DwarfCast 101 – Series XII Retrospective Byte One

We published the first part of our Series X semi-retrospective two months after the first episode aired. For Series XI, we waited five months. Today is the second anniversary of Series XII launching on UKTV Play, so I guess it’s time to admit that we no longer have a “semi” on our hands. Yes, having finally given up on the plan to get all five of us together in one room, join 80% of the G&T team – namely John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes – as we look back on CuredSiliconia and Timewave.

Revisiting the episodes with fresh eyes and ears, we analyse how they stand up now that they’re no longer brand new, and track how our opinions have changed since our initial instant reactions. Spoilers: we’re still not keen on Timewave. Along the way we discuss Doug’s obsession with castration, Uncle Frank’s questionable true nature, the purpose of James Buckley, a surfeit of MILFs, how annoying it is to have coffee poured on one’s bollocks, and how to fix the “spit on her wrist” joke with one simple word substitution.

DwarfCast 101 – Series XII Retrospective Byte One (145MB)

Join us back here next week, on the second anniversary of Series XII launching on Dave, for the altogether more positive Byte Two.

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28 Responses to DwarfCast 101 – Series XII Retrospective Byte One

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  1. “Spit on her tits” after a lengthy prior explanation that she volunteers at an aviary.

    I liked the suggested ending of Timewave by someone from around here of Ziggy asking the Dwarfers what they think and Lister just going “Well–” before cutting to credits.

    (Cappsy is Eric Idle.)

  2. How dumb is this guy?

    Hey, Lieutenant Asshole

    If we don’t-

    (Crit Cop shoots Cat)

  3. Just occurred to me how weak the first half of XII is, compared to the second half.

    I mean, it probably occurred to me 2 years ago, but I’d forgotten how uneven this batch was. Cured is OK, I ‘spose, but I’ve still got nothing good to say about the other two.

  4. G&T Admin

    I did moot the idea of switching round the order of the episodes for these DwarfCasts to put Timewave fifth where it belonged, but CORRECT ANALITY won out.

  5. The point of Lister losing his hand, your judging on the lack of plot/peril. Watch again, it’s only there for the joke about him doing the “boys from dwarf” homeboys shake of the hands gang sign, only to discover he doesn’t have both hands to do the sign with. (A gag that was written without knowing cured would Improv a similar call back and potentially weaken fans reactions to such a return in this series, As the making of shows this.)

    The gladiatorial showdown is a reference to the slave film Spartacus . The making of refers to the episode being called Kryticus at one point, so it’s a homage. All the slaves claim to be “Spartacus”… in that film “i’m Spartacus” so in this episode of red dwarf the mechanoids all stand up as Kryten or worthy of breaking rank etc. It’s another Casablanca/blade runner style homage within the red dwarf world.

    Seems, I love all of these 3 eps more than you do. (Though not by much when it’s timewave)

  6. just listened to this, and I’m pretty sure the “it’s almost to the day” line is intentional, isn’t it? to avoid saying how long ago Series X took place and just sort of having it so XI/XII can just sort of take place whenever. i don’t know, but it does seem like the line was written that way intentionally for whatever reason. i wouldn’t put it down to robert forgetting to say the number

    also, lister having his guitar in Cured isn’t a continuity error, because it isn’t his. in fact, lister outright says something along the lines of “i can’t jam with you because i haven’t got my guitar” to which hitler says “oh, i have some guitars up in my quarters!” so when they’re jamming out together it’s just one of hitler’s guitars that he’s borrowed

  7. Why would you go to Hitler’s quarters, get the guitars, and then go to Starbug to play them?

  8. Great podcast as usual!

    RE: Timewave. What I think the episode is completely missing, which might have saved it* (and you touched upon this in the podcast), is a Lister retrospective at the end (similar to some Series 4 episodes) when they’re sat in the diner. He should be telling Ziggy that it’s ok to receive criticism but you shouldn’t let that change who you are, to be true to yourself and don’t feel like you have to conform. This could then be interrupted by Ziggy doing something incredibly annoying for one last laugh, making Lister regret his words, but at least we’ve had that moralistic input and we know Lister believes that deep down. For me, that could have saved the message that is lost through homophobia.

    *When I say “saved it” there’d still be a lot wrong with the episode but at least there’d be an attempt to deliver a positive message.

  9. Why would you go to Hitler’s quarters, get the guitars, and then go to Starbug to play them?

    Sadly Hitler has no amps to plug into, so it was easier to take the guitars to Starbug than drag the amps the other way.

  10. He’s a robot, so possibly Hitler doesn’t have “quarters” as such, so he says he’ll go and get the guitars and suggests they jam on Starbug because… better acoustics? Why does he have guitars anyway? They could be Telford’s I suppose, and while he’s fetching them Hitler also downloads a guitar playing program.

  11. He’s a robot, so possibly Hitler doesn’t have “quarters” as such, so he says he’ll go and get the guitars and suggests they jam on Starbug because… better acoustics? Why does he have guitars anyway? They could be Telford’s I suppose, and while he’s fetching them Hitler also downloads a guitar playing program.

    he says in the episode that he plays guitar, so it’d make sense for him to have guitars.

  12. > RE: Timewave. What I think the episode is completely missing, which might have saved it* (and you touched upon this in the podcast), is a Lister retrospective at the end

    Maybe a better way to go with the “no criticism” thing would be a ship full of workshy slobs like Lister.

  13. The message is that criticism is important because if we do not get criticized once and a while we will all act like complete morons and dress ridiculously… i guess.

    One of the things that often gets brought up and i totally agree with is that some of the jokes outstay their welcome. sometimes the best jokes are in small doses, once you stretch it out into a sketch it just gets less funny, when obviously the intention is assumed it gets funnier. thats why i ain’t fond of the Cat back and forth in Cured. not only does it make the Cat look like a much bigger idiot then he has shown to be in the past, but it just drags. and its not a particularly clever plan either. it just makes the villain look stupid for giving the cat a gun and assuming he wouldn’t just turn it on him.

    With Siliconia i think there is a series 5 episode there in the waiting. the concept of Lister, Rimmer and the cat losing their humanity is pretty horrific really. but when you mix that with the counseling session that really doesn’t go anywhere since Kryten switches back fairly quickly anyway. and the whole upgrade subplot, it just feels like a mishmash of ideas.

  14. Thanks for this podcast, just listened to it while on a run and agreed with most of your points. Those first three episodes do have their faults. I HATED Timewave, but felt it could have been a good episode, Jonny Vegas gave a good performance but in a terrible episode. And what on Earth was that spit on her wrist about? Bazaar! I quite liked Siliconia though! Looking forward to part two.

  15. Johnny Vegas and Joe “‘ello Doimension Jumpurs!” Sims really deserved to be in a good episode.

  16. Bazaar!

    No that was Lemons.

  17. I’ve never quite understood the love for Johnny Vegas’ performance in Timewave. It’s ridiculous and over the top and, like much of the rest of the episode, feels really out of place for Red Dwarf.

  18. I think there’s been a bit of a change since Doug started doing the show solo, whereby the universe the characters inhabit has become surreal. I – VI, a lot of the ideas feel ‘credible’ – that Earth and Human society has gone in some odd directions, but aren’t Douglas Adams style lunacy.

  19. I think if anything the Red Dwarf universe is *less* surreal these days, as the plots are mostly anagrams of old episodes. Timewave is particularly weird because it *is* uncharted territory, a bit like the Universe stuff in Krysis and the flashbacks in Samsara. Whether they work in execution is up for debate, but fresh ideas like those should be more central to the show now than they are. Timewave might be piss-awful but it takes a very welcome risk conceptually. The other five shows in XII are all complicated mathematical formulae of ideas that were done in the Grant Naylor years, and that’s also true of nearly all of XI, and bits of X (which tries harder to bring new things to the table than its successors). I think Doug needs to move on from his greatest hits tour and start gigging a new album.

  20. Actually, the closest thing Timewave is to is the busier episodes of VIII, like, well, let’s be honest… Pete. Big cartoon supporting characters like Ackerman and Baxter camping about on oppressively small and dingey sets doing fuck all but counting out time.

  21. Really it used to be for the most part about Rimmer, Lister, Cat and Kryten, with Holly being the senile computer that were the space bums. the flawed crew that just shouldn’t really work. the whatever you wanna call them. they were the ones that were an embarrassment to be around.

    Now its become everyone else thats like that. like the dwarfers have run out of steam in that department and now THEY are the ones that are reflecting on the weird people they meet.

    Thats not to say guest characters did not used to be funny. but there was a definite difference in the humor where it used to be driven by character and not an exaggeration of the character.

  22. Listening to this Dwarfcast give me a new thought about Timewave. I don’t know if this has ever been brought up. So, Doug is essentially saying that expressing yourself is bad; a really gross message. But there is something else, that quite glaringly doesn’t make any sense. Aren’t our Dwarfers just a bunch of weirdos, who society has rejected and who take great joy in expressing themselves how they want?! This whole premise just seems to go against the essential themes of the show itself.

  23. I proposed the below in the original Let’s Talk About thread for Timewave and still think it’s true. Timewave could have been a lot better if the jokes about criticism were more character focused and more about the quirks of our characters than them all collectively ganging up on a bunch of people:

    The key thing I keep thinking about is when they first meet Ziggy. Perhaps because this is the first point where alarm bells really started ringing for me. Instead I’d have it as a regular guy who has no real eccentricities but is wearing some funny clothing. The guys have just agreed that they need to be on their best behaviour and this guy walks around the corner and they all act a bit surprised for about a second but quickly adjust to the fact that this is just how this guy likes to dress. Exposition scene begins but Cat is stood there really trying not to say something and instead finds himself blurting out pained compliments that reflect his anguish at having to witness this fashion disaster as the rest of the guys learn from this guy about how the ship runs. “yellow shinpads over flairs, I didn’t think anyone could pull that off but you’re doing a great job” cat moans. Scene ends with the end of the exposition. As they exit Cat is going on a little mini rant to Lister about the clothing in hushed tones. Lister doesn’t really give a smeg.

    They enter the diner and see a lot of people are just wearing some odd clothes – but not everyone. They talk about criticism as they do in the filmed episode, and how being left with no judgement leaves you able to “do what you want, wear what you want, eat what you want.” They get handed the menus. Cat and Rimmer start moaning about the options of “tuna and raspberry sorbet” and other horrible sounding meals. Cut to Lister who’s talking to a waitress, ordering a particularly toxic sounding meal. The guys look disgusted and he explains that it was something he used to cook when he was back on Earth and low on money. “You’ll eat any old rubbish” Rimmer says quite loudly, at which point Kryten reminds them that they need to keep comments like that to themselves. Kryten then spots a staff member serving food onto a plate that has clearly just been used and not cleaned, stains of pasta sauce still on its base. He loses it and lectures the staff member on hygiene and such. Crit cops get called…

    I’m not a comedy writer, obviously, but even with crap jokes I can enjoy Dwarf more if the characters are accurate to what we know and not made out to be complete arseholes.

    Great cast by the way. Had been waiting for it!

  24. Oh, I like that idea.

  25. Can NoFro write XIII please.

  26. Yeah, that’s all immediately better, NoFro. Frankly, Cat and Rimmer reacting badly to the stuff going on is expected, but what spoils it is Lister being the same (or even more so, with his ridiculous overreaction to the meal, as mentioned in the DwarfCast). As someone who’s been portrayed as both slobby and DIY-fashion-y, he should be completely behind the crew. If the episode had been constructed with Lister and Kryten on the side of the crew, Rimmer and Cat against the crew, then both sides come to realise that a certain amount of criticism is useful, as long as it doesn’t impinge on individual liberty and expression, there could have been a truly excellent episode there. Pendo’s point about Lister needing to provide the morality is spot on.

    Johnny Vegas makes it for me with the brilliant frustration he brings when explaining how, underneath, they all knew it was a shit idea but couldn’t say so because criticism had been banned. Big laugh from that.

    Cured I still think is middling. Good ideas, but just not many jokes for me. The guitar bit feels like such a calculated set-piece, the second half is rushed, I rarely laugh. Also doesn’t help that I’m aware of what a psychopath is and so Kryten’s lessons about it just felt a bit patronising.

    Siliconia is almost there, but definitely falls apart in the last five minutes. I don’t understand the point of the Spartacus-esque showdown – it’s obvious what sort of thing it’s trying to reference, but ultimately it just feels like the Alien and Reservoir Dogs parodies in VIII, just there so Doug can make a reference rather than actually adding to the overall plot. Cut down the Kryten plot, a bit more emphasis on the other three, with the resolution coming from Kryten realising that they’ve lost everything that made them them and persuading the rest of the mechs to free them. The Siliconia upgrade just feeds into the class system sub-plot which totally cheapens Kryten’s realisation, and even them being put back into their own bodies is a waste of screentime (we didn’t need to see Lister revert to normal at the end of DNA to know the reset button would happen before the next episode).

    Enjoyed listening to that, anyway, looking forward to Byte Two with its very much better episodes!

  27. There’s a real MILF where I live (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), as I probably mention every time it’s mentioned, a sort of Southeast Asian IRA, so I’d heard that quality gag before and it was a lovely reminder in my escapist sci-fi comedy.

    I’ve never felt like rewatching Siliconia or that other one, the rest of XII’s good. I just watched the funny bit with Mr. Lister’s Fridge on YouTube, that’ll do.

  28. Really enjoyed this, especially as it’s been a while since I’ve watched any of Series XII – I might give it another run following the next DwarfCast.

    For these three episodes in particular, it is always nice to hear other people’s takes because for at least two of the episodes it is extremely difficult for me to be very objective. Cured was the first (only) episode of Red Dwarf I saw being recorded, so I think I would probably love it even if it was a turd (which I think objectively it isn’t, although reception is obviously quite mixed). For Timewave, I am not really a fan of Johnny Vegas so think I would struggle to be objective about an episode of RD with him in it – although fortunately that IS a turd so that’s not so bad. Siliconia, I guess, is therefore the only episode I can be reasonably objective about, but even then the hype and build up of the “everybody’s Kryten” episode oversold the reality, and I can’t tell if the episode is just underwhelming for me overall or whether I was suckered by the hype and then let down. Most people seem to rate it higher than I do.

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