Talking Points: Twentica

By now, most of the people who have chosen to watch Twentica ahead of broadcast will have done so, and there’s a hell of a lot to discuss. But there’s a problem. The nature of the online release means that not everyone watches at the same time, and so it’s tricky to give a structure to these discussions that would otherwise be covered by a live DwarfCast. To that end, and to plug the gap before our full written review in a few days’ time, here’s the first edition of our new feature.

Each week, usually on a Friday morning but we’re making an exception for the first one, we’ll summarise what we consider to the five biggest talking points from the episode. We’ll then use your responses to kick off the debate in the forthcoming Live DwarfCast, which will follow the Dave broadcast. Obviously, these are by no means the only talking points – just the things that are in the forefront of our minds after just the solitary viewing. So without further ado, get stuck into these…

Straight into the action

Unlike the vast majority of recent episodes – and in Red Dwarf‘s case, “recent” can mean anything up to nineteen years ago – there is absolutely no pissing about in sight. No scenes at the start showing the status quo on board the ship; just a model shot and then the plot begins to unfold. No unconnected B- or C-plots, or tangential running jokes; just one story, with a beginning, middle and end, which results in both character and situational gags. It’s not unprecedented in the Dave era, but it’s not common either. The pace at which the plot advanced was very reminiscent of the glory days, and there was even a traditional slightly low-key coda.

Bigger? Better? Smeggier?

There’s no denying that in terms of the visuals and production values, there is a palpable gulf between Series X and XI. We knew this would be the case just from the trailers and the set reports, but now that we’ve seen the finished product, just how big is the gulf? Are we talking Series 2 to III levels of improvement? The centrepiece of this episode is has got to be the street set, but there’s also a plethora of model shots to gawp over. No motion controlled Dwarf for the end credits, sadly, but all manner of Starbug flight sequences and crashes, and plenty of physical action on-set too. Add to this the sexy, cinematic lighting and the tight editing, and what do you get out of it?

Jelly, you saaaaaaaay?

On one hand, I can’t believe the actor Kevin Eldon – one of the best comedy performers of all time – has now been in Red Dwarf. On the other hand, I can’t believe it took so long. One of the finest faces in comedy deigning to grace our show with the presence of said face. One of several notable guest stars in the first episode, which also featured the return of Rebecca Blackstone, admittedly in a much smaller role than that of Pree. Also rising from the ensemble were Lucy Pohl as Harmony, David Sterne as “Einstein Bob” (although I preferred the moniker “Bob the Bum”) and Alexis Dubis as 3 of 63. The guest stars in X were great, but on this evidence, is XI on course to top it?

You can’t rewrite history. Not one line!

What are the consequences of this adventure for our crew? They’ve travelled through time and found themselves on a version of Earth… again! It’s becoming somewhat of a habit. Doug addressed why they couldn’t just stay there indefinitely – Kryten and Rimmer would be killed if they didn’t evacuate sharpish – but they do now have Kevin Eldon’s time machine. What’s to stop them using for themselves? And aside from that, what has become of the timeline after the Exponoids’ meddling? They halted all technological developments from the 1920s to the 1950s, and even though Harmony got rid of them by the end of the episode, this alteration to established human history was not undone. In the universe that the Dwarfers inhabit, Albert Einstein was a bum and people were driving steam-powered cars after the Second World War. In fact, if technology was banned, was there even a Second World War?! If so, how did it end? Wow, there are a lot of implications.

Is it shit or is it good?

This is the biggie. All the above factors – the look, the guest cast, the plot, the structure – are all well and good, but this is a comedy, and was it funny? Several different types of gag were on display; the majority emanated from the characters themselves, but we also had a great number of science-based jokes, and the slightly meta thread about the Exponoids speaking in clichés. Where does this episode rank for you? Better than your average X episode? Better than even the best X episodes? Could it even reach the standard of the first six series? Or did the joke about Scotland and deep fried Mars bars offend you so much that you put your foot through your laptop?

All these questions and more will be answered in far too much depth during our Live DwarfCast for Twentica, at 10pm on Thursday 22nd Sme… sorry, September. Keep checking G&T for our full-length written review, and an analysis of the Series XI title sequence, before then.

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106 Responses to Talking Points: Twentica

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  1. Just watched it with a mate. It’s the fourth episode he’s seen after The End, Future Echoes and Balance of Power. He thought it was good.

    I think there is a LOT in this episode. Maybe slightly too much. I generally prefer the more character centric episodes personally and this one is obviously very much an ensemble romp, albeit a fun one. That said I think the premise is great and the guest cast are awesome. And that crash! Stronger story than gags but overall very enjoyable; hands down a step up from X but in my opinion ep 2 is funnier, though obviously I won’t go into any detail.

  2. In terms of premise, appearance and execution, “Twentica” is miles ahead of anything from RDX. In terms of actual jokes, though, it flounders. Some great jokes were ruined by what felt like sloppy or hackneyed wording or structure, feeling rather a lot like someone else’s impression of what jokes in Red Dwarf are supposed to sound like.

  3. On the other hand, I can’t believe it took so long.

    Baby Cow phonebook?

    (Come on, Coogan as John Rimmer. Do iiiit.)

  4. Very enjoyable. Great visuals! Loved the Starbug set! The cast felt a lot more comfy in their old roles again. Minimal Gags but I sometimes like a good sciency-adventure episode! Can’t wait to see the rest!

  5. How much detail do you want? :D

    1. I can’t think of a single episode that gets going as quickly as this. Even the start of The Beginning was a ‘status quo’ of a sort (even if one that played straight into the plot); Terrorform similarly uses action from the word go, but in a more slow-paced manner. Normally we have a few lines of jokey dialogue at least, whereas the opening dialogue of this (if I remember correctly) was Rimmer’s slightly clunky speech about the oncoming craft.

    Personally, I do like the quieter moments in the show, they somehow ground it in reality more. It’s one of my biggest criticisms of VI: the plot rarely lets up, meaning we lose almost everything of the show’s original format. I think IV is the one that gets the balance perfect. There’s always time for the characters to reflect on what’s happening before being thrust into the next situation.
    Obviously Twentica is absolutely jam packed and there was no room for this kind of stuff. And I don’t think that’s inherently a problem: with only one, generally excellent plot, removing anything would have detracted from what we saw on screen. But I do miss the more relaxed ship scenes. Still, from what we’ve seen so far, I have no doubt we’ll see more in the rest of the series.

    2. I think the final shot of the Starbug crash, where it comes to a standstill, is a bit jarring. The CG just looks a tad too obvious and pulls me out of it, something that never happened when it was pure model work. Otherwise, everything on screen looked absolutely brilliant. I don’t think it’s quite as big a leap as 2 to III, but the analogy is reasonable, not only in look, but the overall feel. I always felt X was almost intentionally a retread of 2 in feel (Kryten aside). There are even parallels between most of the episodes. But that’s another story.
    New Starbug set isn’t perfect, definitely doesn’t recapture the older versions (much more claustrophobic), but is still decent.
    The coda was apparently done as a pickup, so I can forgive the less interesting visuals there. I also quite like the low-light in terms of it being bed time. But I was a touch disappointed to have almost no shots of the Dwarf itself. Taking BtE as a single story, this is the least time spent onboard the titular ship since Nanarchy, right?

    3. Guest roles were all spot on. Kevin Eldon raised some reasonable if not spectacular dialogue with his typically brilliant delivery. Some of the biggest laughs were from him in the episode’s climax, purely through the wonderful mix of terrifying and hilarious that only he can give. Lucie Pohl was excellent, managed to make some pretty complex dialogue sound completely off the cuff, her performance carrying some lines which could have seemed pretty clunky coming from a less confident performer. All the other guests were solid – at no point did I think ‘oh dear’.

    4. I’m with the idea that they were able to do a return journey using the existing settings on the box, but lack the capability to use it themselves without the exponoid technology. I’m also happy to write off the altered timeline in a quantum manner a la the end of Back to Earth – every alternate existence creates a new reality. This universe now exists as a parallel timeline.
    That said, it was a packed show so any exposition on these matters would probably have been awkwardly crowbarred in – but it would have been nice to have them cleared up. The ‘unused time machine’ issue is one that I’ve seen a lot of people criticise the show for, and I think it is a valid one. So many elements of VII could have been much simpler if they’d simply used the space element of their new space/time machine.

    5. After two watches, I’d say it was a good episode of Red Dwarf, better than anything in VII, VIII and BtE, better than some of X, and on a similar level to stuff like The Beginning and Lemons. The dialogue in the first half lacked the effortless feel of the early ‘90s performances – it felt like they were sitting around spitting out one-liners, rather than genuinely conversing – and a few of the jokes were either too obviously retreading obvious ground without much originality (Rimmer backtracking on what he’s saying, most obviously), or just a bit shit (I honestly thought the Mars Bar joke was terrible, cliched, and pretty out of date. Not offensive, just really unimaginative). As I mentioned in the other thread, I thought Rimmer’s exasperated ’No!’ in the discussion about theories was excellent, as it wasn’t at all the way I expected him to say it, so it subverted the otherwise obvious joke.
    The exponoid cliches was definitely a Dave-era joke. Doug’s used a few meta devices in recent years, which were less obvious, possibly not even present, in the original run. I honestly thought they were mostly good (Kryten’s initial comment about ‘they can use hackneyed old cliches’, straight faced, was one of my favourite jokes of the episode), and although they don’t feel like classic Dwarf, I’m happy for the show to embrace new approaches, as long as they’re done well. Also, I don’t think it’s possible for Doug to really write the show without an element of self-awareness now. Any long gap in production can lead to a certain amount of navel-gazing, and after some fairly badly-received diversions from the norm in VII and VIII, even more so. Anything the show does now is going to be under a microscope from ourselves and Doug in terms of how it compares or feels with early series. So I’m not at all surprised that meta elements have entered the show, it’s likely a mindset Doug’s been in a lot.
    The second half had a lot of great jokes. Bob the Bum, Rimmer’s dance, the density joke, pram theory.
    I found the first half better on second viewing, perhaps having adjusted to the tone and knowing what to expect, but on the whole I felt it definitely wasn’t as strong as it could have been. A couple of dodgy lines aside, the second half was probably the best Dwarf since 1993, though. Occupies a similar space to Entangled in that regard, only with the order swapped round.

    In some regards I’d say the episode it reminded me most of was Backwards. Excellent premise, some great laughs, but the plot and concept is stronger than the comedy.

  6. Straight into the action

    I think it is a shame they cut out the B-plot about Kryten losing Rimmer’s favourite pair of pants. Or something.

    Bigger? Better? Smeggier?

    I like it when they say smeg.

    All the smeg stuff in the promotion along with the Great British Bake Off stuff in the news has gotten me thinking. The Great British Bake Off got scolded for having Smeg fridges, product placement. Would Red Dwarf be allowed to be sponsored by Smeg or would this mean that it could be considered as product placement whenever they say smeg regardless of the context? My thinking is that by Smeg sponsoring, they’d want you to think of their fridges whenever Lister says smeg. Am I talking bollocks?

    Jelly, you saaaaaaaay?

    The whole guest cast were superb. The Beginning had a great guest cast too but I’d say this tops it. Probably the best guest cast in a single episode since Holoship.

    You can’t rewrite history. Not one line!

    I think it is just easy to assume that by stopping the Exponoids from completing their plan and by going back to the future, their effect on the past was removed too. And they didn’t have the Exponoids time machine, they just had the amplifier which they could use to go back through the original vortex.

    The Second World War wouldn’t have taken place as the Exponoids were ruling the world, presumably.

    Is it shit or is it good?

    Though my favourite series are III-VI, I am of course one of those weird fans who has favourites from each series rather than just a bubble of the first six series.

    It is a bit early to say where it sits with any certainty as these things change over time. I like Lemons and Trojan more than on original broadcast. Dear Dave is still my least favourite episode but I do enjoy that a little more too. Entangled I like a little less.

    I think once the dust settles it’ll be top 25. Good chance of top 20.

  7. I think it is better to assume they went back in time in an alternate dimension, that way there would be no repercussions on their own timeline.

  8. Danny John-Jules was straight into it, I think Chris is a bit on the nose and needs to relax into it, but wasn’t awful. Robert fluffed a couple of lines “astrophysists” I think was the worst one, Craig reminded me of the original run Lister in places which is great, the bit immediately after they crashed especially. The effects were hit and miss to me. Some of it is amazing, some, like the time tunnel, look naff. All the ships looked good (Starbug’s legs look really off though, they look wonky and weak).

    The episode was good though and I’m hopeful for the rest. Didn’t have enough of the main 4 in though for me, a large percentage of the lines were by the guest actors which always takes me out of it a bit, feels a bit alien.

    The nipple nuts were tremendous.

    All the time paradox stuff would surely be negated by the expenoids being killed in the past wouldn’t it, killed in the past, wouldn’t exist in the present to travel back to the past or something.

    Anyway, solid. Going to watch it again later but I’m saying it’s better than anything since the late 90’s.

    EDIT: OH! And where are my flyover end credits goddamnit!

  9. Copying this from the other thread but this is RE: why they don’t use the time drive themselves, now:

    I don’t think there’s any plot hole as to why the Dwarfers don’t use that particular device to just go back to Earth. The villains needed it to boost their own advanced technology, so I don’t think the device itself was entirely responsible for that range of travel. And then, the villains and their ship (and presumably the portal thingy) got destroyed by the burst on the planet – which was why our group couldn’t stay, due to Kryten and Rimmer – and so when they re-emerge into space, they wouldn’t have been able to use it in the same way because their ship doesn’t have the same capabilities for it to magnify.

  10. Actually, the more I watch it, the more I like it. “Bunsun burners. Marvellous,’ ‘Don’t say anything,’ ‘you leave the string alone’ the lovely epilogue.

    Yeah, I’m into this.

  11. Action – It’s not really a big talking point. The start of Bodyswap we land in jeopardy, The start of Inquisitor they are already on starbug etc. It’s just normal to mix it up in the way things start, it worked great hear in a busy episode.

    Better – Yes. Cheaper than X overall wasnt it apparently, and we are going to hear left right and center people saying this series has more money. Professionally mounted and saving costs across a long plan clearly well done everyone.

    Jelly – Heaven. And I’ve not seen one person mention Hyperdrive cross overs ha ha ha ha ha. I love Kevin, he is briliant
    as the bitchy borg.

    History – Yeah i will have to check ive only seen the EP once on screen so far. But i was really expecting some kind of “reset” at the end. Involving the Kronos machine. I think we either have to assume that the portal seen on screen means this actually went to an alternate earth. Or that like robocop lister in DNA although we never saw the reset on o. they do something off screen to reset earth history. Even if it’s only that having liberated science, the earth progresses more naturally back to what we know. But yeah it’s not following the kind of thing timeslides established about the nature of time travle in red dwarf.

    Shit – Its simply great. A great show. Almost as good as the best of it’s episodes, to mid table and reaching up as the best series of solo doug dwarf or definately of Dave dwarf eras.

  12. EDIT: OH! And where are my flyover end credits goddamnit!

    Judging from the Series X attempt, I don’t think the current ship design has the kind of details that would make for a visually interesting fly-over, particularly with the thrusters being basically flat.

    Starbug shots were good but looked distinctly different from the original model shots. Felt like we were always seeing roughly the same angle of the ship in most of the space shots.

  13. It’s like Doug has made ‘The Force Awakens’ for the Dwarf universe… kind of. :p

    Facts…

    – Twentica is better than anything in X, VIII and everything in VII but Tikka.
    – Plenty of genuine laughs! The ‘braces’ line made me laugh a lot for some reason.
    – It’s a little TOO fast-paced and jam-packed…but this is GOOD for multiple viewing.
    – There’s nothing too painful in the dialogue (even ‘PMT’ I will let go…..:p)
    – The guest cast were some of the best of all time (must help having Baby Cow involved)
    – The main cast were GOOD, Danny as a standout, for the few lines he actually got.
    – People keep saying Chris is too broad but that’s the character, I like what he did here.
    – Starbug crash is the show at its epic best. Extremely effective!! Amazing keyed-in window shots.
    – As others have said, the reasons for not staying on Earth were nicely dealt with, for once.
    – From what we can gather in non-spoilery ways, Twentica seems to be the perfect opener for the series.

    Other facts…

    – This tried to be a VI episode in a sort of TFA trying to be ANH kind of way…and almost made it.
    – Kryten’s look, while not horrible, is STILL a little dodge… a rewatch of BtE the other day made me long for that getup.
    – What the eff is with that over-long pause with Lister looking incredulously at Rimmer while they’re in the car?? It’s like he actually held it just for the publicity still…. There’s no laughter over that look, which also makes it odd.
    – The Einstein stuff…..saved by a decent performance, but they really did need a line like ‘why do we keep doing this??’ referencing Lemons. (I like Twentica more than Lemons, even after only a couple of viewings)
    – The last 5 minutes are rushed… it could easily have been a double episode.

    A further fact…

    – Kevin Eldon!!!!

  14. Starbug shots were good but looked distinctly different from the original model shots. Felt like we were always seeing roughly the same angle of the ship in most of the space shots.

    That was a problem in X too. It looked like an image being moved toward the screen rather than a 3D model. It wasn’t as bad this episode as the flying scenes in X but they definitely weren’t up to the standards of the Peter Wragg era but they’re better.

    I’d be interested in an interview with Mike Tucker or maybe Pete Tyler about model shooting because to me as someone who is interested but has no experience in it, it seems like something is definitely off, and I know they’re using a proper team, not some mates like X, but maybe it’s because more things are composited and the lighting isn’t as reactive since everything is seperate, or the lenses are different or the framerate, maybe just the fact that the film grain isn’t there adding artificial detail, but it just doesn’t look as detailed and doesn’t feel as weighty. Maybe if they turn up to Dimension Jump, someone could nab an interview.

    As for the ship itself, didn’t The Model Unit say they weren’t fans of what The Magic Camera Company has done with Starbug in a Facebook comment and then delete it? Haha

    It does look worse though, not bad, but not as good as the extremely amazing original. New Starbug is a Embraer, the old one is a Boeing.

  15. The Starbug flying directly away from the camera shots were something we’ve only ever seen rendered in Series VII’s no-budget CG. Y’know, that one flyby they seemed to use fifty times an episode.

  16. The fact I still don’t know what to think about it means that it was obviously something new which surprised me, which to some extent is all I wanted.

    There’s still something very… *odd* about its atmosphere though. Sometimes it felt like the Xtended VHS version of itself.

    I’ve worked out what it reminded me of though – it’s pure Goodies!

  17. I’m surprised people don’t like the model shots in X. I know some of it left a little to be desired but I thought all the Blue Midget stuff looks astounding (and I’ve never liked that ship, personally).

  18. One thing I found is that Twentica’s visuals (maybe because both are now Baby Cow productions) reminded me a great deal of Mighty Boosh…particularly it terms of lighting and colour, I dunno how many staff carried over to the productions of both shows.

  19. Having watched it and had time to process it and think about, I have some to the conclusion that it’s a 2/5 episode for me.

    It’s a welcome return don’t get me wrong, but the very fast pace of the episode, the lack of any real funny jokes (yet an audience seemingly in hysterics at everything), and the (mostly) odd looking model effects just made me feel cold about the whole thing. The performances were mostly spot on too so that’s a relief but I wonder, considering that this was the last episode recorded of the first 6 whether the acting had settled by this point and the other episodes will feature more broader/OTT turns from some of the cast who were just slotting back into the roles. The sets look gorgeous though, and Starbug is something that on screen doesn’t look that much different than before when it came down to it, apart from the more cramped feel, change of shape and that rather cumbersome looking door (if they have a mid-section set (which we’ve seen in other pics) then why bother having the door there at all?) The look of Starbug outside with the higher up legs bent backwards is odd on screen as it ends up looking like the legs are pointing outward. Also, seeing it at the angles we do (when flying) it looks odd. Like it’s pointing upwards the whole time and there’s that god-awful blur effect added on to it to give the illusion of fast movement which I abhor. The model work in the III-VI era was much better for the most part. The shot of it landing in the sand is brilliant though and really brought back that vibe form the early series when it seemed to crash all the time.

    I’ll certainly watch it again when it is broadcast on TV and see how I feel then, but my initial reaction is that it wasn’t all that great an episode. I wish I could find it as funny and outstanding an episode as others seem to, but for me, it just isn’t there. I dare say I’m starting to not be a fan of any episodes not set in space. It’s as if Doug thought “Hey, everyone loves GOTA and that had wonderful guest sets and set on an Earth like place, let’s keep doing more of those”. Let’s not.

  20. G&T Admin

    With regards to the casting, it’s worth remembering that we do have the same casting director that we’ve always had (Linda Glover). Obviously we don’t know how much Baby Cow will have contributed – Linda would presumably have had access to their address book, at the least – but I doubt it’s as simple as the new company coming in and making everything better. Probably more likely that they helped the talented people who were already on board to do their jobs more efficiently.

    Either way, Kevin Eldon was bloody great. “Don’t… say anything…” was the highlight of the episode for me.

  21. It’s strange…..I was one of the more negative people with regards to series X, it seems to be not so much the case this time around.

  22. I dare say I’m starting to not be a fan of any episodes not set in space. It’s as if Doug thought “Hey, everyone loves GOTA and that had wonderful guest sets and set on an Earth like place, let’s keep doing more of those”. Let’s not.

    Maybe it’s the four years I had as a kid of only having VI and VII off-airs, but I do really love stuff set on the ship itself. For the longest time it was this big mythical ship only seen in half-remembered episodes (plus the last-minute Rimmerworld replacement of Dimension Jump), and when I finally got earlier series I absolutely drank up the stuff set onboard. Something about the size of it, the endless corridors, the number of possibilities. So yeah, more stuff set on the ship would be great for me.

  23. the lack of any real funny jokes (yet an audience seemingly in hysterics at everything)

    Comments like this kind of baffle me. It’s surely not beyond the realm of possibility that other people found jokes funny, even if you didn’t?

    Red Dwarf audiences are naturally quite hyped to be there and there’s a general sense of energy in the room every time. But it only goes so far. They’re not mindless sheep that will laugh at any old shite.

    I just don’t really like the attitude of “I don’t understand why the audience were laughing so much”. They were laughing because they found it funny!

  24. the lack of any real funny jokes (yet an audience seemingly in hysterics at everything)

    Comments like this kind of baffle me. It’s surely not beyond the realm of possibility that other people found jokes funny, even if you didn’t?
    Red Dwarf audiences are naturally quite hyped to be there and there’s a general sense of energy in the room every time. But it only goes so far. They’re not mindless sheep that will laugh at any old shite.
    I just don’t really like the attitude of “I don’t understand why the audience were laughing so much”. They were laughing because they found it funny!

    Exactly this.

    As for my own opinion, Twentica was the consistently funniest episode of Dwarf in ages. For those to whom it wasn’t, I hope it’s just a blip and you enjoy the new episodes we’ve got coming our way.

  25. I’m generally the “internal laughter” type when I’m watching TV but this ep got about four or five good belly laughs from me. I’ll have to rewatch to remember them all but I think the nipple nuts and Lister accidentally taking a swig at the end were two of them.

    Also, I found a lot of Kevin Eldon’s dialogue in the first scene really funny, especially the whole “who do you think I am, (x) of (y)” and so the fact that paid off as an unexpectedly vital plot point at the end rather than just a throwaway joke really helped it feel satisfying, for me.

  26. I thought the model work/FX was great. Didn’t bother me at all. The lack of any really great jokes did though.

    Maybe the central idea bit off a bit more than it could chew. No advanced tech is a nice idea, but really this was just an excuse to put them in Roaring 20’s threads. Obviously there are budgetary constraints, but there seemed something a bit underwhelming about the Dwarfers encountering a huge, worldwide problem and then solving it without really having to leave a bar.

  27. I’m just being honest. Yes, people find different things funny, obviously. But for someone who laughed out loud regularly when watching the earlier seasons, there were less laugh out loud moments in VIII, IX and X for me and there were barely any in this first episode of XI, a few smiles mainly but nothing much else. Of course audiences know they are being recorded and are told to give encouraging laughter so it sounds good on telly so that might explain the overenthusiastic reactions. It just didn’t resonate that way with me sadly.

  28. I watched it again and I must say I enjoyed it even more, I stand by my issues about rushed ending (though far less jarring a second time round) and the Expenoids bickering still leaves me cold, but for me it gets so much right that I feel this one is going to be a real grower for me. I mean had this episode been in series 6 it wouldn’t have been the best, but it certainly would have liked it more then Rimmerworld or particularly Emohawk. Not a perfect episode but it’s enough to make me far more enthusiastic for what lies ahead.

  29. I am also aware that I liked series X much more immediately following each episode than I do now, so I’m interested to see how it stands up to time and repeated viewings, but I honestly do think it’s of a series 5-6 standard without reaching the heights of either.

  30. Overall I thought it was a good episode, certainly the best of the post-VI period (maybe joint leader alongside ‘Trojan’, which I think is very underrated).

    Personally a lot of the gags didn’t hit home for me, often feeling a bit too telegraphed, but a lot of people seemed to enjoy them, so more power to ’em.

    However I do wish Doug would relax with the generic one-liners though and concentrate on more character specific gags. Dwarf is at its weakest when you hear an interchangeable line that pretty much any of the characters could have said – e.g. “as fried as a Mars Bar in Scotland”. (Incidentally, can anyone who was at the live recordings verify whether the audience laughter/reaction has been tinkered with in post? Let’s be honest, the Mars Bar gag was pretty crap, yet it seemed to get a round of applause, whereas far funnier lines didn’t).

    One other minor gripe – and this is something that’s bothered me in the post-VI era – is the lack of genuine danger or threat from the villains. The Inquistor or the simulants from ‘Gunmen’ or the psycho from ‘Justice’ weren’t given funny lines or quirky foibles. They were terrifying. I wish the Expenoids had been out-and-out evil, without the ‘mates squabbling’ ending. Doug’s written some scary villains on his own – e.g Evil Lister in ‘Last Human’ – so I don’t think this element is purely because of Rob Grant’s absence.

    I’ll stop nitpicking now, though. It was a fun, rollicking and clever story, and Lucie Pohle is one of the best guest-stars the show has ever had (we all know that Dwarf has had issues with female characters in the past, so it was nice to see Harmony as a full-rounded character).

    Looking forward to the rest of the series – although I have to admit that shot in the titles of Kryten dancing fills me with ‘Beyond A Joke’ fuelled dread …

  31. (Incidentally, can anyone who was at the live recordings verify whether the audience laughter/reaction has been tinkered with in post? Let’s be honest, the Mars Bar gag was pretty crap, yet it seemed to get a round of applause, whereas far funnier lines didn’t).

    I think this is what’s bothering people most about that gag. It was a perfectly fine little throwaway gag, but it appears to get one of the best reactions of the entire episode, and it just feels a bit like it doesn’t ring true. Only a small thing, but I found it distracting for that reason (rather than because of the joke itself, which I didn’t mind).

  32. For me the model shots were very well done but what do you expect with the advancements in special effects these days, although i am not onboard with the legs on starbug going back like that like they did with Series 7, i dunno why that become a thing but i don’t think it looks good at all personally

    The villains i don’t think should have been funny and if they were gonna keep that bitching about each other stuff i think it should have been shorter in the climax where the leader basically attempts to cover it up by telling the droid to ignore them so it would be a quick joke and then moving on, i don’t think it should have went on for as long as it did, but then i also felt the same about listers rant in trojan which i felt should have been shorter rather than being stretched out.

    The whole time travel stuff left on in a way that makes you wonder how anything was corrected since 1920s new york now have 2 cyborgs standing around to experiment on but red dwarf has skipped over some details like that before in early shows and while i wouldn’t encourage it i can’t say its a huge deal to me, just like having to explain why they don’t stay everytime they get back to earth which i think is gonna get silly after a while and then Doug will make a meta joke about it.

    Some of the jokes worked, some didn’t like the cliche stuff was abit to meta for me but i actually quite liked the stuff at the start with Rimmers kidnapping, i thought it was funny, clever and unexpected.

    And Kryten dancing in the opening credits makes me slightly worried because it seems like Kryten is being a lovable goofy droid type comedy.

  33. G&T Admin

    Wait a minute… maybe the timeline being altered by the Exponoids is actually already part of the Red Dwarf timeline. What if their sudden demise and the technology left behind – not least the Exponoids themselves – was utilised by the scientists who honed their skills in the underground science clubs, and allowed the human race of the 1950s to make up for the thirty years of inactivity by developing at a much faster rate than we did in the real world?

    So, by round about now, they’ve already installed a toupee over the gap in the o-zone layer, and space exploration technology has developed to such a point as there are plans to colonise Io, Mimas and Titan. In the Dwarf universe, it won’t be long until they start building mining ships, stasis booths and ram scoops – all thanks to the sudden boost in the 1950s.

  34. I’m just being honest. Yes, people find different things funny, obviously. But for someone who laughed out loud regularly when watching the earlier seasons, there were less laugh out loud moments in VIII, IX and X for me and there were barely any in this first episode of XI, a few smiles mainly but nothing much else. Of course audiences know they are being recorded and are told to give encouraging laughter so it sounds good on telly so that might explain the overenthusiastic reactions. It just didn’t resonate that way with me sadly.

    Agh, but again, you’re still saying the same thing! You’re trying to find additional reasons for why people might have laughed at something, rather than just accepting that they found it funnier than you did.

    Also, people react in different ways to the things they find funny. Some people never laugh out loud at all. Others laugh heartily at something they only find mildly amusing.

    There’s no “explanation” needed for what the audience sounded like beyond “They were having a good time and found what was going on in front of them amusing”.

  35. I don’t think that will ever be mentioned on the show but I’m happy enough to take it as an “in world” explanation if we don’t hear otherwise, Ian.

    I was going to say, with all the talk of the Exponoids going back and “changing history”, that it would either create a parallel universe OR the effects from whatever they did would have already been the reality so it certainly fits in with the latter.

    (though Red Dwarf has ignored both of those hypothetical rules in past time-travel stories)

  36. For me the model shots were very well done but what do you expect with the advancements in special effects these days but i am not onboard with the legs on starbug going back like that like they did with Series 7, i dunno why that become a thing but i don’t think it looks good at all personally.

    I’m really not onboard with the new Starbug. I was disappointed when I first saw it and the more I see it the more irritated I get at it. There’s a few things that make it look bad, the legs for a start, on the front sphere, the leg bubbles are lower and closer together which, when you throw in the spindly “thighs” of the legs compared to the old model and the bent backwards look, just makes it look like it’s either desperate for a piss or is doing some part of the Timewarp. The legs themselves are spindly as I said, but the feet are comical. They are literally a quarter of the size of the old ones in relation to the model. I don’t know if they were trying to make it seem bigger or something but it’s not worked.

    Also the thrusters under the front and rear sphere are so small they may as well not be there, the size they are they’d have trouble lifting Carbug nevermind Starbug. Again they are about a third/ a quarter of the size of the old ones.

    I don’t like the blister bubbled engine cowls personally but they look fine.

    On the rear sphere, the Starbug name has been lowered and some gubbins put above it, and I don’t think it looks as good as the old model, but it’s really a problem because there are at least 2 scales of model I reckon , a big one which was crashed on the planet (the ‘Starbug’ is in the correct font and the correct size) but on the smaller ‘flying away from shit’ model the text is just off completely, it’s too big, and it looks warped, like it’s been stretched vertically.

    Also the paintjob isn’t as good. It doesn’t seem to be as matte for one, the flying away model is semi gloss at the least, but in a way that is very recognisable as the gloss of a medium sized plastic toy. There isn’t the depth of air brushing either, the old model had loads of interesting square faux panel effects and weathering which add detail and scale. Doesn’t seem to be the case this time, very flat.

    I will say the bigger close up model seems to have a much better paintjob though.

    So yeah. I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about what they’ve done to Starbug. To put it bluntly, they’ve made it a bit shit and it irritates the fuck out of me haha

  37. G&T Admin

    (Incidentally, can anyone who was at the live recordings verify whether the audience laughter/reaction has been tinkered with in post? Let’s be honest, the Mars Bar gag was pretty crap, yet it seemed to get a round of applause, whereas far funnier lines didn’t).

    I think this is what’s bothering people most about that gag. It was a perfectly fine little throwaway gag, but it appears to get one of the best reactions of the entire episode, and it just feels a bit like it doesn’t ring true. Only a small thing, but I found it distracting for that reason (rather than because of the joke itself, which I didn’t mind).

    That didn’t sound altered ‘in post’ to me, that sounded like a genuine audience reaction. Lots of things alter audience reaction that can’t be appreciated at home, especially if you have an audience that’s already excited to be there.

  38. Wait a minute… maybe the timeline being altered by the Exponoids is actually already part of the Red Dwarf timeline. What if their sudden demise and the technology left behind – not least the Exponoids themselves – was utilised by the scientists who honed their skills in the underground science clubs, and allowed the human race of the 1950s to make up for the thirty years of inactivity by developing at a much faster rate than we did in the real world?

    So, by round about now, they’ve already installed a toupee over the gap in the o-zone layer, and space exploration technology has developed to such a point as there are plans to colonise Io, Mimas and Titan. In the Dwarf universe, it won’t be long until they start building mining ships, stasis booths and ram scoops – all thanks to the sudden boost in the 1950s.

    Although, if Red Dwarf was able to be created because of the boost in the 1950s, then that would mean that the Dwarfers exist in a separate timeline to the humans who created the Exponoids because THEIR timeline didn’t include the boost and this no big red flying trash can. That’s interesting.

  39. At the screening I was at the Scottish Mars Bar line got a massive laugh (for what seemed a pretty mediocre joke). This was in Edinburgh and also everyone was a bit over-excited to see new Red Dwarf, so I assumed that was what had caused it!

  40. Wait a minute… maybe the timeline being altered by the Exponoids is actually already part of the Red Dwarf timeline. What if their sudden demise and the technology left behind – not least the Exponoids themselves – was utilised by the scientists who honed their skills in the underground science clubs, and allowed the human race of the 1950s to make up for the thirty years of inactivity by developing at a much faster rate than we did in the real world?

    So, by round about now, they’ve already installed a toupee over the gap in the o-zone layer, and space exploration technology has developed to such a point as there are plans to colonise Io, Mimas and Titan. In the Dwarf universe, it won’t be long until they start building mining ships, stasis booths and ram scoops – all thanks to the sudden boost in the 1950s.

    If it was already a part of the Red Dwarf timeline, would they remember the technology prohibition of the 1920-1952? They seem to have a solid grasp on history in general, alcohol prohibition, JFK (kinda) the space race etc … I can’t see them forgetting something as big as that. At the very least Kryten would likely have data on it.

  41. G&T Admin

    This is true. But wibbley-wobbley-timey-wimey, because the crew were part of events, it might not be part of their “history” until they experience it. Or something.

  42. If it was already a part of the Red Dwarf timeline, would they remember the technology prohibition of the 1920-1952? They seem to have a solid grasp on history in general, alcohol prohibition, JFK (kinda) the space race etc … I can’t see them forgetting something as big as that. At the very least Kryten would likely have data on it.

    Agreed. It wouldn’t have been discussed in terms of “In this world there’s no technology beyond the 1920s!”, it would have been “This would explain the early 20th Century technology prohibition!”. And that latter explanation is clunky as hell, with the audience dropped into it with no prior set up or comprehension that this was the world the Dwarfers came from. This would be different to stuff like the grassy knoll gunman in TIKKA, which is already part of history for us (fact/theory/debate as applicable) which the show then offers a comedic alternate reason for.

  43. That didn’t sound altered ‘in post’ to me, that sounded like a genuine audience reaction. Lots of things alter audience reaction that can’t be appreciated at home, especially if you have an audience that’s already excited to be there.

    Which is fine, and explains perfectly why the reaction to the joke would sound odd to a TV audience.

    It doesn’t stop it from sounding odd, but it explains it.

  44. Bit surprised at some of the negative reactions to the villains bickering. That was honestly the strongest part of the episode for me: Very funny and a lot more surprising, original and character driven than the weaker parts.

  45. How does Lister hotwire a ‘steam powered right hand drive motor vehicle?’

  46. Talent

  47. MASSIVE PLOT HOLE ALERT

    There is no such thing as BBQ flavour Nik Naks. They are called Rib ‘n’ Saucy flavour.

  48. Sounds like the time is ripe for a bit of Red Dwarf product integration, there.

  49. MASSIVE PLOT HOLE ALERT

    There is no such thing as BBQ flavour Nik Naks. They are called Rib ‘n’ Saucy flavour.

    I choose to look at it as a confirmation that sometime in the next two centuries, Golden Wonder are coming out with Barbecue flavour Nik Naks.

  50. “Browsing TV channels’ websites last night, I came in the middle of this programme – clearly a science fiction programme – and at once to my horror and outrage, what I thought I saw was a rip-off of Star Trek: First Contact. I was already reaching for the telephone to call my lawyer, when something happened that made me laugh…”

    I liked this!

    On the Dwarfcast commentaries, you often remark on how much has happened only short time into the episode. That was definitely the case here – loads seemed to be crammed into the episode even before the adverts.

    Lots and lots of insults from the Cat at Rimmer’s expense. All of them were fun, no matter how telegraphed.

    Something that I’m surprised no-one’s mentioned yet: Rimmer’s exaggerated English accent, possibly my favourite scene in the episode. (“Whom.”) I’ll have to watch it again to remind me what it was, but there was one word he said towards the end in a really odd way which made me laugh.

    I didn’t realise it was Kevin Eldon until very near the end. And didn’t realise it was Rebecca Blackstone at all.

    I was less keen on the Einstein stuff. (Wasn’t there a line about him often being found hanging around with Edison? Edison, alive in the 1950s? Yes, these are the things I choose to nit-pick!)

    @International Debris:

    I always felt X was almost intentionally a retread of 2 in feel (Kryten aside). There are even parallels between most of the episodes. But that’s another story.

    Hmm, intriguing. This probably isn’t the thread for it, but I’ll have a go:

    Kryten/Trojan – Discovery of an inhabited ship
    Thanks for the Memory/Dear Dave – Memories of old girlfriends
    Queeg/Fathers and Suns – New computer
    Parallel Universe/The Beginning – Parentage

  51. I’ll have to watch it again to remind me what it was, but there was one word he said towards the end in a really odd way which made me laugh.

    I’m gonna assume it was “lady” in “Are whom acquainted with said lady?”

  52. It’s interesting that Twentica’s success with viewers seems to hinge on whether they found the bickering between the Exponoids funny or not…

    I did laugh at it, and I wonder how anyone couldn’t, at the very least, raise a smile over the whole situation. There’s a time and a place to have a genuinely scary and serious enemy, and this wasn’t really it. It’s not like Kevin Eldon and the other guy played really broad or anything… they didn’t suddenly become the Slitheen in Aliens of London, for example. It was just funny!! Which is what we want!!! Loads of Twentica was funny. If Doug cut the jokes all you’d get is people saying ‘it’s not funny anymore’ x 100, every single review.

    Btw I think Trojan is hugely overrated! It DOES contain a great guest performance from Mark Dexter, but Twentica has several great guests, and is much more kickass and funnier than Trojan. It doesn’t help that I have a serious bugbear about the retcons of both Howard and Rimmer’s father, so I always rate Trojan and The Beginning lower than most people for that reason.

  53. It’s interesting that Twentica’s success with viewers seems to hinge on whether they found the bickering between the Exponoids funny or not…

    I did laugh at it, and I wonder how anyone couldn’t, at the very least, raise a smile over the whole situation. There’s a time and a place to have a genuinely scary and serious enemy, and this wasn’t really it. It’s not like Kevin Eldon and the other guy played really broad or anything…

    Red Dwarf in its classic era didn’t do funny villains, occasionally they would be part of a joke like legion and the light switch joke but often it was the main cast who were the funny ones and not the villains, now obviously that doesn’t mean villains can’t be funny because of that but i do think it takes away them feeling like any sort of interesting threat the moment one says to the other “you been slagging me off?” and i watched the episode again today and i actually enjoyed it up to that point because while i get why its could be considered funny its just one of those odd bits of new era dwarf that doesn’t agree with me sadly :/, perhaps its because i been spoilt with early dwarf where the writers could do serious and funny and still deliver great material.

    Maybe if they had shortened the gag and didn’t use “slagging me off” slag i might have been happier with it TBH, maybe.

    they didn’t suddenly become the Slitheen in Aliens of London, for example. It was just funny!! Which is what we want!!! Loads of Twentica was funny. If Doug cut the jokes all you’d get is people saying ‘it’s not funny anymore’ x 100, every single review.

    Yeah but not having one gag between the villains is not exactly cutting all the jokes.

  54. The future crew in Out Of Time are villains played for laughs, as are Confidence, the Kinatowawi, and Hudzen Ten. They’re not all the Inquisitor!

  55. I didn’t really care whether they were “funny villains” or not – Kevin Eldon doing that kind of scene is always going to make me laugh. That was where the humour came from, in the main, for me.

    Admittedly, though, the fact that it undercut the seriousness of the baddies then made it even funnier.

  56. The future crew in Out Of Time are villains played for laughs, as are Confidence, the Kinatowawi, and Hudzen Ten. They’re not all the Inquisitor!

    Well what made the future crew funny was their appearance wasn’t it? They were played pretty straight though.

    Kinatowawi Were not turned into goof balls like they very well could have bee and hudzen 10 was fairy serious too, while confidence I dunno if I’d class him as a villain.

  57. The ‘silliness’ of the Expanoids, as well as being played for laughs, also acted as plot development – it allowed a little more time during the jeopardy for Einstein Bob to fix the device-o-thingy. Without it, it would have been crew-in-immediate-danger-oh-wait-look-the-device-has-been-fixed-in-a-complete-Deus-Ex-Machina-isn’t-that-convenient, so I think the humorous stall made for a less cliched outcome. The other option would have been to have the Dwarfers bicker amongst themselves instead, while the Expanoids look on incredulously, stalling for just enough time for Einstein Bob to come to the rescue – but that, again, would have been pretty cliche.

    And I agree with others, there’s no point having Officer York… I beg your pardon, Kevin Eldon – on the show and then not giving him any funny lines to play with!

  58. Red Dwarf in its classic era didn’t do funny villains, occasionally they would be part of a joke like legion and the light switch joke but often it was the main cast who were the funny ones and not the villains, now obviously that doesn’t mean villains can’t be funny because of that but i do think it takes away them feeling like any sort of interesting threat the moment one says to the other “you been slagging me off?” and i watched the episode again today and i actually enjoyed it up to that point because while i get why its could be considered funny its just one of those odd bits of new era dwarf that doesn’t agree with me sadly :/, perhaps its because i been spoilt with early dwarf where the writers could do serious and funny and still deliver great material.

    I’m glad to see someone else with this opinion because I’ve been saying this to whoever would listen since X. Red Dwarf villains are played straight (that’s not to say you can’t still give them an odd joke – that doesn’t disqualify them from being the straightman) and then the cast are funny. I think of the simulants from Series VI and Justice, Professor Mamet, Hudzen 10 and the old crew – as you said the characters were serious even if what they said could be considered funny sometimes.

    When you look at new Dwarf though, X and XI especially the guest villainous characters have jokes and are played for laughs. Sim Crawford from Trojan – can you imagine Denis Lill gurning like that and stirring tea? And the simulants with the seppuku, that was almost like I was watching something else on BBC Three. The villains are all buffoons now. The best villain of new Red Dwarf was Pree and she had a couple of funny lines because she was deranged but she wasn’t played for laughs, she was actually menacing.

    It’s a new style and while it’s funny its not the same as what I love about Red Dwarf. Dwarf Classic was more of a conversational humour, not outside the realms of conversations had at the pub with your mates if you have funny mates, with the occasional one liner or constructed joke chucked in. Now they’re all jokes, it’s not as natural a form of humour, more like a modern sitcom, straying into a sort of theatrical thing occasionally which is jarring.

    As I said its funny, it’s better now than X, but they are so close to Dwarf Classic, I wish they could just get back there.

  59. The moans about comedy bad guys. Confidence from series I, The little polymorph before it was a big monster. There have been silly elements to baddies before. But i do get your point comparing say series 6 simulants to the ones versioned in the last couple of series.

    I’m really glad there are 4 rimmers in the opening montage, the closest we’ve got to alternate version of the crew recently has been just dressing up, be nice to carry on the traditions of multiple and alternate crew. Also is that danny in the final shot in the opening titles cus he looks mental there, really intrigued to see what thats all about this series.

  60. That shot of the Cat and the one of Lister screaming at a pineapple have unfortunately pretty much spoiled what I assume is Can Of Worms for me because I think I’ve joined up more dots than I would have liked to about it.

    I hope I’m massively wrong but I’m staying vague in case I’m not.

  61. Confidence I can’t really come up with criteria to say he’s not a villain, so fair enough, but he’s not a buffoon. That’s just the way he chooses to go about his villainy I suppose. With the little Polymorph, I’d take a bet on the little one not being intentionally funny, but when they say the prop, it was just hilarious. I’d look at the Emohawk, that was a better prop of a similar creature and that wasn’t funny in and of itself like the Polymorph was.

  62. @International Debris:
    I always felt X was almost intentionally a retread of 2 in feel (Kryten aside). There are even parallels between most of the episodes. But that’s another story.
    Hmm, intriguing. This probably isn’t the thread for it, but I’ll have a go:
    Kryten/Trojan – Discovery of an inhabited ship
    Thanks for the Memory/Dear Dave – Memories of old girlfriends
    Queeg/Fathers and Suns – New computer
    Parallel Universe/The Beginning – Parentage

    Kryten and Trojan starting the series by finding a ship is one link I made, possibly one of the more tenuous. And yes, Fathers and Suns / Queeg both centre around a Holly replacement. Dear Dave and Better Than Life get their plots from a post pod arriving. Fathers and Suns also ties in to Thanks For the Memory in terms of forgotten drunken antics. The latter also ties in to Dear Dave, as you pointed out.

  63. Perhaps it’s not so much about them being funny but more them being buffoon villains abit like what we got in the beginning where they lost all menace by the end because certain scenes had shown them to be a bunch of dumb clueless droids that you wonder how they didn’t just accident destroy themselves accidentally ages ago, and thats coming from someone who did like the sword gag in that episode.

    And then of course you have Rimmer in quarantine technically being a funny villain but Chris done it so well that he never lost his menace.

  64. Perhaps it’s not so much about them being funny but more them being buffoon villains abit like what we got in the beginning where they lost all menace by the end because certain scenes had shown them to be a bunch of dumb clueless droids that you wonder how they didn’t just accident destroy themselves accidentally ages ago, and thats coming from someone who really did like the sword gag in that episode.

    And then of course you have Rimmer in quarantine technically being a funny villain but Chris done it so well that he never lost his menace

  65. The general rule then about Red Dwarf villains – to fit into the show’s style, they either have to be funny or not be funny. Anything else is not acceptable.

  66. I dunno how I posted that twice, weird

  67. certain scenes had shown them to be a bunch of dumb clueless droids that you wonder how they didn’t just accident destroy themselves accidentally ages ago

    If you didn’t find it funny you didn’t find it funny, but you’re jumping from “they act like people would in that situation” to “they’re so cartoonishly stupid I can’t believe they didn’t wipe themselves out years ago”.

    There’s a time and a place to have a genuinely scary and serious enemy, and this wasn’t really it.

    My thoughts exactly. Having them just be menacing the whole time would just strip away everything that made them entertaining and turn them into generic simulants.

  68. The general rule then about Red Dwarf villains – to fit into the show’s style, they either have to be funny or not be funny. Anything else is not acceptable.

    No they just have to be true to their motivation and be believable. Lister in all series is a funny character, but he’s also believable and doesn’t stray far from a set of personality traits that are established and on the rare occasion he does its jarring and, well, bad (see: stirmaster telephone breakdown, slag-gate).

    Same for the villains, you can be a serious character and still make jokes, just as a real person can be both serious and funny. Odd example but the only one I can think of at the moment, Barack Obama is the POTUS, a serious man, he regularly gives speeches about great loss, but he can still tell a joke on a chat show without everyone thinking he’s an interloper or that he’s being wildly out of character. It’s not a hard concept, just don’t have more than one personality per character. Don’t have simulants, established over many years of Dwarf as ruthless psychopathic killing machines be sort of Gothic, own brand Bond villains with a streak of buffoonery for example.

    That being said, that can still be funny, but it doesn’t feel truly in universe.

  69. The general rule then about Red Dwarf villains – to fit into the show’s style, they either have to be funny or not be funny. Anything else is not acceptable.

    No they just have to be true to their motivation and be believable.

    Those exponoids were two grunts going around enforcing laws. They have humanlike AI, as was established from the beginning when 4 of 27 makes a derogatory comment about 3 of 63. I mean of course they’re going to try to look menacing when they’re negotiating. I really like the idea that the low-level Exponoids are just like normal people, but they act all menacing when doing their job.

    Besides, Justice also ended by totally invalidating the threat of a much more menacing villain than the exponoids, and in a manner much sillier than this. Turning threats into nothing but jokes isn’t a bad thing.

  70. That shot of the Cat and the one of Lister screaming at a pineapple have unfortunately pretty much spoiled what I assume is Can Of Worms for me because I think I’ve joined up more dots than I would have liked to about it.

    I hope I’m massively wrong but I’m staying vague in case I’m not.

    I think I know what you’re getting at… but we can’t assume anything! I know zero spoilers for the episodes but i still like all the guessing of what could be.

    On another topic…The street set, how did they build that?? And where? Did they replace one or both of the regular sets? (Possibly explaining why the Lister/Kryten coda was shot in pickups)

  71. More audio oddities. It’s Cold Outside is in mono and the stereo mix sounds like a fold-down of the surround mix, it might explain the too-loud dialogue.

  72. On another topic…The street set, how did they build that?? And where? Did they replace one or both of the regular sets? (Possibly explaining why the Lister/Kryten coda was shot in pickups)

    https://twitter.com/DougRDNaylor/status/678289312581070849

    Nope. But considering it was the last episode before a month long break, they probably just disassembled some of the regular sets. But that’s assuming they did need more room, because every set looks a lot bigger on camera than it really is. Jarringly so.

    Regardless it’s definitely the best set they show’s ever built. If I hadn’t known it was on a sound stage I would have assumed it was a dressed up location. Just goes to show you how much of X’s budget got wasted.

  73. Pree made a good villain I thought in X

    I didn’t mind the Expanoids being a little light on the villain side. Clearly they wernt immediately hostile they were just after parts for their own gain.

    I really enjoyed the episode . Despite the fact it was an Earth based adventure ( I much prefer space adventures)
    As for jokes, yeah it was a bit light but then I felt in the so called ‘golden era’ there were plenty of episode that were light on jokes. But I enjoyed the plot and adventure more.

    Oh yeah I thought the Science ‘sex talk’ was brilliant!!
    ‘I don’t do Big Bang!’

  74. I’m sure I heard that in the VII documentary that the only reason the Epideme virus was comical was because otherwise the episode would have been too dark

  75. I loved Kevin Eldon, and that climax – hinging as it does around a throwaway joke – is phenomenal. The smartest thing Red Dwarf has done in years.

    I just didn’t think much else in the episode was funny. The scifi is clever, the villain was top-notch, but the humor simply wasn’t there for me.

  76. PM: the street set was built where the audience seats go. That footage was all shot by the time of the Friday night filming.

  77. Just to throw in a different perspective: I’m not fond of the simulants in The Beginning, much too cartoony for me. I found them less scary because of it, whereas the IV and VI simulants I found incredibly scary, which seemed necessary for their existence.
    I didn’t mind the exponoids, though. They felt very different to standard simulants, not interested in just killing people, but with obviously different motives. So them having inter-personal tiffs didn’t seem to spoil anything for me.

  78. G&T Admin

    Jesus Christ, this debate about whether or not villains are allowed to be funny. Of course they bloody are. The best characters in Red Dwarf can do both serious and silly, depending on what works best for a particular scene. What would be the point of hiring Kevin Eldon and then not allow him to do some comedy?

    Aside from anything else, it’s not like he whacked on a red nose and a revolving bow tie. The comedy was played straight, and was actually quite naturalistic and low key.

  79. Jesus Christ, this debate about whether or not villains are allowed to be funny. Of course they bloody are. The best characters in Red Dwarf can do both serious and silly, depending on what works best for a particular scene. What would be the point of hiring Kevin Eldon and then not allow him to do some comedy?

    Aside from anything else, it’s not like he whacked on a red nose and a revolving bow tie. The comedy was played straight, and was actually quite naturalistic and low key.

    Totally agree.

    From the top of my head, in chological order

    Confidence and Paranoia – hilarious

    Queeg – played straight but funny

    The Simulant in Beyond a Joke – definitely written for the laughs

    Nearly all of the extras in series 8, whilst not villains, certainly aren’t friendly a lot of the time to Lister et al and are funny … Kill Crazy, Ackerman, Baxter

    In fact, how many villains are there that are played completely straight?

    Inquisitor, Curry Monster … what else? It’s very rare for there to be an actual antagonist in Red Dwarf. Most situation involve just the main crew getting caught up in something on their own, of their own volition.

    And now I think about it the only serious stimulants we’ve had are from series 6, in Gunman. Series 7, 10 and now 11 stimulants are, whilst homicidal, very inept and crap and doing what they set out to do …. possibly from millennia floating around the universe without anyone to antagonise.

  80. Much is made of whether new Dwarf is as funny as classic Dwarf, naturally because it’s a beloved sitcom, and I’ve been very guilty of thinking people are unnecessarily harsh on new Dwarf because we’ve all been stung by VII, VIII and Back to Earth. Yes, X had some issues but I thought it came in for a lot of flak because it wasn’t as good as something we fondly remember from over 20 years ago.

    I’ve come to think it isn’t the case, people aren’t being unnecessarily harsh, but rather being stung by VII, VIII and Back to Earth has made a lot of us more critical of the Dwarf we get now and (and this is going to make me no friends) the opposite is now true and many of us are actually too forgiving of classic Dwarf.

    Did Twentica live up to the Dwarf’s heyday? My instinct would have been to say it didn’t, but that I enjoyed it anyway because I got to spend some more time with characters I love, something that didn’t look possible 10 years ago. But I had a good old think about it last night and I realised that, personally, while not every joke in Twentica hit the absolute sweet spot, I did find all of the jokes in it funnier than, for example, half of the ones in Terrorform. Which is an episode I would say came from Dwarf’s heyday and isn’t even my least favourite from the First Thirty Six.

    So am I just being unfair to Twentica because it’s post VI?

    Basically, I’ve had a word with myself and decided to open myself up to the possibility that not EVERYTHING in the show I’ve loved for 25 years was comically brilliant (when it hit, it REALLY hit and it hit an awful lot of the time, but even the very best series had some right old clunkers – jokes I mean, rather than eps) and that, actually, if I admit to myself that I just found a new episode funnier than one which isn’t even my least favourite from the First Thirty Six then I’m being unfair to both new Dwarf and classic Dwarf for giving them different criteria.

    Basically, I’ve got to start thinking of Red Dwarf in the present tense again, rather than in the past tense through rose-tinted glasses.

  81. Interesting indication of changing times though. Back in the day you felt like you had to play it up as a sitcom so “other people” would take your love of the show seriously, now presumably you have to play it up as a serial box-set sci-fi show for same.

    Obviously both of these ideas are wrong. Red Dwarf can be Battlestar Galactica and Allo Allo at the same time, whether the villains are murdering in cold blood or breaking bricks over their cocks.

    (By “you” I mean “me”, obviously)

  82. In fact, how many villains are there that are played completely straight?

    It depends how you look at it i guess, legion got a few laughs like for the light switch gag but he wasn’t made into a joke to be funny, which most of the villains if not all of them were not made to be jokes, maybe because Rob and Doug wanted their villains to be taken more serious back then and now Dougs abit more open to use them for character comedy.

    Obviously if i had to name some that were played mostly straight id say Simulant from justice, The inquisitor, Professor mamet, Rimmers self loathin, The simulants from gunmen.

    And then there are the villains that may have had a comedic element to them but for the most part didn’t lose their menace and become jokes, Hudson 10, polymorph, curry monster, epideme, Rimmer in quarantine.

    Then we go to the villains in the beginning and this episode where there is that moment where they are made to look silly which makes them into jokes that you just don’t take them seriously after that.

    And obviously they probably wouldn’t have cast Kevin Eldon if he was gonna be a straight villain, they pretty much knew what they were doing when they cast him so its likely not a thing of them casting him and saying oh we better add some gags now.

    There is no law the villains can’t be funny but i think i been spoilt with early dwarf that could keep the villains a menace and have the show still be funny

    Nearly all of the extras in series 8, whilst not villains, certainly aren’t friendly a lot of the time to Lister et al and are funny … Kill Crazy, Ackerman, Baxter

    Lets not even count Series 8 in on this one ;p

  83. I think the difference with Hudson 10 and the Simulants in Beyond a Joke is that while comedic, came across as genuinely unbalanced and still threatening as a result. The Expanoids, The Simulants in The Begining and worst of all Sim Crawford fail to create any tension because they just seem outright silly. I liked this episode quite a lot, but I do think their lack of threat detracted from the episode.

  84. I don’t really understand why ‘threat’ and ‘funny’ are thought of as mutually exclusive things in a comedy show. The threat of living their lives permanently as versions of themselves they despise was ever-present during Back to Reality, but still played for laughs. And surely one of the most dramatic endings and most sincere feelings of jeopardy came in Out of Time, where the threat came from hugely comical caricatures of the four main cast! If you allow fat Rimmer, bald Cat and Kryten in a wig to be considered a serious threat to the lives of the crew, then I can’t see the problem with the Expanoids or the simulants from The Beginning.

    Both comedy and serious villains work in a comedy show.

  85. That shot of the Cat and the one of Lister screaming at a pineapple have unfortunately pretty much spoiled what I assume is Can Of Worms for me because I think I’ve joined up more dots than I would have liked to about it.

    I hope I’m massively wrong but I’m staying vague in case I’m not.

    I’ve been googling around this and…. hmmmmm. You may have a point.

  86. And surely one of the most dramatic endings and most sincere feelings of jeopardy came in Out of Time, where the threat came from hugely comical caricatures of the four main cast! If you allow fat Rimmer, bald Cat and Kryten in a wig to be considered a serious threat to the lives of the crew,

    Its about being a good villain or an embarrassing villain i guess and having a comedic element doesn’t mean they can’t be good villains but there is a line there.

  87. How do any of you reconcile The Joker?

  88. I don’t really understand why ‘threat’ and ‘funny’ are thought of as mutually exclusive things in a comedy show.

    Personally I never said you couldn’t be a credible villain and not be funny, you just have to obviously be the same character. There are a long line of villains that have funny moments but the humour is often from their deranged nature and doesn’t affect the menace, “I lied, twice” from Justice, Queeg as someone said, Pree is a good recent example. I don’t think I’m being over critical and I’m not trying to start anything but a lot of Red Dwarf performances from guest actors are now comedy performances played up for laughs, and not how they used to be which was straight performances with comedic moments. I think there’s a difference but maybe I’m not explaining myself very well.

    I don’t even think the latter is necessarily bad, I still really enjoyed Twentica, I’m just saying it’s different.

  89. I think the main point is, in the earlier series, the villains could be funny without undermining their villainy. In general the humour tended to stem from them being deranged / evil on one level or another. Out of Time is an interesting one, but I think the humour in the alternate versions of the characters is a brief moment and very little to do with the characters themselves. In some ways, their appearance becomes more disturbing as that scene goes on, because it highlights how different they’ve become.
    In contrast, I think portraying the various simulants in a light that suggests they’re petty and incompetent goes against how threatening they seem as characters. In some ways it reminds me a little of the increasing use of the Time Lords in Doctor Who, and how they lost their impact once they were no longer all-powerful entities, but bickering bureaucrats. Now obviously Red Dwarf is a comedy show and thus the change in approach is more understandable, but it makes complete sense that some people would find this change jarring. Classic Dwarf wasn’t The Mighty Boosh; the characters didn’t live in a crazy, wacky universe. The humour generally came from minor absurdities and mistakes exaggerated by the characters’ neuroses. When the universe changes to have comedy simulants, some people are going to find it difficult.

  90. How do any of you reconcile The Joker?

    Like I mentioned he might be comedic but is threatening in being legitimately unstable and capable of anything.

  91. Confidence I can’t really come up with criteria to say he’s not a villain, so fair enough, but he’s not a buffoon. That’s just the way he chooses to go about his villainy I suppose. With the little Polymorph, I’d take a bet on the little one not being intentionally funny, but when they say the prop, it was just hilarious. I’d look at the Emohawk, that was a better prop of a similar creature and that wasn’t funny in and of itself like the Polymorph was.

    I’d say Confidence was a complete Bufoon! He took off his helmet in deep space to prove to Lister that oxygen was for losers.

    And even the Inquisitor had a silly moment in the introductory sequence when he greets the replacement of the guy who got deleted from existence “Reality control. Have a nice day!” followed by that amusing off-hand wave.

    I understand what people say though.

  92. Also had they actually been genuinely threatening villains, their being defeated by Bob the Bum would have been funnier.

  93. Bah. I accidentally posted my above comment too early. I edited it with my thoughts on Twentica. But when I save it, it vanished.

    Anyway, my expansive waffle largely boiled down to: I liked it with some reservations.

    I also gave my theories concerning the change in timeline, which I might reiterate, later…

  94. Actually, considering the simulants, while they were played straighter in the past incompetency is not a new thing for them. The simulants in Gunmen… for example, were defeated by a couple of shots from Starbug’s laser cannon. Which they installed themselves.

    Okay, I understand they had to move the story along so we could see the Kryten dream Western shenanigans, and they remained a threat after that initial defeat, but a bunch of killer homicidal cyborgs on a warship still got blasted into oblivion (okay postponed in Liz Hickley’s character’s case) by a the low ranking crew of a flying tin can, albeit upgraded.

  95. It was a fluke hit…..but it was a pretty dumb move, however the Simulants wanted them to be a pose a challenge to satisfy their own bordom.

  96. Yeah I’d say that was complacency rather than incompetence.

  97. Also had they actually been genuinely threatening villains, their being defeated by Bob the Bum would have been funnier.

    Here’s a thought: if you actually did find them funny as presented, would you still be complaining that they weren’t threatening enough? Because I really don’t think you would be.

    I really don’t understand how removing what made the Exponoids unique and entertaining and turning them into generic simulants would make anything funnier. Sounds like we’d just get the same episode minus quite a few jokes.

    It was a fluke hit…..but it was a pretty dumb move, however the Simulants wanted them to be a pose a challenge to satisfy their own bordom.

    This is very human. Much like getting pissed off that your mate is slagging you off behind your back.

  98. STRAIGHT INTO THE ACTION: Alrighty. I’ve seen Twentica twice now. On my first watch-through, I thought it was a little too dense (just divide its mass by it’s volume), with the jokes and ideas all decent but a little rushed with even great gags not having time to breathe. After absorbing it and watching through it again, I had no problem with the pacing at all. I think the fact that this is the first episode of the series makes it a little more jarring on a first viewing, as it’s a fast-paced episode starting out with an emergency encounter, without first establishing a status quo for the series (or an Ordinary World as writing hacks call it). It’s the equivalent of starting Series III with Marooned, where it would go straight into the black hole evacuation. Actually, Backwards starts in a similarly jarring way for a series-starting episode, but the Wilma Flintstone bit sort of eases you in with an establishing of a status quo, and that’s something not present in Twentica. The pacing of the plot was actually very well-done and reminiscent of the old series. Red Dwarf episodes normally function in quadrants, and this episode is no exception. Overall it reminded me a lot of Backwards structurally, just substitute a Time Hole for a slipstream and backwards Earth for Twentica Earth. The worst thing I can really say about this episode is that occasionally there are some good or great jokes that deserved a little more time to breathe. Definitely an episode that benefits from multiple viewings. I’m still not quite sure it fully works as a first episode of a series, as the fast-pacedness of it might have made more sense later in the series after there was more of a status quo established. On the other hand, Twentica is highly reminiscent both plot-wise and structurally of two earlier decent series openers: Backwards and Tikka to Ride, so placed in that pantheon (if anything post-VI can be referred to as belonging in a pantheon), it actually fits in quite nicely.

    BIGGER? BETTER? SMEGGIER? Effects were gorgeous. Sets were gorgeous. Love the new Starbug cockpit (though I’m skeptical of it having an upstairs pool table. Have we established if it’s a Series V or VI-sized Starbug yet?). The direction is superb, and for some reason I really liked the Doctor Who-esque Time Vortex slipstream effect. Also, it was brief, but the darker, faster shot of Dwarf at the end was kind of badass, no? More of that please? (Also, are the lights on Red Dwarf different? I kind of like it.) Clearly the effects are leagues ahead of X, but what I admire more is the ambition of the plot. I would have gladly put up with effects half as good as what we got. It’s the intention and story that truly count. As for if it’s smeggier? Well it is… SMEGGING GOOD. I loved the concepts, but more to the point I laughed out loud multiple times… Cat: “Not the end of the world”, nipple clamps, Cat: “Pram Theory?,” Kryten promising not to touch Bob’s string (Robert’s so good and understated there), Harmony: “Just divide your mass by your volume,” Rimmer’s stage dance, Lister casually drinking from the beaker. A bunch of laughs like that is all I need. Red Dwarf just makes me smile, and this episode definitely continues that trend. A cool time portal effect AND a neat desert crash AND Harmony AND Bob the Bum?! Yeah, this is definitely a top-36 episode for me. (Also, Rimmer doing that dance needs to be a GIF/meme pronto.)

    JELLY, YOU SAAAAY? The Expenoids were good, and I kind of liked their backstory and motivation as it was slowly revealed. And as much as I usually don’t prefer independently goofy sci-fi elements in a hard sci-fi comedy like Dwarf, there was something very human and real about the payoff to the (“He was slagging you off behind your back.” “It’s not important.”) The reveal that they’re also just a bunch of flawed human-esque wankers is actually nicely done. However, easily the draw of the episode for me was Lucy Pohl as Harmony. Absolutely perfect. A-plus. Pitch-perfect writing and delivery. She makes the whole episode for me. Twentica is a really neat concept, prohibition on its head, the irony of laudable scientific endeavor being treated like illegal sex and drinking, and I can’t remember the last time I saw such an interesting concept embodied by a single character. (“I ain’t used a petri dish in years.”) As soon as she entered the fray the whole episode clicked for me. Great casting. Also, Bob the Bum was a delight throughout. But Lucy Pohl steals the show. If Chris Barrie ever leaves the show again and they need a replacement, just bring in Harmony as a full cast member, Series III Kryten-style. I’d watch more of that any day.

    YOU CAN’T REWRITE HISTORY! NOT ONE LINE! I really REALLY liked Rimmer’s suggestion that Lister should stay here on Earth. Even though it’s obviously just a setup to the obvious joke that he forgot that he’d be erased too by the electron wavelet, it’s a nice character moment between Rimmer and Lister. (Also, why would they have a technology ban AND an electron wavelet?) As for the fact that the history was unchanged by the end of the episode, I feel like that can be explained away with the Casket of Chronos. Either a) it had a setting/function that reversed the changes, allowing the Dwarfers to jump directly back to Red Dwarf in the proper timeline, or b) they just didn’t show that the Dwarfers didn’t time jump directly to Red Dwarf but went back first a couple years, intercepted the Expenoids, then jumped back to Red Dwarf in the newly restored timeline. Or, c) the Expenoids failed to realize the clearly-established time rule that by banning technology, they prevented their very creation, thus negating them coming back in time to change the past, even though it was a present, which is an obvious law of physics that applies universally unless you’re an ex-president and you’re trying to assassinate a past version of yourself.

    IS IT SHIT OR IS IT GOOD? It’s good. That is all. I’d actually call it great. Ranking wise, I’d say Twentica is at least on par with the best of X. The Harmony stuff on its own puts it above Lemons for me, a recent similar jaunt to a past Earth. Perhaps I’d put it as a tie with or right behind The Beginning. As someone who thinks Backwards is a little overrated and Tikka an underrated classic (on its own terms), I’d put Twentica squarely in between those two (as in many ways it’s the average mean of those two episodes).

  99. Here’s a thought: if you actually did find them funny as presented, would you still be complaining that they weren’t threatening enough? Because I really don’t think you would be.
    I really don’t understand how removing what made the Exponoids unique and entertaining and turning them into generic simulants would make anything funnier. Sounds like we’d just get the same episode minus quite a few jokes.

    If they were actually legitimately funny then I would be a bit more forgiving, but I think you are missing the point I made. I never said anything about them not needing to have a unique personality, characters can come off threatening and yet still have a unique personalities. Besides that I mean the idea of Bob the Bum being the one to defeat legitimately intimidating villains would be funnier because it would a sinister villain being defeated in a way that would be amusingly absurd, without that it loses some of it’s punch.

  100. Thanks to SKY was able to download Twentica and watch in HD on a 50″ TV screen not a computer screen. The visual effects look superb, the model shots are good but I’ve seen better but the important bit is it’s genuinely funny, better than anything since series 6. Busy episode with a huge amount to take in with the second viewing so much more rewarding and I want to watch it again. The cast were clearly enjoying the experience and this was a confident return to form. A sci fi comedy has two jobs to do; be funny and be sci fi. Made me laugh, made me think, made me excited for the remainder of 11 and for what 12 will bring. Job well done – thanks Doug Naylor, you have brought pleasure to the world once more and I salute you.

  101. So, by round about now, they’ve already installed a toupee over the gap in the o-zone layer

    And Cliff Richard’s been shot?

  102. The lighting and direction were definitely as good as the set reports made them sound. This is definitely the nicest Red Dwarf has ever looked, and I’m really looking forward to how the scenes on Red Dwarf itself are going to look since we barely got a look at it here. I’m particularly looking forward to picking out the differences in the bunkroom. I love that I can look forward just the basic visual aspect of the show. Watching 24 for example I always got a kick out how good the direction was, how expertly everything was put together to make you feel in the middle of big crisis.

  103. I’m looking forward to that too. I’m guessing where they have used the drive room to make the science room we won’t have and more Blue Midget scenes? One thing I liked about X was how the blue midget interior looked :) . Change the lighting slightly and it would have been perfect.
    I thought I wasn’t going to like Starbugs cockpit as it seemed too blue but after watching Twentica I like it!

  104. and more Blue Midget scenes?

    While I kind of doubt it since they actually have a Starbug cockpit again, it’d be nice to see Blue Midget used as well. Like if they ever needed two shuttlecraft at once.

    Also I want to see White Giant.

    I thought I wasn’t going to like Starbugs cockpit as it seemed too blue but after watching Twentica I like it!

    The photos definitely didn’t at all look like the real thing. In fact it clearly wasn’t even lit the way it would appear on the show itself at all.

  105. Jesus Christ, this debate about whether or not villains are allowed to be funny. Of course they bloody are. The best characters in Red Dwarf can do both serious and silly, depending on what works best for a particular scene. What would be the point of hiring Kevin Eldon and then not allow him to do some comedy?

    Aside from anything else, it’s not like he whacked on a red nose and a revolving bow tie. The comedy was played straight, and was actually quite naturalistic and low key.

    Fucking hell, thank you Ian Symes! You’ve expressed my thoughts perfectly, especially on that last sentence.

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