Kryten later in the episode. Doug really needs to reign that in. We’re used to having Kryten come up with an expositional “best guess”, but it’s seemingly increasingly clunky that a bog bot with a psy-scan can suddenly unpick any mystery.

    Jyuuurstice: (Day Today Reference?) Had no problem with the Justice field being revisited, though it wasn’t mined for its comedy potential. The episode just ended. Which brings me to…

    Is it shit or is it good?: Yes. Both. But mainly shit.

    A few good bits but the structure was a mess, felt like the third act was missing entirely. The end credits were heralded by a cry of “what the fuck?” in my house and for a split second I wondered if we were getting a two-parter…
    We’d had this great concept established and then it was just abandoned. “Wouldn’t it be funny if the Dwarfers were stuck somewhere where they could only escape by being bastards to each other?” “Yes!” “Well…err, that’s what they probably did after the episode ended.”

    The Archimedes conversation was the weakest stuff since VIII. Shouting “Formica”, inventing gravy, the laboured pondering on the bath falling out of the plane, the knighthood. Really fucking weak.

  28. I’ve just noticed that when Lister claims he’s spilled lager down Kryten’s back, Kryten turns around and we see no stain or wetness on his back. 0/10 stars. Worse than Pete part 2.

    Also, when there’s a close up of Barker & Green’s remains, Lister’s arms are in front of him but then when it cuts back his arms are by his sides. Completely took me out of the moment and ruined the episode, bring back Rob Grant & Norman Lovett etc.

  29. “Wouldn’t it be funny if the Dwarfers were stuck somewhere where they could only escape by being bastards to each other?” “Yes!” “Well…err, that’s what they probably did after the episode ended.”.

    I honestly think it would have been to same old, the dwarfers cracking insults at each other? not seen that before.

    I still think more humour around the mystery of the strange at that time unknown karma stuff happening on the ship would have been better personally.

    When it comes to how it should have ended i think rimmer should have been the one to find the card and questioned lister about it.

  30. A Beautiful Opening – phallic ship, I think, was a coincidence. But that whole scene was absolutely incredible. Basically it looked like what I wanted Dwarf to look like (and, to an extent, how future episodes looked when I dreamed about them as a kid). I also loved the music in this episode. Some of the synth stuff reminded me of incidental music in 4-6. There’s a bit where they enter the main chamber that really made me think of that synth flourish that accompanies the appearance of Legion.

    Bunk Room Bantz – I thought this was mostly successful. Chris’s performance was a bit broader than I liked at this point (it improved dramatically later in the episode), but I’ve come to accept that since VIII really. And yes, I suppose it could be that it’s actually Rimmer just becoming a bit weird in his old(er) age.
    Most importantly, there were loads of great jokes. The reveal of Lister’s cheating made me think of the clunky openings of X episodes for some reason, but after that I think every joke worked brilliantly. Really nice use of Kryten on the screen to link it to the rest, particularly given it included the ‘bing bong machine’ line which I found hilarious.

    Meet the Fuckers – I had no problem with the flashbacks. I don’t think they were necessarily necessary (er), but it was an interesting way of telling the episode and it worked well enough – and I’m really glad that Doug is still experimenting with interesting episode structures. It’s something that makes the episode a bit different, and stuff like that is going to work in favour of remembering the episode, and also it not just being a direct retread of the classic era. I want XI to feel like it picks up where VI left off, not feel like it’s actually IV-VI. So new things like this are always welcome.

    Jyuuurstice – yeah, I did a bit of a cringe when Kryten said it was a spin off of the Justice tech, as it’s another back-reference which the show in general doesn’t need. But it was handled better than any of the past ones, and I’m reasonably happy with it overall. I think referencing it definitely helped, it makes it more believable in-universe. It’s better than ‘oh it was an opposite suicide quid’ or ‘Post Pod II: Killer Post Pod’. The realisation and exposition was fine, it’s the kind of thing Kryten has done in the past. His best guesses have always worked for a logical character like him. It’s not like the ‘Kryten figured it out’ shit in Cassandra which made no sense whatsoever.

    Is it shit or is it good? – it was really fucking funny, and, being kind to Doug, I think it’s possible he wanted to add in a bit of mystery to stop it being a generic bottle episode. Without the karma drive, it would have just been another Marooned or Duct Soup. I don’t think the overall plot was incredibly strong, but neither do I think that it detracted from the show. As a back-to-basics, joke-led comedy episode, it was a massive success for me. The run of episodes from Trojan through to Twentica was far better than I expected from Red Dwarf after VII and VIII, but this is the first time since VI that I’ve howled with laughter almost non-stop throughout the episode, and that alone filled me with a giddy kind of glee.

  31. Having read the rest of the thread, expanding on a couple of discussed points:
    The ending I think would have worked if there’d been a proper woofer there, rather than simply a callback for those who missed the link between the bunkroom scene and the rest of the plot. It was obviously designed to go out on a bang and didn’t quite manage it. But it didn’t bother me much. I don’t think the plot needed five minutes of the four characters insulting each other. The premise had been used well in the previous scenes, and hammering it home would have felt too much.

    The evolution gag, somehow I forgot that one. That felt like proper classic Dwarf to me: a genuinely intriguing concept that no other show could really have explored, and really funny at the same time. Brilliant stuff.

  32. >Does the fact that Doug was up-front about the back reference make any difference to the re-use of an old idea, or even the very diverse way the idea was used this time around?

    Was unnecessary, I feel. Someone would have had a theory connecting the tech back to Justice but it’s a similar idea executed in a different enough way so I probably wouldn’t have noticed. It’s not like having to explain why there’s a sexual magnetism virus on Starbug or pulling the ability to travel through mirrors out of nowhere.

    >The premise had been used well in the previous scenes, and hammering it home would have felt too much.

    Huh, maybe it should have ended with Rimmer yelling/moaning at Lister as they all head out.

  33. If well-written enough, possibly even a Stasis Leak-esque ending could have worked, with them all walking out insulting each other.

  34. “Jyuuurstice.”

    I will never get tired of that reference :D

  35. Who else would buy Mine-opoly if it was for sale on the official shop?

  36. As far as the Karma Drive directly referencing the Justice Field goes – if it hadn’t been directly mentioned, I’m sure somebody online would be moaning about Doug trying to fob us off as though we’ve forgotten all about it. This is fandom on the internet, it’s what we do.
    The bunkroom stuff is brilliant – Chris is on great form here, more Rimmer-y than he has been in the Dave-era so far. I’d agree that he plays up a bit, turns slightly pantomimey. (Maybe needs to have a look at series IV/V Rimmer and emulate that. But that’s just me being overly picky). But the Lister/Cat stuff was hilarious, especially the first part in the pitch dark, pre-glosticks. I was *really* laughing at that, more than I have in ages (That, and Kryten’s dust/fluff line).
    I had no problem with the invention of gravy, and the knighthood line was groaningly marvellous. The aeroplane/bathtub stuff was maybe overegged a little, but I’ve no real problem with the length of the scene.
    It’s just the flat/sudden ending that’s disappointing. Like I said elsewhere, I think it would have been better ending with a scene back on Red Dwarf with Rimmer getting his way over Lister, tidy up the opening scene.
    But, for me, a lot better than Twentica. It’s so strange reading such wildly differing opinions to mine on here. (Mind you, I’m not a big fan of Lemons, and that’s certainly not the norm round these parts.)
    [see also anything I’ve said here: http://www.ganymede.tv/2016/09/lets-talk-about-samsara-on-uktv-play/#comment-84172 just in case I’ve forgotten to repeat myself on here]

    Also, as someone who admits to liking Hyperdrive, I found it an odd coincidence that, after all these years, we have Hyperdrive regulars (The Actor Kevin Eldon last week and Maggie Service this) in two consecutive episodes of Red Dwarf. Looking forward to Miranda Hart and Nick Frost turning up in coming weeks.

  37. It should have ended on them back at the Mineopoly board; a smug-faced Rimmer rolls the dice but still gets a 2 and a 1, and we see a grinning Lister holding another pair of die behind his back while Rimmer rages.

    Still…this was hugely enjoyable! Like a mash-up of 2 and IV, which is something I’m never gonna complain about. Far from perfect…but things have come a looooong way since X, both on the comedy front and the story. A change to the ending, and cutting 20 seconds out of the Cat’s Archimedes dialogue (not knocking Danny’s performance, he did marvellously here!) and that would have taken it from a 7/10 to a 8/10 (for Dwarf. Obviously, compared with most things it’s already 10/10 :D)

  38. The pair of dice idea would be a better ending.

  39. I bloody love the opening of the episode with the beautiful model sequences. On first watch, seeing the escape pod floating in space towards the Dwarf, the close up of the Dwarf, the eerie music and atmosphere all instantly evoked the beginning of Polymorph for me. I honestly expected there to be some creature in that pod that would fuck things up for the Dwarfers in scary and hilarious ways.

    I really like the flashbacks. I think what I like most about it is that it instantly feels like something we’d get from the novels. And I really like the transitions between the past and future. Some of the best directing we’ve seen from Doug so far.

    The whole scene with Lister and Cat and the whole inventors thing, or whatever bollocks that was… I do agree that it goes on too long. I’ve watched the episode 3 times now, and each time I find myself kind of zoning out during that scene. So I guess it doesn’t really doesn’t do much for me, or my concentration is incredibly piss poor.

    When I got to the ending on first watch, I literally said out loud “What? That’s it?” It just seemed too abrupt to me and felt like the episode needed a few extra minutes for a proper ending.

    This is an episode that’s grown on me more with each watch. I like it and don’t think it’s shit. Honestly, I think it’s one of the most inventive episodes Doug’s given us and I like how different it is with the flashbacks. But I don’t think it’s better than Twentica and I really can’t see this being a better series opener. I just don’t see how it would work as one at all.

  40. While i don’t think this is the best episode in the Dave run for me, i think it’s the one i’ve enjoyed the most. The Lister and Cat scenes being a real highlight.

    Though like others I really did wonder why the episode ended at that point, it felt as if it had another 5 minutes in it. Like some have said, it should have been bookended with Lister playing Mineopoly again and still winning.

  41. I think they could have kept the ending they had but it needed a few tweaks like it should have been Rimmer finding the card and took a couple of seconds to have Rimmer react while lister leaves quite quickly

    The cat finding the card didn’t really connect.

  42. I think they could have kept the ending they had but it needed a few tweaks like it should have been Rimmer finding the card and took a couple of seconds to have Rimmer react while lister leaves quite quickly

    The cat finding the card didn’t really connect.

    Seconded. Rimmer quietly fuming, maybe ending on one line (a la the end of Marooned).

  43. Is Samsara better than Twentica? I enjoyed Twentica but to me yes Samsara is better. It’s more like the first 6 series but totally stripped down probably because of the Twentica fund but that doesn’t matter to me if the story is good. White Hole worked brilliantly and so does this in terms of ship episodes plus it gives you chance to see if the old chemistry is there when they are stuck together and yes this takes me back to chemistry of the first 6 series so saying this I would probably put it up with them series or certainly up there as one of the best in the last 23 years including maybe a one or two from 10 too

  44. The pair of dice idea would be a better ending.

    This is true, if only by virtue of the fact that it would, in fact, be an ending.

  45. Here’s a small talking point. What do you think of the title now you’ve seen the episode? The titles always seemed so important to me when I was young.
    Not sure if you covered the title with Twentica, as I haven’t yet listened to the Dwarfcast.

  46. Is there another episode named after a ship? It’s a title that seems a lot more intriguing before you watch the episode than after you’ve seen it. I wonder what else it could be called? Karmageddon?

  47. Trojan

  48. Is there another episode named after a ship?

    There’s an entire series.

  49. Holoship

    Enlightenment?

    Trojan is one I missed.

    And, as Si says, the spinoff ‘Blue Midget’ should have come to mind.

  50. I wonder what else it could be called? Karmageddon?

    “Dude, where’s my karma?”

  51. “My Name is Earl”

    … Anyone?

  52. EARL is the name of the computer controlling the lighthouse in The Simpsons.

  53. Is there another episode named after a ship? It’s a title that seems a lot more intriguing before you watch the episode than after you’ve seen it. I wonder what else it could be called? Karmageddon?

    Saṃsāra is Sanskrit, generally used in connection with the concept of Karma.

  54. >Saṃsāra is Sanskrit, generally used in connection with the concept of Karma.

    Yes and Nirvana – in Buddhism.
    I think Doug must’ve had fun with his thesaurus. I agree, it was an intriguing title but revealing that it was the name of a ship was a bit of a let down for me. I don’t know why. Felt too easy, possibly.

  55. Maybe we can just pretend that Green and Barker’s first names are Sam and Sara.

  56. I’m not sure about ships with allegorical titles. I suppose if the entire fleet of ships with a Karma Drive had similar names it’d make sense, but it seems a tad clunky once you find out what it means. Or maybe I’m just really cynical after the SS Manny Celeste.

  57. One thing worth mentioning was that the series X bigature was used in the episode when they took the escape pod from the Samsara aboard. It’s good to know that still has a practical use in the new episodes.

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