Red Dwarf XII: Timewave Review

The following article is intended for those watching at UKTV Play pace. Dave viewers be warned that the content and comments could contain spoilers. More info.

“‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo, what’s all this then?”
“Just my Timewave review, officer.”
“I see…a comedian, are we?”
“That’s very kind of you, officer.”
“Smart arse. Lock her up.”

I brought it on myself, I suppose. I did volunteer to take this episode on, even with the sight of Johnny Vegas in a pink helmet. That’s the thing, though; I have enough of a personal investment to avoid assumptions with Red Dwarf, and it’s this goodwill that the show puts to the test each week. Although I get the idea some don’t really believe me, it’s a genuine gut-punch when, as in this case, I finish an episode feeling disappointed and confused.

Lister, Cat and Rimmer on Planet Rimmer

First broadcast: 19th October 2017, 10:25pm(ish), 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:
Johnny Vegas (Crit Cop)
Jamie Chapman (Ziggy)
Paul Leonard (Guru)
Amrita Acharia (Waitress Greta)
Joe Sims (Tutt Johnson)

Synopsis:
A ship from the 23rd century is washed up from the past and the Dwarfers run into a crew where criticism is illegal. How will Rimmer cope?

Set Report | Let’s Talk About | Live DwarfCast

Speaking of coherence, let’s look at the structure of the story. We start with a brief reprise of Thanks for the Memory (somehow looking more ropey than in the original episode), which sets up the plot point of Helium-7. Given the payoff – an explosion to let the Dwarf crew out of prison straight into recapture – doesn’t actually lead anywhere except as a reason to get them into the Criticism Extraction Room, it seems a completely unnecessary sub-plot. Why wouldn’t the crew be put into the CER straight away after the confrontation with the Crit Cops? At least the jail scene gives us Joe Sims, who provides a convincing picture of a man driven to distraction by his imprisonment for tutting. It’s a beautifully simple joke, but it hardly seems worth the journey to get us there. The BBC/Yewtree joke is symptomatic of the lack of coherence from the start of this episode; it’s laboured, scans poorly and isn’t really making any sort of point apart from the rather boneheaded desire to have a swipe at the BBC for not welcoming back Dwarf with open arms. What’s it doing there?

The next plot point is equally puzzling. It’s not unusual for Red Dwarf episodes to be named after the science fiction conceit that appears in it, and this is no exception. But it does bring attention to the fact that the time wave doesn’t really do anything, which is really unusual. The crew force in a couple of jokes to suggest they’ve had a confusing experience, but it’s very hard to see how they’ve had it. Given that weird timey-wimey events are nothing new to the crew, it’s extremely odd to see them making such a fuss. They’re the Boys from the Dwarf, surely?

The temporal wave washes up a 24th century ship, the SS Enconium. It’s equipped with a faster-than-light drive, and is heading straight for what is called Planet Rimmer for the rest of the episode, despite it clearly being referred to as a moon at the start. What’s weirder is that Kryten is the first member of the crew to call it that. Perhaps we’re meant to fill in the gap with a theory of our own, as an awful lot of episodes have asked us to do in the past? Create your own story! Perhaps you can incorporate why the faster-than-light drive is set up as a thing and is dangled as a possible reward later on for saving the Enconium, but isn’t ever used. What is it? Why are we being told about it?

Still, onwards. As Starbug approaches the stricken Enconium, what might have been a nice joke about Kryten having a reversing alarm is spoilt by clearly showing Kryten turning round and entering the frame forwards whilst the warning is still playing. I know I’m sensitive to continuity problems (it’s a curse), but I was by no means the only person to notice this, and it’s so frustrating when it could have been so easily avoided. So we don’t have a great introduction to our main exposition scene, where Kryten has found out from the Enconium’s data banks that the ship has made criticism illegal, prompting Rimmer to tell the crew about a hitherto unrevealed part of his past: his time spent at the St Trembles school after having his confidence destroyed by the time he was 6 years old, a school where competitiveness is discouraged in favour of self-expression.

Kryten and Rimmer in Starbug's mid-section

Rimmer’s always been my favourite character, so this extra detail about his past intrigued me, especially as it makes no bloody sense whatsoever. Why hasn’t Rimmer talked about this before? Why isn’t he at St Trembles in Timeslides? Why don’t any of the crew ask him why he hasn’t revealed this before, rather than having a rather prosaic discussion of criticism with the odd joke thrown in?

Anyway, we make it onto the Enconium, where our gang notice childish pictures drawn by (we learn) the crew members, which are all hung badly on walls decorated garishly, and they watch a video of a hippy-like older man giving them his ‘wisdom’. They then encounter our main antagonist, Ziggy Briceman, who appears to be in charge and has chosen to express himself by dressing in an extreme drag outfit, accompanied by a camp voice and odd ‘flying’ arm movements. It’s worth spending some time on how the crew have been realised on the Enconium, because I think this is really important to the core of what the episode is trying to explore. We find that everyone on the ship is dressed in fairly extreme versions of fancy dress under the guise of being allowed to express themselves without criticism. I find it fascinating that only one possible result seems to arise from this policy: high camp. I’m not opposed to camp, or drag, or unusual costumes per se, but I like to see them used within a coherent context, and I don’t see why all the crew of the Enconium would choose elaborate costumes when left to their own devices. Moreover, no motivation is offered other than ‘they aren’t being criticised’.

Ziggy Briceman

It’s swiftly established that the Enconium’s in trouble mainly because the crew are all attempting jobs that they’re not suited to, so many elements of the ship aren’t working properly. Which, to be fair, is one of the elements of this episode which does make a certain amount of sense. It’s curious that the assumption behind this story is that we’re all in jobs that don’t make us happy but which we’re competent at, and it’s even more curious that this part of the story is very similar to Rob Grant’s novel Incompetence. Which makes me wonder exactly what Ziggy’s role is on the ship, because it’s never really made clear what post he holds or why he’s clearly an authority figure. He’s not the captain, because he makes a reference to looking for the captain, and, in fact, we never find said captain. Who is Ziggy? Perhaps he’s still trying to work that one out himself.

The portrayal of the Enconium crew gets even more problematic when we consider that, for the purposes of this episode, they are the threat to the Red Dwarf crew, as they end up imprisoning (and, let’s face it, torturing) them for breaking their golden rule. Although I really don’t think this was the intention, you have with people who (in our society) often attract a lot of hostility ending up being the bullies, without any real motivation being offered by the script. I don’t think it’s acceptable to do that without giving enough context to explain the story you’re trying to tell, and throughout the episode, it’s truly difficult to know what side the script is on, or what moral it’s trying to impart. As the episode is obviously trying to say something, you owe it to your ‘villains’ to make their actions a lot clearer, especially given who they are.

The ship’s diner is full of crew members in elaborate costumes, having fun, with one guy giving our guys the chance to make a reference to the Om song from Timeslides. Rimmer (to his credit) praises the atmosphere, seeking an interesting justification for not feeling so bad about killing the original Red Dwarf crew because of his incompetence, but his attitude swiftly changes when the waitress pours coffee into his lap. It’s reasonably amusing, which makes Lister’s quite aggressive attitude towards the waitress giving them someone else’s orders strangely out of place. I suppose the episode needs something to cause the waitress to get upset and to call the Crit Cops on them, which is of course followed by our Dwarfers being apprehended by said cops in the corridor. With both of the cops dressed in bright pink. I don’t know why. It’s not explained. I feel we need a bit more than ‘self-expression’.

The Crit Cop.

Anyway, some mild banter follows before the crew try to explain about the Enconium’s fate, which ends with the cop giving them a caution. The Cat reacts by telling our guys that the cop’s a idiot, and then calls him “Lieutenant Asshole”. Which is fine…but then, for some reason, what is a relatively mild-mannered conflict escalates into Cat making a remark about the cop’s wife’s “titties”, which is weirdly out of character and sounds truly odd in an episode of Red Dwarf. After Cat gets tasered, our guys end up in jail and break out as described earlier. However, due to there being absolutely no effort to figure out a way not to get caught, they get caught. This is, I feel, a major problem with the episode; our main cast act out of character and even have their history altered in the service of moving the plot along. My feeling is if you need to go to these lengths, is the plot worth it?

It takes an awful lot of messing around, but at last, events come to some sort of head. The whole point of draining the inner critic is to reprogramme the person to express themselves without their inner critic holding them back. Rimmer, unsurprisingly, takes centre stage, and his struggle with his inner critic, with said critic breaking their bounds (nice makeup job, BTW), has the potential to be quite interesting. Unfortunately, it’s not, partly because Rimmer delivers a bizarre joke about sex advice. I’m sure it’s not that easy to come up with a rhyme for ‘clitoris’, but the joke doesn’t make it worth the effort. It also feels uncomfortable for Rimmer to make jokes around ranking women when he’s clearly meant to be the hero in this scene; he firstly beats the ship’s criticism extractor, and then, with encouragement from the rest of the boys, beats his inner critic with the correct criticism that he doesn’t really protect Rimmer from making a fool of himself.

Rimmer's inner critic

Still, never mind: Ziggy is impressed, and promptly repeals the criticism law, despite the fact that this is a central plank of life on the Enconium, to the point that they’ve made people suffer hideous punishment for mild infractions of the law. Again; who is Ziggy? How has he got this authority? Presumably Ziggy wouldn’t have been able to order the engineers back to their actual jobs without this change of heart, but his fickleness means that he changes his mind again when he attempts to give our heroes one of his drawings, and our lads run away, presumably back to the safety of Starbug. Somehow. Actually, how? It’d be good to know.

Dave-era Red Dwarf has been a challenge for me at times, I admit, although I’ve always been careful to say that normally each episode is based on a sound idea. The way society uses criticism as peer review and social sanction is undoubtedly an interesting topic. However, I think this episode is proof that it’s probably not something you can adequately tackle in a half-hour sitcom, especially when you have to write jokes about it, and especially when you belong to a group of people who generally get to do far more criticising than they ever receive. I do feel a bit sorry for Doug at times that the last 30 years have taken place, but here we are. I feel any efforts he has gone to in order to debate the idea within the episode have been undone by his own assumptions, and although that’s a natural obstacle we all have, a more coherent episode might have meant that his message got across more successfully.

TINY TEASER: Crevice Brush (An implement Kryten owns, which he will apparently eat if Rimmer’s toy soldiers ever do anything useful)
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 18 (Series total: 62)
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 1 (Series total: 3)

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71 Responses to Red Dwarf XII: Timewave Review

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  1. Well done, Tanya. I don’t envy you having to tackle this one. In just a few days, this one seems to have been analysed and deconstructed more than most Red Dwarf episodes. And it’s hasn’t even broadcast yet…

    >we make it onto the Enconium, where our gang notice childish pictures drawn by (we learn) the crew members.

    This bit doesn’t make any sense, and that’s even both we meet any of the Enconium’s crew. Presumably the intention is that Ziggy has been drawing these pictures since he was a child and no one has ever criticised them, so his artistic style has never developed? The problem with that is that it makes no sense whatsoever. Who goes around criticising children’s drawings, anyway? Children don’t get better at art because they’re criticised, they get better at art because they’re encouraged. Encouragement isn’t the absence of criticism, it’s something else entirely.

    That’s kind of the flaw throughout Timewave. The society makes no sense whatsoever. No wonder it crumbles to the ground in the space of a short scene at the end of the episode.

  2. Are you actually going to tell me that in a society with no criticism everybody’s going to still have clothes on?

  3. Are you actually going to tell me that in a society with no criticism everybody’s going to still have clothes on?

    yes because it’s cold outside

  4. Are you actually going to tell me that in a society with no criticism everybody’s going to still have clothes on?

    yes because it’s cold outside

    I don’t actually think that the inside of the Enconium is outside.

  5. Are you actually going to tell me that in a society with no criticism everybody’s going to still have clothes on?

    yes because it’s cold outside

    theres no kind of atmosphere

  6. Great review, Tanya. I think between this and the Gazpacho Soup review, you’ve both pretty much summed up my feelings. I will say that I enjoyed both Johnny Vegas and Joe Simms and think their performances were the strongest thing there, along with critic Rimmer. It’s frustrating because you catch little glimmers of potential and then they just….throw it away. The ret-con of Rimmer’s schooldays is so weird. It’s done in such a casual way that I don’t even think they wanted us to take it seriously. The characters that we’ve invested so much into seem to have changable back stories now depending on the need of that particular episode. And it’s all reset at the end. When you’ve got characters where you’ve established such rich back stories, to dismiss this just to suit whatever plot is being explored that week (and especially if its a poor episode like Timewave), it’s just really disappointing to be honest.

    Rimmer’s space corp directive joke was very good. His clitoris joke was at the far end of the opposite of that.

    It only occured to me after reading ths review, didn’t The Simpsons explore a similar idea in a much better, much funnier way with ‘Bart’s Inner Child’? And that was in 1993!

  7. The St Trembles dialogue says Rimmer attended several schools doesn’t it? Isn’t it a(n unneeded but I’ll take it) retcon for previously named, seemingly contradictory institutions?

  8. Yes, the episode mentions Rimmer went to several schools, neatly filling in the plothole because he could have only gone to St. Trembles for a year, or six months, imo.

    Vegas wears a pink uniform reluctantly because another crit cop suggested it and he couldn’t criticise him by saying no fuck off, I would say. But none of that is stated in the episode and I don’t know why I’m defending it because THIS EPISODE IS SHITE

  9. I could go on and on about the ways in which this episode was awful, but basically as Ben has said THIS EPISODE IS SHITE

    Seriously.

    Red Dwarf is one of a handful of things that has subtly shaped my life and interests, I’ve been watching it as long as I can remember, so my entire life as far as I’m concerned but Dave Dwarf is eroding my love somewhat. I don’t think there are a lot of episodes of this quality left before I just stop watching. I was fearful after the last 2 and a half episodes of XI because I thought they were apalling. If there’s a XIII there needs to be major changes.

  10. Does this episode include everything wrong with bad Dwarf? Unintentionally offensive, slapdash script, out of character moments, repeated jokes, retcons, playing to the audience with pantomime performances. I guess the model shots were pretty good…

    I don’t think this was just bad Dwarf but just terrible TV in general. As others have said before, I can’t believe there aren’t people who have stepped in and said “ooh, we covered Lister guitar jokes in two other scripts this season, and what Cat says here is a bit off. Is it right to imply that camp people should be criticised?”. Or maybe they have and Doug has just ignored them. Anything for a laugh does not work; Red Dwarf isn’t a sketch show.

    Oh well, I’ve heard the rest of the series is pretty good. To me XI was five good to great episodes with one episode that was poor (CoW) and even that had some good laughs in it. 5 out of 6 again for this series would be a pretty good result.

    What I’d give for an episode that I truly love though. Father’s & Suns, Trojan, Officer Rimmer, Give & Take, Samsara and Siliconia have all come very close to being absolute top 30 favourites but I think most people on this board could guess exactly where my issues lie with those episodes.

  11. NoFro, are.. are we the same person…?

  12. G&T Admin

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. It’s a bit depressing when something you want to like has so many problems, but here we are.

  13. Red Dwarf is one of a handful of things that has subtly shaped my life and interests, I’ve been watching it as long as I can remember, so my entire life as far as I’m concerned but Dave Dwarf is eroding my love somewhat. I don’t think there are a lot of episodes of this quality left before I just stop watching. I was fearful after the last 2 and a half episodes of XI because I thought they were apalling. If there’s a XIII there needs to be major changes.

    I feel the same way.

  14. I thought XI was great overall, but XII so far is looking pretty spotty overall

  15. The weirdest thing in all of this is….why does the offensive material come NOW after all these years?? I know it’s unhealthy to bring up Taiwan Tony yet again, but it’s a fact that nothing like that had ever featured in Red Dwarf before, and the same applies to certain lines and scenarios here.

    Not even in 1989 would Doug have had two pink policemen and this whole idea, let alone Cat’s language! :o

  16. G&T Admin

    Honestly, I’m longing for the days where the first three episodes of a series are Trojan, Fathers & Suns, and Lemons.

  17. I’m longing for the days where the first three episodes of a series are Tikka, Stoke and Ouroboros. And I fucking hate Ouroboros..

    It’ll get better from here, I’m sure.

    Maybe.

  18. G&T Admin

    Howay. Timewave is undoubtedly one of the worst episode of all time – if not *the* worst – but there are still three episodes left for XII to turn it around. I thought the first two eps were both very good indeed, so it’s not going to take much for the series to still end up with a half-decent average.

  19. Howay. Timewave is undoubtedly one of the worst episode of all time – if not *the* worst – but there are still three episodes left for XII to turn it around. I thought the first two eps were both very good indeed, so it’s not going to take much for the series to still end up with a half-decent average.

    Even with as bad as it is, I’d still probably take Timewave over Beyond a Joke, Pete part 2, Dear Dave and Can of Worms. And possibly Ouroboros if I’m honest. Still lower end stuff, mind.

    One thing I did notice on the last rewatch regarding the helium 7 sand. Lister appears to be examining the sand when Rimmer comes in and, rather than get caught, Lister drops it on the floor and appears to make a gesture with the left side of his body, like he’s scraping the sand out of the way. This would explain why he gets the sand on his boot for use later, but its so subtly done as to almost be pointless to the development of the plot.

  20. I did an ironic poo earlier. It still stunk the place out but it was supposed to, so no one can complain. Do you see?

    Ahhhh.

  21. Do we reckon the episode was meant to be taken ironically then? Like has been said above, a turd by any other name is still a turd. But I don’t get the impression Doug wrote this with any sense of irony.

  22. G&T Admin

    No, I think that’s straw-clutching. Sometimes an episode forces us to contemplate Doug’s weaknesses as a writer, which is upsetting because one wants to think of him as some sort of all-powerful comedy deity. He’s not, but we all want him to be, so the temptation is to invent extra meaning where there is none. There’s giving him the benefit of the doubt – which is a good thing that I’d always encourage – and then there’s outright denial.

  23. No, not at all. But I’ve seen comments online about how certain fans don’t “get” the episode.

  24. Episodes like this make me think that Doug badly needs a Dwarf version of the Gibbons brothers. Working in tandem with Coogan but they have totally revitalised Partridge – the last few years have been some of the best material the character has ever had – because they not only “got it” in terms of Alan’s character but could develop it in hilarious ways. Too much of Red Dwarf now feels like diminishing returns from a shrinking pool of groan-worthy gags.

  25. Episodes like this make me think that Doug badly needs a Dwarf version of the Gibbons brothers. Working in tandem with Coogan but they have totally revitalised Partridge – the last few years have been some of the best material the character has ever had – because they not only “got it” in terms of Alan’s character but could develop it in hilarious ways. Too much of Red Dwarf now feels like diminishing returns from a shrinking pool of groan-worthy gags.

    Spot on. That second series of MMM particularly was excellent.

  26. Great review.

    [the BBC joke is] laboured, scans poorly and isn’t really making any sort of point apart from the rather boneheaded desire to have a swipe at the BBC for not welcoming back Dwarf with open arms. What’s it doing there?

    I don’t mind the swipe. I thought it was enjoyably cheeky, having a bash at our former employer. It’s the “in the 1970s” part I hate. It’s sort of cowardly and dulling as well as causing the poor scan you mention.

    It’s reasonably amusing, which makes Lister’s quite aggressive attitude towards the waitress giving them someone else’s orders strangely out of place. I suppose the episode needs something to cause the waitress to get upset and to call the Crit Cops on them

    Yes! I thought Lister had decided upon some sort of escape plan and this was his way of kicking something off. But it was just a nothingy line for no reason.

    Rimmer delivers a bizarre joke about sex advice. I’m sure it’s not that easy to come up with a rhyme for ‘clitoris’, but the joke doesn’t make it worth the effort.

    I can’t stop thinking about this line. It replays over and over in my mind like the memory of a terrible accident. My real beef is not that it’s a bad joke (a cheesy or labored joke can sort-of be a joy in itself) but that this “joke” isn’t anything. What the fuck is “spit on her wrist” supposed to mean? It’s just nothing. It’s like Doug wrote it quickly one day to keep his writertly flow going but never went back to replace it with actual content. The joke doesn’t have to be a thing that rhymes with clitoris – there doesn’t even have to be a joke here at all! What a massive, catastrophic fail.

    I motion that we forget this episode ever happened, that we do a “Thanks for the Memory” on it – erase the tapes, rip the tear-spotted pages from our diaries, and wipe everyone’s memories forever!

  27. No, not at all. But I’ve seen comments online about how certain fans don’t “get” the episode.

    The surprising thing is how many people on Doug’s twitter feed seem to love the episode, some even proclaiming it to be one of the best. Each to their own of course, but I still found the proclamations of greatness surprising.

  28. The hive mind of this site appears to have many issues with Doug’s writing and approach at times. Perhaps you could bring this up with him? After all some of you are blessed with unprecedented access……

  29. G&T Admin

    Are we? I mean, there are people like Seb Patrick, Ed Moore and Matthew Clark who have accounts here, but I don’t think giving Doug a digest of what people on G&T reckon is part of their job remit. The only access any of the G&T writers have to Doug, other than being able to tweet him like everyone else, is if either me, Cappsy or Danny happen to be in the Dimension Jump green room at the same time as him. So once every eighteen months to two years, minimum, when we’re all too busy to stand still for more than two minutes.

  30. Ok well I assumed you do considering many of you appear to have the monopoly of running things from the official site to DJ. But my point is your not simply fans who dislike the story or it’s not as good as it used to be blah blah blah…..some of you generally have issues with his writing at times especially this episode. The last podcast was like a funeral march.

    Oh and memo to Jo. Please don’t reply to this if it’s in the early hours because your posts appear to be rather more angrier during that period.

  31. I can’t stop thinking about this line. It replays over and over in my mind like the memory of a terrible accident. My real beef is not that it’s a bad joke (a cheesy or labored joke can sort-of be a joy in itself) but that this “joke” isn’t anything. What the fuck is “spit on her wrist” supposed to mean? It’s just nothing. It’s like Doug wrote it quickly one day to keep his writertly flow going but never went back to replace it with actual content. The joke doesn’t have to be a thing that rhymes with clitoris – there doesn’t even have to be a joke here at all! What a massive, catastrophic fail.

    A low point in the entire history of Red Dwarf. I can’t believe no one contested this gag at any point in the production process.

  32. I’ve found a leaked snippet from a series XIII script called ‘polymorph 5’. The crew find a new ship called the SS Polymorph where everyone (who’s somehow still alive) wants to be dead, and there isn’t a polymorph on board.

    Lister: do you remember when i couldn’t play the guitar, but then could, but then forgot how to play again?
    Kryten: thankfully, as now we can still enjoy the om song as it is supposed to be played. remember that sir? it’s such a romantic song.
    Rimmer: i was rubbish at romance. my brother said the most important thing is kissing technique, but what i thought he said was ‘pour piss over her head’.
    Cat: you’re an idiot. and you’re a f**king c**t so get out of my face you titty-faced fucktard.

  33. G&T Admin

    I would *love* Cat to call Rimmer a fucking cunt. Honestly, I don’t think a single thing in this life could make me happier than a scene in Red Dwarf where Rimmer’s going off on one, then there’s a moment of silence, then someone just calls him a cunt and the scene ends.

  34. I would *love* Cat to call Rimmer a fucking cunt. Honestly, I don’t think a single thing in this life could make me happier than a scene in Red Dwarf where Rimmer’s going off on one, then there’s a moment of silence, then someone just calls him a cunt and the scene ends.

    Last scene to the final episode of the final series? “Rimmer, you know what, you’re a fucking cunt.”

    Yep, I can see that as the perfect way to end dwarf.

  35. I’ve found a leaked snippet from a series XIII script called ‘polymorph 5’.

    *insert joke about people calling Back to Earth Series IX and people calling Cured polymorph 4 to make it make sense*

  36. Are we? I mean, there are people like Seb Patrick, Ed Moore and Matthew Clark who have accounts here, but I don’t think giving Doug a digest of what people on G&T reckon is part of their job remit. The only access any of the G&T writers have to Doug, other than being able to tweet him like everyone else, is if either me, Cappsy or Danny happen to be in the Dimension Jump green room at the same time as him. So once every eighteen months to two years, minimum, when we’re all too busy to stand still for more than two minutes.

    ‘Oh, Doug, mate, while you’re here, could you take a look at these bullet points of how you are WRONG…? Thanks, mate, love your work! Well…except for…*indicates sheet* yeah ‘kay bye!!’

  37. If the Series VIII scriptbook is to be believed, Doug does occasionally look at what the fans are saying online. Or did, anyway; he may have seen enough by now.

    Timewave is a particularly reviled episode here (although a few people liked it) but I get the impression that the negativity goes beyond it ‘not being funny’. It’s due to the episode causing offence. There have been a few questionable moments in Red Dwarf before; but there’s rather a lot of them in Timewave. And that’s because the theme of the episode seems to be saying something about society which I don’t think many of us want to hear..

    However, I think that’s a bit of a novelty for Red Dwarf. There’s plenty of crap episodes, but only a few could be considered as offensive – and none on this scale. I’m guessing if “Dad” had seen the light of day, we’d have the closest comparison. As it is, the nearest thing is “Slag” in a single scene in a meandering episode with no theme or plot.

    Let’s get some perspective back. Red Dwarf isn’t perfect. There are good episode, there are bad episodes. This was a particularly bad one because of unique reasons. I’m not sure it’s reason for Doug to be passing around drafts of scripts to a fan community and canvassing opinions on whether they’re good enough to go into production. Especially when a general consensus round here is pretty rare.

    Doug’s forgotten more about script writing than the rest of us will ever know.

  38. Howay. Timewave is undoubtedly one of the worst episode of all time – if not *the* worst – but there are still three episodes left for XII to turn it around. I thought the first two eps were both very good indeed, so it’s not going to take much for the series to still end up with a half-decent average.

    Would you say you’re likely to put it bottom for the Pearl Poll, Ian? I’d say I’d still put this above Pete Part 2, Back in the Red Part 3, Krytie TV and Beyond a Joke. But that’s about it.

  39. G&T Admin

    It’s almost certain to be in my bottom three. As Pete says, it’s rare for Red Dwarf to actually become *offensive*, as opposed to just being a bit crap. There are odd moments here and there, but off the top of my head, the only episode other than Timewave that’s built on a premise that offends me is Krytie TV.

  40. If the Series VIII scriptbook is to be believed, Doug does occasionally look at what the fans are saying online. Or did, anyway; he may have seen enough by now.

    If I’m remembering correctly, G&T is mentioned in the BTE commentary.

  41. I don’t think it’s really within anybody’s remit to tell Doug what they think he’s doing wrong, except maybe his script editor/Richard or people close to him. It comes off as a bit rude, as if you know how to write the 12th series of a cult sci-fi comedy better than the man who co-created it. You might THINK you do, but judging from some of the suggestions people on this forum make, you don’t.

    If he wants, Doug can dip into forums, read reviews, consider what worked and what didn’t, etc. But to go up to the man and say “this is why I think your writing sucks”, even with the best intentions in the world, is a bit of a fucking dick move.

  42. As pointed out previously Series 8 was also given high praise at the time and they even threw several good reviews at the back of the script book but then jump to 2007 and Series 8 seems to have become fairly less well received since.

    Whether series X onwards will stand the test of time that won’t be known for another few years.

  43. PLEASE PLEASE GET THIS GUY ON THE PODCAST!!!

    3:15 ….nearly a bit of beer feedback LOL!

    That storm trooper was not impressed with his review obviously.

  44. Richie & Eddie Watch “Timewave”

    i remember trying to make a “Richie & Eddie Watch Red Dwarf” video myself once. it made me laugh to see this, nice job

  45. Richie & Eddie Watch “Timewave”

    The best thing EVER EVER EVER. :D

  46. PLEASE PLEASE GET THIS GUY ON THE PODCAST!!!

    3:15 ….nearly a bit of beer feedback LOL!
    That storm trooper was not impressed with his review obviously.

    If Rob and Doug were in one body.

  47. Timewave makes Can of Worms look like Back to Reality.

    Not only is this the only episode of Dave era Red Dwarf that I’ve actively disliked, but if you were to judge an episode’s overall quality by my first reaction to seeing it, this might be the worst episode of the entire series. Granted, this is partly because my younger, Just The Shows Vol. 2-watching self was far less discerning than I am now, but it’s still quite a feat.

    One thing I’m surprised didn’t get more of a reaction on here was how the episode ends with the crew of the Enconium still all alive and presumably sticking around. Lister being the last living human (known) is a core idea of the show, and although series 7 and 8 went against this in major ways, in recent series Doug’s been very diligent in murdering any new human characters who turn up. But here? It’s not even acknowledged as significant. You’d think being stranded in deep space and 3 million years into the future might warrant some sort of emotional reaction from the Enconium crewmembers, too, but NOPE.

    I mean, at this rate they may as well just throw in some aliens.

  48. They’re too Incompetent(ce) to realise the gravity of the situation, and I took Ziggy’s quick changing of the subject as him not wanting to even think about what Lister just said because it’s a bit of a downer

    They all got Timewave’d back after the events of the episode but that is never -explicitly- stated

  49. G&T Admin

    I’m beginning to think Doug’s something of a genius, given that he writes episodes with plot & character holes that fans happily fill with theories of their own. Quite a skill, really.

  50. Nout offensive with the slag line in Dear Dave & nout offensive in Timewave IMHO. People should be happy camp or gay characters are featuring in Dwarf in the first place ain’t it!

    If the Series VIII scriptbook is to be believed, Doug does occasionally look at what the fans are saying online. Or did, anyway; he may have seen enough by now.

    Timewave is a particularly reviled episode here (although a few people liked it) but I get the impression that the negativity goes beyond it ‘not being funny’. It’s due to the episode causing offence. There have been a few questionable moments in Red Dwarf before; but there’s rather a lot of them in Timewave. And that’s because the theme of the episode seems to be saying something about society which I don’t think many of us want to hear..
    However, I think that’s a bit of a novelty for Red Dwarf. There’s plenty of crap episodes, but only a few could be considered as offensive – and none on this scale. I’m guessing if “Dad” had seen the light of day, we’d have the closest comparison. As it is, the nearest thing is “Slag” in a single scene in a meandering episode with no theme or plot.
    Let’s get some perspective back. Red Dwarf isn’t perfect. There are good episode, there are bad episodes. This was a particularly bad one because of unique reasons. I’m not sure it’s reason for Doug to be passing around drafts of scripts to a fan community and canvassing opinions on whether they’re good enough to go into production. Especially when a general consensus round here is pretty rare.
    Doug’s forgotten more about script writing than the rest of us will ever know.

  51. >People should be happy camp or gay characters are featuring in Dwarf in the first place ain’t it!

    When your only representation of camp or gay characters in a show’s history is depicting them as incompetent, fundamentally stupid and deserving of the main characters’ insults, no one should be happy with that. A negative portrayal is less welcome than zero representation.

    It may not be deliberate; but it’s certainly careless.

  52. What I’d give for an episode that I truly love though. Father’s & Suns, Trojan, Officer Rimmer, Give & Take, Samsara and Siliconia have all come very close to being absolute top 30 favourites but I think most people on this board could guess exactly where my issues lie with those episodes.

    Just replace Father’s & Suns, Officer Rimmer, and Siliconia with Lemons, Krysis, and Cured and that is me.

    Change all of the letters in your username NoFro and you could be me as well.

  53. They all got Timewave’d back after the events of the episode but that is never -explicitly- stated

    Wait, WHAT?! Then how do you know? Was there a deleted scene?

    If that happened, the only reason I can think of for the Dwarfers not following is them wanting to stay back to find Kochanski, but she hasn’t even been mentioned since Series X.

  54. The ship being “timewaved back” is not explicitly shown on screen no, but Kryten does state that exactly that would happen when delivering his space-phenomenon-of-the-week exposition when they first spot the timewave.

  55. Kryten says that whatever comes with the Timewave will go back, but it’s dangerous because they’ll be flushed even further into deep space. Keep up people.

  56. The ship being “timewaved back” is not explicitly shown on screen no, but Kryten does state that exactly that would happen when delivering his space-phenomenon-of-the-week exposition when they first spot the timewave.

    Kryten says that whatever comes with the Timewave will go back, but it’s dangerous because they’ll be flushed even further into deep space. Keep up people.

    Ah.

    Still, it’s sloppy.

  57. Sloppy exposition seems to be a reoccurring theme. Ever since BtE there have been bits that you get completely confused by and have to rewatch, to catch a vital plot point that gets rushed over in a throwaway line or buried in an exposition dump.

  58. I think Doug’s aware of plot hole issues and how fans react to them, so he writes these bits in just to cover his back.

  59. Again, most of the stuff people complain about not understanding I understood perfectly on first viewing. Maybe put the subtitles on

  60. Yeah I have to say I haven’t found any of the episodes particularly hard to follow.

  61. On that note, does UKTV Play even have subtitles? I think I remember trying to turn them on but being unable to.

  62. Again, most of the stuff people complain about not understanding I understood perfectly on first viewing. Maybe put the subtitles on

    A lot of us here are also focused on trying to critically analyze the episodes during our first viewing, especially the staffers who are all preparing to broadcast their opinions the following day. That’s a fair enough excuse for missing some details.

    But yeah, I’ve never had an issue following any of the contested points in XII that people seem to get lost over or just forget the line that explains it.

    I tend to start seriously analyzing _after_ the episode is over, but Timewave seriously hurt my ability to turn off the overly critical part of my brain for the first viewing. It took a few minutes of Mechocracy before I was fully comfortable it was going to be a good episode this time. I was suddenly looking for potential problems and judging everything from the first second in a way I usually never do on first viewing. My first viewings only get critical in situations like Timewave where the episode has exhausted my good will.

  63. No, I think it is a genuine issue in XI/XII to have important plot points hidden in throwaway or confusing dialogue in episodes that also end as if someone’s sat on the remote control yet open with unrelated 8 minute sequences about The Cat getting his balls caught in a microwave door whilst Rimmer fills in a form.

    Story wise, a lot of these episodes just aren’t ‘reading’ cleanly. That’s not the audience’s problem. The storytelling is severely unbalanced, and unless that’s sorted next time the set-pieces and jokes will keep constantly tripping over it. I think it says a lot that I fell asleep during Mechocracy but initially didn’t suspect that I had…

  64. I do wonder whether Doug tries abit too hard to be clever sometimes and ends up tripping over himself trying to translate it.

    For example Doug seems to tell more stories that involve multiple ideas going on and somehow all have to collide for the final to make everything worth wild.

  65. Like how Chinese whispers came back to save the day.

  66. This was definitely an issue in X, which had quite a few b-plot episodes. It was something Doug was trying out, and it didn’t prove especially successful, so they’ve generally been dropped for XI and XII (or at least toned down to simply a running joke that comes back to tie the episode up). I’d love to have a Seinfeld or OFITG-esque Dwarf episode with several separate plot strands that tie together fantastically in a way that makes it seem like they could never have been apart, but it’s obviously not the way Doug writes best. Other than a couple of episodes in the first series, classic Dwarf episodes were all focused around a single concept, and that’s what it does well.

    It really just feels like almost every script in the Dave era is a draft or two away from greatness. None of these episodes* have the same conceptual issues as VII and VIII had, they just feel a bit slapdash or unrefined. Tightening up a joke or a scene, turning a very brief, buried explanation into a more obvious point, possibly punctuated by a joke to stop it being pure exposition. Ending episodes on a good punchline or a satisfying plot resolution with proper editing. None of these things should be too hard, and although I’d obviously normally trust the professionals to do the job better than me, the fact that there are so many people pointing out the exact same flaws just makes it baffling that between them, Doug, Richard and Andrew couldn’t just go “wait a minute, let’s spend a few more minutes on this scene/joke/plot point/explanation”.

    *other than Timewave, obviously.

  67. I think it is a genuine issue in XI/XII to have important plot points hidden in throwaway or confusing dialogue in episodes that also end as if someone’s sat on the remote control yet open with unrelated 8 minute sequences about The Cat getting his balls caught in a microwave door whilst Rimmer fills in a form.

    Well that’s just lost us half an episode of series XIII.

  68. if someone can go anywhere they want, they might go to their kitchen, but the *image* of someone going wherever they want is someone going to fiji or the north pole or jupiter. if someone can wear anything they want they might wear a sweater and jeans but the *image* would be some crazy clown thing…

    pink is on a mission at the moment – you see a lot of really alphay hard guys wearing shades of pink you only saw on babies before…

    if anyone folllows the culture war going on in america is doug out of date or actually cutting edge with this?

    remember nathan barley? maybe they should have done them as hipsters like in that instead.

    it’s ironic/deliberate that it’s provoked so much criticism

  69. For the record, the opening scene would look a thousand times better if it wasn’t just one shot where every “angle” is just zoomed in.

    THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF THE RED CAMERA. YOU ONLY GOTTA FILM ONE SHOT AND THE REST IS POST.

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