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  • #209799
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Hi, guys! Since I’ve technically completed all the official episodes of Red Dwarf for The Red Dwarf Introcast (though we’re still recording), I decided to an informal rewatch of the show. And since I’m not used to doing this in a vacuum, I’ve been writing notes and little reviews after each one. I’ve been posting in the OTHER Red Dwarf forum, and I got a request that I should post here as well. I’ve written the first three, but I’ll just transfer over the first one for now.

    Series 1, episode 1: The End

    I gotta say, it’s really surreal to see Chris Barrie and Craig Charles back in 1988. They absolutely look 12. Danny hasn’t changed a bit, though. I don’t think he ages. Must be the Cat genes.

    I’m enjoying Hollister a bit more now that I’ve watched series 8. And I’ve always liked Peterson.

    Craig Charles’s acting has improved tremendously over the years. There at the beginning, he was really going in for the physical comedy, and his Scouse accent seemed a bit exaggerated. The main problem, though, was that he never actually looked anyone in the face. He was always looking down or off to the side. I don’t know if that’s the character he was trying to build for Lister, or if his character eventually matured out of that, but I connected to Lister so much more when Craig Charles started making actual eye contact with people. It’s just so much more noticeable now that I’ve hopped from 10 to 1.

    I know I probably upset several people with my fears of “racist Cat”… or, in other words, my fears that the characterization of Cat was going to be a combination of uncomfortable “black” stereotypes. I think I may have said “bad James Brown impression.” I’ve gotten over that, obviously. In fact, I quite like Cat. At the time, though, the tiny amount we get of Cat has little context, and I’m used to cringing at sitcoms that use racial stereotypes as a short-hand for comedy. I’m glad that didn’t happen, and especially that the actors and writers were aware enough of potential problems that they were able to avoid indulging in those stereotypes.

    They’re all dead, Dave. Rimmer is still great at screaming ineffectual judo. And I’m out, until “Future Echoes.”

    #209800
    Claire
    Participant

    Thanks for posting here too – I wasn’t the one who requested it, but I’d rather discuss it here as I don’t have to censor myself. :)

    Your point about Craig not making eye contact is a very good one which I never noticed. I imagine it was probably nerves and fear of forgetting his lines? I know he’s very good at that now, but maybe not right at the beginning.

    I imagine Shane’s told you about producer Paul Jackson asking Craig if he thought Cat’s character was racist and that being how Craig found out about the role of Lister and asked to audition for it? As a Craig fan, all I can say is – thank you, Mr Jackson. :) I know Craig’s acting was shaky at the start (he admits that himself) but he grew into the role really well.

    #209801
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    I am very much in favour of this thread appearing here.

    #209805
    anniescribe
    Participant

    What’s even more remarkable is how well early Chris and Craig work off of each other given they reportedly did not get on very well. Or maybe that just fed the mug-hogging competition and made it funnier. Probably that.

    #209807
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Now for series 1, episode 2; “Future Echoes”.

    Still a great episode, by the way. In my initial viewing, I’d had some reservations after the first episode. I wasn’t sure about the set-up, I didn’t get all the jokes, I didn’t particularly like Lister… And then I watched “Future Echoes.” I’m a sucker for time travel, sci-fi, and mysteries, and this one has it all.

    Of course, this episode brings on a whole host of continuity errors. We see three real future echoes: the birth of the twins Jim and Bexley, the death of Bexley, and Lister as an old man still on Red Dwarf with a metal hand.

    The twins we’ve always assumed are the twin babies Lister gave birth to after “Parallel Universe.” Of course, those babies go back to their mother/father, the female Lister, so the “death of Bexley” echo implies that he comes back to Red Dwarf and dies while Lister is still alive. Hmm… Of course, then the metal hand is a jokes they played around with in series 7.

    I know, keep calm and don’t worry about continuity… Did you get the impression, though, in series 7 that they might have kept Lister’s arm off, except Craig Charles didn’t want to worry with the extra make-up time every episode?

    I think my favorite jokes now are the subtle jokes. When Lister asks how they get two babies on board, and then he, Cat, and Rimmer look uncomfortably at each other. Or when Holly takes offense at Rimmer’s insults and gets revenge via hairstyle. Or Lister’s background mocking of Rimmer’s salutes.

    I will admit that I’ve read the first novel now. I won’t give everything away, because I think that we’re going to do an episode on each novel in the future, but I think my favorite change from this script to the novel is the fact that it’s old Lister who says my favorite line in the episode: “You’re born, you die, it’s the bit in the middle called life and that’s to come.” I loved the line in the original episode, but it did feel wrong with young Lister saying it… sort of delusional and uncaring. (Heath was uncomfortable with his reaction, I remember.) It’s definitely a line much better suited to old Lister, who has gone through “that bit in the middle” and has much more maturity about it. But, anyway.

    The “little fishy” song. Cat’s suits. Head-banging skutters. (Scutters?) And Rimmer being worried about being shut off. Fantastic. Until next time, when I review the episode I originally called “Friends in Space.”

    #209808
    evarofzentral
    Participant

    I’ve always found Lister’s reaction to his son’s future death a bit cold. I’d be pretty upset if I found out my future son would die at the age of 25. I’m not surprised Old Lister wouldn’t explain what happened to Rimmer – “well you become someone called Ace Rimmer, then you com back again but alive, then you come back as a Hologram but we’re not sure what happened in between and whether you have the memories of just series VIII Rimmer or all of Rimmer’s memories”. I think Rimmer would be quesitoning whether Old Lister had be drinking the Marijuana Gin.

    #209809
    Claire
    Participant

    Agreed that the novel’s changing of the “Old Lister” scene was for the better. Young Lister’s lack of concern about Bexley’s death definitely came across as callous. I’m glad they changed it to Lister’s grandson too.

    I like Lister’s silent guffaw when he sees what Holly’s done to Rimmer’s hair – it’s well played.

    #209815
    Ridley
    Participant

    (Scutters?)

    NEVER

    #209817
    Stephen R. Fletcher
    Participant

    These are brilliant! Love reading these, Angela!

    #209831
    anniescribe
    Participant

    Yes, but it’s then Rimmer fussing with his new beehive that makes it.

    #209841
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Okay, so… Series 1, episode 3: “Balance of Power”

    When I first watched/reviewed this episode, I was just coming off the buzz of “Future Echoes.” I wanted everything to be all timey-wimey, etc. Then we got the episode that I so unkindly dubbed “Friends in Space”… in other words, a sitcom that just so happens to be set in space.

    Now that I go back, that’s really unfair. The show needed this episode to establish character. In the first episode, we had premise set-up. The second, we further established the sci-fi-ness of the show. The third, we needed to slow down and just see who these characters are and how they interact. And we get that in droves. I’ll take it a bit at a time on what I think are the most important scenes.

    First off, Lister asking Holly why he brought back Rimmer as a hologram, of all people. We get the classic answer that Rimmer was the prime candidate to keep Lister sane (the novel, of course, says that Holly is lying). But it makes sense, given the possibilities. Lister lists his drinking buddies and Kochanski as possibilities, but none of them would have been right. His drinking buddies are just that: drinking buddies. They slobbed around and had laughs, but not really much else. I also think they would have been disastrous as holograms. Could you imagine Peterson never drinking or touching anything? Perhaps trying to convince Holly to give his program a continual flow of whiskey? As Holly says, “Hell is being alone for eternity with your friends”… or something like that. Lister would have realized very quickly that he had nothing but drinking in common with Peterson and the rest.

    As for Kochanski… Of course, this episode establishes something that is fairly quickly retconned in the novel and later series. In this version, Lister barely spoke to Kochanski. I think I remember Doug deciding that his mooning over Kochanski like that when they’d barely spoken was a bit too juvenile. Of course, Holly uses their lack of interaction as an excuse to not bring her back. However, even if they did have a preexisting relationship… she’d just dumped him. He hadn’t gotten over her. Talk about awkward. (Of course, it’s interesting that series 7 Kochanski gets holo-Lister). Lister would have been pushing for a relationship with someone who he couldn’t touch, who had just dumped him, and now was being forced to spend time with him. Not good.

    Okay, more scenes. The scene in the bar area was really good. They did a lot to make the scene seem crowded with probably not many extras. We got some lovely bits with Rimmer winging about his time table (and apparently throwing Kochanski’s friend’s purse across a dance floor). But then everything disappears, and Lister is in a half-darkened, empty bar, with no music, and a fraction of a cigarette. The last episode gave Lister hope… but this episode shows how hard it’s going to be for Lister just day to day.

    A small scene, but Rimmer’s opinion of Kochanski as “snooty” is quite good. I know we can’t entirely trust Rimmer, but it gives an indication that perhaps Kochanski is not as much the ideal woman as Lister is making her out to be. And this, I think, is the type of scene that people refer to as a classic bunk room scene. Of course, it’s not the setting, necessarily, but that’s part of it. It’s the forced intimacy with someone you don’t like… but someone you’re drawn to, that you can’t help but interact with. Lister and Rimmer could go most of their time without seeing each other. Either of them (or both) could move. But they’re completely alone, so they stay together, and they’re compelled into this sparring match because they need even an adversarial relationship just to keep going.

    Okay, now before I go all “Blue” with this, I wanted to point out just a couple more relationships and character moments. We have more Rimmer and Holly drama, we have Cat and Rimmer interacting hysterically (Cat guarding his fish is just brilliant), and then Rimmer panicking over Lister’s chef’s exam, even to the point of some half-hearted astronav revision. And, finally, we get Rimmer disguised as Kochanski. You know, I think I’ve been a bit disparaging of Clare Grogan over the years. She’s a pop singer, and cute, but hasn’t had much to work with. Here, however, Grogan puts together quite a good impression of Rimmer than I didn’t give much thought the first go-through. I didn’t have much of Kochanski to go off of–a few lines in the first episode, and a little dancing earlier in this episode–so I didn’t have much to compare it to, but her inflections, her stances, the salute… All really good. She still has her accent, but it’s supposed to be her voice. And kudos for not giving Kochanski a Chris Barrie voiceover… that drives me crazy when shows do that.

    The Cat moaning over fish consumption… I felt like that recently when I gorged on Indian food. Rimmer has a new toy that should be much more fun than Peterson’s arm. And Lister… lied about passing the chef’s exam. All in all, this episode is much better than I’d originally thought it. Boy do I hope the next one, “Waiting for God”, will produced similar results.

    #209843
    evarofzentral
    Participant

    Although I think Balance of Power is probably the weakest series I-VI episode, it’s still enjoyable and I often quote “I’ve been fished to death” albeit with different food items in place of fish.

    #209846
    anniescribe
    Participant

    Did your version of the rewatch (and the original, I guess) have the extended “black card” scene with Lister and the cake and painting an H on his forehead? I understand that’s much shorter in the remastered version ….?

    #209847
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    evarofzentral: I’m not sure I would call “Balance of Power” the weakest. I think it hangs together better as an episode than “Waiting for God” or “Confidence and Paranoia”, though admittedly those episodes had some better moments.

    anniescribe: I’m watching on US Netflix, so I believe it’s the longer scene. The most I’ve seen of the remastered version is the different opening credits and a few of the effects shots, I believe.

    #209858
    Blisschick
    Participant

    As I recall, the Netflix version didn’t have the white card/black card scene in it, but the DVD does. I can’t remember if mine are the remastered version (hubby took off with them to the new flat), but I think they are.

    #209896
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Finally catching up my posts on the other forum…

    Just a note before I begin. In the Netflix version of “Balance of Power,” there is a black card/white card scene… but I don’t know if there’s some sort of extended version I’m missing or what. Anyway…

    Series 1, episode 4: “Waiting for God.”

    This episode, at least the A plot, revolves around the Cat people and their religion (again, another thing that I think the novel did much better). The Cat people have been “waiting for god,” and it’s just as absurdist as the Samuel Beckett reference of the title would imply. The last remaining Cat people (that we know of) are Cat and the high priest. Cat seems to have a basic religious education, but otherwise cares very little about Cloister, whereas the high priest is highly devout but with a failing faith. And, of course, all of this depends on the dubious notion that Frankenstein understood enough of human language to know what was happening. Looking at my cat right now, who looks rather like Frankenstein, I find that unlikely, though who knows what Cat evolution has happened by the time it produced Frankenstein. Even the name perhaps implies a certain amount of genetic manipulation.

    I do enjoy Lister’s existential crisis as to his role as God (as well as Rimmer’s reactions). He’s still a bit disconnected from his emotions, but that’s what to expect in series 1. I do wonder, though, how the later Cat would have reacted to all this. While Cat has always been zany, series 1-2 Cat has very little to do with everyone else. I keep thinking of the “The Beginning” Cat who urges Rimmer to exorcize his personal demons. Very different from “investigating feet” Cat. I know I’ve read some people who prefer first series Cat, and I like him just fine, but I think I like him better when he’s more emotionally involved with the rest of the crew.

    But, really, the A plot is entirely overshadowed by the B plot: Rimmer and the aliens. I sort of hate the they’ve dropped Rimmer’s obsession with aliens. Rimmer loves power structures, but he feels contempt for the actual people in power (never intentionally to their face, of course), so his belief that the real superior beings in the universe have to be not-human (and not made by humans) is perfect. And, of course, the ranting about quarantine just made me squee for a certain later episode.

    I also miss Cat literature in the future. I’d love it if Rimmer had finally forced Cat to complete a form, but it was all in Smell. And then Rimmer keeps bugging everyone else to translate it, but every time they read (smell) it they just break off laughing, so that Rimmer is driven crazy by what Cat may have written… And now I have to go write fanfiction. I guess I’ll see you all when I next talk about “Confidence and Paranoia.”

    #209899
    MANI506
    Participant

    It’s worth remembering at this point that the most excited I’ve ever been in my life was when series one was released on video in 1993.

    #209902
    Karnie
    Participant

    God.. I’ve now owned four different versions of Series I: the U.S. VHS, the region 2 DVD (which I had to hack my DVD player to watch), the region 1 DVD which naturally came out shortly after, and the Bodysnatcher collection.

    I must really like this show.

    #209903
    Blisschick
    Participant

    No, you’re not missing anything. The scene was deleted from a certain version of it, to the point that you wouldn’t even know it was there if you hadn’t seen the uncut version.

    #210050
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Oh, wow, it’s been a while! Travel and work, etc. etc. Anyway, I finally gave series 1, episode 5, “Confidence and Paranoia” a rewatch, and I wanna tell y’all what I thought about it.

    This actually holds up quite well. Chris Barrie is at the top of his game, Craig Charles is a lost little puppy, and Cat is self-serving to a fault. I think this is particularly what people think of when they refer to series 1 Cat. I have to wonder, though, what’s in his perfume bottle. Best not think about that too hard.

    Lister continues his quest for Kochanski’s hologram, being I think the last time this is a plot point. (The search for Kochanski continues a few other times, but not for the hologram.) His theory about confidence and paranoia is interesting, though it seems to fit more book Lister than TV Lister… which is odd, as this episode was left out of the book except for a few jokes here and there.

    Speaking of this episode and the book, I remember when we were first watching it Heath and I commented that the leading man in the sappy movie Lister is watching sounds a LOT like Jimmy Stewart. Even though the situation doesn’t match up, that actor is the lead in It’s a Wonderful Life, Lister’s all-time favorite movie from the book. Perhaps they couldn’t get the rights to the movie at the time? Which, given it’s copyright history, is a bit odd.

    Rimmer seems to be having a great time in this episode, as all the bad things happen to Lister. Yet he gets over his smugness enough to actually show concern for Lister, insisting that he kill off the germs, or the personifications of Confidence and Paranoia.

    You know what Holly is great at? Being a running-gag C-plot. Not only does he get to do what I would love to do (erase things from my memory so I can watch them afresh), but he chooses Agatha Christie. A smart choice, as Christie novels are the best when read for the first time. You can still enjoy them later, but at the first time they’re so much fun. I’ve never really been able to figure out a Christie mystery before the reveal.

    That’s enough for now. See you again for the resolution of the cliffhanger, Me2.

    #210119
    Angela Fowler
    Participant

    Hi, everyone! I gave the series 1 ender “Me2” a watch, and this is what I thought.

    I guess since I’ve read the first novel now, this is one of the episodes where they pulled A LOT of material. And I have to say that some of the jokes that worked really well in the book are sort of awkward in the episode. For instance, the joke about Rimmer cutting newspapers headlines praising random Arnolds and pasting them on his wall. In the book it was funny, since the narration could explain the joke to us, and it was along a whole list of Rimmer’s pretensions and neuroses. In the show, however, Lister has to painstakingly explain the joke to us while Rimmer tries to shut him up. I mean, when you have Rimmer’s introduction to the death video communicating his neuroses and pretensions more successfully, why have the press clippings?

    I’m again going to praise Chris Barrie (I usually do), as well as the direction. At no point was there ever a question as to who was the “real” Rimmer and who was the second Rimmer. You almost didn’t need the characters to remind us which was which. At the same time, both Rimmer’s were essentially Rimmer, just different sides of the same coin.

    Lister, though… This is actually one of Craig’s weaker episodes. He’s again doing that thing where he won’t give eye contact to anyone. His delivery is pained sometimes… though occasionally that’s the fault of the writing (i.e. having to explain that joke). His acting toward the end is good, but he’s a bit off… which I know he’s going to get over.

    I think one of my favorite Cat scenes ever is when he leaves “something” in Lister’s locker, realizes he’s been spotted, and then is all like “Did you see his face? Could you spot him in a parade? I don’t think so. I could have been anyone.” I dunno… that just makes me laugh quite a bit.

    Much is made of the Gazpacho soup scene, and Chris certainly puts in a good performance. It honestly didn’t effect me as much on the rewatch. Perhaps since I’ve read the book and gotten the “extended cut” of the scene? I do admire Rimmer’s drink choice, though. I definitely want to drink girly drinks with Rimmer sometime. Maybe add a cherry and some grenadine to the mix.

    Now that I’ve finished the first season rewatch, and I’m staring the David Ross Kryten episode in the face, I can’t help but wonder what the show would have been like if Kryten had been there from the beginning (Robert Kryten, of course). Like, not if he was part of the crew (like in the American pilot), but if he’d been picked up by Holly for some reason. Or come in on the second episode. I guess it’s better to bring him in when Lister has a bit more handle on things so that he can help straighten Kryten out (or corrupt him, as the case may be). I just wonder how the power dynamics at the beginning would have played out differently, since so much of the first season is about power dynamics.

    So, season 1 recap. Lister goes into hibernation over a cat, and the crew all die because of Rimmer. 3 million years later, Lister wakes up to a space-crazy computer, an evolved, fashion-conscious Cat-person, and the hologram of his roommate (the horrors). Rimmer and Lister try to deal with their own various forms of mortality, the power relations between the two of them, and the most free time than anyone has ever had ever. Everything is really insular and claustrophobic, so Rimmer longs for aliens and Lister longs for Kochanski. Cat is a giant id (food, sleep, sex… though thwarted in the latter), and Holly plays jokes to fill the time. Let’s see how the next season will take all this and build upon it, when we get to series 2, episode 1: “Kryten.”

    #210121
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    Excellent as always. Although:

    At no point was there ever a question as to who was the “real” Rimmer and who was the second Rimmer.

    Apart from the continuity cock-up which meant that the wrong one was ippy-dippied to death. It’s due to something being cut from the cinema scene, which we didn’t realise until the DVD came out, 14 years after the episode…

    #210123
    Claire
    Participant

    Interesting point about how things would have been if Kryten had been there from the start. I find it hard to imagine, actually.

    Please carry on with these; they’re fun to read.

    #210126
    anniescribe
    Participant

    Ian, what was cut from the broadcast? It’s been so very long and I only remember what I know from the DVD.

    #210128
    si
    Participant

    Rimmer moved to sit in front of Rimmer one more time. That was cut, hence the wrong Rimmer getting ippied.

    #210129
    si
    Participant

    No, I’m not Ian, well done.

    I’m far more ruggedly handsome.

    #210135
    anniescribe
    Participant

    That would def cause a problem, since I’ve counted the switches to help me keep track on the DVD watch before; they’re about equally childish in the theater. Thanks for answering.

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