It was exactly two years ago today that Red Dwarf X burst onto our screens, heralding a brand new era of regular new series, sensible production schedules, and crystal clear communication with the fans as to the show’s future. In a change to your scheduled programming, High & Low looks back on the very best and very worst Series X Scenes. By sheer coincidence, all six episodes have at least one representative in the top ten, although the same even spread does not apply for the bottom five, with one episode taking up 60% of those spaces. What episode could that possibly be? Bearing the usual “only this writer’s opinion, not that of G&T as a whole” caveat in mind, read on to find out…

10. “You now no longer need to have this conversation and can do something else”

Fathers & Suns

I previously put Pree in fifth place in my all time list of best Red Dwarf guest characters, so it’s no real surprise that her introduction would be one of my ten favourite scenes of Series X. It’s a scene that’s already hilarious before she makes her first appearance, with Chris Barrie on fine form with the faux-nonchalant way Rimmer selects Pree’s appearance. Then we see Rebecca Blackstone’s big face – striking and stunning in every sense – for the first time, and are instantly enthralled by her extraordinary delivery of some very clever, and very funny, opening lines. What a way to introduce a character, and the next scene in the episode is even better. We’ll come to that later.

9. “A giant death worm?”

Dear Dave

Even the phrase “shit episode” has “hit” in it. There’s actually a surprising amount of bits in Dear Dave that aren’t completely terrible, but this is the only scene that stands up against the best moments of the other five episodes. The charades scene has a fast and relentlessly-funny pace, comprised of pleasingly silly gags and amusing character moments, with Kryten’s paranoia and Rimmer’s over-active fear of danger taking centre stage. Proof that scenes with just the four main characters and zero budget can work well, but only when they’re done right.

8. “That bit looks important”

The Beginning

It’s a bold and unusual move for Red Dwarf to do a scene without any of the core actors, and this is only one of several that take place during The Beginning. The opening young Rimmer scene narrowly misses out on a place in the top ten, as does the later return to the simulant ship, but the hara-kari scene is amongst the best in the whole series. Gary Cady and Alex Hardy are both excellent in this unusually graphic but nevertheless hilarious and beautifully played little vignette.

7. “I clever as a hedgehog”

The Beginning

Yes, it’s another example of The Beginning doing unusual things, but doing them very well indeed. Richard O’Callaghan returns to the series and really shines as the Dwarfers’ annoying next-door neighbour. The key to why it works is the brilliant chemistry between O’Callaghan and Craig Charles, establishing a real sense of a shared history between the two characters, even though the audience have never seen them together before. That and the fact that Hogey’s silly voice is incredibly funny, even if it does sound like he’s saying “you kissed my brother”.

6. “Except for me, him and him”

Entangled

With the absolute shambles that’s descended to in the latter stages of this episode, it’s easy to forget just how strongly Entangled starts, and it all culminates with this brilliant character-based scene in the drive room. It’s very reminiscent of the dynamic we loved so much in the cockpit scenes in Series VI, but with an even stronger concentration of scene-stealing woofers from Danny John-Jules. There’s absolutely no fat on this scene – every line is carefully crafted, well paced and delivered beautifully.

5. “But you were an utter twat!”

Trojan

While it’s impossible to shake the feeling that Howard should have turned up at least ten minutes earlier, his eventual introduction is utterly brilliant. Mark Dexter – another new entry in that aforementioned best guest characters list – is of course fantastic as Howard, from the above-quoted sweariness to his joyous reaction that saves the Touch-T sequence from dragging the rest of the scene down. But the real star is the character gags centered around the regular crew, from the introduction of The Cat as Gerald Hampton to the divine joke about Kryten being washed down and given a hat. Like another scene in Trojan that we’ll come to shortly, this cemented the notion that this time around, those four characters that we know and love were well and truly back.

4. “The slime’s coming home”

The Beginning

As Tanya Jones so rightly pointed out in a recent High & Low, Red Dwarf is at its best when the complexities of Rimmer’s character are made integral to a scene, and this is no exception. Just when you thought there was no more room for Rimmer to grow as a person, this episode is all about tearing him apart and putting him back together one more time, and it all culminates in this moment of glory. It serves as an immensely satisfying conclusion to this storyline, this series and possibly to Red Dwarf as a whole, if it has to be. It’s only slightly ruined by the fact that you can clearly hear Seb Patrick going “hooray” when Chris delivers that final line.

3. “You’re a bit of a knob”

Lemons

Lemons is my absolute favourite episode of Series X – I’d put it on a par with the bulk of the episodes from the first six series – so it’s perhaps surprising that this is its only entry in this list. But that all tallies with the main reason I love this episode so much, which is that it’s all one, long continuous adventure story, with the plot as the driving force behind the humour, rather than being a collection of isolated sketches like some of the other episodes in this run. Therefore I’ve cheated a bit by making this entry a collection of consecutive shorter scenes, running from Jesus returning to the past to discuss doctrine with Indira Joshi’s Erin (the latter’s brilliant performance counteracting the slightly pony delivery of James Baxter), to the confrontation between Lister and Jesus, which leads to the revelation that this was all a case of mistaken identity, followed by the cutaway gag of Jesus flogging bags in ancient India. It ties everything up, provides a twist to the tale, and does all that whilst being incredibly funny throughout.

2. “Was he Swedish?”

Trojan

There are a number of problems to do with the pacing in Trojan, with far too much meandering before the main story kicks in, leading to a rushed and lop-sided closing ten minutes. But the tricky thing is, it’s hard to complain when some of that meandering is this good. This scene is essentially the same gag three times – pompous character tries to make stupid character look stupid, but ends up looking stupid himself – but the brilliance comes from the three distinct ways in which it’s played. Lister revels in his superiority to Rimmer, crafting his response deliberately to cause maximum wind up factor. Kryten, on the other hand, throws his answer away, unflustered and uninterested. But the highlight is undoubtedly The Cat’s contribution. The way that he gets a laugh just from entering the room is fantastic – the audience knows exactly what’s coming, because they know the characters so well, and they’re laughing in advance. But even then, expectations are confounded when Cat changes the pace of the scene to interrupt Rimmer and squeeze in extra laughs just by being himself. Like the Howard scene we discussed earlier, this was the first indication that – unlike previous occasions when Dwarf returned after a long absence – the characters were just as sharp as they were back in the early nineties.

1. “You’re a big, big disappointment to me, David”

Fathers & Suns

If you’re looking for the elements that made Red Dwarf so brilliant the first time around, this scene has them in spades. I’ve spent much of the last twelve years banging on about the fact this this show is fundamentally a character comedy at its heart, which is why that word has appeared fifteen times already in a list of top ten scenes. Needless to say, the exploration of Lister’s personality is what drives this scene, but there’s also the strong sci-fi element, giving it its unconventional and thoroughly entertaining narrative. And yes, both of these elements combine to produce some fantastic comedy, ranging from the emergence of the father/son dynamic to create two distinct voices, to the unexpected reveal of Lister’s guitar being replaced by a cut-out, to the sheer slapstick joy of watching a drunk man falling off his chair. Twice.

It stands out amongst a series packed with good moments as being by far the greatest of them all, and a reminder of exactly why we fell in love with Red Dwarf in the first place. Regardless of when it was made, it’s a fully-fledged classic Dwarf scene in its own right, and it provides hope that – given the right conditions – there’s no reason why a new episode of Red Dwarf couldn’t surpass any that came before it.

I do love Red Dwarf X overall, and I think that there’s enough great stuff in there to compensate for the less successful moments. But perhaps more so than any previous editions of High & Low, this subject really feels like it needs a quick trip into the depths of the bottom five in order to tell the complete story of my reaction to the topic as a whole. Brace yourself.

5. “Moves move”

Dear Dave

This scene is not completely awful, and there are some redeeming features, mostly in the opening moments when Rimmer’s taking the piss out of Lister’s depression. But it’s the worst example of a worrying trend for scenes towards the start of Series X episodes that have little to no connection to the actual plot, feel like they’re only there to pad out the running time, and contain dialogue that’s more in Doug Naylor’s voice than it is in any of his characters’. You know the stuff – shopping channels, call centres, Shakespeare’s legacy, health and safety forms, and in this instance, bizarrely, Jacobean chat up lines. The crux of why it bothers me so much is that when Chris Barrie launches into that soliloquy, I’m seeing Chris Barrie doing a bit, and not Rimmer. But hey, this scene is a bit rubbish, but at least it’s not actually offensive, unlike some of the entries further down the list.

4. “Have you got a pen?”

Entangled

In all fairness, the above-quoted line is actually pretty good, and Craig’s throwaway delivery distracts you with a laugh before you notice how weird the rest of the scene – and indeed the latter portion of this episode – truly is. Irene E is not a very good character, and while I’m not suggesting that there was any sort of dodgy intent behind the writing, you can’t help but feel uncomfortable when the first human woman in the show for years is ogled at by the men, acts like a stereotypical dumb blonde from the 1950s, is killed in an arbitrary and functional manner, and the only reaction to her death is one of disappointment from Rimmer that he’s not going to shag her. And they say they can’t write for women…

3. “I’ve never seen a ceiling before”

Dear Dave

As stated previously, Dear Dave is not entirely awful, which surprised me somewhat on a recent rewatch when I found myself chuckling more often than I expected to. It’s very clearly botched together, and any semblance of a plot is nonsensical at best, but it almost gets away with it… until it completely and utterly falls apart in the last five minutes. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for the behind-the-scenes problems this episode suffered when you’re faced with the sight of Dave Lister solemnly fucking a vending machine for a really, really long time. Seriously, it goes on for ages. And it doesn’t even work as a gag. That’s not how you lift things. Why is Lister doing this? A cheap laugh can be a great laugh if it’s done right (see: Polymorph). But this is just weird. Then it’s followed by the sight of Cat walking round with a shitty arse, which in turn is followed by…

2. “What an absolute slag”

Dear Dave

Look, I see what the intention of this punchline is. I see why it’s supposed to be funny. Lister’s having a moment of maturity and personal development, which is then undercut by him having a callous and childish reaction to some shocking news. That’s fine, and I get it. But really, “slag”? I love David Lister – we’ve watched him grow and develop into a working class role model and the moral heart of the show – but I don’t want to love a man who uses that word in – crucially – that context. That’s why it’s a problem – one poorly chosen word completely undermines everything we’ve learned about this person in the previous 59 episodes. And aside from all this, thinking about it now transports me right back to how disappointed I was to discover in the aftermath of the broadcast that there’s a sizeable number of men of all ages that have absolutely no issue with that word, and see no discrepancy whatsoever in it being used by a supposedly enlightened and admirable male character. For that reason alone, this scene can fuck right off.

1. “Ooh, me so solly, or something”

Fathers & Suns

Yes, yes, I know. It’s Taiwan Fucking Twatface, and I’ve been bollocking on about how terrible this scene is for the last one year and fifty one weeks. I really don’t want to go into it too much, so just look back to the Instant Reaction Dwarfcast, my Fathers & Suns review, the semi-retrospective Dwarfcast and the low bit of High & Low: Guest Characters if you’re somehow unfamiliar with my opinion on the matter. But what I will (briefly) say is: like the previous scene, it’s not the concept I have a problem with, it’s the execution. No topic should be off-limits for comedy, but if you’re going to tackle a controversial one, you’d better be damn clear as to what your intentions are.

So that’s how we’ve decided to mark the second anniversary of Red Dwarf X: an article that, by its very nature, is two thirds positive and one third negative. But aptly enough, that’s roughly how I feel about the series as a whole, two years on. The overall excitement and enthusiasm that inevitably greets a new series will always wane over time. When you start to become more familiar with the material, you start to notice more flaws, and for a while the less successful bits are invariably the ones that stick in your mind. But there’s a third and final stage to the process of forming a lasting impression of a series, and that’s the stage we’ve reached now, two years on. The extremes of positivity and negativity have both given way, and you can start to look at things more objectively.

And the conclusion that I’ve reached is that Red Dwarf X was – largely – bloody great. As a whole, it doesn’t quite live up to Series I-VI, but it’s a vast improvement on VII and VIII, and as such I’m really happy that it exists, and consider it a worthy addition to the Red Dwarf canon. And yet I know that – even two years on – there’ll still be people who strongly, violently and loudly disagree with my assessment of the series as a whole, and of the individual scenes detailed above. And these are people whose opinions I really, genuinely respect, whether they be internet acquaintances, bona fide friends, or even fellow G&T writers. So maybe it’s still too soon to start thinking about Red Dwarf X‘s legacy. Maybe we need another series to come along before we can truly give it context. Maybe news of that needs to emerge sooner rather than later, before all the momentum is lost and any new series becomes another comeback rather than a continuation. Please. I really don’t want to talk about Taiwan Tony any more.

77 comments on “High & Low: Series X Scenes

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  • X was great for Cat material in general eye em oh. And the “daddy discipline” is a Red Dwarf highlight.

    However, even the most passionate 19th century Sinophobe would think twice before putting quill to paper in Nanking if they thought Taiwan Tony would be their legacy.

  • I usually gauge how much I like an episode by how many changes I make to it afterwards – for my own personal amusement, of course. Applying that logic to X:

    The Beginning – Definitely the best. Next to no changes. A tweak here and there…
    Lemons: Removing the Shakespeare running gag, otherwise excellent.
    Fathers and Suns: Removal of the Chinese Whispers running gag. I never understood this weird need of Doug’s to include such running gags.
    Entangled: Lots of cuts and trims, especially to the second half. Irene E gets evolved into a higher plane of existence instead of tripping out the bloody airlock.
    Trojan – changed the entire second act so Howard would arrive sooner. I think Doug really missed a trick in having him be the bullying older brother Arnold described, calling him ‘Bonehead’ and trying to wedgie him, only for his hands to pass right through him.
    Dear Dave – the first three scenes really could’ve been trimmed down to one long scene in the bunk room with Cat’s charades coming in at the end, reducing the entire first half down to five minutes. And that’s just for starters…

  • Fathers and Suns: Removal of the Chinese Whispers running gag. I never understood this weird need of Doug’s to include such running gags.

    Forgetting about Taiwan Tony himself for a moment, the Chinese Whispers section is still one of my favourite bits in X.

    In a series which has too many echoes of past glories for my liking, that was the show doing a kind of joke it’d never tried before. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to see XI go. I’ll take it over more Kryten cleaning gags any day.

  • I watched Back To Earth and series X recently. They both improve with age in my opinion. As they first went out the sheer excitement clouded any critical view I may have had. I wasn’t disappointed at the time and I’m still loving it now. I personally think the medi bot scene followed by the scooby doo run is worse than Taiwan Tony. Also by sheer coincidence I read John’s excellent Fathers and Suns set report yesterday.

  • I personally think the medi bot scene followed by the scooby doo run is worse than Taiwan Tony.

    Honestly, I can’t understand why the Scooby-Doo run is even in there. Cutting away when he goes bug-eyed at the drill would’ve worked so much better.

    Plus the whole scene was telegraphing the fact that he’d run away as if it’d fly over our heads.

  • Is this the only High & Low that doesn’t end with an announcement of what the next one will be? I hope this isn’t the end.

  • Yeah, but the last one before this announced that something different would be next, so this one is just an insert before we carry on with the previously announced next one.

  • >how disappointed I was to discover in the aftermath of the broadcast that there’s a sizeable number of men of all ages that have absolutely no issue with that word

    I apologise for any part I may have played in that. At the time of broadcast I was very defensive about anyone criticising the show, and was far too forgiving. Think that might even have stretched to defending the word “slag”. I don’t want to check because even if that detail turns out to not be true, it didn’t seem to me to be an issue at the time, and I feel nothing but shame for that.

  • I wouldn’t beat yourself up, I can’t remember anything specific that you said on the matter, which is probably a good sign! We’ve all held opinions in the past that we’re embarrassed by when we look back – the important thing is what you think now.

  • I remember not really being that bothered about the use of the word slag when the episode went out – I had problems with the episode, but that wasn’t really one of them. It’s grown to be far more of an issue for me, though – although I still don’t have the visceral reaction against it that I do with, say, Crawford’s fate in Trojan.

    What I find interesting is how there is very little in Series 1-VI that I have problems with in the show – and then, from VII and Bent Bob/WIMMIN AND SALAD CREAM onwards, things start getting uncomfortable. Shouldn’t it be the other way around – that older material has more issues with things like this? Any other discussions about quality aside, there just seems to be something about Doug’s solo writing as compared to Rob and Doug writing together that really seems to cause problems.

  • My cynical hypothesis is that it was trendy not to be a bigot in the late 80s/early 90s, whereas later on, not so much…

    In other news: genericnerdyusername, that was a heartening comment to see. :)

  • Someone somewhere must have written an article on Red Dwarf and representation, shirley?

    Two black characters who have been in every episode make up 50%(ish) of the main cast of a show that includes a transexual computer and an android who subverts masculine stereotypes. Meanwhile, the attitude to women is pretty crappy and the most prominent East Asians are a Yellow Peril stereotype and two analogues for Blade Runner characters who perhaps wouldn’t have been cast otherwise.

  • The main problem with ‘slag’ is how it’s presented as a massive punchline that we all should laugh at. If the word had been thrown into conversation earlier on I don’t think anyone would have mentioned it. Or you could do the ending differently.

    Make it so you can see Lister is upset and he says ‘yeah well that’s that…she was probably a right slag…’ but in his face you know he doesn’t think that at all, that he cared about her. You see that the others know this as well and they walk out, leaving him on his own. Granted, it’s not the needed punchline ended, but bloody hell Doug should have been able to come up with something else.

    There’s a similar situation with Taiwan Tony in that the ‘joke’ is his funny ‘foreign’ voice. Though the thing that irks me the most about the whole episode is the use of the word ‘racist’. Race has never been mentioned before (a point that has been mentioned several times in interviews) so why bring it into a script at all?? When the Cat says it I actually feel like turning the episode off there and then because it’s NOT Red Dwarf to me.

    Entangled is possibly the biggest disappointment of X mainly because it had the makings of a real classic, and the first half really does feel like it could have neatly fit in with the V/VI era. Instead, it got botched somewhat… I still love Danny and Robert in the episode.

  • There’s a similar situation with Taiwan Tony in that the ‘joke’ is his funny ‘foreign’ voice. Though the thing that irks me the most about the whole episode is the use of the word ‘racist’. Race has never been mentioned before (a point that has been mentioned several times in interviews) so why bring it into a script at all?? When the Cat says it I actually feel like turning the episode off there and then because it’s NOT Red Dwarf to me.

    This is really interesting, and the first thing anyone’s said about that plotline which really makes me rethink my stance on it.

    I have exactly the same issue with the Bent Bob stuff in Duct Soup. I was saying to someone the other day that it’s about how you view Lister… but actually, maybe it’s because the very idea of homophobia in the world of Red Dwarf feels anomalous. I’d hoped it wouldn’t even be an issue.

    But then, since when was Dwarf’s universe portrayed as a social utopia? It’s not fucking Star Trek.

  • Red Dwarf is like the inverse of Doctor Who, where there are no alien civilizations to give humans a broader concept of reality and help all prejudices fade away into nothing. In fact, in a universe where we are alone, it makes sense that we’d never really shake the flaws of our ancestors as we become more self involved, and Earth becomes Garbage World.

  • This is really interesting, and the first thing anyone’s said about that plotline which really makes me rethink my stance on it.

    But I said the same thing in my review, the day after broadcast!

  • Not that it’s prejudicial Top Trumps but the Bent Bob stuff does have Kochanski calling foul along the way.

    The Chinese Whispers thread raises the issue, leaves it in the air while the main characters either get called racist, be racist or agree with the racism with a counter point hidden away in a mangled accent complaining about microwaves. Well, Rimmer’s ignorance too but his poor attempt at good intentions is drowned out by all the other stuff.

    Y’know, the kind of thing that Kryten was repulsed by in Out of Time?

    Entangled is possibly the biggest disappointment of X mainly because it had the makings of a real classic

    i was hoping the quantum entanglement could be Cat and Kryten’s Bodyswap. It… isn’t.

  • On this topic, the Introcast have just published their analysis of the “Better Than Life” book, including discussion of Rob and Doug’s attempts to tackle sexism when Rimmer’s in the body of Trixie La Bouche. I tend to agree that (like “Parallel Universe”) it was progressive for the late 80s / early 90s but not so much by today’s standards. At least they tried though.

    https://thereddwarfintrocast.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/books-book-2-better-than-life/

  • But I said the same thing in my review, the day after broadcast!

    M… many apologies, Voter Colonel.

    Whenever the Taiwan Tony stuff comes up, I’m always reminded of Mark Thomas’s points about liberal audiences thinking carefully once a joke has been thrown out there, deciding whether they’re allowed to laugh or not, *then* nodding and going “very good, yes, that works with my personal set of values”. I’m purely talking about myself here, not the reactions of anyone else – but I can’t ignore the fact that when I watched that scene in the audience, I was in absolute hysterics and could barely breathe. For the only time in any of the recordings. (I find it a lot less funny these days, but this debate always pops into my head, so it’s hardly surprising the scene is robbed of any humour…) I didn’t follow Thomas AT ALL.

    I *absolutely* think the Taiwan Tony stuff works because I find a racist vending machine talking about racism amusing, and worth my time. But I can’t in all honesty say I’d worked all that out in my head as I was laughing. I think subconsciously I had – otherwise, I would have frowned and tried to figure out what the hell the show was doing. But I’d be lying if I said my brain had everything neatly worked out from the beginning as my hysteria poured forth.

    The point about the Red Dwarf world being non-racist is an interesting one, and one I had entirely forgotten from Ian’s review. But I’m not entirely sure whether I buy JMC as a non-racist company, at the same time as acknowledging the show itself is hugely progressive in that regard. It seems perfectly in-character to me that JMC would make a racist vending machine. They’re a bunch of idiots.

    But let’s face it – I’m also willing to give that plot entirely the benefit of the doubt because of my own in-built prejudices – prejudices about being sick of Red Dwarf retreading its own jokes. The same old jokes, the same old ideas, over and over and over. I’m desperate for new angles in Dwarf. This was new. Still silly vending machines, of course, a Red Dwarf trope – but the whole idea of the Chinese Whispers stuff felt like it was doing the kind of joke the show had never done before.

    Now, I’m not arguing its *alone* in Red Dwarf X in that regard – I know there are other new ideas (Simulant disembowelling for one.) But I don’t think there was nearly enough, *especially* when you consider the line-by-line dialogue and jokes. This is why I’m so taken with this particular plot. Every single one of my favourite bits of X is when the show is out there doing something its not done before, and this is one of them.

  • > but the whole idea of the Chinese Whispers stuff felt like it was doing the kind of joke the show had never done before.

    This is a fair point. I said earlier about the whole thing not feeling like Dwarf, though maybe that’s me being too closed-minded. It would be a bit stupid to dismiss the plot-line completely just because it was something different.

    I remember saying at the time of broadcast that Doug was obviously trying something a bit clever by having a discussion about race with a clearly racist vending machine. Though from the second viewing onwards it was obvious it wasn’t really that at all, it was more like a total botch on his part. I wonder if he ever looked back on it and realised ‘oh crap, that’s not right…’

    Anyway, I’m sorry for going on about Taiwan Tony again, when Ian clearly didn’t want it to be discussed for the ga-billionth time. It’s the only think in X that doesn’t really need any more said about it. I’m ‘black card’ing myself….xD

  • Anyway, I’m sorry for going on about Taiwan Tony again, when Ian clearly didn’t want it to be discussed for the ga-billionth time. It’s the only think in X that doesn’t really need any more said about it. I’m ‘black card’ing myself….xD

    Banned topics on G&T:

    – Taiwan Tony
    – Slags
    – Why is VII either shit or not shit
    – Why is VIII either shit or not shit
    – Why is BTE either shit or not shit
    – Why is Remastered DEFINITELY SHIT
    – Why “What’s an iguana” is either shit or not shit
    – Chris Veale: hero or villain?
    – Red Dwarf rushes
    – Why did Rob and Doug split up, anyway?
    – Norman Lovett: hero or villain?
    – 25p v. 50i
    – THE FUCKING MOVIE
    – Andrew Ellard: hero or villain?
    – Dave edits
    – Ellie Crisell and obscene sexual fantasies
    – Is Lemons racist against Jesus?
    – Robert Llewellyn’s floppy old cock in an old Spitting Image video
    – The origin of the word “smeg”, pertaining to the Young Ones book ‘Batchelor Boys’, Liverpudlian dockers in the 70s, and whether it really refers to old creamy secretions underneath the glans or whether it’s nothing to do with that, as Doug Naylor maintains, which is clearly bollocks
    – Doug Naylor: hero or villain?
    – Over To Bill: shit or complete shit?
    – Bluebell
    – Laugh tracks of any description
    – Charles Armitage
    – Red Dwarf USA, first pilot
    – Red Dwarf USA, second pilot
    – Red Dwarf World
    – All those promised features of reddwarf.co.uk which never happened
    – My near-disappearance from Red Dwarf fandom for pretty much two years
    – Juliet May: hero or villain?
    – Pancake day
    – Why the last two series of The Brittas Empire are shit, or not quite as shit as that, but still quite shit
    – Mobisodes
    – Just The Shows
    – The end of Dimension Jump
    – “Ath-a-lete’s foot”
    – C.P. Grogan: hero or villain?
    – Debbie Ash as Marilyn Monroe: hero or villain?
    – Starhyke
    – Hyperdrive
    – Andrew Collins and his opinion on Red Dwarf
    – Andrew Collins generally
    – Fat Slags and Ed Bye’s film directing career
    – Why is Can’t Smeg Won’t Smeg either shit or not shit
    – BBFC classifications
    – Anything whatsoever to do with The Prop Store
    – The Corgi model of the Remastered ship
    – The Scum Also Rises
    – Roswell 1847
    – The Red Dwarf Zone
    – Big Blake
    – Groovetown
    – Anything whatsoever to do with Danny John-Jules and knives
    – Geek Chase
    – Back In Business
    – Blak Yak
    – Weapons of Mass Distraction / Funky Bunker / Captain Butler
    – ROB GRANT IS NOT FAT IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, NOR IS HE LAZY
    – Anything whatsoever to do with scripts, especially unproduced ones
    – UMDs
    – SFX
    – Memorabilia
    This.
    – Cappsy’s Hole
    – ARCHIE RAPING CAPTAIN HOLLISTER
    – it2i2
    – Catlin Moran
    – DwarfWiki
    – Observation Dome
    – The unmade Red Dwarf Christmas Special
    – Racist jokes about Australians / the Japanese / whoever was in my targets at the time
    – RED DWARF EPISODE ORDERS
    – “daughterfan13”
    – The Red Dwarf Shop UK
    – Rok Player
    – Red Dwarf VT clocks
    – performingmonkey: hero or villain?
    – The word “cunt”
    – IAIN LEE.

  • I’m starting to think naming myself after the very worst element of Red Dwarf wasn’t as deliciously ironic as I first thought.
    But at least it wasn’t as bad an idea as – you know – actually coming up with it.

  • Banned topics on G&T:

    OK, now you’re just tempting me to use all of those in one post.

    Also, why isn’t A Prince Among Men on that list? Have we not badmouthed it enough to warrant it? Because I can start, believe me.

    …I’ve heard it’s shite. Proper shite. Theme tune’s ace though.

  • I would have replaced the “Slime” scene with Rimmer’s Fear speech from the same episode, and put “It’s a moose” at #1, but otherwise completely agree with your top 10.

  • I nominate John’s post for Hall of Fame status. Unfortunately, everything else in the Hall of Fame has been banned as a result of his post, so it’s less a hall and more just a bit of scrap paper with that list on it.

  • > – performingmonkey: hero or villain?

    I am a hardlight, hologrammatic replica of your soul.

  • I’m a mean green mother from outerspace. I’m the spot on Norman’s forehead. I’m the tears that ran down Lister’s face at Kochanski’s shrine (notice how I’ve gone from using ‘Norman’, the actor’s name, to character names in the following sentence, that’s just how I roll). Also…what are you on about 2 years away from Dwarf fandom??

  • Is there a Red Dwarf XI High & Low? Will there be one ahead of XII or do we think we need to be a bit more distant from it? I very much enjoyed this series of articles.

  • Next year. Bringing back High & Low is on next year’s annual goal list, right after finishing the I-VIII commentaries.

  • It’s interesting to me how I agree with a lot of the broad ideas in this article, but disagree with some of the particulars – the charades scene wasn’t great, I’m the only person on this website who thought Lemons was the low point of X, I think the slag line is fine, but pretty much everything you’ve said about the series -in general- is bang on. I like that people adore things I despise and despise things I adore, and I especially like hearing their reasons why. It’s interesting.

  • I’m the only person on this website who thought Lemons was the low point of X

    Could never see the appeal myself, either. Certainly not to the level everyone else seems to adore it.

  • I assume we’re going to have this wonderful trend (High & Low is genuinely my favorite thing G&T usually publishes) brought back for XI & XII ahead of [insert the overdue upcoming title of the special here]’s release.

    So I’m gonna craft my list, others obviously invited to join:

    High
    10. “I like to go a-wandering…” – Cured (Lister playing guitar with Hitler; can’t help but wonder what them singing “Africa” would’ve been like tho)
    9. “And how can I trust either of you?” – Can of Worms (the Mexican standoff with the Polymorphs and waiting in the elevator)
    8. “Ah, Mrs. Biddle. You’re a little early. Take a seat in the waiting room, I’ll show you where it is.” – Give & Take (the showdown with Asclepius and escape from the ship)
    7. “Or, and maybe easier, do a massive smear campaign on Kryten.” – Mechocracy (the attack ads of both Rimmer and Kryten’s campaigns)
    6. “Evening.” “Evening.” “Evening.” “Evening.” – Officer Rimmer (the entirety of the Arnold J. Rimmer’s New Officers’ Club scene)
    5. “I only have to know how to do it, not say it.” – Cured (Professor Telford’s reveal and Cat’s tricking of him)
    4. “Lots of things. You’re our science officer, our cook, my mum; and most of all, my friend.” – Siliconia (everything from Lister preventing Kryten’s MILF inauguration scene to their escape from the ship; the laugh after “my mum” slightly annoys me tho)
    3. “What the hell is that thing?!?” – Officer Rimmer (everything after the Officers’ Club scene to the ending, the suddenness of it never bothered me personally)
    2. “But sir, I thought all good captains went down with their ships?” – Skipper (Rimmer’s interaction with Captain Hollister, bonus points for it being a fitting conclusion for the character to have Rimmer finally get the upperhand on him canonically after his role as antagonist in series VIII)
    1. “Yo, Krytie! Where my dinner at?” – Skipper (Mr. Rat, enough said)

    Low
    5. “We have to let them be born in the normal way.” – Can of Worms (the entirety of Cat being pregnant sequence and the birthing of the Polymorphs)
    4. “A good game! A game I’m gonna win.” – Cured (the playing cards bit; it sets up the really good climax of the episode, but on it’s own it’s painfully unfunny)
    3. “And kill Planet Rimmer?” – Timewave (you know why)
    2. “‘The most important thing was to spit on her wrist!'” – Timewave (you know why x2)
    1. “Clang! Invents gravy.” – Samsara (the entirety of Cat and Lister’s exchange; this episode sucks, it’s god-awful and I’m surprised more people don’t hate its crap guest actors and unfunny exchanges, I will say the opening bits with Lister and Rimmer are enjoyable enough tho)

  • Watching series XII again I laughed out loud mostly at Johnny Vegas and Mr Rat so they’d be in my top 10. Both of those guys deliver their lines perfectly imo.

    Series XI I think the gelf catching up with Butler is my favourite bit.

  • >Samsara (the entirety of Cat and Lister’s exchange; this episode sucks, it’s god-awful and I’m surprised more people don’t hate its crap guest actors and unfunny exchanges, I will say the opening bits with Lister and Rimmer are enjoyable enough tho)

    The best thing about Samsara is the opening VFX and then it could end for me.

    Shocker.

    For all my nitpicks on Dave Dwarf the number one thing that makes it noticeably poorer than what went before which could quite quickly be improved is the guest actors. You have the fresh faced straight out of uni ones, and the ones you might have heard of but are underutilised or miscast, and then Johnny Vegas on his own for being good, but a bit too famous and it taking you out of the show. The only ones that have really worked in BTE and Pree in Fathers and Suns. Everyone else can do one.

    Samsara ones are particularly egregious, it was like they pulled them in off the street.

  • The Samsara guest actors didn’t bother me as much upon my more recent viewing, but they are shite. That “fresh out of uni” thing is the same issue I have with the new Master on dr who, it’s like they’re fresh out of drama school.

  • Sacha Dhawan is almost 36 and has a fairly illustrious CV, I’m sure he’d be flattered to have 15-20 years knocked off his age. (FWIW John Simm was 36 when he first played the Master. Both Eric Roberts and Back In The Red’s very own Geoffrey Beevers were 40.)

  • I think XI and XII manages to keep a steady stream of reasonably fine guest performances. Nothing spectacular or that standout akin to Mark Dexter or Rebecca Blackstone from X, but some like Ryan Gage and the voiceovers of Daniel Barker are very funny and memorable.

    Though standout would definitely be Snacky, in terms of completely new guest performances.

  • I think the actor who played Butler was pretty good. He managed to play it Subtle while also being funny. Which is something the show often struggles with now days.

  • True.

    I heard some found the “Mhwarggg” bit annoying, but the way Butler caps it off, “Yeah, let’s say it’s quite close,” is amusing to me.

  • The man who plays the leader of the cult of rogue mechanoids in Siliconia does a fantastic job, it’s not all bad. Also, apologies for somehow managing to post this in the cultural references thread also, but:

    You can go to uni at 60. You can still feel like you’re fresh out of drama school at 36. It doesn’t matter how old Simm was when he took up the roll, because he feels like a much more mature, experienced actor. Matt Smith was 16 when he was cast as the Doctor but he never feels as studenty as the new Master. Those initial pictures did really worry people, though. And the actors in Samsara just feel inexperienced, even if they are 40 and have 200 credits to their names each. That’s what the word “feel” means.

    When I watch Sacha, it just looks like a man who is trying very, very hard, to ACT crazy. Maybe it’s the direction or the writing, but he is terribly unconvincing. Maybe it’s because I know somebody who is clinically insane and have seen it first hand

  • Snacky and Butler are up there with the show’s best guest performances. (Let’s not pretend all the guest actors in the show’s golden age were brilliant either.)

  • When I watch Sacha, it just looks like a man who is trying very, very hard, to ACT crazy. Maybe it’s the direction or the writing, but he is terribly unconvincing. Maybe it’s because I know somebody who is clinically insane and have seen it first hand

    I don’t think the Master has ever attempted to be a realistic portrayal of mental illness in any of his incarnations, that probably wouldn’t work very well for the show at all.

    The new version is in the tradition of Simm and Gomez of being a larger-than-life ‘big’ performance. I think he’s been good so far.

  • Simm was terrible in that episode where he’s a spooky skeleton who shoots lightning out of his hands and eats a burger really fast, but that’s down to the writing and possibly the direction of that episode more than anything. He was great in his first appearance and in The Doctor Falls, Gomez was great in all her appearances too. Point is they give much more naturalistic performances, even if they are very much in kooky territory, and outside of End of Time it never really feels like they’re “acting”. Sacha feels very much like somebody pretending to be insane, at least to me. It’s hard to explain what I mean when I say somebody “looks like they’re acting”, another example of that is Harrison Ford playing Han Solo naturalisitcally vs that other guy in the Solo film looking like he’s being fed direction from just off camera

  • Part of it might simply be charisma and likeability. That’s a different thing to acting ability, but I feel like it’s the area where he’s a step down from the previous two Masters, at least so far. That’s true for the Solo example too.

  • Yeah, something like that. Tennant occasionally breaks into “looking like he’s acting” too sometimes, whereas Capaldi never does. Smith might occasionally, and Jodie does from time to time.

    Anyway, Dwarf. Who in the classic series didn’t do such a good job as a guest actor? Rimmer’s mum, I seem to remember something with her, did they dub her voice over for the remastered version or something? Clare Grogan was never that convincing. The Simulant in Justic does a fantastic job of making a real impression with his nineteen seconds of screentime, as does the guy who says “traffic control” in Back to Reality. Robert Llewellyn manages to be pretty good (The Last Day) and pretty shite (Back in the Red) when appearing without makeup.

  • I don’t want to get too bogged down in slagging off particular actors but one that stands out is Emile Charles as young Lister in Timeslides, which I always thought was a bit rubbish. It’s hard though when you’ve got the real thing to directly compare the performance to. I might have preferred a youngified Craig Charles and a bit of suspension of disbelief.

  • Clare grogan wasn’t great. but for the most part the classic era did really well with guest stars. jane horrocks, timothy spall, don warrington, tony hawks.

    Admittedly these days the show really seems to depend on a handful of guest stars so the quality sways abit by the quantity.

  • If anyone wants to actually make a list of High and Low like I resurrected the thread for, please feel free.

  • High: Rimmer’s therapy scene
    Low: Lister getting an absurd amount of literally just chips for his birthday meal

  • Has anyone ever done a high and low of the food featured on Red Dwarf? That’s prime schlock article material

  • i’d actually quite like to see that. there’s a Youtube channel called Mr Food that has clips of every appearance of food in the show, and it was actually pretty interesting to see. so i’d be up for a High and Low on that for sure

  • Has anyone ever done a high and low of the food featured on Red Dwarf? That’s prime schlock article material

    Post it on r/RedDwarf, they usually eat that stuff up

  • Low: Lister getting an absurd amount of literally just chips for his birthday meal

    According to Robert at the recording, the script said “Kryten lifts the lid to reveal a zillion chips”. He revealed this after Doug had stopped the scene as there were too many chips and they got rid of a bunch of them so imagine what it was like first time around.

  • I complained about this in the let’s talk about, but fucking hell… it’s JUST chips. It’s just a zillion chips. Dry chips. Who eats that many chips, just dry? On their birthday? It’s so fucked

  • LISTER: Is there any ketchup?
    KRYTEN: Any what?
    LISTER: Ketchup. I just thought it could do with a bit of ketchup. Just a dollop…
    KRYTEN: Ketchup? You want ketchup? With chips? … I can’t believe it. I simply cannot b…

    *head explodes*

  • Loving the idea that it wasn’t specifically ketchup with lobster that made Kryten blow, it’s the concept of ketchup itself.

  • The fact Lister was eating them with a fork was odd to me, like I imagine it’d be way easier to just scoop them up with your hands than stab at the giant mound of french fries with a fork.

  • I know somebody who eats chips with a knife and fork. Has to cut them up to a bitesize portion before eating.

  • i’m sure i remember someone pointing out that it isn’t *just* a huge pile of chips, and that if you look carefully there’s actually some sort of meat on the plate (steak? ham? i can’t remember) just it’s heavily obscured by the big chips.

    also surely eating chips with a knife and fork isn’t that uncommon, i’ve seen it plenty of times before. i do it myself sometimes as well. it’s not something unusual like eating a Snickers bar with a knife and fork i think

  • Distinction should be made it’s most definitely a British thing probably, alongside actually calling french fries “chips” to begin with.

  • i’m sure i remember someone pointing out that it isn’t *just* a huge pile of chips, and that if you look carefully there’s actually some sort of meat on the plate (steak? ham? i can’t remember) just it’s heavily obscured by the big chips.

    Now you mention it, that’s right as I remember a scene having to be stopped as Craig couldn’t get his lines out properly as he was chewing on a piece of steak longer than he’d anticipated.

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