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It’s time for our DwarfCast commentary for the final episode of Red Dwarf XI, Bag of Shite: Polymorph 3. So, before I open the particular can of worms of what we thought about this episode a little too much, please go and listen and find out for your selves what our general feelings towards this episode 4 years after its initial broadcast are. As ever the sentient soundwaves that make up Ian, Cappsy and Danny are present as we put series XI to bed, while digging into their own tasty bedtime snack of waffles.

DwarfCast 124 – Can of Worms Commentary (70.4MB)

We’ll be back next week with our Book Club episode closing out the final pages of Better Than Life and another, extra special festive edition of waffle men to finish off the year and take us into 2021 well fed and laden with sugar.

Show notes

39 comments on “DwarfCast 124 – Can of Worms Commentary

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  • There’s a lot I like in Can of Worms, but it’s such a mess as an episode. Most of the Dave era feels one draft away from completion, but this feels at least two or three for me. There are about six potential plots in there when it only needs two.

    For me, the run of the three character-led episodes in the middle of XI is generally very strong. Twentica, Samsara and Can of Worms I could live without, despite having some good moments.

    I have literally no idea what Elf on the Shelf is.

    So: I don’t like the look of III. I noticed all of this nostalgia when I was watching the whole run with DwarfCasts earlier in the year, and how IV-VI still had a grainy, murky look despite being a definite upgrade from the earlier series. Either way, that’s how ‘my’ Red Dwarf looks, and so the Dave era always feels like an imposter because it looks different.

    I can’t imagine Doug doing Garbage World, largely because of the Rob issue.

  • Haven’t finished listening yet, but just need to say Akhaten is NOT awful. It’s entirely nothingy and I’m willing to stake my reputation on it. This is a hill I’m prepared to die on. Akhaten – NOTHINGY.

    I’ll comment when I’ve finished this one, I’m up to cat pornography not exisitng so far.

  • The best thing about series XI ending on Can of Worms was knowing that series XII was definitely on the way.

    Oh, alright, I’ve now reached the bit where you say exactly the same thing. Note to self – wait ’til it’s finished before you have your say.

  • Enjoyed listening, thanks!

    Stray thoughts:
    – Rimmer would just obey Hollister, wouldn’t he? Series I Rimmer would, anyway, because he follows his superior’s orders without question. It would be the bit in series 8 with Hollister standing behind a ranting Rimmer over and over again, I think.
    – Think it’s a bit tasteless to say you want latter-day Red Dwarf to be The Young Ones, to be honest. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    – Hitchhiker’s crossover is called Mostly Human in one universe, and Last Harmless in the one next door.
    – Dirk Magg’s Dirk Gently adaptation is too confusing to listen to, even though I’ve read the books, but I liked that Sexton Blake thing. It’s just so dumb and silly but Peter Jones and Riki from Xenoblade are fantastic in it.
    – I’m very worried about how the tweet I sent for a Waffle men was festive in no way, shape or form. So…sorry.

  • Just to wade into The Rings of Akhaten debate. I think it’s one of the better episodes of S07B. Never understood the hate. It’s beautiful and moving and visually impressive. I’d watch that over the submarine one or the haunted house one any day of the week.

    Can of Worms, fucking shite. I just wanted the female cat we were promised, not another polymorph episode. And what’s up with Danny’s voice at the end once’s he’s shot them all?

  • – I’m very worried about how the tweet I sent for a Waffle men was festive in no way, shape or form. So…sorry.

    We were hedging our bets between Christmassy waffles and more general ‘any topic’ waffles to be fair, and when we got enough that were Christmas themed we rolled with that!

  • The cat not knowing what sex is doesn’t make much sense tbh. after all the series the cat has expressed his desire for sex. i guess he never understood what part of his body actually desired that pleasure. infact it wasn’t the pleasure he wanted… it was just to say he did it? because unless what he got in Can of Worms was pleasurable… then what the hell did he get out of that?

    And i guess he has never watched porn and all the times in the shows past where he gave off the impression he had some understanding of sex was of BS

    Its like Doug forgot the show wasn’t still in Series 1, where it probably would have worked abit better.

  • We were hedging our bets between Christmassy waffles and more general ‘any topic’ waffles to be fair, and when we got enough that were Christmas themed we rolled with that!

    Phew! I look forward to hearing it!

  • Cat not knowing how sex works doesn’t really fit with his boast in Justice about the animal doing 150 pelvic thrusts a second being him in slo-mo.

    I wish I’d remembered that when I did the podcast!

  • it was just to say he did it? because unless what he got in Can of Worms was pleasurable… then what the hell did he get out of that?

    isn’t this just a joke about people losing their virginity, not really knowing what they’re doing, it’s being a bit crap and not good but you’re really proud about it.

  • I started watching Red Dwarf in 2001, I think, and throughout the 00s always found myself thinking “I wonder what Red Dwarf would look like if it was made now”. I always look forward to seeing what new Dwarf will look like. I think it’s just fascinating as a sci-fi show that has to be primarily shot in front of an audience. It’s always interesting to see how much they can do within those constraints, as well as the obvious budgetary constraints, and so I’m always looking forward to the new guest sets, reinventions of old sets, costumes etc. There’s not another show or film series where I can’t wait for these kind of details to be revealed, even though other shows and films have more money to spend on all of these things.

    When the Dave era started with Back to Earth, it wasn’t really what I had been hoping for aesthetically. The Dwarf looked a bit sterile to me and most of the show was set on (then) present day Earth. I understand why but I think we all would have preferred a space adventure.

    With X we got to see what could have been THE new look for Dwarf. The lighting was often a bit flat and Kryten obviously looked bizarre but it felt, visually, like a step in the right direction. XI and XII however were, for me, pretty much all I could have wished for in terms of how modern Dwarf could look. Great location shooting, more atmospheric lighting, monster effects and guest sets were all very impressive. Visually it really feels like III-V made in the 2010s in the best way possible. The model effects remain a bit naff, as do the Siliconia mechanoids, and that wonky corridor in Officer Rimmer/Krysis annoys me a bit but for the most part it’s beyond what I could have imagined for modern Dwarf. Also, HD doesn’t bother me in the slightest and the wider colour gamut it provides very much compliments the lighting approach. I hope we get to see more of Dwarf that looks like this.

    I can’t recall if TPL, which primarily had a different lighting set up on the standing sets, looked better or worse. I remember that the Blu Ray wasn’t anyway near as well encoded as XI/XII so it looked worse on that front but can’t recall as much about the aesthetics. Might give it a re-watch over the Christmas break.

  • The comments about episode order are interesting. I think XI is skewed somewhat by the need to have Twentica as the big opener when I think it would work better as the closing episode, as shot. Then you could have Give & Take as a really strong series opener (that also immediately addresses some of the Rimmer stuff from The Beginning) and Twentica as the big blowout finale, especially with the “are they really going to stay on Earth?” angle at the end.

  • Absolutely, the filming order made so, so much more sense than the broadcast one. I get the feeling the first half of Twentica feeling like an attempt to do a VI-style opening scene was considered the most typically Dwarf part of the series and thus added to the decision to put it out first.

  • Idea for a Dwarf/Hitchhiker’s crossover: future Lister ended up a brain in a jar when the mice removed it to extract the Ultimate Question.

  • Idea for a Dwarf/Hitchhiker’s crossover: future Lister ended up a brain in a jar when the mice removed it to extract the Ultimate Question.

    “Would you like some toast?”

  • I’ve never found any Red Dwarf model shots naff.

    I mean yeah, actually I don’t think they’re naff. I think a fair few of the Dave era ones leave a bit to be desired but I’ve thought about it and the main reasons my mind goes negative when I think about them are 1) because of that one shot of Red Dwarf that gets used over and over and over again and 2) because the music cues are not used correctly with them and that second one in particular drives me a bit mad.

  • Cat is always selectively ignorant for the purpose of comedy. In White Hole he goes from not knowing the objective of billiards-type games is getting the balls down holes to knowing what a trick between scenes. And there’s loads of jokes that it just doesn’t make sense for him to have the knowledge to make unless he’s a voracious reader off-screen.

  • Well the Cats ignorance was always fairly well balanced IMO. he has always been abit stupid but there was always a believable limit or progression to what would made sense for the cat to not know or be fooled by.

  • I’ve just done my much belated listen of this commentary (very good as usual, by the way) and I was INCENSED – read: somewhat surprised – to hear that Can of Worms ranked below Only The Good… in The Pearl Poll. But then I looked it up and it actually didn’t. Phew. Cassandra was the only VIII episode that beat it, which I still disagree with but it’s more understandable.

    So I’m glad I probably won’t have to launch a “Rank Can of Worms Fairly! It’s Actually Mediocre to Decent, Not Bad!” social media campaign ahead of the 2023 survey.

    What an emotional rollercoaster. This is the most confused I’ve been by a DwarfCast commentary since I learned that Howard Goodall was stealing costumes.

    Re Hitchhiker’s, I sometimes feel out of step with the fan community, about And Another Thing specifically. Because my experience was that I read it on release, really liked it, thought “Well it’s not Douglas Adams and never could be, but it’s still very enjoyable and clearly a more satisfying ending to the series than the downer, Zaphod-free, women-in-refrigerators epic that was Mostly Harmless“. It took me several years to discover that a LOT of people hated it with a passion, both in idea and execution. It was then that I first got a taste of how someone who unabashedly loved Red Dwarf VIII feels when they first discover internet forums.

  • For me it doesn’t matter what the content of the book is, or how weird Most Harmless was. You just can’t have anyone but Adams writing a Hitchhiker’s novel, and that’s just the law. It also came at a time when Dirk Maggs was starting to piss me off with his adaptations and it wasn’t long after the film, too. Just another part of the cash grab.

  • Yeah, I definitely do understand why so many fans draw a hard line against any Hitchhiker’s not written by Adams, as he had such a unique authorial voice and perspective. And while there is precedent for authors’ works getting quasi-official sequels written by others after they die (e.g. Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie), it doesn’t usually happen within a decade.

    I guess it just didn’t seem so offensive to me, given that we know Adams ultimately did intend to do a 6th book and regretted how Mostly Harmless ended, and the publisher did get the approval of his family… and they did at least limit it to that 1 book. I think I would have joined the disgusted if they had endeavoured to milk more sequels out of it than that.

    To be clear too, I don’t think any of the canonical Hitchhiker’s books were worse than AAT, and it isn’t even close really. Mostly Harmless was still really good on the whole. AAT just made for better closure.

  • I’m with you Flap Jack, granted I’ve only read it once but I found it no worse than later Adam’s H2G2 books, quite enjoyed it as a book and a one last go at doing something with the characters 

  • Mostly Harmless is already Red Dwarf VII to me, a downer I’ll maybe not bother revisiting. So I’m not bothered what they want to do with the property, really.

    Dirk Gently 1 is his best book, there’s my fascinating opinion!

  • Good to know I have company, q u i n n _ d r u m m e r. 👍

    And Warbodog, if Mostly Harmless left you cold you could do worse than reading And Another Thing once, as it does course correct on the tone. Kind of sort of like Homecoming following up Only The Good… except if the Dave era never happened (in a way).

  • Maybe. I listened to the audiobook when it came out, but might not have got far or didn’t bother paying attention. It felt like it was picking up from the third book, which I used to love but nowadays feels a bit wacky further adventures for the sake of it, with amazing concepts (Red Dwarf III?). I prefer the slower fourth book (that I didn’t care for as a teenager) doing something different.

  • I suppose it’s fair to say AAT is more a piece tonally with book 3 than books 4 and 5. But then again I love book 3 and don’t consider it a departure from books 1 and 2, so that’s my bias there.

  • :I’d just like to point out that the justification:

    and the publisher did get the approval of his family…

    might as well be amended to “and his family likes money so”. 

  • :I’d just like to point out that the justification:

    and the publisher did get the approval of his family…
    might as well be amended to “and his family likes money so”.

    I mean, sure, if you prefer to be cynical (which I know is very unlike you Pete) then it is perfectly possible that Douglas Adams’ surviving family members care more about money than the lasting integrity of his work. But that justification is more about the absence of a negative than the presence of a positive – i.e. if the family had said no and the book happened despite their protests, that would be a definite black mark against it.

  • That wasn’t specifically directed at Douglas Adams’ family, just a general distaste for this sentimental marketing fluff that surrounds continuation of a writer’s work, or image rights, both of which rest on the flimsy premise of “it’s what they would have wanted”.  

  • I get it. Those saying “it’s what they would have wanted” are most likely trying to justify something they were going to do anyway (unless legally prevented), rather than basing their actions on that knowledge. But I think how credibly you can make the argument does make a big difference.

    Obviously it’s fine to draw the line such that it’s never acceptable – unless the author writes “if I die before writing this book, please commission a popular author of the day to write it instead” into their will – but that would preclude quite a lot. We never would have got The Silmarillion, for example.

  • I can imagine I’ll have to deal with this situation in about 10 or years with whatever scraps of GRRM’s work get cobbled together by his estate.

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