Talking Points: Can of Worms

You know what, you can say a lot about this series but it’s certainly not been boring. I’ve just this minute watched through Can of Worms so here are the talking points that instantly struck me. Thank fuck I don’t need to form or present any kind of opinion right at this moment.

Personality Machine

The episode opening features a nice call back to Give & Take, as the personality tweaking machine is said to be salvaged from the medical space station. Lucky the episode re-jigging didn’t fuck this up really, isn’t it? It’s another case of an episode opening with some general ‘life aboard the ship’ type material giving us some amusing character interaction to warm us up while introducing an elements that would prove somewhat ‘relevant’ later. What did you think of the concept in the context of what’s revealed later on and how the machine is used in the climax?

Super-Massive Casserole

The series delivers another super atmospheric scene as we finally see what made up the bulk of the early trailers for the series, as the crew decide to rescue the prisoner from an insane droid prison guard on a suicide mission into a black hole. Before then we are briefly teased with the concept of a race of GELFs that feast off fearful virgins. It certainly makes for a busy set up to the episode, presumably in the name of setting up the idea of the Cat’s virginity, but whether you think this adds richness or messiness is another matter.

cow-1

Attention! Lady Cat!

The lady cat promised by the synopsis turns out to be the rescued prisoner, Ankita, much to the delight of the Cat. As with Butler last week it’s a difficult role to play since it involves needing to mimic a well known core cast member, while trying to not look like a poor imitation by comparison. Do you think Dominique Moore managed to make a good impact with her very Danny John-Jules inspired performance?

Polymorph 3, Aston Villa 0

Ah yes, probably the worst kept secret all series: the return of the Polymorph. While it’s not a massive surprise that Ankita didn’t last very long, it was perhaps surprising that the Polymorph concealed beneath the character came to such a quick demise as well, apparently unaware of the dangers of being a woman on-board Red Dwarf. The creature might be reused from previous episodes, but this time we’re introduced to an entirely new concept in the shape of its mating habits, and the danger that poses to the Cat, who is mere minutes away from fucking it. Did you like this new way of using the Polymorph and what did you think of how it was executed?

cow-2

Having Kittens

As if resurrecting Polymorph wasn’t enough, Doug seems keen to revisit the concept behind Dad, too. In a slightly unexpected turn for the episode the Cat carries the Polymorph spawn to full term, culminating in a birth scene laden with classic shapeshifting based lols. The surprise of the original Polymorph being offed so soon is certainly offset by giving us eight more to deal with, but did you think the idea behind the Cat being pregnant, and the representation of his ‘motherly’ instincts, was done well? And in the birth what did you think of one of the more overtly slapstick scenes we’ve had this series?

Let’s Get Out There and Twat ‘Em!

The finale of the episode sees the return of the personality altering machine from the intro as Lister has all his emotions stripped away to allow him to move stealthily among the now fully grown octet of Polymorphs. It’s a plot point that seems to be causing some consternation by dint of not making a great deal of sense, but does that particularly matter? Was the tension brought on by the gaggle of Polymorphs a fitting end to the episode, and what did you think of the rather sudden occurrence of Cat killing his own children after only very recently being overcome with maternal instinct? Are my opinions perhaps starting to seep into my never ending string of questions?

cow-3

Is it shit or is it good?

The big question, as always, and its binary nature has never really been suitable for a series full of shades of grey and wildly diverging opinions. But as a series closer a certain level of quality is expected, so did Can of Worms deliver that for you? Is it a fitting end to an enjoyable series, a predictably shit end to a disappointing run, or more likely something in between those two unhelpful and unrealistic binaries? Team G&T are currently working out our exact thoughts and feelings, but we suspect as with the previous five episodes that we’re going to be dealing with a very interesting range of options in the discussions over the coming days. Let us know what you thought about these talking points, or any other aspects of the episode you think should’ve been included.

Our Live DwarfCast for Can of Worms, which will also close out our immediate Red Dwarf XI coverage, will be occurring at 10pm on Thursday 27th October. Look out for our in-depth written review in the coming days.

Tags: , ,

73 Responses to Talking Points: Can of Worms

Jump to bottom

  1. The episode opening features a nice call back to Give & Take, as the personality tweaking machine is said to be salvaged from the medical space station.

    I assumed this was the station they were leaving at the start of the episode.

    Do you think Dominique Moore managed to make a good impact with her very Danny John-Jules inspired performance?

    She just had to imitate Cat enough to make Cat like her. She did that well.

    Did you like this new way of using the Polymorph and what did you think of how it was executed?

    It was like when they said this new squid was different because it was female in BTE except executed far better.

    the Cat carries the Polymorph spawn to full term

    For some reason I really want “Morning Train” as the music over this sequence like on Seinfeld.

    The most important talking points which you didn’t bring up:

    – Starbug 19
    – All the cute animal Polymorphs. Including hedgehog in a mini-trolley and Lister pointing out the kitten as the cutest.

  2. “the personality tweaking machine is said to be salvaged from the medical space station”

    Why does Kryten go equipment salvaging when the others are (apparently) not looking?

  3. Personality Machine
    Pointless, sadly. A couple of obvious jokes in that opening scene. Doug often dumps a scene like this at the top of the episodes, just so they can pay off later. Unfortunately, they’re often done with very little elegance that he might as well put a caption up saying “Remember this; it’ll be important in twenty minutes time”. And for what result? Lister being a cold-hearted assassin served no story purpose and delivered no jokes.

    Attention! Lady Cat!
    No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I’m sorry, but Dominque Moore was embarrassing. And she brought Danny down to her level. That whole two minutes was awful.

    Polymorph 3, Aston Villa 0
    Confession time. I had *no* idea this was a Polymorph episode, which was probably just as well as it wouldn’t have put me in the best mood beforehand. Curiously, it went in a slightly more original direction than the last ten minutes of Emohawk (where that episode fell on its arse) but it didn’t have the GELF village stuff to counterbalance the cringe.

    Having Kittens
    It was, to be frank, a blessed relief when Mrs Cat fucked off.I liked the idea of a labour with offspring morphing. I did not like Danny gurning into the camera. I was worried they were going down the “Dad” route, which was even more worrying than the “Identity Within” route.

    Let’s Get Out There and Twat ‘Em!
    The Cat lets the babies escapes. The Cat then kills the babies. And he’s dressed in a pink tracksuit, and he delivers the “mamma” line like a twat, which isn’t surprising considering the quality of the line. Oh dear. It summed up an episode that was frenetic from start to finish.

    Meanwhile, in the middle of this; 3 Rimmers, 3 Listers and 3 Krytens facing off against each other. Which was nice, as it was directed extremely well and actually worked as a parody of The Thing rather than just as a nodding reference.

    Is it shit or is it good?
    It’s mostly a messy shit, enlivened by a few nuggets of corn. I’ve said previously that latter day Red Dwarf works best when it’s fast paced. This is the exception to the rule. It’s a hodgepodge of half-formed ideas, movie parodies and call-backs.
    There are some truly funny bits but it’s just overweighed by dumb, and I’m afraid to say some really crap moments from Danny. It’s cringe-worthy when it should be dramatic, and funny ideas are played too broad.

    If the episode calmed the fuck down for two minutes, it might have worked. Instead, it’s the most bizarre and off-kilter episode of Red Dwarf since Back to Earth Part 3.

    
And I’d probably quite like the final scene, if I hadn’t seen it done much better in Friends.

  4. G&T Admin

    I thought this was a fucking mess, frankly. And I hate to be all, y’know, *female* about this, but I am REALLY fucking fed up with female characters being used in a disposable manner in Red Dwarf. Twentica did really well on this score, and so I was hoping for something really interesting to be made of Cat meeting a female counterpart (Dominique Moore did a good job with very little). Instead, we have a retread of Polymorph and a ghost of Parallel Universe, which manages to be confused and mildly insulting.

    We learn nothing about Cat at all, save an extended riff on his virginity which made me practically roll my eyes out of my head. What exactly is the point of that? Are we to assume that the Cat’s so desperate that he’d fuck a letterbox? In which case, why did the polymorph bother going to the lengths of assuming a female Cat persona at all? The very appearance of a female Cat is significant, and Cat having sexy feelings for her is actually one of the few things in Dwarf that DOESN’T need a lot of setup.

    All the effort that went to setting this stupidness up could have either gone to a) exploring the possible existence of a female Cat, or b) the polymorph taking on the appearance of almost anything else at all. Cat being used as a host for a polymorph’s eggs isn’t a terrible idea in itself, but the execution was really cack-handed. I felt it would have been a lot more interesting if there had been an outside chance that the offspring might have burst out of Cat’s stomach, Alien-style, so it was something of a let down when they came flying out of his arse. I found it vaguely amusing, but I think I was keen to latch onto anything at that stage.

    There’s a glimmer of interest in Cat’s maternal instinct, and what might have been an interesting confrontation between him and his ‘children’ was spoilt by wasting time on the personality tweaking machine, which ended up having no real pay off. It really could have been so much more if a plot had been chosen and stuck to, rather than chucking several ideas in and then struggling to make sense of any of them.

  5. Personality Machine – The problem people are having with the personality machine doesn’t actually bother me at all. In providing Lister a way of killing two Polymorphs and splitting Kryten and Rimmer up, I think it was enough. At the same time, it does fit into the category of ‘Andrew Ellard is a demon hell bent on destroying Red Dwarf’. Although given that reports have said there was more stuff filmed, it was obviously cut down for timing, which is a shame as it had lots of interesting potential. Sits alongside the kidneys are Kryten’s realisation in terms of stuff that kind of show up some of the series’ raggedness, but don’t remotely affect my viewing pleasure.

    Super-Massive Casserole – I liked all the stuff about the Vampire GELFs (and they’d be an interesting call-back for a XIII episode) and the stuff on the ship. It’s no different to the Simulants in Rimmerworld for me. Textural universe-building stuff that they encounter that adds a believable way for them to enter a dangerous situation they’d otherwise avoid. I also enjoyed the fact that Old Man Lister has nodded off at the wheel twice this series.

    Attention! Lady Cat! – in the cage I was worried she was playing it a bit broad, but once she was out it was great. The Series I feel totally worked as domesticated cats behave differently around people and other cats. Good stuff.

    Polymorph 3, Aston Villa 0 – that’s for Ian, I suppose? Thankfully I found the official synopses a bit too spoilery as it was, so I actively avoided everything else and thus had absolutely no idea this was actually a Polymorph episode. A really nice spin on the story given that we were led to expect it was going to be something closer to Identity Within. It was also a big relief on discovery, as it gave the female cat a way out that didn’t involve pushing her out of an airlock. I’m glad it wasn’t just the basic ‘twist on the old idea’ as found in BtE and Samsara, but a totally different plot simply using the same root point.

    Having Kittens – funniest part of the episode and possibly the whole series for me. I enjoy totally daft incongruous visual humour and this was full of it. The idea of an evil creature disguised as a hedgehog in a top hat riding a miniature shopping trolley is truly fantastic, and because of the nature of the show, can be logically included without resorting to random whimsy lol. It would have been nice if we’d had more of Cat’s pregnancy, but as with Lister’s, it seems it’s something we’re not likely to get on screen.

    Let’s Get Out There and Twat ‘Em! – personality machine stuff discussed above. Cat lost his maternal instinct since the Morphlings matured quicker than expected. The 3×3 crew/Polymorph scenario was brilliantly done, wonderful split-screening that managed to time the visual gag perfectly. Nice atmospheric lightning on the set worked well for it.

    Is it shit or is it good? – it’s good. It’s not a masterpiece, it’s not in the top 10 episodes of Red Dwarf and will never be, but it’s also a mostly well plotted, very funny episode with mostly consistent character work, some intriguing concepts and, for once, a genuinely surprising use of older ideas.

  6. We learn nothing about Cat at all, save an extended riff on his virginity which made me practically roll my eyes out of my head. What exactly is the point of that?

    I think the point was to set up the idea that he could be impregnated by the Polymorph without realising that he wasn’t having ‘normal’ sex with it, because he doesn’t have any previous sexual experiences to compare it with.

  7. Also bear in mind that some viewers with less experience of the show won’t know about his lack of sexual exploits. Not everyone’s read Backwards.

  8. I suppose the question is did they really need to use the virgin idea for the cat? couldn’t they still have done this exact same story just without saying he was a virgin? And while you could say he wouldn’t have been stupid enough to think what happened was sex in that case but going by some of the jokes from the cat in previous series he wasn’t stupid enough to not know what sex involved anyway, they could have found a way around it to still get the eggs into the cat.

    It really dumbed the cat down and made him slightly pathetic.

  9. That was shit.

  10. Pipe me! Pipe me! Pipe my brains out!

    This series has often been like The Force Awakens for me: Older stories being retold with people loving it as a return to form* while I mumble something to myself about having seen this already. And I wasn’t doing that anywhere near as much with X. Hell, the satisfied Pollingmorph is the damn skellington from Samsara!

    Not that I’m saying XI (or indeed Episode VII) is bad, I’ve laughed plenty of times but since Back to Earth I’ve found myself cherry-picking moments that I liked rather than having been able to come away from an episode saying I enjoyed it. Yet I still look forward to new Red Dwarf.

    *How long as “proper Red Dwarf” been a thing?

  11. > The problem people are having with the personality machine doesn’t actually bother me at all. In providing Lister a way of killing two Polymorphs … I think it was enough

    But there was no need for those Polymorphs to exist!

  12. Like I’ve already said in another thread: utter shit. For all of the above reasons. This series really has a strong divide right down the middle for me. It was so bad I don’t even want to go into an explanation because of the sheer amount of time it would take when I’ve got other things to do. What I will say, though, is that it really is a shame that it ended up being another lame runaround episode with no real punch in the humour and a disposable female cat character (fucking abysmal characterization and acting). There was a fantastic opportunity for the crew to meet a survivor – a female cat – have her on board, explore the deepening relationship (and subsequent character comedy) between her and Danny (i.e. ‘Camile’), have Danny acting ‘off’ (intentionally, this time …) and out of character (ditto – which would open up other, funnier character moments), and then have the ‘female cat was a polymorph’ reveal for the final quarter of the episode.

  13. Personality Machine

    I loved the idea, but when Rimmer was about to undergo the procedure I thought for a second they were bringing back Ace. (Which would be sadly appropriate given this is Polymorph III.) Shame they didn’t give this idea full potential, which is probably the first time this series I’ve thought that despite how often it’s been said these past six weeks.

    I also loved the braindead Lister face making an unexpected comeback after 27 years. (Truly the Rick Astley of Red Dwarf facial expressions.) I want a side-by-side comparison of it on my desk by five.

    Attention! Lady Cat!

    I must say, I loved Doug’s swerve with the Vampire GELF’s. Noice bit of misdirection there, I was certain he was doing the heavy foreshadowing that admittedly has featured a bit this series. I didn’t have any problems with the portrayal, but it was only a brief scene. Twenty minutes of it may have changed my mind.

    Polymorph 3, Aston Villa 0 / Having Kittens

    I wasn’t expecting this to be a polymorph episode at all. Again, the mis-foreshadowing helped, but I had heard nothing about a polymorph episode so this came as a bit of a shock. It’s turned out alright though. I don’t know if we needed a Polymorph III, but it ended up being a funny, fairly fresh take on the idea. I liked the whole birth concept, especially how even as babies, their survival instincts are genius. (Also, never thought I’d see a Hedgehog wearing a hat on RD. Hell, I’d never thought I’d see a Hedgehog wearing a hat ever.)

    I loved that when Kryten announces the Female Cat is in fact a Polymorph, somebody in the audience immediately groans, as if to say “Oh fuck me, here we go again”, which wasn’t far off my initial reaction.

    Let’s Get Out There and Twat ‘Em!

    I was hoping Craig would play it like the Terminator, instead of being like Kryten with his Guilt Chip overridden. I loved the multiple circles gag though, lovely bit of imagery. If they didn’t have Cat show up just thirty seconds prior, they could have explained his sudden shooting rampage as a result of his lack of emotions, but alas.

    Is it shit or is it good?

    Fairly good, but some unexplained moments that bring it down a bit for me. Probably my least favourite ep of the six

    Still, the only thing in this series that I actually hated was the (non) ending to Officer Rimmer, so it’s up on X by several points. I’d say that I like XI more than I, actually. Still doesn’t quite breach the II-VI bubble, but do we really think it could?

  14. G&T Admin

    I think there IS a problem when you’re a long-term fan with recycling ideas, but for me, it’s a question of execution. I’ll reiterate the point that I and others have made; there’s a really interesting episode to be made about the Cat, but this wasn’t it.

  15. Sadly i think any issues with this series will carry on to Series XII mostly because all 12 were written around the same time.

    One thing i can say about this series is it was alot of fun but at the same time this series does seem to put in several plot ideas into one episode, this one alone has like 3 and while it keeps the episodes speeding along it sometimes makes certain ideas feel rushed.

    I mean the idea of the cat meeting another cat and exploring that idea could be interesting and of course the idea of having 8 of them onboard feels like an interesting Aliens type sequel mixed in with The Thing that could have been fun to really go nuts with.

    Its just all of them together wastes some potential.

  16. Thinking about how imaginative the realisation of emotionally manipulated characters in Red Dwarf have been in the past – essentially alternate versions of the characters – the fact they did absolutely nothing to get a laugh out of de-humanised Lister, speaks volumes about how casually the idea is tossed off and eventually ignored.

    Would someone with no emotional drives whatsoever even necessarily bother getting up?

  17. Tad disconcerting that pre-drain Lister only thought to offer help to the unknown lifesign cause it might be human.

  18. i like how it started with the weird conceptual machine they always have when that usually happens some way in – the gizmo – it just starts with that, i thought that was the gizmo of the week and he’d just skipped the preamble. then the bit with lister asleep in the asteroid storm looked really good. the android of the week was scary and ankita was so cool and cute. the scalpel going nuts kills me and kryten sitting on the screwdriver! c’mon! people! then the next minute cat’s wearing pink terry towelling and hopper balls are coming out of cat’s arse and turning into piglets and hedgehogs. then there’s this whole game theory bit with 9 people locked in some stand-off. because everything’s always hostile that threatens the surrogate family in red dwarf because that works and is funny.

  19. This has grown on me somewhat since last night and I can see a few merits that I previously couldn’t. I think it’s easily the weakest of XI but I think high expectations (series closer) coupled with a few troubling scenes led me to dismiss it before I’d let it settle. Love the Cat’s sex description and the cute polymorphs are great, but the whole personality tuck machine and emotionless Lister inconsistencies really let it down. As does the Cat showing up fine 30 seconds prior to him being a killing machine in the lift. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. Shame, as otherwise this would have been alright.

  20. the way they all say ‘on zed shift’ as well

  21. none of it’s ever made any sense. but now it’s not making sense like it used to the good way rather than the bad way of not making sense like 8

  22. I think previously it has pretty much always made sense in terms of having a coherent narrative.

  23. Backwards does have a coherent narrative. True, the rules of the setting are not firmly established but the central characters behave in clearly motivated ways. The Cat towards the end of Can of Worms doesn’t, and to a lesser degree, neither does Lister.

  24. Backwards doesn’t have a coherent narrative – none of the Backwards rules make any lick of sense and the order in which things happen are all out of whack, changing rules from scene to scene.

    There’s what *feels* enough like a coherent narrative that we meet it more than halfway, because we enjoy the characters and jokes, which I guess is what Can of Worms tries to get away with too.

  25. I feel we’re arguing somewhat at cross purposes here. I agree that backwards earth has inconsistencies within it, but in terms of the narrative – Rimmer and Kryten are stranded on another planet, Lister and Cat set out to rescue them. Lister and Cat try to persuade Rimmer and Kryten to leave with them but they don’t want to. Then the world turns ugly on them and they all go home together – All that makes sense. We never question the motivation so it all hangs together and works. With Can of Worms though the motivation of several characters is unclear and this leads to confusion which doesn’t happen with Backwards because it has the fundamental principals of storytelling in place, even if it does break the rules of its setting a number of times.

  26. You seem to be talking about the character motivations there then, when narrative encompasses more, and also concerns sequence of events and structure.

    In Backwards, the reason and order in which the world turns ugly on them is, narratively speaking, filled with issues.

    The way in which the rules are forced to change in order to fit the characters’ story arc, is an issue with the story that most are willing to overlook because they have fun with the idea and like the characters.

  27. That’s a fair comment. My point would probably be better served in terms of plot and story. Backwards’ story is sound, but it’s plot is flawed. Can of Worms however fails on both counts.

  28. Absolutely, and it’s probably because we’ve not got a clear connection to the characters motivations in Can of Worms that a lot of people are unwilling to overlook the plot fudging in this instance (not that Doug should be aiming to fudge plots!)

    I still don’t understand why they included that brief cat moment during the initial Threeway Mexican standoff scene.

  29. Yup. Makes no sense at all.

  30. Pretty sure not only was the station in Give and Take not specifically a medical station, but you literally see the station he’s referring to as they leave it in the opening scene.

  31. Pretty sure not only was the station in Give and Take not specifically a medical station, but you literally see the station he’s referring to as they leave it in the opening scene.

    Wasn’t it destroyed in Give and Take though?

  32. Just been watching DNA and realised something. To those complaining that wiping Lister’s emotions had no relevence to actually defeating the Polysquirts, in DNA turning Lister super human had no baring on beating the curry monster.

  33. But that was funny. Nothing was done with emotionless Lister other than generate more questions than it solves.

  34. Just been watching DNA and realised something. To those complaining that wiping Lister’s emotions had no relevence to actually defeating the Polysquirts, in DNA turning Lister super human had no baring on beating the curry monster.

    I’m not the biggest fan of the last section of DNA, largely because it’s a narrative non-sequitur following on from the first class character study that came beforehand. That said the comparison you make doesn’t really bear out.

    You could easily remove the personality tuck machine from the episode, given that it ultimately has no effect on the story whatsoever. The same can’t be said of the DNA transmogrifier, given that it’s the catalyst for everything that occurs within said episode.

    The failed plan regarding Superhuman Lister is used as a way to raise the stakes – they try to use the device once more in a last ditch attempt and when that fails, they hit their lowest point and are in a seemingly hopeless predicament… until the lager ex machine. The fact that the dilemma is resolved with a gag is permissible cos it’s a comedy, but it’s still not their proudest moment.

    Conversely, removing Listers emotions doesn’t achieve anything because it just gets… well, forgotten about.

  35. There certainly is no real comparison between to what they did in DNA to what they did in this episode

    In DNA they explored =more into the transmogrifier and what it can do and while testing the machine for kryten they changed listers curry into a monster which they couldn’t kill with bazookoids apparently and then they explored it abit more with trying to turn lister into a super human, it was still exploring the the idea of the episode more.

    Now with this episode why was the emotion tuck machine involved?

  36. I’ve just finished watching the episode and I think it has overtaken Give & Take as my favourite this series. It all worked for me and it was a lot of fun!

  37. Personally, I loved it. Laughed my ass off. Yeah, the personality tuck machine was a tad pointless and will probably be ditched in the fan edit, but for now, I enjoyed this. Not the best, but far from the worst. I hope we get more explorations of Cat’s character over the years. The opening scene was actually a very interesting look at how his mind works.

    So my ranking would have to be…

    Give & Take
    Krysis
    Can of Worms
    Samsara
    Twentica
    Officer Rimmer

    It doesn’t surprise me that XI has been divisive. I can see where people wouldn’t like certain aspects of certain episodes. What might be right for you might not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em all and there you have… the Facts of Life.

    Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog.

  38. Oh and yes there is a bit of the spirit of Young Ones Nasty in the first cockpit scene. Bottom Terror too.

  39. For 28 years I’ve waited for the coming of a female Cat and dreaded it. It wasn’t quite as bad as I’d feared, but she almost had me hiding behind the sofa.

    I disagree that the Cat was out of character here. Essentially, he is Duane Dibbley, but uses the superficial cat persona as a cloak to hide his insecurities. When he loses his cool he reverts to his true self – such as under threat of torture in Meltdown. This is why he is so totally convincing in Back to Reality. It makesh perfect shenshe.

    So the final scene was a dream then? I much prefer the suggestion that the girls really were those from from Z Deck – the cat having being too much of a Dibbley to actually have sex with them; until the polymorph encounter gave him the confidence to look them up. And after all he said back in series I that he’d go crazy if he thought there weren’t any lady cats on board.

    But damn the editing on this series. On occasions I’ve felt I was watching a UKTV “daytime” version with some really awkward jumps and cuts.

  40. I disagree that the Cat was out of character here. Essentially, he is Duane Dibbley, but uses the superficial cat persona as a cloak to hide his insecurities. When he loses his cool he reverts to his true self – such as under threat of torture in Meltdown. This is why he is so totally convincing in Back to Reality. It makesh perfect shenshe..

    So the cats shows his true self when he loses his cool?

    This cat was pretty much the same cat from Only the Good, you know the cat who decided to be the one to be hospitalised by trying to get his face beaten by a prisoner which is the full on dumb and silly cat right there, thats not vain cat with attitude who in the early years probably wouldn’t have allowed anything to touch his looks.

    I have heard some say this already and i think to say cat is basically a fake insecure guy who hides it by trying to be cool really does undermine the cats character and makes him abit pathetic.

  41. If Back to Earth had had a Polymorph in it, there would have been a Polymorph story once in every decade of Dwarf.

  42. to say cat is basically a fake insecure guy who hides it by trying to be cool really does undermine the cats character and makes him abit pathetic.

    But… that’s consistent with (a) the character right back to series 1 who’s essentially play-acting a put-on persona throughout the bowels of the ship, and (b) actual cats who likewise are all front and often melt into cowardice when faced with actual trouble.

    The Cat isn’t *actually* cool. He’s vain and only thinks he’s cool. That’s pretty much the core joke of the character, surely?

  43. It’s consistent with something I was thinking about on the way home from work the other day – all the main characters *think* that they’re the leader, because of their delusions of possessing qualities that they don’t actually have. Even Holly.

  44. to say cat is basically a fake insecure guy who hides it by trying to be cool really does undermine the cats character and makes him abit pathetic.

    But… that’s consistent with (a) the character right back to series 1 who’s essentially play-acting a put-on persona throughout the bowels of the ship, and (b) actual cats who likewise are all front and often melt into cowardice when faced with actual trouble.
    The Cat isn’t *actually* cool. He’s vain and only thinks he’s cool. That’s pretty much the core joke of the character, surely?

    Absolutely! He has everything it takes to actually *be* cool, but this is undercut and undermined by his pride, self importance and desire to be perceived as such – hence his greatest fear is to be perceived as uncool, with no way to hide the fact (Dwayne Dibley).

    As I said elsewhere, genuinely ‘cool’ people tend not to walk around, loudly declaring how cool they think they are.

  45. PERSONALITY MACHINE: That opening sequence was fine. It was well-tread Rimmer territory for sure, but Kryten’s physical comedy with manically scribbling everywhere on the chart saved it for me. Rimmer vanishing also made me laugh. It was definitely a little tacked on, with an awkward cut to Starbug, but that’s always been an issue even back in the classic era. Sometimes they’re just flying around in Starbug with no explanation, presumably to explore and salvage. Fine. Next.

    SUPER MASSIVE CASSEROLE: The Cat’s reaction to the vampire GELF’s was great, but there was a jarring lack of transition from that sequence to the arrival of the mercenoid ship to the point where I didn’t realize they were totally disconnected. Definitely needed a beat or a couple lines for a segue to separate those parts out, because I thought the mercenoid ship came out of the GELF sector. Definitely confusing. The actual sequence on the mercenoid ship was fun, and I laughed out loud with the Rimmer dictaphone bit. I’m still not sure what shocked the mercenoid. That confused me. I think the pacing with that first act is my main gripe with the episode. There really needed to be a more graceful transition from the personality machine bit to the vampire GELF bit to the mercenoid ship bit. Each of those bits was fine, but again fell into the XI trap of “decent ideas squished together too closely without a chance to breathe.” I think the word I’m looking for is “flow.” The first act, and large bits of XI, while technically good on their own, lacked “flow.”

    ATTENTION! LADY CAT!: I didn’t come into this ep knowing any spoilers, but I was already naturally suspicious of the female cat, since she was a prisoner to begin with, and her appearance was conspicuously on the nose given the earlier bit with Cat’s virginity (it’s as plain as the nose on your head). Her broad evocation of Series I-era Cat just made her more suspicious, which is why it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Also, Danny’s palpable joy when they’re comparing what’s “mine,” made that whole bit. Is it broad? Heck yeah, but it was intentional and actually served plot and character purposes. No problem for me. What did annoy me was the reveal that the two female cats at the end was a dream, because before that I fucking loved that twist. If it wasn’t a dream, for me, that would have been a classic ending for me up almost up there with Stasis Leak and Queeg, to casually reveal that Cat has had 2 cat-babes the whole time. If only that dream line didn’t ruin it.

    POLYMORPH 3, ASTON VILLA 0: I definitely laughed more on first viewing of this than my first viewing of Emohawk. I actually thought the Polymorph was well-used here, and the mating details were great. Cat bragging about his night of intimacy by detailing how he was impregnated had me in stitches, just a great moment for the Cat and Danny. I loved his insistence that “it still counts.”

    HAVING KITTENS: As silly as it was, I absolutely enjoyed the birth sequence. Just an excellent sequence, something that could have easily been in the classic I-VI era. This was one of three sustained bits of pure laughter I experienced in this episode (Cat’s sex bragging, birth, Mexican standoff). And yeah, the baby polymorphs were adorable, both in their concept and execution. Just a fun sci-fi, classic Dwarf idea. The idea of Cat being pregnant wasn’t milked too long, so it didn’t bother me. The idea of having a bunch of Polymorphs all at once is just such an obvious idea, and I think the birth scene achieved a lot of the idea’s potential, as did the Mexican standoff scene.

    LET’S GET OUT THERE AND TWAT ‘EM!: I’m more confused as to why they’d send an emotionless Lister down there while also having Rimmer and Kryten accompany him. That was pointless, but not too offensive. The reason why I’m not too bothered, taking into account my own chirpy optimism, is that the final sequence with the reveal of three Mexican standoffs had me laughing out loud for a very sustained duration. I really felt like that was a classic Dwarf confrontation. It could be argued that it’s contradictory for Cat to let the Polymorphs go only to calmly dispatch them later on, but that didn’t bother me either, since the hormone could have worn off. Also, it was just a badass Cat moment. Cat’s instinctual cat-sense was clearly in full-play here, which ultimately prevailed against any motherly hormones. I liked how Cat casually left the Dwarfers behind, playing it cool, only for it to be revealed that he was planning an attack, which is a Beginning-esque display of Cat instinct and awesomeness. That said, are we assuming that the Kryten explaining that Cat was barely-alive and drained a lie from a Polymorph, or did Cat’s lack of emotions factor into him destroying the Polymorphs? Either way, the Mexican standoff of Mexican standoffs was a real highlight for me.

    For real though, the laugh that I laughed when the Mexican standoff trio scuttled about and then you see the casual reveal of two more identical Mexican standoffs scuttling into the shot… I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, from Red Dwarf or anything else. Just well done, and props to Doug.

    IS IT SHIT OR IS IT GOOD: As International Debris said, it’s good but not a masterpiece. I’m reading some mixed things, but this episode, despite having some jarringly confusing narrative transitions and gaps, made me laugh in duration and volume more than any other episode this series. It fluctuated between “fucking classic” and “huh? what? wait, what?” with the net result being “reasonably good.” Officer Rimmer similarly fluctuated between great and dumb, but I liked this better because the highs were higher. There’s no denying that this episode has flaws, but for a couple sequences (the birth scene, the mexican standoff) it came perhaps the closest to the classic era that this series has gotten. Series X played it safe while XI took more risks, and Can of Worms is a clear example of that. Sometimes the risks pay dividends, and sometimes they leave you scratching your head. But I still laughed like crazy in a way I haven’t laughed from Red Dwarf in a long time; true it’s not intelligent laughter, but boxer-short, give-quiche-a-chance Polymorph laughter, so perhaps this episode did what it set out to do as effectively Polymorph III.

    Can of Worms feels like the true sequel to Polymorph. I kind of get the feeling that if you cherry picked the best bits from Emohawk and Can of Worms and chucked the rest, together you’d have a consistent, utterly fantastic Polymorph episode instead of two flawed but interesting semi-sequels. As it is, Can of Worms was a stupid, stupid episode, but I nevertheless enjoyed it and have no qualms about putting it in the “good, not great” category.

    Also, extra points for including more old music cues.

    So on the whole, how do I rate XI? Thanks for asking:
    Twentica: GREAT
    Samsara: GOOD
    Give & Take: GREAT
    Officer Rimmer: MOSTLY GOOD
    Krysis: FUCKING BRILLIANT
    Can of Worms: GOOD

    I’m reminded of how the A.V. Club reviewers of Doctor Who had to devise their own qualitative grade-scale because the linear A-F scale was inadequate to measure the quality of Doctor Who stories, which could fluctuate wildly between brilliant and rubbish in the same story and even the same scene. Their grade of “Some Fascinating Ideas But Seriously Flawed” might apply to X, but for XI, I’m pretty comfortable issuing their grade of “Not Perfect But Still Pretty Fantastic.”

    So on the whole, XI is leagues ahead of X, and gets extra points for taking more risks but frustratingly loses some points for careless mistakes. If X on the whole was GOOD, I might characterize XI as MOSTLY GREAT, possibly approaching or even narrowly surpassing Series I, but I’ll need a little time and distance before making a final decision on that front.

  46. But… that’s consistent with (a) the character right back to series 1 who’s essentially play-acting a put-on persona throughout the bowels of the ship

    How is duane dibbley cat consistent with that? if you wanna compare him to an actually cat then yeah cats amuse themselves, they whack around balls and chase them because of their natural animal instincts, thats pretty much was what series 1 cat was, shallow, explored the ship, slept where ever he wanted, sprayed pee on whatever he wanted and apparently had sex with whatever he wanted, that was pretty much series 1 cat.

    Danny has always felt that the cat needed to do everything in style, the cat needed to be naturally talented, to his superior reflexes, to his dance moves to being able to twirl guns which danny learned himself because he felt the cat couldn’t look like he didn’t know how to use them, oh and apparently the cat can tap dance too according to twentica

    (b) actual cats who likewise are all front and often melt into cowardice when faced with actual trouble.
    The Cat isn’t *actually* cool. He’s vain and only thinks he’s cool. That’s pretty much the core joke of the character, surely?

    Well honestly after 60 something episodes i have never seen the core joke of the cat being that he tries to hard to be cool because inside he is actually pathetic, maybe this episode has convinced some that obviously is the case but honestly like alot of series 8 cat this episode he was just a dumb joke and if it keeps going like that i really REALLY hope we don’t see duane again because how can you split the 2 apart if the cat is pretty much duane already? make him even more idiotic to the point he can’t even open a door?

  47. Again, Duane is not the opposite of Cat. The crew’s Back To Reality alter egos are exaggerated caricatures of who they fear themselves to already be, as a physical embodiment of how depressive thoughts work.

    No-one is saying that he’s not talented, spirited, agile and good at being his cat side. He’s just not very good at being his humanoid side and he never has been. Can Of Worms was consistent to this.

  48. The crew’s Back To Reality alter egos are exaggerated caricatures of who they fear themselves to already be

    Well no it didn’t work that way, lister didn’t fear he was a mass-murdering butcher in a totalitarian state, it was that lister always felt he was a good man, a man of moral courage and in the hallucination he found out the person who he really was is a murderer

    In the end what drove them to want to kill themselves was that they lost something that was essential to their self esteem not that they were hiding in the closet from what they feared they were.

  49. In the end what drove them to want to kill themselves was that they lost something that was essential to their self esteem “The Cat lost his “Cool” and life for him no longer had any meaning because he is so mind-meltingly shallow.”

    Yes, and as previously stated, the fear of being perceived as anything other than cool is itself not especially cool.

    It IS however, mind-meltingly shallow…

    Basically The Cat is to Cool as Rimmer is to Leadership – both characters have a myopic, superficial view of what their desired trait entails. Both are in a state of arrested development and their narrow view is that being cool is purely addressing ones own vanity and being a leader simply involves bossing people around. They’ve both honed in on the elements that suit them, and jettisoned the rest.

  50. I guess we have difference views on what makes The Cat… The Cat I guess.

  51. As someone else stated, the Winnie the Pooh scene in Meltdown has the Cat showing his true colours too.

  52. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    It really undermines the cat to say he shows his true self when he is scared or insecure.

  53. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

    It’s really not a new or controversial concept.

    As has been illustrated, undermining the Cat *is* the point. Hubris and all that. It’s what makes him slightly less of a 2D character, though still arguably the least complex of the core cast.

  54. Well if this is the cat we continue the get than IMO doug really is on his way to ruining The Cat by playing on his apparent duane dibley traits to give us a deeper insight into who the cat is.

  55. The vain, self-obsessed, shallow character he’s essentially been from the start then.

  56. I loved the episode. I just hope all the new tech that’s been introduced in this series isn’t forgotten about in later series. I get the ‘old guys in space’ may have a memory block that they have stuff.
    I thought the Cat was great. Yeah he tries to be the cool but dim one. But when they touched on a vulnerability it broke his barriers. Plus I’m glad we finally have s Cat episode. Other than Lister , the Cat has been in every episode so it’s about time he had at least one.

  57. What about when Cat locked and loaded his bazookoid and said “Last time it was hours d’oeuvres, this time it’s lunch!”
    Didn’t seem that cowardly then.
    Or in Demons and Angels when he found Rimmer cowering in a box. Not himself cowering in a box.
    Or when he made himself look big in episode one.
    He’s been brave before. Yes he’s vain, but he’s 100% vain. Being pregnant wouldn’t (shouldn’t) change that. No more than getting stabbed in his foot would. Which it didn’t. His vanity isn’t a facade.
    Obviously he thinks he’s cooler than he is, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t got style. He has to think he’s uber cool for all the jokes about excess to work. (“These and another twelve racks”?)
    What’s this about? I may have misunderstood.
    In my opinion Cat acted completely atypically in parts of Can of Worms, which was a pity. Fair enough in the birth scene but everything before was really odd. Doug either missed a trick or had to cut it all for time.

  58. Pretty sure not only was the station in Give and Take not specifically a medical station, but you literally see the station he’s referring to as they leave it in the opening scene.

    Wasn’t it destroyed in Give and Take though?

    What I mean is it’s a different station. It’s a new one they just finished scavenging from in Can of Worms, not the one where they found Asclepius.

  59. PERSONALITY MACHINE

    This screams of Doug thinking up a concept and then wondering ‘where shall I use this….yeah, no I need something for the first 5 minutes of the Cat episode, so why not?’ but that, sadly, was a waste. Obviously we’ve already seen the guys with different personalities in Polymorph but if you’re gonna re-use ideas from past series’, something XI has been full of, why not go down this route and milk some more comedy from this concept?

    SUPER-MASSIVE CASSEROLE

    Pretty red lights and stuff! This is one of the best sequences in the entire series, especially when Rimmer’s self-help recordings come on, which was genuinely hilarious. Red Dwarf at its finest on display here, albeit only for two minutes, which I’ll bloody well hold onto damn you!

    ATTENTION LADY CAT

    I’m not gonna slate Dominique Moore, who did alright with the fucking thankless task of basically being a fake female Cat for two scenes. Again, like Tony Hayers’ 2nd class honours degree in media studies from Loughborough university, what a waste… I’m sure Doug must have toyed with the idea of having a ‘proper’ Cat episode instead of a giant clusterfuck aka ‘Can of Worms’, but then we’ve gotta ask ourselves, did we really want to see a Cat-centric episode (yes) that saw the crew meet another cat for real (yes) and told an interesting and funny story about that (yes)??

    POLYMORPH 3 VILLA 0

    You could guess it from the titles (unless Lister had suddenly developed an irrational fear of tropical fruit) or if someone spoilt it, but it wasn’t much of a surprise to see the Polymorph back. It did lead to yet more brilliant split-screen shots, on location no less!

    HAVING KITTENS

    The birth was relatively insane. If you look at it one way it’s disturbing as hell… (the idea of them turning into eight tumours inside Cat is not a pleasant one either) and I’m glad to see the scene of Kryten stitching Cat’s arsehole back together has been relegated to the deleted scenes. The kittens and hedgehogs were cute though…

    TWAT

    The resolution of this episode was, wholly, bollocks. and not even hole-y bollocks, which might at least have got a laugh. What I thought we were gonna see was Lister finally have his ‘moment’ this series (seeing as he’s been fucking shortchanged throughout, with Craig IMO looking bored sometimes) but instead you’re just thinking ‘what??’ as none of it made sense. What would have made it interesting is if Kryten later revealed the personality machine didn’t even work at all, and Lister shot the two ‘Cat’s with his emotions in place….. setting up a dark-as-shit Lister for XII who doesn’t know who the fuck he is anymore….

    SHIT/GOOD

    I don’t know!! It’s so tough to judge. In fact, I don’t trust anyone who has a clear good or bad opinion on this episode… Those of you that do, you’re lying to yourselves, just like you have your entire lives, go away and hibernate in a hole somewhere cause I can’t deal with you. Just like I can’t deal with Can of Worms.

    Roll on XII, you colossal cunts!

  60. I’m submitting my SMALL POINT now in the hope you’ll read it out in two days. During the scene where Lister is moving the cute polymorphs, Kryten looks remarkably similar as he does on the Smegazine issue with the geap.

    Okay I admit this is underwhelming after all the hidden lyrics in the theme tune excitement.

  61. I said this on the main comments page. This is actually what I thought you meant by “Super-Massive Casserole.”

    I basically enjoyed the episode and certainly laughed which is surely the prime objective.

    It did seem like a medley of previous episodes. Consider
    – Rimmer’s personality and a machine to store or alter it – Psirens
    – Rimmer’s cowardice in the face of a procedure – Lister in Fathers and Sons (I think)
    – An asteroid field – take your pick
    – The way around vs the shortcut was reminiscent of Out of Time
    – Looking for a life-form and meeting a simulant – Justice/Quarantine/others
    – The back-firing dictophone was reminiscent of the time gauntlet in The Inquisitor
    – An alluring GELF – Camille
    – Proboscis – Psirens
    – Male impregnation – Parallel Universe
    – Surgery – Epideme / Lemons
    – Lister’s personality being affected as he fights the Polymorph – Polymorph
    – Polymorph – Polymorph / Emohawk
    – The Polymorph taking the shape of a crew member and they have to work out which it is – Psirens

    I suspect that, were I to watch it again then other examples would present too.

    It is said that this is “Polymorph III” and I don’t disagree, but it’s “Psirens II” just as much.

  62. Based on what I’ve heard on the grapevine, Can of Worms was subject to last-minute on-set rewrites when the news emerged that Peter Elliot couldn’t perform the role of the hedgehog with a top hat for more than 40 minutes without taking a break. #dwarffacts

  63. This was basically polymorph III but could have had much more fun with the premise of having several polymorphs onboard and not knowing who was who, its just like the alien series where first you had alien and then you had aliens, so in that way its a cool idea but they didn’t really do enough with it in Can of Worms

    Take out the emotion tuck machine and there would have been more time for other things.

  64. Two things I noticed –

    – Craig cocking the bazookoid. Nothing moved, he just ran his hand up and down the barrel quickly it looked so fake and silly.

    – VFX error when everyone walks away from Cat to let him say his goodbyes. The fuzzy square to stop us seeing what was in the box was overlayed on top of the characters and not behind them.

  65. This was basically polymorph III but could have had much more fun with the premise of having several polymorphs onboard and not knowing who was who, its just like the alien series where first you had alien and then you had aliens, so in that way its a cool idea but they didn’t really do enough with it in Can of Worms

    Which in itself would have made the episode repetitious of Psirens…

  66. Can of Worms was recorded on the 20th November 2015 and broadcast on the 27th October 2016.

    Every episode of XII will obviously break this record, but until then is it the Red Dwarf episode with the longest time elapsed between recording and broadcast?

  67. Fun fact, the airlock in this episode was a recycled piece of set from series X. It was feature in the episode Entangled the ERRA space station, most notable to Rimmer needing to swap to soft light projection mode to go through it!

  68. Can of Worms was recorded on the 20th November 2015 and broadcast on the 27th October 2016.

    Every episode of XII will obviously break this record, but until then is it the Red Dwarf episode with the longest time elapsed between recording and broadcast?

    Yep, and the shortest is Back To Earth Part One.

  69. This was basically polymorph III but could have had much more fun with the premise of having several polymorphs onboard and not knowing who was who, its just like the alien series where first you had alien and then you had aliens, so in that way its a cool idea but they didn’t really do enough with it in Can of Worms

    Which in itself would have made the episode repetitious of Psirens…

    The charm about polymorph is that it originally was an homage to alien and the idea of doing a story as a homage to aliens i think is a fun idea

    It certainly couldn’t have been anymore repetitive than alot of the over done jokes this series

Jump to top / Jump to 'Recent Comments'

Leave a Reply