Take the Fifth

“Despite some last-minute shooting by Rob and Doug after the wrap party, Demons & Angels was felt to be the weakest show of the series by Rob and Doug, and so was placed 5th – the traditional place for what you think is your worst episode. (Despite D&A being great.) Nobody cares if you’ve got a duff ep if you’ve had four great ones before it, and end the series with a blinder.”

“Episode Orders”, Ganymede & Titan, December 2005

Over the years on here, we’ve often idly mentioned the idea that the worst episode of any given comedy show should be put in the fifth episode slot out of six. In fact, we’ve mentioned it so much that it’s almost become a truism, a cliché… and yet we’ve never really examined where it came from, or actually looked at whether it applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

Hello. I am John Hoare, and I am going to take a look at whether this actually applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

For starters, let’s try to nail down exactly where the idea for this practice actually came from. With thanks to Gary Rodger and Tilt Araiza of The Sitcom Club podcast, the earliest example we can trace so far is in There’s No Answer to That!, Morecambe and Wise’s second autobiography from 1981. Specifically, page 111 – while talking about their Christmas shows, Eric gives the following aside:

“The rest of the year, just so long as we do four good shows out of the six in a series, we can afford to lose the other two. We would hide them, by putting them in the number three and number five spots. If the others – particularly the last – are good, then we still did a great series.”

Oddly enough, the idea about the third episode seems to have fallen by the wayside, at least when it comes to the public consciousness. (In as much as the episode order of comedy shows has a place in the public consciousness.) But the idea that the fifth episode of a six part comedy series is where you hide the dud – or, at least, the weakest episode – seems to have taken hold.

But does it actually apply to Red Dwarf? Luckily, we don’t have to rely on my opinion of each series for the answer. The Pearl Poll gives us THE ACTUAL WORST EPISODE OF EACH SERIES WITH PRECISELY NO ARGUMENTS WHATSOEVER, so we can approach this idea with SCIENCE.

So: is the fifth episode in each run of Red Dwarf actually the worst of each series? Let’s take a look.

Series 1

Confidence getting himself killed like a twatFifth Episode: Confidence & Paranoia
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Waiting for God

Oh. That’s a good start.

To be fair, Series 1 does have some oddities which need to be taken into account. Specifically, there’s an element of serialisation in Series 1 which means that some episodes have to be in the order they’re in, without the freedom to just switch things around at will. Confidence & Paranoia has to go before Me² due to the cliffhanger, so if you want Me² as your final episode, you have no choice but to place Confidence & Paranoia fifth.

It’s perhaps worth noting that both Rob and Doug have gone on record as saying they disliked Waiting for God; if you can’t put your least-liked episode fifth, perhaps fourth is a good compromise.

Series 2

Lister electrocuting himself like a twatFifth Episode: Queeg
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Parallel Universe

I’m sorry, the very idea that Queeg might ever be considered to the the worst episode of Series 2 has just make me cough up a lung. Indeed, according to the Pearl Poll, Queeg is the fifth-best episode of Red Dwarf full stop.

Now, admittedly, like with Series 1, there are serialisation issues to consider here. Parallel Universe could never be slotted into the fifth episode place, what with it ending on Lister’s pregnancy cliffhanger. But we’re pretty much as far away from hiding away a slightly dodgy episode in fifth place as it’s possible to get here.

Series III

Rimmer getting himself killed again like a twatFifth Episode: Timeslides
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: The Last Day

Series III is perhaps the first real test of the fifth episode theory. There are no serialisation elements in III to confuse things; that scrolltext at the front of Backwards could have been plonked onto the front of any episode, and while an episode called The Last Day might beg to be put last, there’s no reason why it has to be.

Like Series 2, however, we don’t really get any kind of matching pattern here. Timeslides isn’t especially known for being people’s favourite or least favourite episode; it sits comfortably in the middle. Hmmmmm.

Series IV

Holly getting herself killed like a twat(Planned) Fifth Episode: White Hole
(Actual) Fifth Episode: Dimension Jump
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Camille

Now, with Series IV, we have to be a little careful. The planned order for the series is different from the actual order on its first TX, due to the Gulf War. For more on all this, take a look at that Episode Orders article I wrote 13 years ago. (And I’m still writing the same old shit. Sigh.)

So, the planned fifth episode was White Hole… which is actually the best IV episode as voted for in the Pearl Poll. The actual fifth episode as originally transmitted is Dimension Jump… which was voted the second best IV episode. And the worst episode of IV is Camille… which actually ended up being broadcast first in its initial run.

It has to be said, at this point it almost seems like the reverse of the fifth episode rule is true for Red Dwarf, which twice so far has put its best episode in fifth place instead. This is getting ridiculous.

Series V

Kryten getting himself shot like a twatFifth Episode: Demons & Angels
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Demons & Angels

FINALLY.

This does seem to be the first time the show may have tried to hide away a disliked episode in fifth place. It’s no secret that huge chunks of Demons & Angels was reshot after Juliet May left the production; it doesn’t seem a huge stretch to suggest that the episode may have been attempted to be hidden a little.

(Of course, it’s worth pointing out that this is merely supposition; this article is trying to see if there’s a pattern from the evidence available, not arguing that the production definitely took a certain point of view.)

Series VI

A simulant getting herself killed like a twatFifth Episode: Rimmerworld
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Emohawk: Polymorph II

Well, Rimmerworld is the second least-liked episode from VI, according to the Pearl Poll. At least the series isn’t doing anything stupid like hiding away Gunmen in the fifth episode slot or anything, which is an improvement.

Not that the series could, mind you. It’s worth pointing out that yet again the serialisation element rears its ugly head. Psirens has to come first in the series as they’re all coming out of deep sleep, and Out of Time has to be last as it ends on That Cliffhanger. And Rimmerworld has to come after Gunmen: “We’ve come across the simulant ship we totalled a couple of weeks back.” The opportunities for re-ordering this series are fairly slim.

Series VII

Kochanski cutting her arm off like a twatSeventh Episode: Epideme
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Beyond a Joke

Now, with Series VII and VIII, we come to a little quandary. With eight episodes in each series rather than six, how do you interpret the fifth episode idea?

My answer: you have to treat it like the penultimate episode instead. It wasn’t like there was anything special about the fifth episode per se: it’s that it’s slightly hidden away as the second-last episode in a series, and then you come back strong for the final episode. With this in mind, for VII and VIII you have to look at the seventh episode of each series.

Still, yet again, with VII you have to take a look at the serialisation element. Tikka has to be first in the series due to Rimmer’s presence; Stoke me a Clipper has to then come second in order to write him out; Epideme has to come just before Nanarchy due to the Lister’s arm business, and Nanarchy has to come last in the series due to the cliffhanger where they find Red Dwarf.

Granted, you could swap round a few episodes in the middle, but it gets tricky very quickly. Certainly, even if the production had wanted to put Beyond a Joke in the seventh episode slot, they couldn’t.

Series VIII

Lister and Rimmer getting beaten up like a pair of twatsSeventh Episode: Pete (Part Two)
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Pete (Part Two)

HOW VERY INTERESTING, I AM NOW GOING TO EAT A BISCUIT AND PONDER ON HOW INTERESTING THIS IS.

Right, I’m back from my biscuit, and I have to report that this is probably more coincidence than anything, due to – you’ve guessed it – the serialisation of the show. Indeed, perhaps counter-intuitively, there’s even more serialisation in this series than with VII. The three episodes of Back in the Red have to come first in the series due to introducing the new status quo; and Only The Good… has to come last due to the cliffhanger. But Cassandra also has to come fourth in the run, as it introduces the whole concept of the Canaries which the other episodes rely on. And believe it or not, you can’t have Pete Part Two before Pete Part One. In fact, the only thing the series could have conceivably done is move Krytie TV to after the Pete two-parter.

It’s at this point that I realise Red Dwarf has far more serialised elements than I thought.

Back to Earth

All serialised, only three episodes, stop wasting my time.

Series X

Lister having sex with a vending machine like a twatFifth Episode: Dear Dave
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Dear Dave

Now, this really is very interesting. Dear Dave was, not to put too fine a point on it, a production disaster, with the episode essentially being rescued by a long after-the-fact bluescreen shoot. It’s difficult to imagine it ended up as the favourite episode of anybody on the production. As with Demons & Angels, it seems like an ideal episode to slot into the least-coveted fifth place.

It is, however, worth noting that the entire series ended up being transmitted in production order. And considering this is a programme which also transmitted Queeg in the fifth episode slot… who knows?

Series XI

Kryten forgetting to make Lister's breakfast like a twatFifth Episode: Krysis
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Can of Worms

I have to be honest: I find this one absolutely baffling. Can of Worms feels like the most fifsthyist fifth episode which has ever fifthed. Not only does the production not put it fifth, but it actually puts it in last place – where you’d expect to put one of your strongest episodes. It seems damned peculiar to me. I didn’t understand it at the time, and I understand it even less now.

Even more weirdly, the actual fifth episode, Krysis, feels like an ideal candidate to be placed last in the series. Talking to “The Universe” gives that episode a decidedly end-of-term feeling which feels right for the end of a series. Just switching round Krysis and Can of Worms would seem to me to improve the experience of the series significantly.

I dunno. I may be letting my hatred of the episode come to the fore a little too much. Luckily, there’s not long to go.

Series XII

Lister having a heart attack like a twatFifth Episode: M-Corp
Pearl Poll Worst Episode: Timewave

SERIOUSLY, GET FUCKED, YOU PUT THE BEST EPISODE FIFTH?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Ahem. Excuse me. Let’s try again.

SERIOUSLY, GET FUCKED, YOU PUT THE BEST EPISODE FIFTH?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Oh dear. Right, one more go.

YOU DIDN’T PUT TIMEWAVE FIFTH?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I need a drink.

Conclusion

OK, a bit of number-crunching. Over the years, Red Dwarf has put the worst episode as the penultimate in the series three times. It’s also put the best episode as the penultimate in the series three times, if we include the intended order of Series IV.

Now, obviously a fair amount of this article is rather facetious. Not only is the best or worst episode purely a matter of opinion, but – as far as I’m aware – the fifth episode theory has never been talked about by anyone who has ever worked on Red Dwarf. Sure, the ordering of episodes has been talked about occasionally – Kryten was placed first in Series 2 because it had such a good audience reaction, and Paul Jackson argued that Backwards should go first in Series III because it had a gimmicky hook ideal to grab people’s attention. But we’re essentially looking at a production technique which Dwarf has never said it practiced, and then are slightly surprised when, erm, Red Dwarf doesn’t seem to have practiced it.

But it feels worth doing for two reasons. Firstly, this isn’t something that fans have just made up out of thin air – as per the Morecambe and Wise quote which opens this article, it’s a practice which did actually happen at the BBC. And secondly, because whenever an idea like this takes hold in discussions about the show, it’s often automatically assumed to always or usually be true. Just take a look at the quote which opens this article.

Here, we’ve seen that with Red Dwarf… it kinda isn’t true. The “best” episode has shown up in the penultimate slot just as much as the “worst”, and serialisation issues force a certain order on a number of occasions anyway. Only with Demons & Angels and Dear Dave is there an obvious possibility that the weakest episode was shunted to fifth place, and twice over 12 series hardly constitutes a pattern.

Unless. Perhaps – just perhaps – episodes like Queeg and M-Corp really were seen by the production as the weakest of their respective series. But… surely not?

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50 Responses to Take the Fifth

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  1. Had VIII gone to plan, the running order would have been something like:

    Back in the Red (hour-long special)
    Cassandra
    Krytie TV
    Captain’s Office
    MYSTERIOUS UNPRODUCED EPISODE OF MYSTERY
    Only the Good…
    Earth

    But all of VIII is shit anyway, so it doesn’t matter much (and even in this hypothetical version, OtG still has to go seventh due to serialisation). Had VIII made the only possible change to its running order and put Krytie TV on second, we could perhaps speculate that the production were embarassed by the level of misogyny on display.

    I seem to recall that on panel shows where the episodes can be broadcast in any order (e.g. QI, WILTY) the unwritten rule is to put the funniest one on first, and the weakest one in a similar spot to the “episode five” spot (sixth or seventh in a run of eight).

  2. > Parallel Universe could never be slotted into the fifth episode place, what with it ending on Lister’s pregnancy cliffhanger.

    This has got me thinking now about that very strange alternate ending on the Series II documentary on Bodysnatcher, where it turns out Lister isn’t actually pregnant and they were all just joking…

    Also, when the XI steelbook came out with the XII titles on it, Mechocracy was in fifth and M-Corp second (presumably a tentative running order, given it’s different to recording).

  3. I think I remember reading the thing about episode 5 in From Fringe to Flying Circus. Published in 1980. I haven’t read it for about twenty three years so details are a bit hazy. In reference to Fawlty Towers, I think, unbelievably.

  4. Samsara is the most episode 5 episode of anything that has ever been made. Both XI and XII put their best episodes fifth, because they are appallingly sequenced.

  5. Feels like they consciously did it for V, VI & X at least. Rimmerworld would have seemed the obvious weak link in VI, the audience reactions to Emohawk would have made that seem like a stronger follow-up to Gunmen than its direct sequel, so bumped it up.

  6. Although they were definitely considering alternate orders for Series X at some point (Fathers & Suns was considered as the opener), there is also a small amount of continuity running through it – Lister enrols in the robotics course in F&S and he’s seen studying for it in Lemons, and the quantum crystals in Entangled were found on board the Trojan.

    The intended arc had to be completely thrown out along with the originally planned eps 5 & 6 when all the location filming got scrapped, of course.

  7. >Series XII
    >You put the best episode fifth?!
    But……………………..

    Anyway, we would have to know what the creative team themselves thought about the episodes to know if they were placing them in any particular order for any particular reason, although you really have pointed out that Red Dwarf is a lot more serialised than anybody would think at a glance. With American shows they do tend to put a lot of the filler in the back half of the season before kicking it up a gear for the finale, but that could be more a symptom of how American shows are commissioned in blocks of 13 before being given the option of something absurd like 14 extra episodes, right up until the first episodes have begun production, forcing them to come up with a whole bunch of shite to fill the time. But then again it also just sort of makes sense, doesn’t it. The fifth episode rule sounds like a good rule to follow to me, but this article seems to refute the idea that Dwarf ever really followed it. With X-XII you can sort of imagine Doug thinking those fifth episodes were shite, but the earlier you go the less likely it seems he was giving that any real thought, or the circumstances prevented him from really doing so.

    I’d put Cured in fifth for XII, because it’s the most “meh” episode of that series, it doesn’t really have any standout features or anything particularly interesting about it. “Everyone is Kryten” is a pull, could put that first, or second if you assume people will tune into the first episode anyway. I think Doug expected Timewave to be a bigger hit than it was, and it has Johnny Vegas in it. Mechocracy is another contender for fifth, it just happened to be brilliant, M-Corp everybody who isn’t me seems to think is excellent, and Skipper sort of feels like a full stop, thought it could do with a more reflective ending as we’ve discussed before. I’m not going to go over the other series rn, I just thought I’d justify my choice of Cured.

  8. This is a completely brilliant article. It made me think. It changed how I see the show, in a good way.
    And entertained. Thank you John. Great title/pic.

    Re: Can of worms. It was slightly episode 6 of a known 12 episode run. Maybe they didnt care about the end on a high thing Cus recomission Etc who gives a smeg when the audience and channel know there is a return.

    Personal opinion now only this next bit. I agree with every word on I to XI. Especially Queeq insanely good for fifthy.
    For XII Most agree with you on Mcorp. I don’t. Only my opinion.

    Moody isolated lister stuff harking back to early dwarf doesn’t make for a whole brilliant episode for me. It’s only one element of a fairly weak episode that I don’t find funny. It’s corporate bashing invisible plot stuff gets a giggle but then gets so stupid and dull with a shit resolve. It’s a dull episode to me, and while I concede time wave deserves its worst kicking reputation for so many reasons. Mcorp is my 5th worst of that series.

    I think Doug wrote Time wave to involve a personal set of his own opinions, that was supposed to feel “worst” during part of the episode, early on, particularly when we see the cast experiencing the early issues of “cristicism” and taste themselves. The fact people genuinely think it’s the worst episode shows the fail to redeem that in humour later. And other issues many see, that Doug didn’t. It’s controversial. So, I don’t think Doug would say time wave is the worst in XII at a time before broadcast. Burying fifth isn’t good enough for time wave. It needed to be burried in concrete.

  9. >Samsara is the most episode 5 episode of anything that has ever been made.

    Amen. But the set reports for that episode indicate that it went down really well on the night, so maybe it got bumped up on the running order on the strength of that.

  10. I’m standing by my assertion that Skipper should have been show 1, with M-Corp as 6. The rest is harder. XI is alarmingly easy to fix via resequencing.

  11. Dear Dave, Timewave, Can of worms… they make me depressed to think about.

  12. By the way, I’m not sure the show 5 phenomena is as simple as ‘being the least funny one’. I think it’s more ‘the most off model one’ – there has to be an element of it being significantly unsatisfying in some way, but that could encompass budget, aesthetic, smallness of scale, tonal issues etc as well as it not being as funny as the other episodes. For example I think Justice is a very show 5 show, as is Mechocracy, and neither are the worst in their series. Samsara is a show 5 show in virtually every aspect, however.

  13. Hmm, that makes it sound like I just mean bottle episodes which also isn’t what I mean. Black Mirror’s ‘Metalhead’ is one of the show’s best episodes, but it’s still pure show 5 as it’s – even by design – at half mast.

  14. I’m standing by my assertion that Skipper should have been show 1

    Please show your working.

  15. Legion has to be second in VI to make sense of the hard-light, too, so it’s only Emohawk that could be moved to third or fifth that could change there. In VII, Duct Soup could technically come later, but makes best since in fourth position, meaning it’s only really a swap of Blue and Beyond a Joke that could happen.

    I think VI got the level of serialisation right. Every episode feels like a standalone, yet there are little callbacks and references throughout that tie it together into a consistent narrative. I wish they’d had the chance to do that with X, with the quantum rod and Lister’s robotics course. And I’d still like Hogey’s map to come back at some point.

  16. Graham Linehan has talked about the whole idea of putting the worst episode fifth a few times. He used it a lot in the IT Crowd.

  17. Of One Foot in the Grave’s five bottle episodes, only The Trial goes in the episode 5 slot, although they all go in the second half of the series.

    And “Out of Time” is VI’s bottle episode, although it has to go last by default of course. Unless the original ending had been used.

  18. Emohawk feels more like an episode 5 to me than Rimmerworld does, although it could easily have been considered a big crowd-pleaser with the return of Ace and Duane, which might have saved it from that position.

  19. Also of note: In the 1992 repeat run of Series IV, which is closer to the originally intended order but not the same, DNA aired fifth.

    Was the order of that repeat run done with any input from Grant Naylor, though? Is it possible the BBC just remembered “Dimension Jump was meant to be the premiere when we first showed it last year” or something and did their own tinkering?

  20. I’m standing by my assertion that Skipper should have been show 1

    Please show your working.

    Big high concept comeback, marks the anniversary series, fast-paced and full of stuff, absolutely nothing in it which says ‘finale’, allows the end of M-Corp to form both a satisfying ‘potential last ever episode’ point and a circular coda to XII.

  21. If it weren’t for that scene in the I-II bunkroom with Earth visible out of the window, I might agree. But that scene in particular feels like it makes for a far more satisfying ending/’full circle’ point.

  22. I think the second half of Skipper with the cameos and the back-references and set recreations has a real ‘finale’ feel to it.

    I can see the argument for M-Corp though – the stripping away of everything that’s built up over the years and the final scene calling back to the start of The End both feel quite finale-ish too.

  23. They fucked up the full circle thing when they named The Beginning “The Beginning”, but I’d agree that the show concluding with the M-Corp final scene would have been pretty neat.

    With Skipper, I get the end of term revue thing, but it lacks any stakes and is fundamentally silly. And as someone who’s not bothered by Norman and doesn’t need to see the Dennis the Doughbut boy iteration of Hollister, the fanwanky stuff isn’t any more special for being hidden in the last 15 minutes of the series. Skipper would be lost on anyone who’s not well-versed in the show. It’s not much of a finale for casual viewers.

  24. I hadn’t really considered the ‘stakes’ aspect, but I guess that most of the well-loved Dwarf finales do have that quality, and Skipper doesn’t really (unless you buy that Rimmer might never come home again).

  25. Skipper feels like a big party and a celebration of various past versions of the show, which to me can only really go at the end of a series. Or maybe a particular anniversary special. Maybe BtE should have been a one-hour version of Skipper, with Rimmer leaving for good as the cliffhanger, and the last episode him realising he wanted to go back to the ‘original’ universe and trying to get back.

  26. > Graham Linehan has talked about the whole idea of putting the worst episode fifth a few times. He used it a lot in the IT Crowd.

    Doesn’t he mention it on the Big Train DVD commentary, and something about giving the episodes names instead of numbers?Can’t remember what that’s meant to achieve, though.

    My favourite thing about this article is that John’s used that blipbloop as the image for Timeslides.

  27. I don’t think the final needed to have stakes. it just needed to be a story that felt like a nice round up.

    Bringing back the series 1 look, holly and Hollister could be considered a nice full circle.

    Although i think they should have brought back Hattie also for one of the universes, maybe the Mr Rat one… but i don’t think Doug thinks all that much Hattie compared to Norman.

  28. >Had VIII made the only possible change to its running order and put Krytie TV on second

    Krytie TV couldn’t have come second though, it features a scene with the Canaries, which are first introduced and explained in Cassandra. Cassandra has to be the second story in VIII, or it doesn’t make sense.

    Interestingly though, at one point Krytie TV was meant to come after the Pete two-parter (the running order at that time being Back In The Red, Cassandra, Pete I, Pete II, Krytie TV, Only The Good, Earth), which actually makes more sense if you think about it. In Krytie TV, Kryten says they’ve been “frozen in time again”, and the Captain is entirely absent from the episode, both of which make it seem like a follow-up to Pete.

  29. There’s definitely a real phenomenon of ‘burying’ the worst episode, though it’s not always no.5. Look at I’m Alan Partridge series 1, episode 5 ‘To Kill A Mocking Alan’ is probably a lot of people’s favourite episode (it’s the one with Graham Linehan & Arthur Matthews cameoing in it, and the obsessed fan).

    Episode 4, ‘Basic Alan’ (shower curtain zombie…), is maybe one of the best ever examples of a ‘quiet’ episode. Basically zero plot, nothing happening, pretty slow etc. it’s not exactly a ‘bottle’ episode cause he does leave the hotel a couple of times, but it DOES feel like one. Somehow they felt it was worth having as the 4th instead of 5th episode. It’d be interesting (to 2 or 3 people) how they came to that decision.

    Of course, the weakest episode in both Partridge series’ is the finale (series 2, episode 6 being IMO pretty woeful. Mind you, 5 is extremely iffy, especially the Bono stuff).

  30. In Krytie TV, Kryten says they’ve been “frozen in time again”

    I had always wondered what that line was about. I just assumed it was a poorly worded sci-fi joke, but actually makes a lot more sense if it had followed Pete1+2

  31. I honestly thought it was just a crap joke, really. Were they all actually ‘frozen in time’ in Pete? I thought they actually froze everyone else, reversed evolution or offset time.

  32. > Krytie TV couldn’t have come second though, it features a scene with the Canaries, which are first introduced and explained in Cassandra. Cassandra has to be the second story in VIII, or it doesn’t make sense.

    I meant to put “second-to-last”, sorry.

  33. I’d never made the link between that line in Krytie TV and Pete. I just always put it down to an off-screen adventure.

  34. G&T Admin

    I think Skipper would have been the perfect series finale and/or possible last episode ever if it just had a bit more emotional weight in its conclusion. I said it in my review at the time, but you needed Rimmer to realise that he *wants* to be in our universe with his version of the crew, not just end up back there by default having exhausted all the other options. Kind of like how Red Dwarf being referred to as “home” rather than the Earth in The Beginning was an emotionally-satisfying celebration of the status quo.

  35. G&T Admin

    My favourite thing about this article is that John’s used that blipbloop as the image for Timeslides.

    I am amazed anyone still remembers that word!

    I should revive that feature for Dirty Feed, really…

  36. I showed that Timeslides picture to my sister because it bought a chuckle to my face. Great work John, hope to hear you on a Dwarfcast soon!

  37. Take the fifth slag and deselect from the Labour party.

    *Kinda gentler politics.

    **Dear Dave still better than all of 8 and half of 7, most of BTE.

  38. DEAR DAVE IS REALLY GOOD

    (It’s comfortably better than at least a third of XI/XII, including episodes with bigger than usual budgets where everything went to plan. But given that I rate X higher than IV, V or VI then I’m not much of a gauge of public opinion.)

  39. Timewave aside, what episodes of XI and XII do you think it’s better than? I generally quite like those series and not sure I’d say I’d prefer to watch Dear Dave over them

  40. I agree, when I watched Dear Dave recently it was actually worse then I remembered. I’m not actively offended by it, it just feels like the nothingy episode that it is.

  41. Last time I watched it, I’d completely forgotten about Rimmer’s finger warm up regime for the Subbuteo tournament, found that highly amusing.

  42. Twentica, Samsara, Siliconia (my bottom three in the Pearl Poll) and Timewave.

  43. Siliconia I might give you, that episode has never sat right with me. Lots of build up and no really pay off.

    I love Twentica and Samsara (whilst I originally thought it was a bit naff) I actually enough for jokes. The story could be tighter but I think it’s quite funny. Certainly has a bit more humour going for it than Dear Dave.

  44. Dear Dave has “it turned into a jacket”, which is my favourite line from the whole of Dave Dwarf, so it definitely has that going for it. Overall I don’t think it’s a very good episode, but there are enough funny bits for me to not dislike watching it, vending machine sex aside.

  45. Twentica and Samsara have the same issue for me, my favourite bits are effects shots. Twentica the shot from inside the cockpit looking out, and Samsara the pod floating in space.

    Twentica has more going for it than Samsara though, Lucie Pohl puts in a good performance but hate the further dumbing down of simulants into inept comedy buffoons.

    Samsara would’ve been better if the guest actors were better, which can be levelled at pretty much all of Dave Dwarf to be fair. Rebecca Blackstone and the aforementioned Lucie Pohl are the ones that worked most for me, there are other good actors but they’re playing idiots so are underutilized.

  46. Dear Dave has a lot of problems, but the vending machine love-triangle stuff is adorable, and Cat’s charades bit is hilarious. I don’t think it’s a good episode, but then I don’t really think most of the Dave era is all that good, so maybe I’m biased. If I liked the Dave era more then I’d probably like Dear Dave more. That’s too many Daves in one comment

  47. I think the vending machine stuff *is* the main problem. I’ve a soft spot for Dear Dave as it’s the ep I attended the recording of, but a lot of the vending machine stuff was done after our night at Shepperton.

  48. Yeah, the vending machine plot isn’t all that great. It feels like an attempt to hark back to series 1, and I sort of wish we’d had a more retro ‘built in’ set of vending machines for that. As an idea it’s actually quite good – Lister, egged on by Rimmer looking for a laugh, gets into an uncomfortable situation with a jealous vending machine. But it’s written and played very broadly. And the climax to the plot, although tying in nicely with Rimmer’s plot, is appallingly played and also a complete Polymorph ripoff.

  49. Dear Dave is an absolutely fascinating study as a production gone so hideously wrong they could only film half of it in front of an audience. And I really like the concept – there must be plenty of days where the Dwarfers are just hanging around on the ship trying to kill time with nothing happening, so why not do an entire episode about that?

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