Red Dwarf and Me: Artificial Reality

In a parallel universe, I know nothing about Red Dwarf XII.

Well, maybe not nothing. I probably know it exists. I may even have clocked that it was back on Dave, perhaps even that it was being broadcast in October. But I didn’t pay that much attention.

In that universe, maybe I still got into Red Dwarf when I was 13, and loved it. But I never really got into fandom, perhaps wasn’t as keen on later series… and just drifted off. Maybe I would have ended up watching XII. Maybe I wouldn’t.

*   *   *

I don’t want to live in that universe. (The universe I want to live in is the one where that girl in the Red Dwarf t-shirt I met on holiday when I was 15 ended up riding me for seventeen hours straight, rather than just smiling at me and walking on, but I digress.) Red Dwarf fandom has given me so much over the years.

Mind you, I used to frame so many more things in my life as part of fandom than I do now. I always talked about starting a Woof! fansite, and I actually did (briefly) start one on The IT Crowd. But these days, I just don’t think of most things in that way. I might write about Woof! or The IT Crowd on Dirty Feed – but my need to identify as a fan of things first and foremost has lessened, at least when it comes to specific people or programmes.

But I’m still a Red Dwarf fan. Because that’s gone way beyond the programme itself by now. My troubled relationship with the show from VII and beyond is well-documented elsewhere on this site, and I certainly don’t need to go into specifics about that again here – they’re entirely irrelevant to this. The point is: if my fandom was just about the show, it would have long died by now. But fandom is never just about a show for long. It always ends up being about real people.

And Dwarf fandom has been responsible for so many of my happy memories. Lying in Ian’s bedroom, watching Remastered and slagging it off. Winning the VII fan film competition, and ending up on the DVD. Wandering about in the ACTUAL PITCH BLACK during a midnight excursion to the middle of nowhere at Dimension Jump. Being part of the live 25th anniversary DwarfCast, for my money one of the best things we’ve ever done on this site.

So many amazing memories, and so many fantastic people I’ve met, all because of Red Dwarf. No, I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

*   *   *

But something feels weird, now we’re approaching Red Dwarf XII. And I felt the same for XI, and X, and possibly before. The fact remains that I’m not in Dwarf fandom for the sheer love of Red Dwarf – and haven’t been for years. I’m in it because my friends are.

“Stop watching if you don’t like it”, is the common refrain in many fandoms, when the old guard end up bitching about the show. But that assumes that fandom is just about the programme itself. And it isn’t.

To be honest, if you look at the pieces I’ve written for Ganymede & Titan recently, I think you can tell that it’s the fandom keeping me here. Oh, sure, they’re ostensibly about the programme itself. But they’re also about bringing old websites back from the dead, the placing of ad breaks in TV shows, old radio programmes, and pre-watershed edits. All about Red Dwarf… but also, not. A way of contributing to fandom, and writing about the show, but weirdly not writing about the show at the same time.

And that’s perhaps one reason why I struggle with how to engage with new Red Dwarf. Because fandom has given me so many amazing things… but also means that my engagement with the show is now artificial, in a way it never was back when I first got into Dwarf during the ’94 BBC2 repeats. Because I’m not watching it in the way I would if it wasn’t for all the fan stuff surrounding it. It’s now an event, not a TV show.

To put things into perspective: I bloody love Orange is the New Black, but I still haven’t got round to watching Season 5 yet. It was (officially) released back in June; I probably won’t get round to it for another month or so. Maybe more. TV is important to me, but I very rarely feel the need to watch new stuff immediately. There’s so much other shit going on.

But with Dwarf, I’ll be there straight away. Watching and dissecting a show I enjoy far less than many other shows I just haven’t got around to yet. That can be fun… and it can be a little exasperating. Either way: it’s an artificial way of experiencing the programme. And I worry that it can produce artificial opinions. Getting wound up about a show over months and months when you love it is one thing; when you already have problems with it, it is quite another.

I watch Red Dwarf in the way I do now because of Dwarf fandom, not because I love the show. Like I say, I wouldn’t give up my years in Dwarf fandom. But it sure as hell isn’t a normal relationship most viewers have with a TV programme. I can never have that. Most of the time, that’s fine. Sometimes it’s utterly joyous. But just occasionally, it makes me a little sad.

Perhaps the show deserves better than my fandom. Perhaps it just deserves to be watched normally. By people who watch the show because they want to watch the show… and not because of the extracurricular activities.

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72 Responses to Red Dwarf and Me: Artificial Reality

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  1. It’s always a different experience watching new episodes of a show after you’ve become a fan. I’ve just experienced this with series 3 of ‘Rick and Morty’. I watched the first two series for the first time a couple of months ago when i randomly found it on Netflix. I absolutely loved it, and lapped it up. I’ve rewatched them many times. To me, this is probably the equivalent of you watching that 1994 repeat run of Red Dwarf. The problem is, when you get over that initial excitement of watching something new that you totally fall for, I can’t explain it, the experience with watching new stuff just isn’t the same. I’ve been watching Series 3 in my mind with a bizarre feeling as i’m watching it of’ ‘Is this good? Is this as good as series 1 and 2? Am i enjoying this? Why is there so little Jerry in this compared to Series 2?’ It’s a shame really, as the series is still so young. You find yourself forever comparing it with those initial episodes that attracted you to the show in the first place. That’s why you occasionally see fans who will defend Series.7 or 8 like its their baby. It may have been the first episodes of Red Dwarf they ever saw and made them fall for the show.

    It’s why i always take comments about long running shows going downhill from fans with a pinch of salt.

  2. Jon: ” Jesus H Caesarea John, It’s just a TV show, you either like a new ep or you dont, its not going to get mopey itself, even if you are beyond it and Sad, when your friends are not, for smegs sake man Lighten up!”

    John: ” Are you sure? It does mean changing the bulb that’s now got a dimmer wattage for me, though I responsibly write it plug fuse manual, but i dont really use it myself but some of my friends seem to flock around the bulb like moths still, so i have to see if its still on.”

  3. Red Dwarf is not my favourite TV programme.
    Not my favourite sit-com. Not my favourite SF show. But Red Dwarf is my favourite thing, full stop. Which, of course, is why I still get so excited about every new series, every new episode, every new episode title, every new set, every guest cast member, every new photo, every new magazine article, every new t-shirt…you get the idea.

    I like Red Dwarf.

  4. Really appreciate you writing that – it’s exactly how I’d felt about Doctor Who over the last few years, it’s a weirdly painful *guilt* isn’t it? Like you have the worst kind of terrible secret.

    I will add though that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to like something. When I was between 9 and 11 I was a huge Premier League football fan. Magazines, replica kits, sticker albums, pogs (oh those pogs), posters – I used to adore watching Ceefax update itself live on a Saturday afternoon, watching MotD and Fantasy Football League, cutting the results out of my grandad’s paper, poring over trivia and stats books, and updating needlessly complicated wallcharts. Only thing was I thought football itself was boring as fuck. Full games on TV, attending actual matches, playing it myself – no interest whatsoever. I haven’t followed it for 20 years now (comedy, sci-fi, retro gaming, computers and music put paid to that), and have often assumed I mustn’t have ever really liked it. But that’s rubbish isn’t it? You can’t enjoy something ‘wrong’.

    Music and art appreciation has a million valid possibilities, right from transient passivity to full-on physical interaction. Therefore there are ways of fully enjoying a sitcom that don’t involve guffawing away on a sofa whilst wiping away theatrical tears of mirth.

  5. I’m just pleased by the fact that I’ve had more fun waiting for new Red Dwarf and then reading/listening to analysis of said new Red Dwarf than most people would have from actually watching a show instead of bollocking on about it. I’ve been lurking around here since 2007 and _loving_ it.

    I just wish each new series could still feel as big a deal as BtE did in 2008. I’m excited for XII, but, for the first time ever getting new Red Dwarf feels almost routine. Because we had two consecutive series made. I still can’t believe that actually happened.

  6. It’s always a different experience watching new episodes of a show after you’ve become a fan.

    Yes, I agree with this. If something already exists, you’re watching it simply as a story that exists. You accept the highs and lows (and demons and angels) as part of an ongoing narrative.

    Once a new episode comes along after that, it feels like that is being added to, and it’s much easier to be critical. It’s almost as if past episodes are fact, whereas new ones are open to speculation and dispute. No matter how much I enjoy new Red Dwarf, there’s always that background knowledge that ‘this is new Red Dwarf’ which makes it that bit harder to… I dunno, accept? I’m certain I’d enjoy X and XI more than I do if I’d only come to the show now, rather than 20+ years ago.

    I’m the same with Doctor Who. I’d caught the odd episode of the new series as it went out, but I only properly started watching regularly around the end of Tennant’s era. Thankfully that meant I went in fully with Matt Smith and was rewarded greatly, but even then it was difficult to fully think of those episodes as part of the same show as everything else I’d watched. Only seeing them on broadcast, and then revisiting them a few years later when I watched through from Hartnell to Capaldi helped, certainly. But it’s definitely been easier to accept, say, McCoy’s first series as part of the series canon than some of the worst bits of the last couple of series, despite it being far worse than anything Capaldi starred in, and far more jarringly different from the rest of the series.

  7. G&T Admin

    Really appreciate you writing that – it’s exactly how I’d felt about Doctor Who over the last few years, it’s a weirdly painful *guilt* isn’t it?

    Guilt is *exactly* it. Guilt that I wish I enjoyed it more. I really want to. Then I end up in a spiral of doubt and depression, which sounds melodramatic, I know, but it’s true. (Mind you, I’ve got far better at dealing with this since Back to Earth, as I think the DwarfCasts testify.)

    In fact, that guilt extended to the audience recordings this time round – one reason I didn’t end up going to one of them is that I simply felt too much guilt to take up a seat that somebody else might enjoy more. That’s probably misguided – regardless of the episode, I probably would have enjoyed the recording experience more than some in that room. But guilt does odd things to your brain.

  8. There’s a certain irony that the boy what turns into a dog in Woof! was played by a chap called Edward Fidoe.

    You can have that for nothing.

  9. There’s a certain irony that the boy what turns into a dog in Woof! was played by a chap called Edward Fidoe.

    Yep, I remember as a kid thinking that was hilarious.

  10. It feels like the internet has intensified this phenomenon. These days there seem to be a large number of people who eventually interact with various forms of media in order to discuss it on the internet, rather than for the simple joy of consuming said media.

    With Red Dwarf I’ve found something to like in every series from VII on, but they do feel different and not quite ‘right’. It’s kinda strange it hasn’t worked this way in reverse for me; I certainly watched VI before seeing I through V (apart from the odd episode hazily remembered in my childhood), but I don’t find them anywhere near as odd.

  11. I feel the same way with wrestling. Loved it as a kid, got way way deep into it, later got right into the sub-culture and behind the scenes goings on… I still keep up with the fandom and the gossip and rumours and this entire world that exists outside of the actual on screen product to this day 25 years later but – outside of the occasional show maybe a couple of times a year – I just don’t watch it and don’t really enjoy it if ever I do.

    It seems weird to have such an ongoing life-long association with something that you don’t really enjoy anymore because of the culture around it rather than the thing itself. And I can easily sit and enjoy an old show out of nostalgia but have zero desire to put myself through watching first-run stuff that I feel detached from and bored with, yet still be submerged in all the same extra-curricular shit I was when I was at my peak position of worshipping the product. It’s a more holistic fandom… the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, especially if you fall out of love with perhaps the most significant element of the ‘parts’ but can’t shake off the love of the glorious whole.

    I don’t share your sentiment toward Red Dwarf however. Coincidentally my love of both started at virtually the same time (early 1992) but I’ve managed to maintain the affection for RD through the highs and lows.

    Having said that maybe if there was as much as 10 hours of new Dwarf every single week for 25 years I may have grown a little tired of that too…

  12. It feels like the internet has intensified this phenomenon. These days there seem to be a large number of people who eventually interact with various forms of media in order to discuss it on the internet, rather than for the simple joy of consuming said media.

    Yes, no waiting for the playground / work / the pub the next day to discuss it, people live tweet with everything now. It’s an entirely different experience.

    As I’ve mentioned more than enough times now, I’m not taking part in any XII discussion or news for the duration of the series (and maybe some time afterwards) to try and avoid this situation. Although obviously the quality of the series was a huge contributing factor, I definitely enjoyed being able to watch the latest series of Who without discussing it to death on cookdandbombd for the week between episodes. Similarly I’ve not said or read anything online about Game of Thrones and Twin Peaks this year, and it’s been strangely satisfying. I definitely prefer discussion in a very retrospective sense.

  13. In regard to Twin Peaks, I watched the first few episodes of the latest run as they came along without delving into them too much but since then, I read loads of article, watched youtube channels etc. after each episode as there’s so much going on that they’ve pointed out a fair bit of stuff I’ve missed and postulated interesting theories and as such, I’ve found the whole experience a lot more rewarding.

    Additionally, keeping on that topic but a bit more in relation to the above, I only watched the original Twin Peaks last year and enjoyed it a lot though wouldn’t say it became one of my favourite shows ever (as opposed to the current series which has become an all time favourite). But I did wonder, if I had been watching it repeatedly since the 90s, would I be disappointed with the new run in a way as it’s very little like the ‘classic’ run that I would have grown so used to? There certainly seems to be a fair number of people in comments sections who feel that way.

  14. It’s like supporting a football team really, early 90’s glory days, winning the league and the FA Cup, had a team of full internationals, now not so much, down a division, in moments of brutal honesty with yourself you admit that you’re actually a bit shit nowadays, and need investment, and maybe the management has lost their edge which made you what you once were.

    You still get the season ticket though, and the hideously overpriced polyester replica kit, and you still happily get piss wet through cheering your team on even on occasions when they aren’t even close to deserving your loyalty.

    And you can’t support two football teams, or stop supporting one, not unless you’re the world’s most fickle person, so even though you know Tottenham are better than you, you don’t suddenly get a Tottenham kit and sell your season ticket.

    On the whole I’ve probably enjoyed the special features more than the majority of the episodes made in the last 20 years, but as you say. I’ll still be there in October, getting pissed off at UKTV Play.

  15. G&T Admin

    I love this comment thread, seriously. It’s fun talking about this stuff, and we’ve not done it in ages.

    It all links in with my theory about people who say they have “grown out of Red Dwarf”. I’ve seen that phrase, or variants of that phrase used by plenty of people. Someone once said it to me, and I nearly punched him in the face. I think what they *really* mean is “I hate the kind of person I was when I was younger, and I associate Red Dwarf with that, so I’m going to blame the show for it.” Fuck. Off.

    Still, I do admit to feeling a little… trapped when it comes to Red Dwarf. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. The very *fact* I feel a little trapped is because I value conversations like this. It’s the very fact I value my friends and the fandom so much that makes me feel a little trapped… because I can’t just leave that behind. I can’t just walk away from it. But at the same time, the show exasperates me. So I’m a little trapped in the middle, and that can get irritating.

    I remember distinctly when all this came to a head in my brain: all the talk of the BBC not recommissioning the show, before the Dave era started. As someone who writes for a fansite, I should have perhaps felt outraged. But all I could think was: “Well, hang on, I didn’t like the last two series much, so why would I care?” I found that kind of thing difficult to deal with.

    It still troubles me, but I actually feel less troubled by it all now I’ve written this article. Sometimes just getting down your feelings helps.

  16. It’s always a different experience watching new episodes of a show after you’ve become a fan. I’ve just experienced this with series 3 of ‘Rick and Morty’. I watched the first two series for the first time a couple of months ago when i randomly found it on Netflix. I absolutely loved it, and lapped it up. I’ve rewatched them many times. To me, this is probably the equivalent of you watching that 1994 repeat run of Red Dwarf. The problem is, when you get over that initial excitement of watching something new that you totally fall for, I can’t explain it, the experience with watching new stuff just isn’t the same. I’ve been watching Series 3 in my mind with a bizarre feeling as i’m watching it of’ ‘Is this good? Is this as good as series 1 and 2? Am i enjoying this? Why is there so little Jerry in this compared to Series 2?’

    MATE the reason you’re wondering this is because the new series of rick and morty ISN’T as good as the previous two. i’ve been thinking exactly the same thing, don’t worry. and it’s not even because we became fans before this new series came out – the first episode was utterly fantastic and then it’s gone downhill. in fact they’ve done what made series 7 of red dwarf so terrible (no not introduce chloe annett) they’ve started concentrating on the drama more than the humour. nice one guys!

    red dwarf isn’t as good as it used to be and it couldn’t possibly be. they’re tired and they’re old and they’ve lost the spark – it’s entirely natural. but what they’re doing is just about good enough to be on the screen and i enjoy it. sometimes, once or twice a season it makes me laugh. but most of the time it’s just nice to see them, like visiting your old nan in the nursing home even though she doesn’t know who you are. it’s frankly unhealthy and long may it continue!

    ps jerry’s absence is made pretty clear in the plot arc though right – whole series is about how he’s been kicked out

  17. IMO don’t feel guilty about it. Instead, compartmentalise – classic Dwarf, VII & VIII, BtE and X – XII, and you can’t go wrong. Don’t let your feelings towards current Dwarf affect the entire Dwarf experience. :D

    Btw don’t we all kind of look at new Dwarf in this way? Maybe not to such levels…..:p but we allllllll know the score here, let’s face it. We’re all along for the ride. :D

    Current Dwarf CANNOT live up to classic Dwarf. It’s NOT the same show. There is no Rob, no Ed Bye, there is no Dana, only Zuul; Craig now basically does Lister with a Mancunian accent (he also seemed bored in XI, especially compared with X and BtE), Chris and Bobby struggle to nail their characters like they did 25 years ago (though they do their damned best, I’m not slating them here, it’s just a fact that people change, get older (unless your name’s Danny John-Jules :D ) ), the show is being produced in a very different way and it finally IS what everyone always assumed of classic Dwarf – low budget.

    Saying all that…I still believe Dave-era Dwarf has been well worth it! and so what if it’s not as good? (or, in the case of ‘Can of Worms’, irredeemable tosh) It’s still entertaining on a number of levels. Fresh and funny as it was 25 years ago? Nope, but we’re all old FUCKS and making the best of it. Mark Rylance didn’t sail across the Channel to pick up Harry Styles and a couple of other jobbing actors, while Kenneth Branagh stood on a jetty and acted all British, for nothing… it sodding meant something! and what the heck else are you gonna watch?? The ‘sitcom’ is more-or-less fucked. New Dwarf is a shining light!! Can of Worms is shit.

  18. EVERYONE STOP PICKING ON CAN OF WORMS

  19. G&T Admin

    It’s like supporting a football team really, early 90’s glory days, winning the league and the FA Cup, had a team of full internationals, now not so much, down a division, in moments of brutal honesty with yourself you admit that you’re actually a bit shit nowadays, and need investment, and maybe the management has lost their edge which made you what you once were.

    You still get the season ticket though, and the hideously overpriced polyester replica kit, and you still happily get piss wet through cheering your team on even on occasions when they aren’t even close to deserving your loyalty.

    I can assure you, any perceived fall from grace for Red Dwarf is nothing compared to that of Aston Villa.

  20. G&T Admin

    Right, I’m fully aware that I may be treading into arsehole territory here. I deliberately wrote the article to be the nice(ish) part of all this, and I stand by every word of it. But I reckon if you get this far down in the comments, you’re asking for the real dodgy stuff. So here you go.

    IMO don’t feel guilty about it. Instead, compartmentalise – classic Dwarf, VII & VIII, BtE and X – XII, and you can’t go wrong. Don’t let your feelings towards current Dwarf affect the entire Dwarf experience. :D

    Right, let’s say I do that. Let’s just say I compartmentalise the first six series of Red Dwarf as a thing, and make the rest of it a whole different thing. (Not that I’m saying that I think every series from VII onwards is equal in quality – just that I can happily make that split between “stuff I kinda unconditionally love” and “stuff I have problems with” at that point.)

    My problem: those first six series are just 36 episodes. I have dissected, analysed, talked about those 36 episodes endlessly. It can get a little… boring. There’s so much *other* stuff out there to look at instead. Some of it I may prefer even to those first 36 episodes of Dwarf.

    Now, actually, I don’t think everything that can be said about those 36 episodes has already been said. On the contrary: there’s bags of stuff you can still get out of them. (In fact, there’s an article I’m currently researching for the site right this moment which is about something I don’t think has ever been covered properly before.) But sometimes my brain is SCREAMING to move on – to never talk about those 36 episodes ever, ever again. To just fuck off, never to return.

    But hey, I’d miss you all, wouldn’t I? I mean, seriously. I’d really, really, really, really, really miss you all, and the site, and everything about Red Dwarf fandom… apart from the show itself.

    I know the answer to all this, of course: wander off for a bit. Write about other stuff. Come back to fandom when I like, enjoy it for a bit, then leave again. And I get that, and indeed *do* that, really. No fucker needs me hanging around here *all* the time. It’s just that I miss the fandom stuff far more than the actual show itself when I’m gone. And it creates a real tension in my brain.

    (I touch on this aspect in the article the clearest when I point out that all the articles I’ve written about recently actually have Red Dwarf as the secondary subject, not the primary. My way of doing fandom stuff *without* thinking about Red Dwarf first and foremost. Or to put it another way: when I’m doing DwarfCasts, my favourite thing is seeing my friends, not having to come up with an opinion on the show.)

    It’s not impossible to navigate through all this, and at this point it’s so personal that I’m not really even expecting anyone to be interested in it. I guess what I’m saying is I just find it all tricky, sometimes, that’s all. I just sometimes want Red Dwarf fandom *without* Red Dwarf really, and that’s not a thing.

  21. To be honest, when I first read the article I did think it was building towards some sort of announcement of doing exactly that – of walking away for a while.

    Sometimes that’s healthy and better in the long-term. I’ve done similar things with other hobbies and come back to them refreshed.

  22. I can assure you, any perceived fall from grace for Red Dwarf is nothing compared to that of Aston Villa.

    Who’s more racist, Taiwan Tony or John Terry?

  23. > But sometimes my brain is SCREAMING to move on – to never talk about those 36 episodes ever, ever again. To just fuck off, never to return.

    Rob Grant’s diary circa 1993? :p

    Joking aside, it’s a fairly extreme view to have. There has to be a middle ground somewhere… maybe Dwarf actually being on the air amplifies the issue?

  24. I am glad red dwarf is still going… i just wish i enjoyed the last 4 attempts.

    Each series now days i just tend to push the last one at the back of my mind hoping the next will be much better.

  25. The Only The Good… Dwarfcast reminded me of that long dark period when VIII was the last we had of Dwarf and it makes me unbelievably thankful that we have the Dave era. BTE, X, XI have not been as good as the Rob & Doug days but I’ve found a lot to enjoy in them and am delighted that some of my favourite Dwarf moments even sit within the Dave era. I don’t think there are any episodes within those 3 series that are completely flawless though. We get episodes like Entangled which falls off a cliff in the last 5 minutes and Father & Suns which is one poorly executed character/joke away from being far and away my favourite episode of the Dave run. We have Give & Take which is almost perfect in it’s classic Dwarf feel but lacks any real stand out gags and Twentica which has a hurried ending and has the wrong bunk room at the end which annoys me more than it should. There are lots of episodes which are a step away from greatness for me but the small missteps make a big difference to me (though it doesn’t stop the good elements from being good!).

    As far as my relationship with Dwarf nowadays, I still love it and still get excited by every series even if I often have problems with elements of the new episodes. I’ve explained to people that the reason I look forward to new Dwarf is because I look forward to seeing what they do with almost every element of the show. I hope I’ll get those gags, like the Lister-Lister scene in Father’s & Suns, which only Dwarf can do. I hope I’ll get 6 non-standard sitcom plots like those seen in most Dwarf episodes. I hope that I’ll get some good sci-fi and they’ll do some interesting things with it. I look forward to new model shots and sets and the outfits Cat will wear. I look forward to seeing guest performers tackle the type of roles they may not often get the chance to tackle. Of course I also look forward to Howard Goodall’s music and Howard Burden’s costumes and even the new title sequence. I look forward to seeing the 4 characters that I just enjoy so much. I’ll always enjoy any Dwarf where the characters are written as they should be, and I’ll definitely always enjoy dissecting episodes on G&T.

    Like others have already inferred, not the best show I’ve ever watched but certainly the one that has grabbed me the most.

  26. G&T Admin

    Joking aside, it’s a fairly extreme view to have. There has to be a middle ground somewhere… maybe Dwarf actually being on the air amplifies the issue?

    The thing is, I’m not even sure if it’s that extreme. I think I’ve used extreme language, perhaps. But all it really comes down to – if we stick with just the first six series for a moment – is:

    “Have I squeezed as much enjoyment out of 36 episodes of sitcom first broadcast between 1988 and 1993 as I can, after over two decades of watching it, and well over a decade writing about it?”

    I mean, at this point, it’s not even ABOUT Red Dwarf, per se. There is SO MUCH TELEVISION out there. And every time I’m watching or writing about Red Dwarf, is a time I’m not watching or writing about something else instead. Something I either enjoy more, or haven’t watched to death.

    But yeah… Red Dwarf being on air *definitely* amplifies the whole thing. There’s a reason why I wrote this article now, in the run-up to XII. Instead of the XII circus, I could be watching something else I enjoy far more. It really gives me pause.

    I’d sure as hell miss everyone, though. Which comes back to the article. The people are why I’m still here, not the show.

  27. You might get more immediate enjoyment from watching something else, but would it represent the deeper satisfaction of being part of a continuing experience – the watching followed by engaging with the fanbase – like Red Dwarf does? (Maybe it would, I dunno, this is a genuine question).

    Dave-era Dwarf I enjoy watching, because it feels like Red Dwarf. It feels like Red Dwarf with something missing, admittedly, but it still feels like the same show. VII and VIII feel like something different to me, and that’s why I have a lot of difficulty with them. The characters and scenarios just feel wrong. There are still occasional scenes like that in the Dave era, which can be hard going, but otherwise it genuinely feels like the same characters and the same universe. That there are plenty of interesting ideas and good jokes in there is obviously a massive bonus, but having grown up with the Red Dwarf universe, for me it’s just nice to be able to visit new episodes of their lives.

  28. G&T Admin

    You might get more immediate enjoyment from watching something else, but would it represent the deeper satisfaction of being part of a continuing experience – the watching followed by engaging with the fanbase – like Red Dwarf does? (Maybe it would, I dunno, this is a genuine question).

    Yeah, that’s the $64,000 question. (Or £6,400, if you’re Bob Monkhouse.)

    Answer… yes, there’s definitely a part of that. Watching and then engaging with the fanbase is exactly why I’m still here. But then I just start feeling massive waves of guilt because I keep being so critical… and I end up feeling like the guy who shows up at a party and then stands in the corner slagging everything off. I just end up feeling awful about it.

    At some point with a programme, you just admit that it isn’t quite for you and move on. Except… I can’t move on, for all the reasons given above. And that ends up being why my brain gets twisted.

    Anyway, I’ll leave this thread now, as I think I’m repeating myself, and to be honest, it’s just making me a little sad. I just don’t want to be the prick in the corner any more.

  29. >Anyway, I’ll leave this thread now, as I think I’m repeating myself, and to be honest, it’s just making me a little sad. I just don’t want to be the prick in the corner any more.

    But you’re not the prick in the corner, John.

    I think a lot of people can’t take criticism of their favourite TV shows these days and really can’t tell the difference between people people dicks and people just not enjoying something and expressing it. Of course some people might be happy to watch their favourite TV show without a critical eye and more power to them as you there is no “right” way to enjoy a TV show. But I think people need to respect that there is no one way to watch and enjoy a TV show (or film or book etc.)

    The bad people are the ones who slag it off before they’ve even seen it. The ones who basically say “this will be shit” to each and every announcement and basically invent ways in which new ideas will be rubbish. That is the point I just think why the hell are these people spending time pissing on everybody else’s parade. Saying “this will be shit” in a thousand different ways on a forum isn’t throwing a critical eye at the show or enjoying the show in a different way, it is just being a dick in my view.

    Something I’ve learned doing the First Contact podcast (an intro-cast for Star Trek TNG, now nearing the end of season 3) is that you can get a lot of enjoyment being critical of something you love. It also extends to the Garbage Podcast for Red Dwarf. In the past I never threw too much of a critical eye at TNG or Red Dwarf, I guess because I got into them at a very young age so it has always been a staple. Now I’ve learned to enjoy them in a new way, something laughing at them rather than with them.

    You clearly get enjoyment from analysing new Red Dwarf. Even if that enjoyment is of a different sort to the classic run it makes little difference at the end of the day.

  30. G&T Admin

    The bad people are the ones who slag it off before they’ve even seen it. The ones who basically say “this will be shit” to each and every announcement and basically invent ways in which new ideas will be rubbish. That is the point I just think why the hell are these people spending time pissing on everybody else’s parade. Saying “this will be shit” in a thousand different ways on a forum isn’t throwing a critical eye at the show or enjoying the show in a different way, it is just being a dick in my view.

    I have no idea who you could be referring to here.

  31. G&T Admin

    Ah, thanks, SoundableObject. I do appreciate it, seriously.

  32. Something I’ve learned doing the First Contact podcast (an intro-cast for Star Trek TNG, now nearing the end of season 3) is that you can get a lot of enjoyment being critical of something you love.

    I’m not sure which one you are, but I love your accent regardless. I was following along while giving TNG a proper watch-through for the first time, and I was sad to run out of podcast to listen to after each episode.

  33. Terrific article, John, I love the honesty. Darrell, you’ve completely nailed it with “guilt”.

    I’ve felt that way for a long time, but not about Red Dwarf. If anything, I’ve felt better about Red Dwarf than at any point since 1993/1994. But I feel that way about Doctor Who. I’ve struggled to love the series since Matt Smith’s departure, which is a shame as I think Peter Capaldi is excellent. There’s been the odd brilliant moment here and there, but overall I don’t feel the excitement and expectation that I did during Tennant’s era in particular. It’s my favourite thing in the world and I feel that I *owe* it the same love I have for the classic series.

    So, yeah, guilt. Guilt that I’m not dropping everything to watch key episodes of Doctor Who at the moment. Guilt that I can take literally weeks before catching up on iPlayer. Yeah, a shit feeling. But nice to know you’re not alone. And there’s always hope that the series will turn a corner.

    Maybe personal things play a part. I lived with someone for four and a half years and our entire relationship revolved around Doctor Who. Our relationship came to an end around 2014, and since then I’ve struggled to find anyone that I can relate to about my favourite show in the same way. So, John, what you were saying about the relationships you form through fandom is absolutely true, and I’ve experienced the opposite.

    Sorry if that rambled a bit, but this article really struck a chord with me.

  34. Red Dwarf caught me at a pretty formative time. I’ve never been as geeky about anything as I was during its 94 repeat run. I devoured every piece of information I could find about it, and spent large quantities of dosh on questionable merchandise. There are quite a few other TV shows that I’d now state are better than Red Dwarf, but well, you never forget your first love.

    By 2003, I’d fallen out of love with it after 2 series (1 mediocre missed opportunity, the other utterly diabolical) and a horrendous remastering project. It’s quite odd retaining a large amount of knowledge about something that no longer brings you enjoyment. I let my fanclub membership lapse and my fandom seemed to go with it.

    And then I stumbled across Ganymede and Titan. I guess it seems a little quaint right now to imagine a long stretch of 6 years without a new series to talk about. But we had the DVDs on a regular cycle, and with articles discussing the shows past glories (and openly analysing its failures), I managed to find enjoyment in being a fan again. Admittedly, a lot of that enjoyment came from taking the piss out of it; but passion swings both ways. Suddenly, all that information I’d retained was useful again.

    If it wasn’t for this site, I’m certain I wouldn’t have maintained an interest in the show for the last 15-ish years. To be honest, there’s been a few times when I wondered whether that actually was a bad thing; especially during Back to Earth which I found just as baffling from a creative standpoint as Series VIII.

    But I’ve since found enjoyment from the show itself too. I’m not approaching Series XII with the same kind of “tension” as I’ve experienced with previous series. There were dozens of missteps in Series XI but it feels like the show is at least pointed in the right direction now.

    The show can still make me mad and irritable but ever so occasionally (well, once in 22 years) it can leave me completely satisfied. The extent of my negative reaction to Samsara were only equalled by how incredibly positive I felt about Give & Take THE VERY NEXT WEEK.

    Good or bad, it’s kind of nice that art can have such an impression on me as so much of what I watch now barely registers.

    I’m not sure I’d have even been watching avidly it wasn’t for the fandom that sustained my interest in the show. My exposure to which has been mostly restricted to this website for the last 14 years.

    And you’re asking whether Red Dwarf needs a fan like you, John? *Every* fan community needs a fan like you.

    Fandom isn’t blind love but it is irrational passion. Don’t try and search for the logic, as you’ll never find it.

  35. G&T Admin

    I wouldn’t want to imagine the last 15 years of G&T without you being here, Pete.

  36. G&T Admin

    Thank you, Pete.

    I bloody love the comments in this thread. They’re everything I love about Red Dwarf fandom. Or, at least, the people who hang around here. You’re the best.

  37. It’s quite odd retaining a large amount of knowledge about something that no longer brings you enjoyment.

    This quote got me.

    I can honestly say Krysis, an episode featuring a 61 year old man in a rubber head running around with dodgy car noises dubbed over the top, spouting such terrible made up words as “piptacular” and it getting a massive laugh, was a point at which I thought I might just give Red Dwarf up as a bad job, but even if I did, the amount of minutia and second hand anecdotes stored away in my head aren’t going away, I’m getting old, new info isn’t going to replace it. As long as I have my faculties I’ll remember the sizes of the hemispheres on the large Starbug studio model, that Craig Charles once farted on Ronnie Corbett’s face, that the seats in Starbugs cockpit are Martin Baker Mk2 ejector seats from a Canberra etc.

    It’s weird. Forgot almost everything I learnt at Uni, and worryingly, a lot of my life until Facebook On this day reminds me, but I remember every morsel of Red Dwarf trivia or dialogue.

  38. Just re-reading back through this stellar thread (Hall of Fame status, please) and I’ve really noticed a quote from Pete:

    “Fandom isn’t blind love but it is irrational passion. Don’t try and search for the logic, as you’ll never find it.”

    Brilliant. That should be on a t-shirt.

  39. i think it’s like religion. struggling with guilt and doubt. it’s what you make of it, studying scripture for new meanings and connections. fandom is the latest stage of protestantism. what stays is the iconocraphy – costumes, ships, logos, sets. that’s the core of the meaning.

  40. I really do like the idea of irrational passion being a positive drive. It sums up a lot of my creative life, really. I create because I need to, but because I just feel like it.

  41. Perhaps a mixture of family commitments and the realisation that old age was creeping in was the main reason for returning to the real world, but it had also become noticeable that I was struggling to hold a conversation with anyone without dropping Dwarf into the conversation. Despite the fact that I had many more varied interests and hobbies that the majority of my cronies. my obsession was mentioned on more than a few occasions.

    In reality though, the arrival of BTE signalled the beginning of me questioning my enjoyment of the show, and the seemingly constant jibes at VII and VIII began to grate on me, especially VIII which I found very enjoyable (apart from a few cringe worthy scenes). The vitriolic comments of some ‘fans’ towards both the show and those who supported it made we question whether I wanted to be a part of it.

    Other factors have crept in over time though such as comments by Norman who dissed much of the show, its makers and even the fans for following it whilst still being only too happy to take £10 a time for Holly autographs at ‘memorabilia’ etc. Still, he’s back in the fold now it seems and I’m not going to knock his contributions to the show.

    The demise of the ‘hard copy’ mag was another blow to my interests despite the realisation it could not continue in that form, plus my last dimension jump at Peterborough which sadly seemed a shadow of the previous ones I had attended.

    The highlight for me had to be doing the ‘Gunmen’ commentary of course, though privately I took more pride from seeing my limerick in the booklet, (because verse is one my long standing hobbies not because it was one my better ones in truth.)

    These days, I’m just a fan of the shows rather than the realm surrounding them but Red Dwarf has been a wonderful journey for me and in my view, has never really had the full recognition it deserved. One thing that is clear, is the enormous passion of everyone involved with the show, even if I don’t agree with everything that comes from it..

  42. G&T Admin

    That last DJ at Peterborough was shite, but every one since has been an improvement on the last, and the only thing about the brilliance of DJXX that makes me slightly sad is the die-hard fans from over the years that haven’t stuck around missing out.

  43. Yes Ian, I meant to mention that as Ive read the reports on it all, I think Dwarf has improved since BTE as well in general. I think the DJ’s suit a younger crowd now and rightly so..

  44. G&T Admin

    The “vitriolic” comments towards the show and the constant VII/VIII bashing is interesting, because I know I’ve done both… and I was getting bored of it too. Not that I think that either is *wrong*, per se – just that I got bored of doing them.

    Since I wrote this article, I’ve found a niche hanging around writing in-depth stuff about the first six series… and am much happier. In fact, I’m happier writing about the show when it *isn’t* in production than when it is, which probably speaks volumes about how I feel about new Red Dwarf.

    But I’m at peace with that now, I think.

  45. I am the token VII fan. They found me via a community outreach programme.

  46. I like VII too. Some of it is rubbish but it’s lows aren’t as low as the lows of everything after it and some of the highs are pretty high.

    Generally though, I’m similar to John, in that I take more pleasure in the original run than Robless Dwarf, particularly the model work. Had it good back then.

  47. I’m one of a very small number who take great pleasure in going to great lengths explaining every little thing that’s fucking abhorrent about VIII (I think only Katydid has topped me for vitriol in recent years), but I’ve stopped doing it because it doesn’t make for much of an interesting thread as everything’s been discussed so many times.

    I just sit at home on Friday evenings, drinking wine and having discussions about it in my own head instead.

  48. That last DJ at Peterborough was shite, but every one since has been an improvement on the last

    Prior to DJXX, that last DJ at Peterborough was the last one I went to. Make of that what you will.

  49. Interesting to read all of these posts going back 18 months or so…

    My feelings very closely replicate those of the OP as I love the first 36 eps (and the first 2 books) and enjoy what has followed an awful lot less. I have tried to watch some of the recent series with an open mind, but even then have been left bitterly disappointed. It seems that these series routinely get 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon (just as an example) though, so maybe my mind is simply not open enough because of all of the expectation that comes with being a hardcore fan.

    Obviously a vast amount of stuff has been written about Series I-VI, but there is always more to learn and there is still the dream that one day we will get Rob and Doug commentaries on all episodes. I would take that above any new Dwarf in a heartbeat.

    And I also think that the post Series VIII period is still interesting because of what might have been. A book from Doug featuring a movie script (with annotations) and the story of how the movie never happened would be very desirable.

    I can understand the feelings of guilt though as I remember seeing Doug’s announcement about two new series and feeling…nothing. Probably not a normal reaction for a show that you are a fan of.

  50. Interestingly the most I have ever felt at odds with fandom was the premiere day of XII. After skewing negatively to many elements of XI thought Cured was a five-star A+ Red Dwarf classic, but was surprised to find out how unpopular that opinion was. A little bit also with how much I liked Can Of Worms, which seems to have a ‘one of the worst ever’ reputation (also, if I hadn’t loved that one, I’d never have rewatched it and noticed the theme lyrics that time).

    I’m not looking to re-open a discussion about those episodes, it’s just odd when you feel dislocated from fandom with a *positive* opinion. As much as I have a bit of reputation for furious criticism of something I don’t like, I think I skew more positive to more things in ‘main’ RD than most of online fandom.

  51. I’m one of a very small number who take great pleasure in going to great lengths explaining every little thing that’s fucking abhorrent about VIII (I think only Katydid has topped me for vitriol in recent years)

    The thing is I only just grew into being vitriolic about VIII. Go back five, six years and I would have said it was basically fine but not great. Maturing and growing as a writer has severely changed my outlook on the material. Plus, that fan-edit I did of Back in the Red basically gave me a medical exam of VIII’s faults.

    Meanwhile, I’m openly and unyieldingly positive about the overall quality of Series XI and XII. I’m finding them as rewatchable as old Dwarf used to be before I viewed it into the ground as a teenager.

    A little bit also with how much I liked Can Of Worms, which seems to have a ‘one of the worst ever’ reputation

    Hell, I really like it too. I can see that it’s messy on a storytelling level, but I don’t care. It’s just too enjoyable for me to get mad about.

    I’m not looking to re-open a discussion about those episodes, it’s just odd when you feel dislocated from fandom with a *positive* opinion.

    I’m with you, man. I don’t even hate Timewave. I just feel “eh” about it.

  52. I definitely skew more positive than the majority and, as I said in my post above, I find a lot to like about the new shows having a fair few that I really like even though none of them match I-VI. I’ve been working my way through I-VII for the first time in years due to the release of the Blu Ray boxset and the main thing that stands out is how strong the stories are and how each scene and each line pushes the story forward from a plot or character perspective. In I-VI there aren’t really any diversions just to tell a couple of extra gags with the episodes feeling like they’re generally on a very focused path and you get to the end of the half hour and think “how did they get so much into 29 minutes?”. Even stuff that feels superfluous at the start of episodes often then feed into the story down the line. Dave Dwarf has had a few episodes that have done this pretty well with Give & Take, Officer Rimmer, and M-Corp but they then either have rushed endings or weaknesses in other areas.

    Also, some of the direction and shot choices in I-VI are fantastic. Doug does do some good stuff in Dave Dwarf but I-VI do a really good job of making me forget there’s an audience in the room with the characters.

    I know I’m obviously a big fan of the show but revisiting these older ones for the first time in a while really has made me realise how well made they are and how much more they were doing than other British comedies at the time.

  53. Oh, and I would still very much like a Red Dwarf XIII. XI and XII have given me confidence that great Red Dwarf can still be made. The episodes that I do really like feel just a step away from that I-VI greatness. It is a step that makes a difference though.

  54. It’s interesting to me as well how much opinion of certain series can change, even from the people involved.

    When Series VIII was the most recent Dwarf, the official opinion seemed to be that the previous series had been tough but that the show was now back to its best (“Distilled Dwarf”, “A Ben Hur of Dwarfs”…). Nowadays it seems that plenty of the same people openly acknowledge its faults.

    Time will obviously tell how well the most recent series are regarded in the future.

  55. My crystal ball predicts two dozen versions of the phrases “we shouldn’t have tried to do twelve in one go” and “burnt out”.

  56. G&T Admin

    The most pain I’ve ever been in in Dwarf fandom was during BTE… and it’s not even really the show’s fault, per se. I wanted that experience to be a certain thing, and it wasn’t… but the build-up was ridiculous, and it just skewed everything too much. Never again have I let myself get that wound up over Red Dwarf, because it was just horrible. I’ve never gone back and listened to the three DwarfCasts from that weekend – I started, and had to switch off.

    More recently, the most at odds I’ve felt with Dwarf fandom is… Give & Take. That show seems to be generally loved, but I just don’t get it, even when I went back and rewatched. The jokes aren’t really there for me, I find the storytelling confusing, and I don’t find the time travel bit remotely satisfying.

    (For me, the high points of the Dave era are Lemons, Officer Rimmer, and M-Corp.)

  57. I was completely away from online fandom during both BTE and X and they are by far and away my most thrilling, exciting experiences as a fan and a viewer. I do think the hype run-up to XI spoiled it for me a little, but I also genuinely think that it takes up until Officer Rimmer for the show to get anywhere near what it should be again. The sequencing in those two series is *awful*.

  58. I wasn’t remotely part of online fandom during BtE, and my expectations were staggeringly low (following VII and VIII I had no real hope that it would suddenly be good again, and ‘the crew go to Earth and visit Coronation Street in a Starbug-shaped Smart Car basically sounded like the absolute nadir of fanfic nonsense); I enjoyed it more than I expected but not by much. It took a couple of years for me to get the DVD and reassess it as ‘at least the character stuff is all there and it’s making an attempt to feel like Red Dwarf again’, which is where it sits for me now.

    X was around the time I was lurking here, so the news and set reports, alongside Doug’s excellent BtE commentary, gave me higher hopes for that. I wasn’t a regular lurker, though, so wasn’t aware of any fan reactions and was able to enjoy it entirely in my own bubble. I ruined that for XI by participating heavily in the reaction threads and immediately having to justify my opinions and put them up against other peoples’ – I felt a lot better being able to watch XII without any outside interference again by avoiding the threads (except Timewave, for which I joined in the ‘what the fuck was that’ response). Generally, with everything – music, books, TV, film – I like to enjoy it in my own time and get a good idea of what I feel about it before I really discuss it with anyone.

  59. I’ve followed new series hype on G&T since BTE, I was just quiet about it until I eventually ruined that. Watched BTE with friends and we weren’t blown away, but thought it was fine for what it was. Threw caution to the wind with X and allowed myself to be dangerously excited for a back on form show, then Trojan made me giddily happy that Red Dwarf was back. Been less excited since and taking it more for granted, like a spoiled prick would do.

  60. I think taking Red Dwarf for granted for the first time since the late nineties is so widespread that it’s spread all the way up to GNP and killed Red Dwarf again, so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

  61. Back to Earth was exactly what I wanted it to be, honestly, even with the buildup. Now I can look back at it and think yes, the on-ship bits are a bit awkward without an audience, some of the jokes fall flat and putting the scene of Lister reading to Kochanski at the start could feel a little “unearned”. There are jokes in it I thought were shit from the moment I saw them in 2009 – ironing sneezes is an extremely poor way to reintroduce a series which has been off-air for a decade (although Chris performs it excellently and it’s nowhere near as fucking shite as pig racing and space shopping channels), and I hated “testicle/tentacle” at first, but now I actually like it more. But things like “bit crap” and Craig meeting Lister I still find fantastic, as well as the ending. I’ve learned to accept that I like BtE more as a drama than a comedy, although plenty of people will argue it doesn’t work dramatically either. But my main point is that it looks gorgeous and felt like real event television to me, that Red Dwarf was back, a feeling I’ve only had since with Day of the Doctor and realising I was really enjoying Entangled (for a while).

    The biggest point of contention I have with the fandom at large is Lemons. Every other episode people seem to have varying opinions on, and I can see the merits of both sides of the arguments, but… why is Lemons apparently so good? Geordie Jesus is just dreadful, and the jokes are largely tired old observations about Christianity you’d expect a 14-year-old to post on r/Atheism and material about fucking IKEA furniture missing bits, which you’d expect from truly poor amateur standup or an episode of Not Going Out. Oh, I really don’t like it. And the fucking “get your bags” scene, oh it’s bad bad bad bad bad. There are a few easy jokes in the Dave era that feel like they belong on Mock The Week (smaller than the salad section in a Scottish supermarket), not the greatest sci fi comedy of all time, and Lemons is full of them.

    You can hate Can of Worms or Give & Take all you want, because I can at least see why you would or chalk it up to taste, but I’m genuinely stumped on this one, and would like to understand.

  62. No I agree, Lemons is a bit rubbish. All the surface-level tired, annoying jokes about Christianity, it’s like Ricky Gervais took over on writing duties for that episode or something. It’s the same level of needless agression and unpleasantness as Timewave. Like, is this necessary?

    The rant about the ten commandments and “ITS ALMOST AS IF….A MAN! MAADE UP THESE COMMANDMENTS IN A RUSH!” shit is literally almost identical to a rant my Computer Science teacher once had. When you’re writing material on the level of a teacher who isn’t paid to write comedy and has has no experience at all doing so, something is horribly wrong.

  63. I also think Lemons is a bit crap, if it’s any consolation.

  64. My problem with Red Dwarf is that I know if I don’t like an episode on first watch, my opinion on is never going to change (cos it never has once in 73). There’s normally a creeping dread by about the fifth minute when I find myself searching for something to enjoy. BTE weekend was like a repeated kick to the bollocks, like the 8 weeks of VIII ten years before that.

    Lemons, I find distinctly unremarkable. I don’t think it’s bad but I don’t think it’s much cop either.I can only think of one thing that I truly hate (the bit where Cat eats “pork” and then finds out, about six months later, that it was Lister’s spleen or something. I mean if you’re going to clunkily set up this kind of ropey crap, at least pay it off properly in a timeframe that makes sense for the characters).

    Give and Take, I’m very fond of. The only thing that would improve that would be a scene where Past Kryten stumbles into the Present Rimmer as they’re taking Lister back to the past, and he could order him to wipe his memory of the meeting and him generally….which would then pay-off the Captain Bollocks bit at the beginning. Oh, and a different wig for Danny. I love Snacky. I love the scene with Cat and Lister trying to manipulate each other, and I think the scene on the space station is wonderfully directed.

    Pretty sure that the best scene of Red Dwarf in the last 26 years is Kryten demonstrating the invisible items to Lister in M-Corp, mind.

  65. G&T Admin

    Generally, with everything – music, books, TV, film – I like to enjoy it in my own time and get a good idea of what I feel about it before I really discuss it with anyone.

    Yeah, I do kinda hate having to have opinions about Red Dwarf straight away, which is part of what this whole article is all about. I was the same when writing group weekly reviews of Noise to Signal: having a public opinion so soon, at least beyond the length of a tweet, I find really difficult, and definitely not fun.

    It’s slightly less difficult in a podcast, because you can talk things through a little more and be a little less certain, rather than having to nail your flag to the mast immediately.

  66. G&T Admin

    Explaining why I liked Lemons is tricky in that I watched it in 2016 for a DwarfCast, and the last time I saw it before that was in 2012, the year it was broadcast. When I talk about “favourite” episodes of Dave Red Dwarf, it’s all relative. It’s just not stuff I stick on the TV for fun. I don’t like it *that* much. (M-Corp is by far my favourite Dave-era episode, and… guess what? I’ve not watched that since I reviewed it in 2017.)

    So instead, I’ll point you towards my review of Lemons from the time. I think I’m a *little* more positive there than I would be now – I was so grateful for Red Dwarf that I didn’t hate that I perhaps went a little overboard – but it’ll do:

    https://www.ganymede.tv/2012/10/red-dwarf-x-lemons-review/

    (Certainly, I’m an atheist, but not in the Gervais or Dawkins sense.)

  67. A general criticism I have of Dave Dwarf is that it’s a bit “Not Going Out”, as in not very good stand up material turned into gags to fit a sitcom. Also that the gags aren’t often woven in in a natural, conversational style like they mostly used to be, they’re placed on top of, maybe safety pinned if you’re lucky.

    Lemons I didn’t like, but there’s loads of moments where the script could go to a Not Going Out or a BBC Three sitcom and be fine, the Moose shit, the stirmaster fuck me that was awful, the chatting up shit (although that’s more ‘Not Going Out of the Writers Room’), hey ho pip and dandy etc

    But everything is a bit crap now to be fair to Red Dwarf, most of the franchises I enjoy have fell off big time and Dwarf hasn’t fell as far as Star Trek for example.

  68. I haven’t watched Not Going Out since series 5 (not caught up with, rather than deliberately avoided), and although I enjoy the first two series considerably more than everything that came after, on the whole I’d say it’s a show I like. But since Kate was written out and, with her, the genuinely interesting tension that came from the love-triangle, it did quickly just become stand-up in sitcom format, and I don’t think Lee Mack bothered to make much effort to cover that up, which might be why I think it still works. It’s unashamedly so full of one-liners that it’s easy just to go along with it.

    Dave Dwarf definitely has that feeling to it, and it’s nice to see it summed up so nicely as I’ve previously struggled to pinpoint exactly what it is about a lot of the jokes that feels off. Occasionally the gags do pay off (I like the Moose gag because of the way it’s incorporated into Rimmer’s scene, which for me works as a great way of re-establishing the characters for the series; similarly, the hideously laboured ‘patience’ dialogue at the start of Mechocracy gets a pass from me because it’s given a great pay off), and there are still lots of jokes which sound conversational. But there are definitely jokes which FEEL like jokes, which are worded and/or performed in a way which doesn’t make them sound remotely natural, and when they aren’t funny they stick out a mile. Rimmer’s Shakespeare monologue is one of the worst cases, but the era is littered with the stuff, and it’s such a shame, as it’s generally these moments that break my suspension of disbelief and realise that this isn’t Rob & Doug era Dwarf. The truth is, one of the things that makes the classic run SO good is that the dialogue is mostly really tightly scripted, with almost every line coming believably from the character who voices it.

    If I could have one thing for XIII, it would be a focus on the characters and their lives aboard the ship. So much of XI and XII was based on stumbling across a ship / space station each week that there was no opportunity for Doug or the actors to really live in the basic roles. It’s why I think the back half of XII works the best, as that was all ‘weird scenario happens changing life on board ship’, giving the characters a chance to react to the situations in a more natural way. I think the funniest part of Dave Dwarf in general is the first half of Skipper, with Cat (and occasionally Lister) making the wrong decision. It’s the most quintessentially Dwarf concept of the era: it’s ludicrous, yet with a scientific basis that makes it straight-forward to watch, it gets in the way of the characters’ lives and allows their own flaws to come out humorously when trying to deal with it. And it’s utterly relentless. So many of my favourite Dwarf moments are ones like that: future echoes, white holes spewing time, reality bubbles, undesirable replacement computers, mindswaps, missing memories.

    I think the reason Lemons is popular is because it has pretty good energy and pacing to it. It feels very VI to me: not particularly character-driven, just a silly romp. I enjoy it because there are a lot of jokes I like and it flows very well as an episode, without a lot of the structural awkwardness that Dave Dwarf so frequently suffers with.

  69. G&T Admin

    I enjoy it because there are a lot of jokes I like and it flows very well as an episode, without a lot of the structural awkwardness that Dave Dwarf so frequently suffers with.

    Yeah, this is a lot of it. It feels like the first Dave-era episode which (for me) got the structure pretty much right. Most of it feels natural, leading up to the ludicrous situation where they’re holding “Jesus’s” penis, and yet it doesn’t feel like a situation that’s been forced.

  70. I have to say I remember really liking the bunk scene that takes place early in Samsara (charmed life etc.). I mean I haven’t watched it in 18 months but I recall it feeling very conversational, having great flow to it and feeling right for the characters, which is what a fair amount of the dialogue in the Dave era doesn’t have.

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