Red Dwarf XI: Can of Worms Review

If ever an episode was under pressure to deliver, it was this one. Red Dwarf XI has been critically acclaimed and the fan reaction has been mostly positive, but there’s a handful of niggling doubts amongst the more hardcore elements of fandom, ourselves included, with regards to pacing, clarity and consistency. A finale that delivers on these points would surely put these doubts to bed, but to end on a duff note would leave a lingering dark cloud as we begin the process of revisiting the series and consolidating our opinions.

Not only that, but Can of Worms was specifically chosen as the final episode, the implication being that this is the one that they want you to remember while the show’s off air. You expect an episode six to contain higher stakes, an emotional punch, and a careful balance between a sense of closure and anticipation of what’s to come. What’s more, we also knew that this would be a long-awaited Cat-centric episode – arguably the first one ever – and that we’d finally see another of his species for the first time in 28 years. There was an extra frisson on top for anyone who’d read the spoilers in the Radio Times. It all added up to the expectation that this would be something special.

Of course, you know all this, but the point of this preamble is to explain why I really really wanted this episode to be a classic. I had visions of laughing, crying, applauding and then immediately firing off a couple of thousand words about how the show that I care about so much is now finally back to its best. Instead, I now have to attempt to articulate why I had the same nauseous feeling on Friday night as I did the last time my team lost the FA Cup Final.

First released: Friday 21st October 2016, UKTV Play

Written by: Doug Naylor

Directed by: Doug Naylor

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

Guest Cast:
Bentley Kalu (Mercenoid)
Dominique Moore (Ankita)
Daniel Barker (Alien Natural History Presenter)
Maria Yarjah (Cat Lady 1)
Shanice Stewart-Jones (Cat Lady 2)

Synopsis:
Cat takes time off from being in love with himself to fall head over heels in love with a lady Cat with a big secret.

Set Report | Let’s Talk About | Talking Points

The main problem is with the plot, and it’s a return to a problem that dogged X but had seemingly been eliminated from XI until now. There are too many ideas here to comfortably fit inside half an hour of sitcom. It’s not that the story is meandering or beset with extraneous b-plots; in fact the opposite is true. Can of Worms tells one big story from start to finish, with a relentlessly fast pace and no shortage of twists and turns. On this level, it’s a success, but there’s a problem.

The story goes directly from A to B, but it doesn’t stop there. It reaches B within the first few minutes, and then just carries on, reaching at least L or M by my calculations. There’s a surfeit of key events and this has two big negative effects. Firstly, it gives the story a distinctly disjointed feel, with each plot point dealt with and replaced by a new one every couple of scenes. It feels like a series of vignettes – this happens, then this happens, then this happens – rather than a natural progression. Ideas are layed on top of other ideas, rather than flowing into one another.

The consequence of which is that the characters end up feeling irrelevant. Lister, Rimmer and Kryten are swept along in a story that doesn’t tell us anything new about them, nor particularly reinforce the things we already know in any meaningful way. The closest we get is a few jokes early on about the make-up of Rimmer’s personality, but that scene in the curiously-labelled “Starbug 19” mid-section feels like a slight retread of Psirens. New Dwarf is inevitably going to be compared to old Dwarf, and it’s often viewed as a positive when there’s a similar vibe to a past series, or a similar theme to a previous episode. But when it’s a case of one specific scene being reminiscent of another specific scene, it feels like the show’s treading old ground, which is not the ideal starting point for an episode.

Then there’s the Cat, and this brings us on to the second problem of the story’s format: wasted opportunities. There’s a lot to like within this episode. The plot consists of little more than a series of segments, but a lot of these segments are very funny indeed. Each contains a smattering of the good stuff – character comedy, intriguing sci-fi concepts, funny one-liners – but then we move on to something new very quickly, leaving us with just a taster of a broad idea without the satisfaction of seeing it taken further by exploring the details.

With this in mind, can we even say that this is a Cat-centric episode? His actions and decisions don’t drive the story; the early discussion about his virginity proves to be incidental, as his meeting with a supposed lady Cat comes about as a result of Lister’s desire to rescue a potential human, rather than the Cat’s need for a companion and/or desire for sex. Throughout the episode, things happen to him rather than him instigating them, and as with the other 66 episodes, it falls to anyone but the Cat to be the protagonist who actively drives the plot forward.

It gets to the point towards the end of the episode where he’s either unconscious or missing for long periods of time, although prior to that it’s fair to say that Danny has way more to do than normal. The aforementioned virginity discussion, and the later anecdote about how he loses it, provide almost as high a word count as a whole series worth of one-liners. Danny copes very well, considering that putting the character in the spotlight can reveal some unavoidable limitations to a set of mannerisms that are tailored for quips rather than speeches. The broader strokes are kept to a minimum, and instead it’s a version of the Cat that’s peppered with subtle touches that can highlight his insecurities or obscure his intentions as required. In the end, there’s not enough of that kind of thing, but the performance is good enough to suggest that Danny could have easily handled a more consistently central role in the story, had that been the requirement.

The highlight for me is the interaction between Cat and Ankita, with its callbacks to the long-forgotten practice of Cats making things theirs, and the more recently-established love of The String Game. It sailed pretty close to becoming caricaturish at times, but it made sense that meeting another Cat would make The Cat revert to being more like an actual cat. Ankita was confident and in control, and it was an opportunity to see exactly how the Cat handles being given everything he’s ever wanted.

Those initial scenes established an exciting new dynamic, with the promise of more to come. Then it just stopped. It’s utterly bizarre to show the pair arranging a date and then not show the date itself. The show promises us a potentially brilliant scenario, then doesn’t deliver it. I suppose most guest characters in Red Dwarf need to be disposed of by the end of an episode, but this seems way too early to kill off a promising premise. And as with most female guest characters, it was indeed a killing off, but at least this one is mitigated by the fact that she wasn’t actually a real humanoid, and that it was integral to the plot, rather than just a way of tying up loose ends.

But still, it’s a shame that she disappears so early, because it turns out the whole plot thread about Cat meeting a female Cat was a big old red herring, and that this episode in fact tells a completely different story to the one advertised. But what of the plot we never had? If Ankita was who she said she was, it would have raised so many questions about where she came from, what happened to the other Cats, how our Cat would be affected, and how the relationship between them plays out. I suppose there’s nothing to stop Doug telling that story for real in the future, but if you’re going to set up such a tantalising prospect and then abandon it, it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the episode to compensate.

And it turned out that the rest of the episode was Polymorph III. It’s always a risky move to look to the show’s past for ideas, but it’s not an inherently bad practice. There are countless concepts in Red Dwarf that could easily sustain a much longer running time than half an hour, and the key is whether the sequel tries something different to the original. That’s the difference between Fathers & Suns picking up a loose thread from Ouroboros and using it to examine Lister’s character, and Duane Dibbley being wheeled out to make jokes about computer programmers.

On this point, Can of Worms scores highly. The revelation that Ankita is a Polymorph could easily lead to the same alternate-personalities-shooting-random-objects runaround that we’ve seen twice before, but instead the show confounds expectations in a good way this time. The Polymorph isn’t hunting the crew down in order to feed on their emotions; she’s motivated by the biological imperative to reproduce, and the real threat is what she’s already done to the Cat.

But by this point, we’re halfway through the episode and we’re still not sure what the storyline is. We’ve already dismissed the possibility of it being a revisitation of Identity Within, and at one stage it looks like it’s turning into a version of Dad. As with the previous date scenario, the realisation that the Cat is going to have to carry his babies to term conjures up so many potential comedy scenes, but in the end it’s a quick montage before moving on to the next idea: what are baby Polymorphs like? This is quickly dealt with via another quick montage before moving on to the next idea, and so on. The frustrating thing is that the glimpses we see of these ideas are often very funny, but it’s jarring when they’re not given time to breathe, and frustrating that so much potential is discarded in the relentless pursuit of the next idea.

Never is this more evident than with the Personality Tuck Machine. When Kryten introduces it in the opening scene, he may as well call it the This Will Be Necessary To Resolve The Plot Machine. There’s no innate problem with that – it could be handled a little less clunkily, but it’s a necessary part of storytelling, and it’s preferable to a piece of problem-solving tech being plucked from thin air later on. What’s so weird about the Personality Tuck Machine, though, is that it’s not necessary to resolve the plot.

I’m on board with the logic that if Polymorphs are tracking down emotions, it makes sense to formulate a plan whereby you send someone in who doesn’t have any emotions to detect. So why, then, do Rimmer and Kryten, who do have emotions to detect, go in with him? The plan was to have Lister move freely among the Polymorphs, but instead they’re drawn out into the open. It seems to be a way of bumping off two of them so that you can have a triple Mexican standoff – the reveal of which was perhaps the comedic highlight of the episode, and a great example of how Doug’s direction is becoming more confident as he becomes more experienced. But rather than having this whole subplot about an emotionless Lister in order to make that situation possible… why not just have the number of Polymorphs be a multiple of three in the first place?

That’s not the worst thing about it, though. Think of the implications of a Lister without emotions. Lister, the moral heart of both the crew and the programme. Lister, who so far this series has twice refused to abandon Kryten, tried to teach Cat the difference between right and wrong, and boasted about how he helped Kryten become who he is by allowing him to feel emotion. Lister, the last human being alive, alone in a Godless universe, whose sense of self is the only thing keeping him sane. All those issues that there’s no time to explore, because so much has already happened that there’s only five minutes left. All that there’s time for is to note that he’s a bit reckless now, and then it’s time to move on to the next plot once more.

You can file the Personality Tuck Machine alongside the Mercenoid. Kryten sets them up as some sort of allegory for religious fanatics, which could well have ended up being interestingly contentious had it been followed through, but instead has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever. It was just a big scary robot with a big scary voice – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but again, it’s odd to spend time fleshing a concept out and then not see it in action.

Then there’s the mention of the Vampire GELFs, the abandoned Alien parody, the hormone that makes the Cat fiercely protective of the Polymorphs, the suggestion that we’d see him change back to normal as each one is killed… this episode has so many ideas that don’t lead to anything substantial, and it all adds up to a plot that relies too heavily on convenience and wilful stupidity from the characters. Nothing would have happened at all had anyone asked the quite reasonable question of why the Mercenoid was keeping Antika prisoner in the first place, or if Kryten had performed even the most cursory of medical checks before bringing her on board the ship.

The result is a disjointed and dissatisfying scattergun approach to storytelling that’s almost at the level of Dear Dave compared to the tighter, more focused stories of the previous five weeks. By the time we reached the denouement the tone was all over the shop, with three of our four characters threatening to kill each other, while the fourth performs weird motherhood-based quips as he destroys his offspring. The threat is dealt with, the status quo is resumed, but I don’t feel like I’ve been on any sort of meaningful journey with these characters that I love so much, because there hasn’t been any time to explore how any of them are affected.

There was still an opportunity to provide the emotional punch I craved with a little Lister/Cat coda, the very presence of which means that this episode did at least find time for some sort of ending, unlike some of its stablemates. Lister seeking to reassure the Cat that there’s nothing wrong with being a virgin, thus further strengthening their friendship and providing an opportunity for the pair to learn from their experience? Yep, that’s what I’m after. But then it’s undercut by it all being a dream, and we’re just left with the sight of Danny John-Jules, 56, in bed with two women who have the combined age of 56.

So the episode ends with yet another groan from me, and despite the fact that there’s been just as many laughs as there have groans, it’s the groans that I’ll remember more. It’s such a shame that this was picked to go out last, as it’s really not representative of Series XI as a whole. Each episode has had its issues, and they’ve almost all been extremely divisive, but they’ve all been imbued with a strong identity, characterised by high production values, substantial plots and well-defined portrayals of the core four characters. The first one’s present here as always, but the other two are sorely lacking.

I’d like to reiterate again that it’s not without its merits. While I think the plot is bad, I don’t think it’s a particularly bad half-hour of television overall. But it is my least favourite of the six by some distance, and it does bring the hypothetical average score down. This is at the heart of why I was so gutted to discover that I didn’t love Can of Worms like I thought I would. To return to the football analogy: Red Dwarf is the show that I support, the show that I’ll follow for the rest of my life, the show that influenced who I am and how I identify myself.  When I talk to people about Red Dwarf – whether it’s friends, colleagues, or you lot – I want to be able to say that it’s the best show in the world. I like to say that it’s now better than it was towards the end of the original run, and that the new stuff is just as worth watching as the old stuff.

That’s true for the majority of Series XI, and for the majority of the Dave era so far. But every now and then there’s an episode like Can of Worms, and I’m reminded that from 1997 onwards, my favourite show occasionally throws up a stinker. It gives me no pleasure at all to point it out when that happens, and I don’t even have the catharsis of being angry about it straight away, because I have to get past the upset stage first. It’s completely irrational, but that’s what happens when you love something – it becomes part of you, it grows inside you, and it makes you want to protect it.

It’s just that sometimes, every now and then, the end result feels like you’ve forced a pineapple through your arse.

TINY TEASER: Hedgehog With A Top Hat – I know, I know, it’s serious.
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 34 (Series total: 150)
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 0 (Series total: 11)

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156 Responses to Red Dwarf XI: Can of Worms Review

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  1. I don’t disagree with the issues you had with the ep (and I also loved interaction between Cat and the female, which some hate), but I just really enjoyed it. I can’t really put my finger on why that is because certain plot flaws (such as the tuck machine being irrelevant in the end) which SHOULD make me hate it are easily forgotten because I had a smile on my face throughout the entire episode.

    On a more general “XI problems” note, it is concerning that XII won’t have as much chance to fix them unless Doug applies a response to feedback in the editing (for example, removing some establishing shots of RD and making the endings less abrupt). As someone who has mostly loved XI, that’s not something I’m overly worried about, but I can certainly see why it would be if you’re not so fond.

  2. Comparing Aston Villa to Red Dwarf is deeply unfair.

    Red Dwarf just can’t compare to Steve Bruce’s novel series of Sweeper!, Defender! and Striker!

  3. Great review. I actually enjoyed this episode a lot while I watched it, with maybe more laughs than any other episode this series – but the more I think about it the more it falls apart on a plot and character level.

  4. Great, fair review – each to their own and all that, but I’m astonished people are ranking this one highly, when as the review demonstrates, it’s a patchwork mess of ideas.

    I guess it comes down to the old adage of different people wanting different things, and sadly, a collection of messily constructed, if at times funny moments, doesn’t amount to a satisfying episode of Red Dwarf for me.

  5. To me this episode felt very series VIII in its characterisation and ideas, with some broad performances (the “you’re a moron” scene springs immediately to mind). However I really liked how Doug found a new angle on an iconic premise like the Polymorph. It wasn’t as funny as the previous 5 episodes to me and I’d agree it’s the weakest of the series but had its moments (the three way stand off and the birth scene/cute baby Polymorphs being two highlights of the whole run for me)

  6. We already established that the emotionless Lister would have no qualms about shooting the real Cat even if it wasn’t a Polymorph, so what stopped him shooting Rimmer and Kryten in the stand off? We already know he doesn’t care if his actual friends die as a result of his personality tuck.

  7. I thought the plan was that they use the tuck machine so that one of them can split off, confront and kill the Polymorphs without becoming a target, effectively disarming their only weapon off the bat. Without it, it would have drained one of Lister’s key emotions rendering him disorientated and a poor assassin, and then the domino effect would have exposed the others. With the tuck Lister is the perfect stealth assassin, and until the Polymorphs outsmart them all by reading Rimmer and Kryten’s fear/paranoia and turning it against them, the plan actually works as planned at first. It still makes perfect sense to me and I’m usually shit with following plots!

    On rewatch I’ve noticed that there are extra credits for the whole of XI on the end of this episode. Nice list of model builders for a start.

  8. A Remastered version of Can of Worms will feature a CGI journey of the baby polymorphs through Cat and out the nearest orifice #DwarfFacts

  9. G&T Admin

    No, that’s a level from the game.

  10. …the plan actually works as planned at first.

    Lister shoots 2x “Cats” and admits that he had no idea/didn’t care if they were Cat or polymorphs. Let’s turn Lister into an emotionless killing machine! YAY! Pretty sure that’s not what they’d have planned.
    Lister has made it clear he doesn’t care about Cat and will just shoot anything/anyone that turns up, so why doesn’t he then just shoot Kryten and Rimmer before they even get into the standoff? From his point of view, he’s been separated from them, they could be polymorphs just like the earlier “Cats”, he has no emotions, so he should just shoot them on sight.

  11. Well, one of the Krytens hypothesized that the Lister they started with was a polymorph. Of course, the implies that the real Lister got separated from them between scenes. Did Lister ever have his emotions removed? Was he a polymorph from the personality tuck scene onwards? Or was that Kryten a lying polymorph?

    This is the one bit of the episode that bugs me.

  12. For what it’s worth, the way I read it was that without his emotions, Lister was operating entirely on intelligence and instinct meaning he offed the first two Polymorphs without thinking twice about it. Though Rimmer and Kryten were alarmed by the newly exposed flaw in the plan (namely that they were worried that they couldn’t guarantee that he’d NOT shoot them or the real Cat) it was actually still working as intended.

  13. Well, one of the Krytens hypothesized that the Lister they started with was a polymorph.

    That was the scene that most felt like something had been chopped out. After becoming separated from Lister and Rimmer initially, it feels like Kryten should have had an encounter with a Polymorph Lister, before encountering Rimmer(?) for that hypothesis scene.

    That said, for me, the episode’s already fundamentally broken at that point, so adding or removing scenes there doesn’t really achieve much in the long run.

  14. Spot on review, well done.
    I
    This should have been buried 5th and krysis
    Gone out last as it would have echoed the last day a
    Little with kryten up against a replacement droid and then we could
    Have ended with a lovely dovey universe meet.

    This episode is like a few Moffat dr who episodes
    Where the writer gives you a great and interesting bag full
    Of scenes with gags but does nothing to construct a story
    Its just like a jumping set of diary entry’s

  15. I dont agree with the review. To compare these episodes to 7 and 8 is ridiculous. love Can Of Worms to me it’s one of the best quality episodes I’ve seen since VI. But even though the ending was nice don’t you think it would have been better instead of Cat dreaming he had 2 female Cats with him wouldn’t it have been better as a reality? How cool would it have made Cat look when throughout the Series he has been made to look stupid but he has kept that secret of having 2 female Cat girlfriends hidden all along? To me that in reality would have looked better than a dream.

  16. Were the scene anything other than the Cat’s fantasy, logically, the ages of the female cats would mean Cat was basically a feline Fritzl, rearing kittens in the bowels of the ship for his own gratification.

    To say nothing of the problems regarding the crew going into stasis and the whole ‘lost Red Dwarf’ elements.

  17. But even though the ending was nice don’t you think it would have been better instead of Cat dreaming he had 2 female Cats with him wouldn’t it have been better as a reality? How cool would it have made Cat look when throughout the Series he has been made to look stupid but he has kept that secret of having 2 female Cat girlfriends hidden all along? To me that in reality would have looked better than a dream.

    It would have rather destroyed the entire premise of the episode though.

  18. Were it anything other than the Cats fantasy, the ages of the female cats would mean Cat was basically a feline Fritzl, rearing kittens in the bowels of the ship for his own gratification.

    Fritzl the Cat?

  19. Fritzl the Cat?

    “We’re not Red Dwarf XI for nothin’, baby!”

  20. But even though the ending was nice don’t you think it would have been better instead of Cat dreaming he had 2 female Cats with him wouldn’t it have been better as a reality? How cool would it have made Cat look when throughout the Series he has been made to look stupid but he has kept that secret of having 2 female Cat girlfriends hidden all along? To me that in reality would have looked better than a dream.

    It would have rather destroyed the entire premise of the episode though.

    Whats the premise of the Episode that the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    In terms of that ending, honestly i think it would have been funnier had they been real purely because it would have been unexpected that the cat had actually been telling the truth all that time and the crew still had no idea.

    Although It would have added questions as fans would go nuts questioning it but Cat in general cat looked pathetic trying to trick the crew into thinking they existed.

  21. This episode is like a few Moffat dr who episodes
    Where the writer gives you a great and interesting bag full
    Of scenes with gags but does nothing to construct a story
    Its just like a jumping set of diary entry’s

    I wonder if all this jumping to different ideas for most the episodes this series is just doug having so many ideas he wants to do or whether he generally feels its clever to combine several ideas to come together by the end.

  22. the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    Only ‘pathetic’ by his own shallow standards – because he of course considers himself to be a ladykiller, just one who’s never had to actually live up to his own self-perception – something (dream) Lister is at pains to point out isn’t the case. The Cat hubristically makes something out of nothing because of his insecurity, born of vanity.

  23. Whats the premise of the Episode that the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    If he wasn’t a virgin then he would be aware that the Polymorph’s bizarre amorous advances were unconventional.

  24. If he wasn’t a virgin then he would be aware that the Polymorph’s bizarre amorous advances were unconventional.

    We will ignore previous episode that show he has some idea of what sex is just so we can go down the he doesn’t know what sex is because he is a virgin stuff

  25. the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    Only ‘pathetic’ by his own shallow standards –

    No actually just pathetic, whiny and pathetic

    Take Series 4 in justice, lister indeed says “just think you’re a little bit cocky for a guy who’s never actually met a real woman before”, now would that imply he a is a virgin? yeah very easily, but did he then start to whine about his insecurity over it? no because the cat doesn’t care as he is all about himself, while with this episode the moment someone said virgin thats it his duane dibley geek eyes widen and making little crying gestures about how pathetic he is.

  26. We will ignore previous episode that show he has some idea of what sex is just so we can go down the he doesn’t know what sex is because he is a virgin stuff

    You asked why the Cat had to be a virgin for the episode to work.

    I’m not arguing against the idea that something from the new series might somehow contradict previous continuity (what a shock!). I’m just saying that as far as this episode goes, if the story doesn’t establish that he’s a virgin, the whole thing doesn’t work.

  27. the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    Only ‘pathetic’ by his own shallow standards –
    No actually just pathetic, whiny and pathetic
    Take Series 4 in justice, lister indeed says “just think you’re a little bit cocky for a guy who’s never actually met a real woman before”, now would that imply he a is a virgin? yeah very easily, but did he then start to whine about his insecurity over it? no because the cat doesn’t care as he is all about himself, while with this episode the moment someone said virgin thats it his duane dibley geek eyes widen and making little crying gestures about how pathetic he is.

    But in this scenario, unlike the example you cite, his life would be in danger *because* of his virginity – he would have no way to laugh it off or deny it, everyone would know, therefore – in his eyes – diminishing his perceived coolness; anathema to the Cat.

    The fact that he’s pathetic stems from how he reacts, not – as he fears – because he’s a virgin. Again, hubris.

  28. If he wasn’t a virgin then he would be aware that the Polymorph’s bizarre amorous advances were unconventional.

    We will ignore previous episode that show he has some idea of what sex is just so we can go down the he doesn’t know what sex is because he is a virgin stuff

    As mentioned earlier, I immediately interpreted Cat recounting his encounter with the Polymorph as someone who has a limited knowledge of what sex entails, choosing to believe that all the extra stuff means he’s especially sexually proficient – the fact he’s bragging about it suggests he’s grasping onto the first explanation that fits in with his own self-perception.

    So it doesn’t really contradict anything, but even if it did, Red Dwarf plays fast and loose with continuity all the time.

    The episode is filled with problems, but for me, that wasn’t one of them.

  29. This series has been uniformly terrible. It started off promising but it’s became a rather pantomimey parody much like Series VIII and I don’t think it’s gonna be loved all that well come the 30th Anniversary G&T Survey. I mean for fuck sake, it’s a greatest hits. Doug went back to Polymorph? Really? We’re celebrating that?

    I’ve always had an appreciation for Series X and I can watch those episodes knowing they’re really trying hard and it’s a very sweet and endearing collection of stories at times. Trojan, Lemons and The Beginning are superb and rank above everything in Series XI.

    Then again, it’s just a sitcom.

  30. Whats the premise of the Episode that the cats really a pathetic virgin?

    I don’t see how Cat being a virgin makes him pathetic, his entire race (other then the sick and elderly) left Red Dwarf when he was only a baby. Beyond that the only woman his had any real interaction with was Kochanski who was never interested in him sexually. Cat can’t help being a virgin and beyond it, it makes sense for that to be something he’s insecure about give his shallow nature. However I don’t see how him being a virgin makes him pathetic when he never had an opportunity to lose his virginity!

  31. I don’t see how Cat being a virgin makes him pathetic

    Being a virgin doesn’t make him pathetic, his whining, lying and insecurity about it makes him pathetic.

    Oh and completely being so incredibly shockingly naive to sex that its hard to say whether it is his cat lust for sex or he just wanted to lose his virginity so bad that he allowed eggs to be put down his throat thinking it was sex which i can only hope was somewhat pleasurable otherwise cat really is a sad “moron”

  32. Hi Everyone!

    I’ve enjoyed this series but yes for me this episode was the weakest of the bunch. Twentica would have been perfect for a series final. Give and Take was my favourite episode of the series.

    Mentioning showing Cat’s date would have been great with plenty of visual gags to be had especially if as Cat was describing it to the others we saw the date via flashbacks……

    I think Doug really needs a better script editor and even perhaps have a co-director. He appears to have gone very George Lucas in terms of 100% control which is understandable but sometimes the end result is a shame because of this. Especially considering at times his writing is up with the best it’s ever been for me during the XI run.

    Really miss the mid-section of Starbug and hopefully if there is a series XIII it will return. Honorable mention for Hattie returning as well as it’s another dynamic for Doug to work with even if she only comes out with the occasion quip. It would just be nice to see her in the background every now and then. Then again by having Holly many of the stories would have not been the same or would have never happened especially this season final.

    One final point why does the end credit song vocals come in earlier than usual? It really makes the ending more jarring than it should!

  33. A fair review (other than the VII knocking) . I actually really like series VII . You can bitch about VIII all day long though.

  34. The fact that there were female cats on Z Deck doesn’t mean the cat ever had sex with them. It’s only the confidence he got from the polymorph encounter that gave him the courage to ask them over.

    They could be descended from the 2nd polymorph from Series III, who after hiding in the hold for years impregnated Sim Crawford when she was deposited there alongside Hudzen 10 and the rest of the disposable characters of the week.

  35. I don’t see how Cat being a virgin makes him pathetic

    Being a virgin doesn’t make him pathetic, his whining, lying and insecurity about it makes him pathetic.
    Oh and completely being so incredibly shockingly naive to sex that its hard to say whether it is his cat lust for sex or he just wanted to lose his virginity so bad that he allowed eggs to be put down his throat thinking it was sex which i can only hope was somewhat pleasurable otherwise cat really is a sad “moron”

    If Cat is the same age as Danny, then his a 56 year old virgin….and given the Cat’s vanity, I believe that would be a real sour topic for him. Not only is it likely the only thing that eats at the character’s self imagine (like I said it makes sense given his vanity), he is likely very sexually frustrated. Beyond that…..I can believe that Cat would be naive enough to no know how sex really works…….or at least I believe it enough that I give it a free pass because it was a hilarious scene IMO.

  36. It’s a shame that the coda isn’t ‘real’ but I like that it shows Cat has some regard for Lister cause it’s easy to think he considers a friend as being a tool who’ll give you stuff you want. For free!

  37. Being a virgin doesn’t make him pathetic, his whining, lying and insecurity about it makes him pathetic.

    His responses to the accusations of him being a virgin were perfectly in-keeping with how Cat has been portrayed over the years. As others has said, he’s not ACTUALLY as cool/perfect as he makes out to be, it’s a mask, which is kind of the point of his character. You’ve mentioned the Cat in this episode contradicts the Cat we’ve always seen… perhaps in that he actually had plot-related lines, yes, but I didn’t see any inconsistency.

  38. If I was writing this episode, and everyone can all be grateful that I wasn’t, I would have allowed Cat to do the panicked look in the cockpit, be questioned about his virginity, snap an answer back that belittled the person asking it and simultaneously underlined his insecurities. Then perhaps scuttle off. I.e. I’d copy the scene where Lister tells Cat about dogs for the first time.
    This scene seemed to go on forever.
    But I’ve only watched it once so could be wrong.

  39. Being a virgin doesn’t make him pathetic, his whining, lying and insecurity about it makes him pathetic.

    His responses to the accusations of him being a virgin were perfectly in-keeping with how Cat has been portrayed over the years. As others has said, he’s not ACTUALLY as cool/perfect as he makes out to be, it’s a mask, which is kind of the point of his character. You’ve mentioned the Cat in this episode contradicts the Cat we’ve always seen… perhaps in that he actually had plot-related lines, yes, but I didn’t see any inconsistency.

    Well its certainly consistent with series 8 cat il give you that.

  40. Something that’s just occurred to me whilst reading the review, the comments and the references to series 8. Has anyone ever given any thought to the fact that, if the crew was resurrected by the nano-bots, so should have been Frankenstein and the baby cats.

    We obviously don’t know what happened at the end of series 8, however we could assume that the Frankenstein and the kittens survived in the same way they did after the original accident. Therefore, there could well be a race of currently evolving cats somewhere on board that the crew just haven’t found yet.

    We know they have spent an indeterminate amount of time in stasis at least once since series 8 (in Krysis) so whilst not evolved by any stretch of the imagination – even if it were a few thousand years – they’d be a whole colony of them running around in the cargo hold somewhere.

    As to why they haven’t found them … the simply haven’t been to that part of the ship or indeed scanned that part of the ship in years. Red Dwarf is the size of a city. And we know they move around a lot. From their quarters in series 1 and 2 to officer quarters in series 3 … and in my head cannon everytime there is a set change on the main ship, that’s just them moving around again.

  41. I think the crew were resurrected from their powdered remains (which weren’t actually ejected from the ship as that was a deleted scene). The cats left so there was nothing to resurrect them from.

    The most important question is how the ship changed shape twice: between VIII and BtE; and BtE and X.

  42. Something that’s just occurred to me whilst reading the review, the comments and the references to series 8. Has anyone ever given any thought to the fact that, if the crew was resurrected by the nano-bots, so should have been Frankenstein and the baby cats.
    .

    Well Originally for Series 8 they wanted starbug to fly up a CGI Cats ass and it was meant to be Frankenstein, but apparently they could only get a CGI rat.

    So yeah you can see they did think about Frankenstein and also thought of a use for Frankenstein ;p

  43. Quite a few of the points made in the review are valid, but I think the plot works if you look at the episode as a monster of the week story as much as a Cat character story. Red Dwarf at its best is a good blend of sitcom and sci-fi and for me personally Can of Worms was the funniest episode of XI and it had a captivating reinvention of the polymorph idea.

  44. I wonder, and I’m probably very wrong with this, but what if XI was actually intended to invoke the IV-VI era, so Doug included lots of references to episodes from that era – kind of the way X had similarities with I-III – in order for XII to feel like the ‘real’ new era?

  45. I wonder, and I’m probably very wrong with this, but what if XI was actually intended to invoke the IV-VI era, so Doug included lots of references to episodes from that era – kind of the way X had similarities with I-III – in order for XII to feel like the ‘real’ new era?

    You could be onto something there. Everything I’d heard about the block from the set reports seemed to indicate a twelve part series split in two, but after seeing XI it’s clear that there’s a deliberate delineation that goes beyond a few bits of changed production design. XII looks to be the Really Weird Series, the Series With Lots Of Guest Stars, and a 30th anniversary knees-up all in one.

    (Plus it’ll be the first series of Red Dwarf that on first TX will be older than some of the bought-in repeats of BBC shows it shares a schedule with. Still won’t be as old as Car Share was when it aired, mind, and it didn’t harm that.)

  46. Yes, every set report for XII seemed to say ‘this was really weird’ or at least ‘this was not like anything the show had done before’. If that’s actually the case, then X and XI could almost be the catch-up series, re-covering the past. I’m sure that’s not why they exist, but the similarities are there and I do wonder how deliberate it actually has been.

    This also ties in with the fact that, from the set reports, I was more excited about XII than XI and kind of wanted to skip forward a year.

  47. We already established that the emotionless Lister would have no qualms about shooting the real Cat even if it wasn’t a Polymorph, so what stopped him shooting Rimmer and Kryten in the stand off? We already know he doesn’t care if his actual friends die as a result of his personality tuck.

    What also bothered me is that, even if the real Lister had gotten his emotions back (somehow stored in the Polymorphs he killed? Had they feasted on the machine as well?), he would have known that the real Kryten and Rimmer wouldn’t come to any harm by shooting them either. In other questions, why weren’t the Rimmers running away? How was Kryten capable of pointing guns at what were perfectly possibly his crewmates? As entertaining as the standoffs were, nobody was properly in character for it.

  48. Something that’s just occurred to me whilst reading the review, the comments and the references to series 8. Has anyone ever given any thought to the fact that, if the crew was resurrected by the nano-bots, so should have been Frankenstein and the baby cats.

    Frankenstein wasn’t in the original plans for Red Dwarf. The normal crew were. There’s your difference.

  49. There were lots of pretty red and blue lights in this episode.

  50. What also bothered me is that, even if the real Lister had gotten his emotions back (somehow stored in the Polymorphs he killed? Had they feasted on the machine as well?), he would have known that the real Kryten and Rimmer wouldn’t come to any harm by shooting them either. In other questions, why weren’t the Rimmers running away? How was Kryten capable of pointing guns at what were perfectly possibly his crewmates? As entertaining as the standoffs were, nobody was properly in character for it.

    I think you got a few wires crossed along the way. Lister’s emotions were removed and stored on a USB stick, nothing to do with the Polymorphs. It was Cat who had been “fed” on, and by killing the Polymorphs, each emotion taken was returned to him.

    My guess RE: Rimmer not running away is that it only occurred to him that Kryten might be a Polymorph after he was already with him and so, at that point, the safest option is pointing his gun rather than running and potentially being shot (though saying that, he’s a hard light hologram, so…..).

    I can let virtually anything go with the doubles sequence though because I really enjoyed how subtle all the gun pointing in the lift was, made me laugh out loud watching.

  51. Frankenstein and her descendants were brought back but their corpses litter the bowels of the ship.

  52. With the talk in VII about how the nanobots had recreated the ship using the original plans, I assumed they had used reference material for the crew as well. Somewhere in the deconstructed pile of debris that had been Red Dwarf would be hologram discs of the crew, used as reference material to create their physical bodies, with no such reference existing for Frankenstein.

    I’m surprised to see the negativity for this episode. I mean, I can’t disagree with any of the criticisms of there being a bit too much content for the time, but I enjoyed the entire thing and it me it feels more like the classic era than anything in the rest of XI.

  53. Funny that Rimmer nor Kryten didn’t have the so called ‘Mrs Cat’ under the guise of anything other than Feline on their respective screens….didn’t feel the need to check either? If Holly was in this series it would have been flagged right? Without Holly it appears Doug can tend to get away with rather a lot……the crew aren’t ‘that’ thick now are they??

  54. I’m surprised to see the negativity for this episode. I mean, I can’t disagree with any of the criticisms of there being a bit too much content for the time, but I enjoyed the entire thing and it me it feels more like the classic era than anything in the rest of XI.

    I couldn’t agree more

  55. The episode, like the entire series, was a bit hit and miss for me. A lot of things just sort of lay there, but I found Cat’s description of sex scene to be really funny. That and Rimmer’s “Rolling in smeg my entire life” line were probably the only parts of the series where I really properly belly-laughed. I agree there were a few too may ideas crammed into each episode (the Personality Tuck machine seemed wasted here) and not showing the Cat’s date was a real shame – there could have been plenty of comic material mined out of that, but still cutting away before we get to the dirty deed, leaving the description scene intact for afterwards.

    I hope XII doesn’t reuse as many previous Dwarf concepts as XI has. Credit to Doug for at least acknowledging in the stories that he’s doing this, but it’s been overkill IMO. We definitely didn’t ever need another multiple Rimmers story in our lives. Ever.

  56. >We definitely didn’t ever need another multiple Rimmers story in our lives. Ever.
    Given that Rimmer was (I think) Rob Grant’s character, I’d like to see Grant do it. Be interesting to compare the two. I wonder if there would be a barbershop quartet and if it would all dissolve into a grotesquery quite so soon. A nostalgic twat in me wants to suggest not.

  57. >We definitely didn’t ever need another multiple Rimmers story in our lives. Ever.

    Given that Rimmer was (I think) Rob Grant’s character, I’d like to see Grant do it. Be interesting to compare the two. I wonder if there would be a barbershop quartet and if it would all dissolve into a grotesquery quite so soon. A nostalgic twat in me wants to suggest not.

    I’ve read before that Rimmer was more Rob’s character; I don’t know if Doug or anyone else in the show has ever come out and said that or whether it’s just fan supposition?

  58. I thought it was mentioned on Bodysnatcher but I’m not 100%.

  59. I don’t think it was ever mentioned

  60. Given that Rimmer was (I think) Rob Grant’s character, I’d like to see Grant do it. Be interesting to compare the two. I wonder if there would be a barbershop quartet and if it would all dissolve into a grotesquery quite so soon. A nostalgic twat in me wants to suggest not.

    The only real idea we have of what red dwarf would be like under just rob grant is very much his solo novel Backwards.

    Now obviously as the writers get older their frame of mind on the show probably changes so we could not say for sure what rob grants modern approach to red dwarf would be but back in 95/96 its fair to say rob had a more grittier dark humour approach like series 5-6 while dougs Last Human felt abit more adventure based and very much like Series 6-7

    Personally i don’t have a favourite out of Backwards and Last Human, they both feel like something is missing and don’t quite match Infinity and BTL

    Although i will say this that dougs last human i remember having issues with it when i first read it compared to robs.

  61. We definitely didn’t ever need another multiple Rimmers story in our lives. Ever.

    But yet, that multiple Rimmers story was many people’s favourite episode of XI if not of the whole Dave era. It certainly is one of my favourites.

    As many people have said, so many fans of Red Dwarf have come to the show at different times with loves of such different parts of it that there really isn’t a consensus of what makes an episode of RD good, what makes it bad, and there certainly isn’t a consensus on what “we” want from future RD episodes – I’m not sure why people keep implying there is. That people have such divided views of this episode (ranging from “incredible” to “insipid pile of shit”) and others, yet are likely to have more homogeneous views on the series on the whole (ie. that it’s a solid return to form with mostly hits but a few, sometimes significant, misses), shows that a pretty good job has been done of giving people some of the elements that they specifically want in RD.

    Although considering this is seemingly the “safe” series, with XII somewhat more “out there”, it’ll be interesting to see how that is received…

  62. Personally i like the idea more of multiple Rimmers wandering he corridors of Red Dwarf more then multiple polymorphs really, i think the Rimmer interactions with each other is comedy gold even if we kinda have seen it before

  63. I’m not sure it was mentioned but it’s something people have just assumed. Partly because Lister has, generally, been given decent material post-Rob where Rimmer IMO has not been the same (though how much of that is down to Chris’s portrayal or a variety of other factors…).

    Saying that… this has been one of Lister’s worst series’ (that’s what I feel anyway) It seems a conscious decision from Doug to give him less to do, after he was clearly the central figure in BtE and X. Maybe it had to happen in order to bring the others to the fore? Danny in particular has excelled at being more in the spotlight. It’s something that should have happened with Cat years ago. VII is where the Cat story should have happened, and it would have been very welcome amongst the chaff that DID make that series. Ah well….

    One thing that XII hopefully contains is a proper Lister-centric episode!

  64. Personally i like the idea more of multiple Rimmers wandering he corridors of Red Dwarf more then multiple polymorphs really, i think the Rimmer interactions with each other is comedy gold even if we kinda have seen it before

    The problem is, the Rimmer story this series required as much of a departure from his actual character to work as you think the Cat had in the final ep. The premise of Officer Rimmer was that he would be able to keep them under control if he was their superior, yet we’ve constantly seen Rimmer try to cheat and steal his way to the top, clearly showing no real respect for the chain of command. So it shouldn’t have worked as he would have created an army of Rimmers scheming to overthrow him (as per Rimmerworld)……. but it doesn’t matter, because it was entertaining. If that can be overlooked then I’m not sure why any perceived differences to how the Cat has acted in the past can’t be.

  65. Saying that… this has been one of Lister’s worst series’ (that’s what I feel anyway) It seems a conscious decision from Doug to give him less to do, after he was clearly the central figure in BtE and X. Maybe it had to happen in order to bring the others to the fore? Danny in particular has excelled at being more in the spotlight. It’s something that should have happened with Cat years ago. VII is where the Cat story should have happened, and it would have been very welcome amongst the chaff that DID make that series. Ah well….

    Same. I barely felt like we’ve seen Lister at all and, when we have, I don’t think he felt much like the character (I miss the cheekiness!). However, Doug did a great job – “what an absolute slag” notwithstanding – with his characterisation in X, particular Fathers & Suns, so I have faith.

  66. The problem is, the Rimmer story this series required as much of a departure from his actual character to work as you think the Cat had in the final ep. The premise of Officer Rimmer was that he would be able to keep them under control if he was their superior, yet we’ve constantly seen Rimmer try to cheat and steal his way to the top, clearly showing no real respect for the chain of command. So it shouldn’t have worked as he would have created an army of Rimmers scheming to overthrow him (as per Rimmerworld)……. but it doesn’t matter, because it was entertaining. If that can be overlooked then I’m not sure why any perceived differences to how the Cat has acted in the past can’t be.

    Well Rimmers attitude is pretty much like it was in Meltdown, as soon as he was given the chance to command he becomes abit of an ass

    As for the premise of the idea, well they did say that the Rimmers wouldn’t attempt to overthrow him because of his rank and while i ain’t totally sure about that logic behind it i suppose they were all replicas of Rimmer who were all officers right? like Rimmer always wanted so they were all to busy relishing in the idea of being an officer first and foremost

    Personally i would just have said they were programmable copies of Rimmer that were programmed not to backstab him since apparently the machine could make Rimmers with huge muscles, or at least that was the idea they were trying to do before they make the Rimmer monster

    But I am actually glad the Rimmers were not trying to over throw him, we seen that before, what made this different was that it was different but it still turned out bad, infact i wish there has been more time with the Rimmers stuff

  67. Saying that… this has been one of Lister’s worst series’ (that’s what I feel anyway) It seems a conscious decision from Doug to give him less to do, after he was clearly the central figure in BtE and X. Maybe it had to happen in order to bring the others to the fore? Danny in particular has excelled at being more in the spotlight. It’s something that should have happened with Cat years ago. VII is where the Cat story should have happened, and it would have been very welcome amongst the chaff that DID make that series. Ah well….
    One thing that XII hopefully contains is a proper Lister-centric episode!

    The idea i get is that Doug is grounding lister abit to make him more an every man that we can relate too while cat is comedy gold when you play on his stupidity which doug did quite abit in this series.

    Personally i wasn’t happy with the cats portrayal in some parts of this series, he was much more whiny then he used to be, i know there was some of it in Series 8 but looking at series 2 to 5 he was barely whiny, he gave loads of attitude but he barely whined.

  68. >i know there was some of it in Series 8 but looking at series 2 to 5 he was barely whiny, he gave loads of attitude but he barely whined.

    Actually one of Cat’s whiniest moments was in the episode Meltdown although he had good reason at the time. That doesn’t negate your point of being ‘barely whiny’ though.

    Cat does certainly come across a bit less cool this series, but I find him still very recognisable as Cat.

    Good review, and good points. I actually liked the episode though.

    I think I mentioned this in another thread, but I think there is actually an explanation as to why Rimmer and Kryten did not leave emotionless Lister to go on alone according to plan. Rimmer says something along the lines ‘lets send him in’. That suggests they hadn’t actually reached their destination at that point and were escorting him along. The polymorphs scuppered that by finding them first.

    That’s my take on it anyway, although I’ll admit I was a bit puzzled at the time. Up until he said that line, anyway.

    As for exploring Cat’s relationship with a female more, I can see why that would be frustrating. It would have been nice if they had shown more, and I wonder if they actually did film more scenes? (If they did, oh for an extended version of the episode on the DVD, although I doubt that will happen. On the other hand showing more of their relationship could have gotten a bit irritating….) Overall, I still liked where the episode went, but I don’t disagree that more could have been done with it.

    And I hope we get to catch up with the other Cat survivors of the ark that ‘flew on’. I’m not all that fussed about a Cat/female love story, but I’m curious what happened to them, and what their society is like.

    I don’t think this episode should be the last in the series. I think they should have stuck with their original plan and had Twentica in that spot. I don’t think it’s my favourite episode in the series but it’s a good fun romp.

  69. > I think they should have stuck with their original plan and had Twentica in that spot.

    I’m not sure if we know if Twentica was originally planned as the finale? It was shot last in the block, but mainly for practical purposes, I guess. Though I think we do know Samsara was toyed with as the opener at one stage (a wise move to veto that IMO).

    Personally I think the order was okay. You could potentially swap Give & Take and Can of Worms around, but then that doesn’t quite work either… Ideally, Samsara would have had a much better 2nd half and worked as episode 1, with Twentica moved to the finale. The series would have been much stronger than X as a result of that. Right now, I’m seeing XI as pretty much matching X for overall quality…

  70. On rewatching Officer Rimmer, it’s obviously a much stronger episode than Can of Worms, and was only an ending scene away from being really great.

  71. >I’m not sure it was mentioned but it’s something people have just assumed. Partly because Lister has, generally, been given decent material post-Rob where Rimmer IMO has not been the same

    I felt sure Doug said it in an interview or talking head or something – while Rob was there. I can still feel the tension of thinking it was quite a backhanded compliment. “This brilliant personification of neuroses is all Rob’s…” Not his exact words but I’m sure that was more or less it. It feels palpable to me.
    Not like the fan theory of Doug = plot, Rob = jokes.
    Anyway this off topic…
    Cloche.

  72. We definitely didn’t ever need another multiple Rimmers story in our lives. Ever.

    But yet, that multiple Rimmers story was many people’s favourite episode of XI if not of the whole Dave era. It certainly is one of my favourites.

    That’s fine of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I would respectfully disagree. I liked the premise of Rimmer finally getting promoted, I would’ve liked to see that develop in a different way rather than the episode take a turn into yet another Me2/Terrorform/Rimmerworld variation. What it gave us wasn’t sufficiently different or interesting to make it worth retreading that idea for a fourth time. The whole final third of the show didn’t work for me, purely on that basis, and the insanely abrupt ending was the cherry on the cake.

  73. The whole final third of the show didn’t work for me, purely on that basis, and the insanely abrupt ending was the cherry on the cake.

    Did you see the edit someone made where they inserted a second of black screen before the credits hit? Not saying it saved the show, but it made a crazy amount of difference.

  74. I think you got a few wires crossed along the way. Lister’s emotions were removed and stored on a USB stick, nothing to do with the Polymorphs.

    I’m well aware, I was just trying to figure any way he could have suddenly become reemotioned.

  75. Something that’s just occurred to me whilst reading the review, the comments and the references to series 8. Has anyone ever given any thought to the fact that, if the crew was resurrected by the nano-bots, so should have been Frankenstein and the baby cats.

    Frankenstein wasn’t in the original plans for Red Dwarf. The normal crew were. There’s your difference.

    Also Frankenstein et al never died and were reduced to powder by the radiation leak – they were sealed in the hold and lived on and died through the generations of natural causes.

    I always found it a bigger problem that there should have been a second Kristine Kochanski on the rebuilt Dwarf – the one arriving in Starbug was from a parallel universe, after all. Where was the “original”? She should have been resurrected alongside Hollister and co.

    (For laughs, she could’ve been played by Clare Grogan and accidentally tripped into an airlock in episode 1).

  76. The crew were not ressurrected by Kryten’s nanobots. They were resurrected by a second batch created by Holly. This is stated in the programme. As he was aware of Kochanski, that explains why the nanobots would not be programmed to resurrect this universe’s version of that character.

  77. Surprised the little ‘groan’ from the audience member when Kryten says it’s a Polymorph etc hasn’t been discussed. Especially since Doug decided to leave it in the edit??!!!

  78. Surprised the little ‘groan’ from the audience member when Kryten says it’s a Polymorph etc hasn’t been discussed. Especially since Doug decided to leave it in the edit??!!!

    Not saying it isn’t there, but I’ve watched twice, once with headphones, and didn’t detect a groan either time. I’ll have to rewatch.

  79. I hear the groan in question, but think it could just as easily be an “Oh,” of recognition mixed with a partial laugh.

  80. It could be groan or it could be just a over excited surprise reaction, hard to say.

    It’s fair to say a lot of fans are aware of recycled plot ideas and have been for years so it very well could be a negative Groan.

  81. I definitely heard it. A very small but audible groan just before the laughter starts.

  82. I agree with all points made. Will be interesting to see how people feel about the series as awhole 6 months down the line.
    On first watch I thought this episode was terrible.
    Second watch I found that I enjoyed it up until the moment Kryten said Polymorph then it kind of fell apart.

  83. I think it’s actually a Canned Groan.

  84. >I think it’s actually a Canned Groan.

    What, you mean it’s been ‘tickled down’?

  85. ^ Can Of Lolz

    Yeh it definitely sounded like a negative groan. I rewound it several times and my 3D TV never lies so it must be true. I suppose Doug didn’t consider it a groan then?

  86. I don’t even know why whoever it was had to groan in the first place. Bit rude, I thought.

  87. The crew were not ressurrected by Kryten’s nanobots. They were resurrected by a second batch created by Holly. This is stated in the programme. As he was aware of Kochanski, that explains why the nanobots would not be programmed to resurrect this universe’s version of that character.

    Bloody hell, I totally forgot this. I think I’d lost the will to live by the end of Part 3 of Back In The Red. It also seems a horrible over-complication to have a second batch of nanos running about the place.

  88. I don’t even know why whoever it was had to groan in the first place. Bit rude, I thought.

    I groaned a little at the reveal. I wasn’t enjoying the episode that much at that point despite some great OB stuff. It’s just I thought why can’t Doug some how come up with a new concept instead?

  89. I don’t even know why whoever it was had to groan in the first place. Bit rude, I thought.

    It might have been involuntary.

  90. Reminded me slightly of a set report where members of the audience were being asses

  91. If that Ray Peacock RHLSTP was any indication the Can Of Worms audience were rotten.

  92. I groaned a little at the reveal. I wasn’t enjoying the episode that much at that point despite some great OB stuff. It’s just I thought why can’t Doug some how come up with a new concept instead?

    When kryten was explaining about the gelf vampires who feast on the blood of virgins i wondered why doug didn’t go with that idea so she wasn’t a cat but a vampire, not done that yet!

    As for the polymorphs, it works when you think about it like the aliens franchise, first you had one alien and then you had loads but IMO Doug could have had more fun with the concept than what he did.

  93. I don’t even know why whoever it was had to groan in the first place. Bit rude, I thought.

    Its brought on by fans being aware of recycled plot ideas these last couple of series, i don’t think the groan would have been over the fact it was a polymorph but more that oh we are back to that again.

  94. I don’t think it was a critical groan, to me it was warmly theatrical ‘oh no! What are they going to do now! Tee hee!’ bemusement. Bloody weird thing to hear though regardless, I’d have dubbed it out.

  95. I don’t think it was a critical groan, to me it was warmly theatrical ‘oh no! What are they going to do now! Tee hee!’ bemusement. Bloody weird thing to hear though regardless, I’d have dubbed it out.

    Quite, that interpretation seems just as valid.

    The exact nature of the noise could go either way, but without asking the individual who made the noise, what they intended it to convey, we can’t be certain… groan-worthy though the episode ended up being.

  96. Yeh to me it sounded like an ‘oh nooo’ type groan but to others it will sound different but it really took me out of the show when I first head it and will most likely grate during every re-watch in years to come.

  97. While I’m certainly more positive toward this episode then some, in that I liked it a lot more then I was expecting to. However I know when I found out this episode was going to be basically Polymorph III, I had a distinct feeling of dread. So if it is a grown at the fact it was yet another Polymorph episode, I really can’t blame them. I mean Emohawk was in my book the worst episode before Rob Grants departure, and a 3rd really wasn’t needed. Still despite myself I actually really enjoyed this episode.

    …..I just hope this is the final Polymorph episode because even this episode was Doug pushing his luck a bit!

  98. For me, it’s one of those “if I don’t think about, it’ll be alright” episodes.

    I agree with most of the criticisms. I found the opening of the episode a bit flat, forced and confusing. I was disappointed it wasn’t quite the Cat episode we were expecting. However, I found Ankita quite annoying and was glad she wasn’t in it too long.

    I liked the return to the Polymorph idea and it took me completely by surprise. From that point on, I was excited to see where the episode would go.

    Regardless of its faults, I enjoyed Can of Worms and being the series closer, I was happy to go along with the ride.

  99. Bloody hell, I totally forgot this. I think I’d lost the will to live by the end of Part 3 of Back In The Red. It also seems a horrible over-complication to have a second batch of nanos running about the place.

    I didn’t dislike Series 8 overall, but I do agree there. It’s way too complicated. Couldn’t Holly have just reprogrammed, Kryten’s nanobots?

    Mind you, I’m not a fan of the nanobots plotline anyway.

  100. Is it wrong that one of the things that saved the Polymorph re-use for me was that they used the original instant cut morphing effect rather than the “better” morph effect from Emohawk?

  101. Is it wrong that one of the things that saved the Polymorph re-use for me was that they used the original instant cut morphing effect rather than the “better” morph effect from Emohawk?

    Well the way they morphed in Emohawk kinda made it lose the comedic touch the original had (not the only problem with the episode mind you), it made the transformation to random things a lot slower and ruined the timing of the visual comedy. This episode certainly seemed more aware of the problems of Emohawk!

  102. Slightly heretical thought I had earlier whilst reading ‘Alan Partridge: Nomad’, which I can absolutely recommend as it’s bloody hilarious. Ever since Partridge came back a few years ago with Neil and Rob Gibbons co-writing with Coogan, the character has been spot on and the comedy fantastic.

    The thought struck me that maybe Doug could do with his own ‘Gibbons Brothers’ on Dwarf, who could totally reinvigorate things with a different perspective that still stays true to the established characters. Admittedly this is pure pie-in-the-sky fantasising – I’ve no idea how you would go about recruiting such people, and I also hated the previous “Get other writers in” experiment with series VII, as the results were crap. But a fan can daydream…

  103. Its difficult because if there was an option to either have doug write or get other writers to take over id probably say to keep doug because he is the creator but often even Dougs writing doesn’t feel like the same co-writer who wrote 1-6 at times

  104. I think there’s more energy and fizz in the co-written episodes of VII than the three solo ones, and I’ve always thought Krytie TV was a brilliant half hour, but Doug’s rewrites were crucial. I wouldn’t have anything against a return to that model as a viewer if it’s easier or makes stronger scripts, but I believe Doug’s argument has always been that although he valued the other contributions, it in effect created more rather than less writing work for him. He seemed a bit bitchy about it on the Fubar interview, mind, and I’ve often wondered about the thinking behind Xtended’s episode choice.

    So few people come to mind who actually would be match-fit straight out of the box (mixed metaphor of the day there). Gareth Roberts could probably write Red Dwarf well. I don’t think it’s a co-writer we need, I think it’s more lead time for Doug. Half of XI and XII was written with inhumanly short notice. Again.

  105. It is a real shame that this episode turns into such a mess once they realise the Cat is going to have to carry the Polymorphs to term, because until then there was so much to enjoy – Rimmer’s self-help tape is a real highlight of XI for me, and Lister leaving the lens cap on and “it’s Monday” are perhaps obvious jokes, but executed beautifully.

  106. So few people come to mind who actually would be match-fit straight out of the box (mixed metaphor of the day there). Gareth Roberts could probably write Red Dwarf well. I don’t think it’s a co-writer we need, I think it’s more lead time for Doug. Half of XI and XII was written with inhumanly short notice. Again.

    I think that’s part of the daydream, that it would be an unknown quantity that we can’t pre-judge – as fans we automatically think of existing sci-fi or comedy writers who could do a job, but the thing with the Gibbons’ and Partridge is that no one had ever heard of them before. They sent a spec to Coogan’s production company and got hired on that basis, I think.

  107. Doug did say that after the film was made he wanted to hand over the series to other writers to keep the show going. Admittedly that was about fifteen years ago…

  108. Thats because Doug wanted to make Red Dwarf movies, he said in the fanclub magazine back in 2002 that he wanted to stick with movies for time being.

  109. So few people come to mind who actually would be match-fit straight out of the box (mixed metaphor of the day there). Gareth Roberts could probably write Red Dwarf well. I don’t think it’s a co-writer we need, I think it’s more lead time for Doug. Half of XI and XII was written with inhumanly short notice. Again.

    I actually don’t think the Co-Writing for Series 7 and 8 went the same way as it did with Rob and Doug because i get the feeling whoever co-wrote the those episodes actually wrote the full script and than Doug just looked over the script and helped with any rewrites and extra jokes that he felt were needed since if you look at the Identity Within script its written by John McKay while doug has no credit because the script didn’t get that far into development and Krytie tv was said to be paul alexanders script with Doug just throwing in some bits here and there.

    I don’t like the ones that were co-written by paul alexander.

  110. I didn’t dislike Series 8 overall, but I do agree there. It’s way too complicated. Couldn’t Holly have just reprogrammed, Kryten’s nanobots?
    Mind you, I’m not a fan of the nanobots plotline anyway.

    I dunno whether this has been missed or not but didn’t Holly say in BITR3 that he created the nanobots and got them to resurrect the crew?

  111. I actually think the nanobots concept, and the idea of resurrecting the crew, is brilliant. I just wish the execution had been better, and that they’d not bothered with the Tank guff.

  112. I don’t like the ones that were co-written by paul alexander.

    I think it’s fair to suggest that Paul Alexander is a piece of poo.

  113. No, it is not fair. He wrote Stoke Me A Clipper, which is a great episode. Full of funny jokes, pathos and brilliant, memorable set-pieces. And it was perhaps the most difficult script of all – to write out such a beloved character. Amazing when you look at the script. The *shooting* script – credited to Paul solely. God knows what Doug actually wrote at all. We’ll never know. And that script is the finished programme mostly. I think Paul should be applauded for this. It’s great.

  114. I like Paul Alexander’s work as well. I don’t approve of anyone becoming a designated punchbag in any context but it’s especially unfair to him.

    Alexander was also responsible for developing the Space Corps/JMC backstory to make it something much more satirical, interesting and workable, and so much of that fed back into the show. Whatever you think of that Survival Manual book, it was very influential on the narrative context of the show. Establishing the prior working culture of Red Dwarf as corrupt, incompetent, careerist and aggressive (rather than the winnably pleasant, working-class-factory-floor idea of 1-2), and translating that onto TV for VIII moved the characters on from being no-hoper dropout misfits at the bottom of the pile to distinct winners who’d beaten a system through sheer force of personality and individuality. That was a pretty big deal, and I believe literalising that on screen made a change for the better at the heart of the show. And Paul Alexander did that.

  115. I’ve never read the Survival Manual, so I couldn’t say, although in general I prefer the mundanity of the JMC in 1 & 2 to any representation of them in VIII so I’m not sure about that. I also can’t stand Stoke Me a Clipper, I find it completely destroys the brilliance and reality of Dimension Jump. Ace as an example of Rimmer’s wasted potential and of how small decisions can have big consequences: great. Ace as a dimension-jumping dynasty of smug hologrammatic super-heroes: horrid.
    There’s also Epideme/Nanarchy, Pete Pt 2, Krytie TV and Can’t Smeg Won’t Smeg (along with a load of S Club 7 stuff. I can’t actually find a single thing that I like from everything I recognise on IDMB.
    Obviously I don’t actually think he’s a bad person or that he deserves a massive online character assassination. I just thought calling him a piece of poo was an amusingly childish way to express my dislike for his work.

    I think I’m just really annoyed by his complete and utter misunderstanding of Men Behaving Badly on the VII documentary, to be honest.

  116. Don’t forget Kim Fuller who co-wrote Blue with Doug who then went on to write classics such as Spiceworld and the S Club movie…..

    Also regarding Doug writing the scripts I’m sure he is working on them all the time one way or another – he probably already has many ideas for Series XIII….!

    I bet Rob must have thought of some ideas since 1993 as well.

  117. That was when there were only six shows expected to be made. According to Doug in the Fubar interview, half the XI/XII shows were written at late notice (including after filming had already started on the first block), which means there will be plenty in the twelve shows that Doug didn’t have as much time to hone as he’d have liked. Could be why some spots of XI felt one draft away, and also why it doesn’t bother me that much.

    I have a feeling that Samsara was one of the last to be written because it reads like the work of an increasingly exhausted man as it unfolds, whereas Worms, for one, doesn’t waste a syllable. There’s a bottle show in XII isn’t there as well? Would be fascinating to know the writing order of all twelve, though admittedly a bit rude to want to find out.

  118. Don’t forget Kim Fuller who co-wrote Blue with Doug who then went on to write classics such as Spiceworld and the S Club movie…..

    Kim Fuller has done some good stuff though when he’s not working for his brother (I mean, Blue’s one of them for a start). A contemporary of Rob and Doug who worked in a lot of the same circles. Long-time co-writer of Lenny Henry – the So Much Things To Say one-man show of his they wrote about a decade ago is absolutely stunning. A wonderful magic trick of a show that deceptively starts as a genial LH standup set with a couple of character monologues, starts to deconstruct itself and then transforms into a quite intense piece of theatre about the Iraq War, all without a single join.

    Anyway, Spiceworld’s quite fun for what it is, quite subversive in bits and always with its head and heart in the right place. Seeing Double is admittedly one of the worst things I have ever sat through (and I’ve seen Back In Business…), though given that it is written by Kim Fuller *and* Paul Alexander it’s basically Red Dwarf VII D’Movie.

  119. Seeing Double is admittedly one of the worst things I have ever sat through

    That’s taking Red Dwarf fandom too far.

  120. There’s a bottle show in XII isn’t there as well?

    It’s probably the one where they are all Taiwan Tony?

  121. Worms, for one, doesn’t waste a syllable.

    See, while I don’t always love Dwarf, I love how people who love Dwarf can never agree on every single thing. If we were all unanimous on everything it could suggest Red Dwarf weren’t trying hard enough.

    I love Red Dwarf, I know that you love Red Dwarf, I therefore respect your opinion on Red Dwarf, I therefore would never disregard your opinion out of hand BUT I do heavily disagree with it.

    I personally think Can of Worms wasted a vast proportion of its syllables. Nearly all of them in fact.

    I love you though, and love being a fan of the same show as you. Never think otherwise.

  122. Yeah, Can Of Worms introduces potentially interesting idea after potentially interesting idea, then ignores, drops or wastes them in one way or another.

  123. I cannot tell a lie, I have been completely wrongfooted by how poorly Can Of Worms has gone down. I haven’t always agreed with the consensus on each XI ep, but I’ve felt that I’ve had at least a handle on ‘the room’. After watching I was convinced it was going to be a winner… and it’s arguably gone down worst of all. Then again, I wasn’t really online when X aired and after Dear Dave I remember thinking ‘this one will surely be a fan favourite’. So I know nothing.

    This is why it’s fun, obviously.

  124. I was a little annoyed that I’d managed to piece together the episode just from the opening titles, I think it was mainly the bit of Lister with the wriggling pineapple and Cat exploding into goo.

  125. I was a little annoyed that I’d managed to piece together the episode just from the opening titles, I think it was mainly the bit of Lister with the wriggling pineapple and Cat exploding into goo.

    Annoyed, or secretly a little bit pleased?

    Anyway, that’s bordering on psychic if you could piece together the whole episode from that. The most I had worked out was that it was probably a Polymorph story. Most of the details were a complete surprise.

  126. I honestly can’t work out how people got from pineapple to Polymorph.

  127. I think it’s the way he’s screaming at it and shaking it that tipped me off. I can’t imagine why someone would be acting that way towards an actual pineapple.

  128. It instantly takes you back to the kebab scene from the original episode. :)

    > Not like the fan theory of Doug = plot, Rob = jokes.

    That has always been the biggest load of bullshit outside of a farmer’s field. If I hear one more person say ‘the funny one left’ or words to that effect…

  129. I honestly thought the pineapple thing was just Lister going insane like he did in Trojan…

  130. Ray Peacock had accidentally given away the return of the Polymorph during an interview. But I hadn’t seen that and when I saw Lister wrestling with a pineapple plus shooting Cat so he explodes in green goo (and already being aware of the plot of this episode involving a lady Cat “with a big secret”) I thought that might be what it was.

  131. When I saw the Pineapple thing in the intro I thought “surely they won’t sink low enough to make another Polymorph episode”, that’s probably why I’m surprised that I actually like this episode a lot more then some people did…..I kinda wasn’t expecting to like it, but I did enjoy quite a bit.

  132. i thought there was going to be a sequel to lemons called pineapples

  133. Ray Peacock had accidentally given away the return of the Polymorph during an interview. But I hadn’t seen that and when I saw Lister wrestling with a pineapple plus shooting Cat so he explodes in green goo (and already being aware of the plot of this episode involving a lady Cat “with a big secret”) I thought that might be what it was.

    I’m still stunned that the audience at the recording for the most part didn’t know what a Polymorph was. I mean WTF?

  134. They’d probably joined the wrong line and thought they were gonna see Still Open All Hours…

  135. I’d watch an episode of Still Open All Hours with a Polymorph in it.

  136. I’d watch an episode of Still Open All Hours with a velociraptor in it…
    I like this game!

  137. I was only joking, I’d never watch an episode of Still Open All Hours.

  138. Know your enemy.

    And this week, David Jason’s enemy is… A shark with a hand grenade!!
    I’m only joking too. His enemy seems to be time itself.

  139. i thought it was going to be an episode called gunmen of the pineapplelypse

  140. So Series XI was the blue series, I’m wondering if XII will have a different color grade throughout to differentiate the look. That’d be a great way of doing it.

  141. *cough* RED AND BLUE WERE BOTH I & II and X & XI *end cough*
    Do we get a Starbug 19 shot for the next DVD?

  142. XIII will be green, then.

    I decided I’m not going to use the reversible sleeves until at least BtE comes out with one. Otherwise I either have to place it after X and XI on the shelf (daft), or they’re separated and thus there’s no point in having them lined up anyway.

  143. It would be cool if XII did look a bit different. I know the bunkroom has apparently had a bit of a switch up but if the lighting changed a bit that would be cool.

  144. I know Doug expressed disinterest in making a Series IX, but say they did make one in the future to cover all the holes left between VIII and X (BtE is supposed to happen after X, according to itself, does anything in the series say otherwise?), where would you put that on your shelf?

  145. I would imagine XII willl look a bit different. XI had such a blatant blue tint to absolutely everything, right down to the reversible cover, that it seems like an intentional decision. From the set reports it seems that they’ve definitely taken some steps to making the two series feel distinct, so the overall lighting and hue changing of the show wouldn’t surprise me. I’d absolutely love it if it were green so we had red – blue – green again, but that could very easily be just fanwank.

  146. Honestly, thinking forward, it would be less likely beyond XII since models /sets with IV cream aren’t very common, but you never know

  147. Also, just ordered my US versions of BtE, X, and XI, and it’s disappointing to think I won’t get the reversible covers… Plus, printing one just _sounds_ like it would match horribly to the old shiny bits, how do you handle it?

  148. I know Doug expressed disinterest in making a Series IX, but say they did make one in the future to cover all the holes left between VIII and X (BtE is supposed to happen after X, according to itself, does anything in the series say otherwise?), where would you put that on your shelf?

    They already made a Series IX. It was called “Back to Earth”.

  149. I thought that was classified as a mini-series, and they intentionally went around ever calling it IX?

  150. For about five minutes, then it’s been Red Dwarf IX/Series 9 ever since for commercial purposes.

  151. Someone made a custom IX cover to print out and use for those (like me) who would prefer to have all the covers matching. Damned if I can remember where I saw it though… I think it was someone on TOS’s forum but can’t be sure.

  152. Stop managing my life, mom.
    But actually, how do create a printout which visually matches the old sleeves?

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