The Promised Land Review featured image

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I expected from The Promised Land. Over the years since Back To Earth – and so since the general death of any idea of a movie – my relationship with and expectation from the show has changed a fair bit. I was someone for whom Back to Earth was a relief as, despite its flaws, it was a large step up from Series VIII. In this way, it was and still is the saviour of the show’s legacy, even if it’s been superseded since. Series X was when the young, entitled fan in me finally fucked off as now not only did we have something better than VIII, it was better than VIII while playing the same, audience sit-com game.

First broadcast: 9th April 2020, 9:00pm, Dave

Written by: Doug Naylor

Directed by: Doug Naylor

Main Cast:
Chris Barrie (Rimmer)
Craig Charles (Lister)
Danny John-Jules (Cat)
Robert Llewellyn (Kryten)
Norman Lovett (Holly)

Guest Cast:
Ray Fearon (Rodon)
Tom Bennett (Brother Sol)
Al Roberts (Count Ludo)
Mandeep Dhillon (Sister Luna)
Lucy Pearlman (Sister Peanut)
Hayley- Marie Axe (Protector)

The posse meet three cat clerics who worship Lister. Lister vows to help them as they are being hunted by a feral cat leader known as Rodon

Set Report 1 | Set Report 2 | Let’s Talk About | Live DwarfCast

The era of the audience-less, movie-ish experiments of VII and BTE were a distant memory and a new, proper rebirth era was on us. From that point on, new Dwarf didn’t really have any saving to do and Series XI and XII came along possessing a huge amount of confidence in the format, and for the first time since 1994 the show wasn’t in the middle of a giant, near destructive identity crisis and I was no longer particularly worried about what would come next.

So, The Promised Land did end up being a bit of a surprise. In hindsight the new format makes perfect sense, but when it was announced the direction this could’ve gone in was far from certain. As the premise emerged, it became obvious that Doug was being bold enough to attack one of the biggest dangling threads of the show’s history: what happened to the cats. It’s fair to say it grabbed fans’ attention, and so all that was left was to deliver on the promise in two ways: give us a story worthy of the premise and a production worthy of the ‘special’ tag.

Doug has a history of referencing the show’s past in a slightly wonky way, and that proud tradition continues here with the direction he takes the cat fleet. There’s nary a mention of arks or coloured hats (although the inclusion of series 1 inspired artwork is a nice touch), but instead we are shown a war fleet of spartan-like Cats, with a repressed underclass of clerics who continue to fly the Cloister flag. Presumably they moved on from the coloured hats and golden sausages the minute their Series IV DVDs arrived.

The portrayal of the warlike cats is pretty standard, but I do also enjoy the sillier aspects as well. It’s easy enough to believe these elements of domestic cat behaviour would stay with them from what was absorbed through human books and other media, but even when something as patently daft as the cat flap comes along I can forgive it, purely for the excellent visual gag. Even Waiting for God leaned into the inherent silliness of the cat race, and TPL merely takes that up to the next level to better suit the fact the show is, in general, a bit more of a parody of itself these days. 

Ray Fearon chews up the scenery brilliantly as Rodon wherever he appears, but the wider cast of grunts are a bit faceless and generic. The only other glimpse of brilliance from the feral side comes with Al Roberts’ Count Ludo (or Chancellor Caturday as I will always insist on calling him) putting in a great turn as Doug’s archetypal long suffering and simpering minion to the Big Bad. Other than that, we have the main three clerics, namely Brother Sol and Sisters Luna and Peanut. The performances do bring to mind a million different uncomfortable exchanges at Dimension Jump but in general they’re enjoyable characters to be around, which is a good job as the majority of the interactions between the cats and our crew come through these three, but then it makes it even more of a shame that they’re a little thinly written and explored.  For example, a brief bit of sign language from Peanut is supposed to be all we need to key us up for her miracle cure later, but it just left me a little baffled as I hadn’t really noticed or cared that she was supposed to be unable to speak. The sign language could’ve easily been a quirk of their church, and there was nothing about her character that would suggest otherwise.

I should probably rein myself in from getting too far into the plot before I mention, you know, the actual main cast. At this point it should be taken as read that I love these four with all my heart. Their performances over the years are so ingrained into my head that any new episode brings with it a fairly unrealistic expectation of what they can achieve, but right from the off it’s obvious TPL is going to be a significant step above the usual, still very good, levels of previous series. There’s an almost constant snappy and fun pace to their interactions, and gone are the slightly flabby exchanges from the “moves move” school of banter of the past. But, before we get to the good there is the matter of the slightly unfortunate existence of this first scene: the ‘sex-change’ conversation. Now, we’ve mentioned this on the Live DwarfCast already so I’m not going to dwell on it much here, or blow it out of any more proportion than it deserves, but it’s worth mentioning here. I am a cishet male and as such I didn’t clock the mis-labelling of the procedure Kryten is suggesting, but what struck me was the incredibly 90s approach to the topic, reducing what is a very complex subject down to a very superficial level. This is a topic that should be incredibly visible in modern culture, and it’s one that also isn’t immune from being included in comedy, but an old white man with a wonky at best understanding of the topic is not the person to be doing it. This is a similar type of blind spot we’ve seen crop up a number of times from Dear Dave to Timewave, and while this ends up being far less egregious than those examples, it’s a shame it’s even there to be picked at.

However! The pace of the early part of the episode is very good and between Kryten and Rimmer’s ‘follow me’ corridor scene and the ‘just-on-the-right-side-of-stupid’ mind wipe scene do a great job of getting everyone comfy, and even introducing the characters to those who might not be as familiar as yer average Dwarfy spod. The Cat and Lister also had a similar introduction treatment in the first scene, but once you’ve seen one brief exploration of Lister going a bit obsessive and alchoholicy, you’ve seen them all. The show will obviously keep going back to the accident and Frankenstein throughout the episode, so despite the lore heavy topic of the show this might end up being one of the best first episodes for people the show has to offer. 

What we’re really here for in these early scenes, though, is the return of Holly. Er, again. And as with almost all previous returns, he’s a bit different to the one we know and love. This time it’s because he’s been returned to his stock settings and personality (see also the exact same thing happening, really badly, to Holly and Kryten in Series VIII. Or, you know, don’t) and I think this is really well played. Norman has the deadpan but with a slight hint of personality of stock Holly absolutely nailed down, and that combined with things like “Hologram Rimmer” and “Crewman Lister” give him an unmistakable early Infinity vibe. In the end we’ll not really get enough of Norman in the episode, but when he’s deployed it’s with absolute precision and comedic effect. 

Once the crew escape the homicidal Holly and find the Iron Star then the story really kicks into gear. As far as Red Dwarf tropes go, the derelict ship that’s a few hundreds years ahead of them in technology is a well used classic, and a setting with which I don’t think I’ll get bored despite it being something of a convenient trope at this point. This time round, the monumental technology the crew discover is highly advanced hologrammatic technology, with the capability of upgrading Rimmer into something called ‘diamond light’, which gives us a nice excuse to dig into some visual Rimmer-lore as we cycle through some of his old costumes as part of the upgrading process. I’m actually pretty impressed that either they had an original red puffer-puffer jacket lying around from the mid-90s, or the costume department did such a good job of recreating it. The end result of Rimmer’s upgrade is supremely silly, with a delightfully over the top costume and performance from Chris, which I think is pitched perfectly considering the massive fall from grace that happens just minutes after the upgrade.

With Rimmer having experienced an almost literal elevation to god-like status and now in the midst of dealing with the consequences of the the aftermath, it’s the perfect time to raise Lister up to his own god-like position as the crew run into the clerics. I feel like Lister has kind of forgotten he’s already had this awkward conversation about not being a god before in Waiting for God, so it’s strange he doesn’t really acknowledge this but not quite as strange as how off-handedly the Cat is dealt with. During this first meeting we only know the clerics are even aware what species he is with an off-hand mention, and you’d think they’d maybe be a *little* bit more interested in this rogue cat that’s been hanging out with actual god for the last few decades. This is perhaps an early sign that this will not be the Cat focused episode we thought we’d be getting, which is a little odd. Maybe Doug didn’t want to dig too deeply into this side of things lest he have to give the Cat an actual name and dive deeper into the unseen cat lore than he’d like. Any remaining doubt that the Cat would be little more than a sideshow to the main plot are dispelled ones the ferals ambush the crew and even Rodon bushes him off with a single remark.

As the crew escape the soon to be exploderised Iron Star and crash land onto the previously established desert moon below, I think it’s worth taking a moment to talk about the special effects and the production value in general, and it all goes back to the core strength of this special and that is the fact that it’s stand-alone. While I have no idea how the budget and time spent scales here compared to a series, what has been achieved here is nothing short of remarkable and it feels like the form of the show has contributed to that. It’s the first time we’ve had truly remarkable effects shots in a very long time, and moments like the Iron Star’s destruction and the subsequent crash and chase on the desert moon are miles ahead of anything I would’ve expected the show to be capable of producing these days. Not only that, but the specially written score and general production design feel so polished and fresh and make the whole thing *feel* like an actual special, and not just a regular episode with some bits stapled to it.  Paul Farrer’s score is actually something I’d like to specifically call out as it’s the part that surprised me the most. It’s so different to what we’d normally expect for the show, accustomed as we are to Goodall’s style, but it does a movie-like job of driving the emotions of a scene and punching up action scenes that really fits the tone the episode is going for.  

The scenes with the crew stuck on Starbug I think make up my favourite stuff in the episode. The well worn truism of Red Dwarf being at its best during the intimate bunk room scenes is something that fans have been hankering for for a while, but I think this is the closest the new Dwarf has come to nailing this feeling. When the four are sat in the cockpit arguing about what to do, digging at each other and cracking one-liners they feel like a coherent family unit. All too often the ‘banter’ between characters can feel a bit forced, but you can tell both Doug and the cast are operating at full capacity here.  Once again, some wonk is introduced when we’re reminded that the clerics are awkwardly sat in the mid-section and the story needs to deal with them somehow. The sequence of everyone trying to go in to tell the clerics the truth of Lister, while it gives some good moments (specifically the Cat being converted) there’s a big difference between “Lister is not an actual god with supernatural powers” and “Lister is a terrible person with a job he’s ashamed of” and the show seems to mix these two things up. Kryten should be perfectly placed to explain the exact circumstances of the creation of the cat race and that Lister is just a regular human who set off the chain of events, he gets in a state because he seems to think he’s supposed to be calling Lister a cunt. It’s a bit weird and gives the sequence a contrived feeling that I don’t think is necessary.

The jewel in the crown of the ‘Bug under siege’ section, and indeed the whole episode, is the conversation between Lister and Rimmer that will both convince Rimmer to not turn himself off and power the motivations for the rest of the episode. Starting with Rimmer having to go into low power mode, the relatively simple effect of greyscaling Rimmer and filtering his voice to phone quality is incredibly effective. Cat’s rant about Rimmer not being real that drives him to near suicide might feel a bit incongruous but you can see exactly where those thoughts came from. It’s a reminder that Rimmer isn’t ‘there’ in the same way as the rest of them, and it’s certainly very believable that everyone was thinking along the same lines as Cat, it’s just he’s enough of a dick to blurt it all out.

Even if we get there in that less than elegant way, Rimmer’s existential crisis is played superbly and what follows is one of the all time great Lister and Rimmer heart to hearts. What I love is not only how Lister wins Rimmer round by describing their relationship perfectly, but the restraint Lister shows in not out-right lying. He never once takes the easy option of saying “I like you” because I honestly believe that wouldn’t be true. Sure he’s happy to lie on behalf of the others, but not doing the same for his feelings show his respect for Rimmer and the honesty that needs to be maintained between them, especially when Rimmer is in this incredibly vulnerable state throughout. Also, Kryten remaining perfectly still and silent is the second funniest thing in the episode.

Holly’s true return to himself is a joyous moment, but it does feel a tad rushed. I thought the whole point of the big floppy disk was it was the only backup of him they’ve been able to find, but it seems there were full backups of regular Holly all along? Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because it brings up the first funniest thing in the episode, and that is Holly’s mining missile scene. During the whole scene the crew are constantly several steps behind him and this gives Holly an endless stream of punchlines. It’s breathless and brilliant, the sort of set piece that would be at home alongside Norman’s greatest moments of the show. Every time I re-watch the scene I’m more convinced of its brilliance, and how relying on Holly’s narration, which emphasises how they’re still buried and cut off from the world, until the final cathartic moment of the moon exploding is a great bit of storytelling, too.

And so, the finale. When Lister finally reveals to the clerics and the ferals, now all back on Red Dwarf, who he really is.  I find it interesting that Rodon himself did also believe he was Cloister and had powers, which was a nice touch considering I’d assumed he was 100% atheist. It helps with the impact of the final revelation as not only do the clerics lose their god, Rodon loses the main thing he’s been rebelling against. What has less of an impact, however, is the revelation that the Cat is Rodon’s brother. The Cat’s not been centre stage in the episode so it feels like this is maybe an attempt to give him some relevance to the finale, and it does give him his nice if a little unearned “this is home” moment as well as a reference to why he was left behind in the first place, but perhaps this would’ve all felt more in place in a version of this episode in which he took a more central role.

While the Anubis stone was seeded into the episode a lot more than I remember from my first watch, its role in the solution does still feel quite half arsed. I think it’s because the time between Lister’s realisation of what it is and using it to power up Rimmer to diamond light is way too short to have a proper impact, but the core idea of it being a source of power isn’t necessarily a bad one and it being Lister doing the powering up of Rimmer of course fits nicely into the sun and moon dynamic. I also appreciate the Last Human vibes from Rimmer ‘sacrificing’ himself with the bomb but, of course, this time he was always going to come back.

The rest of climax doesn’t really escape the rushed feeling, either, unfortunately. Rodon’s death is a decent enough gag (and I like Rimmer, as Mighty Light the all powerful being, solving everything with a laser pointer) but the performances of the cats attacking him felt silly in not a good way, and after multiple re-watches I still don’t know why the ship crashed. Rodon wasn’t piloting. No one in that room was piloting it. Hundreds and thousands of relatively innocent cats perished for… some reason? Kryten’s near death also feels like one element too many crammed into the final quarter of the episode, and it’s perhaps a little too transparent that this is only happening to allow Rimmer to do what he does, before we put everything back to normal. We’re supposed to believe that Kryten’s death is permanent because mechanoids can never be powered down but then he’s basically fixed by giving a new battery. It all just feels like scrambling to get things wrapped up as quickly as possible. It’s not a terrible sin, but with an episode that actually felt very well paced and thought out before this point, it does stick out. 

I’ve picked at a lot of this episode, but it’s worth pointing out that I really enjoyed it, and it’s among my favourite new Dwarf of the Dave era. Whatever I expected from The Promised Land, I think it ended up surpassing that. The story is one of the better executed of recent years and being able to focus on a single, big episode clearly helped lift performances and production alike to a level generally higher than we’ve seen in the Dave era.  I should’ve known Red Dwarf wouldn’t ever sit still and so it should be no surprise that The Promised Land came along and reinvented the show yet again. Focusing on a single, feature length narrative initially it felt like a necessary compromise of the endlessly difficult task of organising production on a full series, but what we ended up with is a thesis on what the show needs to be from now on, allowing all elements of the creative process to laser focus on making something of the highest possible quality. It’s not *the* movie, but it is *a* movie and for the first time we’re shown just how well suited the show is to the format and with that Red Dwarf  has survived yet another identity crisis, emerging in a stronger position than it’s been in many, many years.

TINY TEASER 1: Man-Eating Cheese (one of the possible things the distress call could be)
TINY TEASER 2: Moonlight (Tumblr’s new catchphrase)

42 comments on “The Promised Land Review

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  • First broadcast: 16th April 2018, 9:00pm, Dave

    Fucking Hell, first time I saw it was almost two years later. Must have been a repeat.

  • First broadcast: 16th April 2020, 9:00pm, Dave

    Fucking Hell, that must have been a repeat. First time I saw it was a week earlier.

  • Excellent review. Says it all really. I’ve watched this twice so far and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.

  • I thought the whole point of the big floppy disk was it was the only backup of him they’ve been able to find, but it seems there were full backups of regular Holly all along?

    I saw this as being like the difference between the data you need to install a video game, and your save-game data.

    Holly is a massively complex program that presumably needs a huge amount of data just to install the basic operating system. Which is what was on the giant floppy, and what they didn’t have before.

    However, they did have the backup file that essentially saves his most recent settings.

  • I thought the floppy was the media for his original operating system. As his OS had become corrupted during the flood, it would kind of make sense that the backups would only be useful once his OS was reloaded.

  • Oh, what Dave said. I really should refresh the page before finally commenting.

  • I had a listen to the score on YouTube, it’s good, but I do think we lose something by not having anything vaguely Red Dwarf incorporated in the way Goodall has done, a little chord progression sprinkled in to let you know what you’re watching.

    It just made a custom score sound a bit off the shelf to me, but having said that, I listened to some unused Goodall music from the recent series and I also didn’t think it was that magical, so I think either way you’re in gripe central.

    It was good though, apart from a few daft gags that I don’t really see the point of considering they’re not that hilarious anyway and introduce loads of questions, and the old Dave Dwarf problem of the majority of guest actors not being believable as people.

    The main cast were on fire though, Robert and Danny with some rolling back the years character performances, and Chris doing some great “proper” acting.

  • I had a listen to the score on YouTube, it’s good, but I do think we lose something by not having anything vaguely Red Dwarf incorporated in the way Goodall has done, a little chord progression sprinkled in to let you know what you’re watching.

    I wondered about this. Obviously reusing old original Goodall music was possible but I don’t know how it works when bringing a new composer on board, whether his work would be able to be incorporated into the work of a new composer like that without falling foul of any contractual/legal issues.

  • I have yet to rewatch it as while i didn’t hate it and didn’t love it. i am concerned that the parts that did bother me will bother me even more in second watch, and that the parts i did like will be outweighed in the second watch.

    For example the Holly reveal about the backup thing. that took me out of the story. it became clear how pointless the whole Holly stuff was at the beginning. the crew leaving the ship when they could have just tricked him to use the backup and solved everything?. its something that is asking you to invest in their situation… but if their situation was that easy to fix then they were just idiots to convenience.

  • I really can’t wait for the Blu Ray as I felt the whole visual element of the production was massively under-served by UKTV Play’s muddy picture quality. Enjoyed the episode a lot so very much looking forward to revisiting it.

  • A couple reverse-nitpicks:

    1) If you think of the Holly disc as a video game disc and the “backup” of original Holly as video game save data, it makes more sense. It’s like having your Halo 3 save file data in your Xbox hard drive, but it’s useless without the actual Halo 3 disc.

    2) Rodin being Cat would make a lot more sense if they hadn’t been in deep sleep for centuries between Series V and VI, plus however long they were out during Nanarchy and Krysis.

    3) Going with the video game analogy again, I likened Kryten’s battery dying being like an old school video game cartridge with the battery save data. Once that battery expires, bye bye save data.

    4) For what it’s worth, what happened to Rimmer’s battery happened to my laptop, becoming so frazzled it had to be manually plugged in at all times, so that whole sequence with the extension cords really spoke to me. I wonder if the same thing happened to Doug.

    Anyways, great review!

  • *Rodon being Cat’s brother.

    (Somehow autocorrect got the better of me and there doesn’t seem to be an edit function.)

  • Al Roberts’ Count Ludo (or Chancellor Caturday as I will always insist on calling him)

    This is absolutely correct.

    Also, small point, but I think you meant “once” in the final sentence of paragraph eleven.

  • I enjoyed the TPL on the first watch and I am planning on a second viewing over the bank holiday.

    Well there is not much else to do what with one thing and the other.

  • Really enjoyable read, I don’t really have much to add but it would be rude to just read and now leave a comment. Basically, Ben’s right! Thanks muchly.

  • Good episodes make for terrible conversation.

    Everyone seems to pretty much agree that this was a good episode, even if it is a bit uneven and doesn’t reach the peaks of the early 90s, and so we’ve come out the back of the episode with the most of the discussion being “yeah, that was pretty good. Yep. Nothing more to add really… the floppy disc was a bit naff.”

  • Well there is plenty to debate about. but i think most of that was done in the lets talk section.

  • Great review of what I still believe is the best Dwarf since VI! TPL is far from perfect but there was SOMETHING going on here that we’ve not experienced for some time. Sure, we’ve had decent episodes like M-Corp, Twentica, and I’m personally really fond of BtE; but this time it was Red Dwarf back proper.

    Maybe one key reason is how it truly did feel like a continuation of the ‘classic’ series. TPL and that era feel one and the same in a way everything, up to that point in the Dave era, perhaps didn’t.

    Personally, I think Rimmer pulling the plug out is one of the single best moments across the entirety of Dwarf. Just that one single moment is maybe the most bold and unexpected thing we could ever have expected in a new special of a 30-year-old show. Amazing work from Chris Barrie. Without a doubt the best Rimmer we’ve seen in decade(s).

  • Interesting review to read.

    My thoughts on The Promised Land:

    The Good:

    – The interaction between the main crew produced plenty of good lines and character moments.
    – Having Holly back (again) was certainly a bonus and there is still plenty of comedy to be derived from the character.
    – The plot was fairly solid and didn’t try to be too clever.

    The bad:

    – The cats were mostly overacted and probably not very well directed. They weren’t either convincing or threatening.
    – The pace sagged quite a few times and quite a few edits could have been made.
    – The storyline (as I’ve said was fairly solid imo) wasn’t dramatic enough to maintain a feature length episode. If a Red Dwarf movie were really ever to be made (I know that it won’t be with this cast), it would need more of a genuine threat.

    It wasn’t bad, but I think Doug takes on a huge amount to be both sole-writer and director and sometimes he probably takes on too much.

  • It wasn’t bad, but I think Doug takes on a huge amount to be both sole-writer and director and sometimes he probably takes on too much.

    I would like to see someone else direct. Whilst there are always some moments where Doug does some good stuff, scenes where people are just standing around chatting are often very flat and undynamic in a way that they never used to feel. Rewatching Series I with Ed, Paul and Rob there’s just something about the way Ed places the camera and places the guys which makes the scenes work better. There’s a subtle genius to the way he directs those simple scenes which only really becomes apparent when you see them done not so well.

  • I’ve no real problem with Doug’s directing at all, but I would love to have Ed back working on the show.

  • The bunk room scene was pretty rough, but to give it some credit, it veered away from how badly wrong I thought it was going to go. Still a very misjudged scene that should have been culled or heavily, heavily reworked though.

    Rodon and the Cat being brothers? Needless. At the very least, unearned.

    Everything else? Pretty much spot on, loved it. Production value was massive too, it’s never looked or sounded better, and the deep cuts like a black and white look for Rimmer were superbly handled.

    Regarding returning directors though, I’d love to see Andy DeEmmony come back. But hey, that’s just me. I’m nobody, just forget I spoke, okay?

  • Well something worth remembering is that Rob and Doug directed 2 of the best episodes of the shows entire run. Quarantine and Back to reality. they were directed fairly well i think. so when it comes to any criticism towards the directing in the new shows… i dunno. i am one of the first people to say something is off with modern Red Dwarf. but i think thats down to other means.

    As for Ed Bye. excluding series 8, he deserves alot of credit what he managed to accomplish in the early days.

  • Well something worth remembering is that Rob and Doug directed 2 of the best episodes of the shows entire run. Quarantine and Back to reality. they were directed fairly well i think. so when it comes to any criticism towards the directing in the new shows… i dunno. i am one of the first people to say something is off with modern Red Dwarf. but i think thats down to other means.

    Sure, but you still had 2 creatives back then. That’s what I would probably go back to. I think quality control has been an issue throughout the Dave era and having another senior voice involved could only help.

    I wouldn’t necessarily go back to either Ed Bye or Andy DeEmmony, but probably look to someone new.

  • I would also say that I didn’t have any issue with the “sex-change” conversation being offensive at all.

    My main problem would be that it was so obviously crowbarred into the show for what I would lazily describe as a “cheap laugh”. It didn’t exactly naturally or organically come about…

    Having said that, Robert played it very well.

  • Plenty of people didn’t find it offensive, the problem is it is offensive. It’s like your ancient Gran chucking out a few questionable terms occasionally, to her and her peers it’s fine and perhaps she’s not even trying to cause offence to any groups mentioned, but it’s obviously not fine and does cause offence.

    Just one of those moments, there’ve been a couple in Dave Dwarf, where someone should have just said “Doug, can we chat about this scene”, even if it was someone at Dave and not in the production.

  • Plenty of people didn’t find it offensive, the problem is it is offensive. It’s like your ancient Gran chucking out a few questionable terms occasionally, to her and her peers it’s fine and perhaps she’s not even trying to cause offence to any groups mentioned, but it’s obviously not fine and does cause offence.

    Well offence can be taken as well as given. Whether that scene was offensive is entirely open to interpretation and it’s not a binary thing.

    I also don’t think there is any comparison with someone’s gran “chucking out a few questionable terms” or saying something “horrendously racist”. Simply because there weren’t any questionable terms used and Doug certainly wasn’t guilty of anything horrendously phobic.

    Jonathan’s comment about it coming across like something from the 90s seems closer to the truth, to me. Much of the comedy in the show is quite old-fashioned, as you’d expect now, and would have fitted into the 90s. In the case of the “we think another character can’t hear us” scene, perhaps the 1890s. :)

  • “there weren’t any questionable terms used”

    Unless you’re part of the potentially offended community, that’s not your call.

  • “there weren’t any questionable terms used”

    Unless you’re part of the potentially offended community, that’s not your call.

    If any “terms” had been used, it would be everybody’s call. But they weren’t. There were no “terms” that referred to that community at all.

    People can debate whether the execution was offensive, but there is no comparison between this scene and a gran making racist comments (as another poster argued). That was my only point.

    Anyhow, it really shouldn’t have become a major talking point about the episode imo, so I will leave it there.

  • Great review! Have now preordered the bluray and am looking forward to watching it with better picture quality, haha. Hoping we’ll see footage of the night #1 audience on the extra that’s bluray exclusive, as would love to try spotting the group I went with to see it filmed. Fingers crossed!

    Must say, among other things the special made me realise just quite how blue Series XI and XII are visually – it didn’t bother me at the time, but looking back it’s more like “Blue Dwarf” than Red Dwarf, haha. I much prefer the overall look of The Promised Land. It’s got the more natural colour palette of Series X, but with the less flat lighting of XI/XII, which is the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned!

  • If any “terms” had been used, it would be everybody’s call. But they weren’t. There were no “terms” that referred to that community at all.

    Exactly this- as mentioned before, the term “sex change operation” is entirely correct given the context of the conversation. Cat would still identify as a male even after the operation, as nothing would be changed about his gender identity. It’d just be an operation to change his biological sex, hence the name a sex change operation.

    It’s also interesting how when Red Dwarf does a silly and ultimately harmless scene like that, everyone is offended. But when the show veers into genuinely unpleasant and mean-spirited transphobia (the “bet you she was a man” stuff in Dear Dave) nobody bats an eye. I never heard anyone complaining about that scene despite it being pretty nasty and offensive, but this scene in TPL that doesn’t even have anything to do with being transgender (or even touch on the subject) is deemed wrong? For the record I liked the scene and thought it was funny- it felt quite a lot like the Wilma Flinstone scene in terms of tone to be honest

  • It’s a hard one to judge, as when I watched it I spent the first half of that routine clenching and waiting for Doug to put his foot in it. When it didn’t come I was quite happy to see that actually Cat and Lister were taking a little pride in their potential female bodies: the disgust they had was in having their bodies altered, rather than at the idea of being a woman or being trans, which was a far more positive spin than I was expecting.

  • But when the show veers into genuinely unpleasant and mean-spirited transphobia (the “bet you she was a man” stuff in Dear Dave) nobody bats an eye.

    I would hardly hold Dear Dave up as the champion of “getting away with unpleasant stuff”.

  • Great review, and substantially I’m in the same place.

    I remember watching it with one eye on the clock noticing that there was five minutes left and so many loose ends. In less than eight minutes of screen time, we go from we’re all doomed and we’re about to die, Rimmer’s time is up, the Anubis stone is a power source, Rimmer’s OK, Rimmer is Mighty Light again, Rimmer saves everyone, Rimmer saved everyone and sacrificed himself, we mourn our fallen comrade and hero, nope he’s fine, we’re all doomed and about to die, Rimmer saves the day again with a laser pointer, everything’s fine, Kryten’s dead, Kryten’s definitely dead this time and there’s no going back, let’s save him with the Anubis stone, Rimmer can’t be Mighty Light any more, Kryten’s OK, Lister is no longer a God, but Rimmer is… In eight minutes.

    But pacing problems and a few dud jokes aside… my favourite Dwarf since Out Of Time.

  • I will never stop loving it as a Series and will say we need another Series but I’m still up for a few more Specials like these.

  • I also feel as soon as this pandemic calms down we need to get these Series or Specials or both done as soon as possible. We can’t keep waiting years with the age of the actors and poor Robert seems to end up ill recording these days so he is struggling with it. Even Robert said this himself that he want’s to do it but lets get it done as soon as possible. Rumour on the grapevine is something is in the works anyway.

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