Samsara has now been online long enough for the majority of you dirty UKTV Players to be fully caught up, so we now have a brand new 30 minutes to pick through with our grubby little fingers. As we did last week, here are some of the pertinent points and ponderings.
A Beautiful Opening
For the second episode in a row we were treated to a big and ambitious model sequence, this time telling the sad tale of the demise of the Samsara, and its escape pod’s journey towards Red Dwarf. Add to that the beautifully apt music and we ended up with a sequence quite unlike anything we’ve really seen in the show before. Given the undeniable phallic image of the Samsara plunging into the depths, do we think this was a deliberate call forward to the oncoming skeleton fucking?
The Return of Bunk Room Bantz
We’ve endlessly and tediously gone about the fact that just because a scene between Rimmer and Lister is set in the bunk room does not mean it’s automatically hilarious, or in any way an automatic return to form. But what about its return here? How close did did this scene get to the warm fuzzy feeling of that old back and forth? It certainly seemed to be strongly evoking Series IV, right down to Kryten appearing on a monitor and interrupting their fun with some bothersome news about the plot, but how successful are the undeniably old school flirtings of Series XI for you?
Meet the Fuckers
In what is quite possibly one of the biggest story-telling departures of the last 20 years (yes, including Back to Earth) Doug interwove a mini-arc of flashbacks into the episode, telling the audience the story of the Samsara’s fate, specifically the story of the philanderers who inadvertently caused the disaster. The crew were left none the wiser, allowing for an interesting dovetailing of the two strands at the end as both the audience and crew pieced everything together independently. Was this structure satisfying or perhaps a way to fill up some minutes and cheapy get across the main plot points?
Speaking of which and whom, the roster of guest stars for the this series continued to grow with Green (played by Dan Tetsell which, despite being a fan, UTTERLY ESCAPED ME until the credits) and Barker (played by Maggie Service) featuring prominently. Did these two relatively low key and personal feeling characters work within the story Doug was telling?
This week, the role of bad guy was played by an off-shoot of an old friend – the Justice Computer. I think we can all agree that it’s a damn good job it didn’t try to be funny, but what do you think of bringing back and re-using an old concept, considering this has been a controversial topic in the past? Does the fact that Doug was up-front about the back reference make any difference to the re-use of an old idea, or even the very diverse way the idea was used this time around? Not only that, but were you satisfied with the manner in which Kryten and Rimmer pieced everything together after finding the computer, or was this perhaps another case of hasty exposition at the expense of believability?
Is it shit or is it good?
There’s already been heated debate in the comments, but did Samsara tickle your funny bone? Did the touching and personal story of two adulterers in love destroying an entire vessel and its crew touch you in special places? Will you forever see the sight of half a dozen skellingtons performing fellatio on each other when you close your eyes at night and allow your hand to drift south? These are all good questions, but perhaps for you things got a little out of hand and this story just does not fit in Red Dwarf as you know it? It’s well known at this point that Doug grabbed some budget from this episode to give to Twentica, so did that affect the episode negatively, or did some creative directing and storytelling make good with little money to speak of?
All these questions and more will be answered in far too much depth during our Live DwarfCast for Samsara, at 10pm on Thursday 29th of Smegsmegsmegber. Keep checking G&T for our full-length written review, which will be coming into your eyes soon.