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  • #201316
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Seb tweeted his disappointment the other day about how it’s become generally accepted that Back to Earth was shit, which is a real pity because I believe now, just as much as I did at broadcast, that it’s not. It’s flawed – certainly the broadcast version is atrociously paced – but not only is it a cracking story it also has some fantastic jokes and some lovely character moments.

    The press seems to have forgotten that some of them rather liked it when it broadcast, and quite a few places are starting their Red Dwarf X coverage with comments to the effect of, “Well, Back to Earth was rubbish, but this looks like a return to form!” Which is, y’know, bollocks, and they know it’s bollocks because three and a half years ago they wrote about how not-rubbish it was.

    When BtE hit Bluray over here I picked up a copy from Best Buy. My then-girlfriend and I got home and wanting something to watch while we ate lunch I suggested popping it on. She agreed, mostly because she just wanted something in the background rather than something to watch. She wasn’t, and still isn’t, a fan of Red Dwarf, but she actually sat and watched BtE and, whats more, she loved it.

    And y’know what? So do I. Since getting it on DVD (and later on Bluray) I’ve watched it about a dozen times. And of my own free will, too. I might watch it again later today, actually.

    It’s also a shame that the tone around here has gradually shifted from “It was quite good, better than VIII, not as good as I-VI” to “It’s crap, son.” I remember reaction round these parts being much more positive than its been in recent weeks. Not everybody liked it, obviously, but not everybody hated it either. It’s strange how the tone has shifted as RDX approaches.

    #201317
    Mr-Stabby
    Participant

    Yeah I agree. As Series X has been building up, i found myself looking back at the reaction to BtE on broadcast here and on other sites like Gallifrey Base, and was surprised at just how good the reaction was. Especially considering whenever BtE has been mentioned recently, it has always been in a negative fashion mostly.

    Even the Instant Reaction Dwarfcasts were more positive than negative. Weird how opinions change. Maybe the original excitement of the actual broadcast may have led people to be more positive, and the later reactions were people giving their measured reaction after watching it a couple of times.

    Personally i really liked BtE and remembered laughing quite a lot on original broadcast. I also bought the DVD AND the Bluray when it came out (gave the DVD away to a friend who is a big Dwarf fan and didn’t even know Back to Earth existed. Strange isn’t it!)

    There are however, I think, quite a few things wrong with BtE. I really think it needed a studio audience, i know that’s such a cliched line, but a lot of the gags, especially in the first part needed an audience reaction and felt slightly awkward without one. I don’t think it was paced correctly for a commercial half hour 3 parter either. I don’t care if the DVD version is better, you should make a show designed for the slot it is given on TV and Series 8 and BtE suffered because of that not being the case. I understand BtE became a 3 parter quite close to broadcast, but some of the edits seemed very rushed.

    Anyway, while it had problems, as i said i really liked it and it certainly doesn’t deserve the bashing it gets. The whole ‘they’re too old, the show is past its best, let it go’ bullshit really fucks me off at times too. BtE was a massive improvement over Series 8 and from what we’re seeing Series X looks to be bloody good, so i wish people would let that crap go and just try and enjoy it. By all means slag it off after its broadcast :D

    #201318
    Jimboid
    Participant

    I’ve always liked it. It’s better than any of 7 or 8 (apart from maybe Cassandra).

    It certainly wasn’t bollock-slappingly hilarious, but duff lines were few and far between. It mixed humour and drama more successfully than ever before. I’d rather have that sort of tone than scattergun gagging with more misses than hits.

    #201319
    Ridley
    Participant

    Are the BTE poll comments still on-site or have they been lost into the ether with the move to WordPress? If I’m remembering correctly most instant reactions from non-Team G&Ters were there, and it would be nice to take a gander.

    #201320
    Jonathan Capps
    Keymaster

    They’ve not been moved yet, but I’ll see what I can do when I get back in front of a computer.

    For the record, I like BTE more now than I did at the time.

    #201321
    Alex
    Participant

    I think most of us are as positive about it now as we ever were, but I’ve noticed a lot of people that didn’t like it becoming louder. As for the press, well it’s typical lazy journalism to pander to a ‘received wisdom’ largely taken from online comment sections. The only negative review of BtE I remember reading in the press at the time was Caitlin Moran’s, but it was clear in that review that she didn’t like the show anyway and resented having to watch new episodes of it.

    The thing that has really depressed me recently is the amount of comments I’ve seen on sites saying that they didn’t like how BtE ended with them all just having been TV characters. These people clearly didn’t watch all three episodes through to the end and as such should keep their fucking moronic comments to themselves.

    #201323
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    BTE’s not shit.

    It’s just not very good.

    I’m going to watch it again shortly before X starts as I *do* have the BD but have only seen it about three times since broadcast. Unfortunately, I don’t think my opinions will have changed.

    I really like some of the ideas (the premise that Series 9 happened off-screen is wonderful) but, aside from the fact that it’s not funny and the final third is awful, the meta stuff totally loses its way once it becomes abundantly clear that it’s not happening in ‘our” world, but in some weird reality where “dimension skids” are treated with disinterest by comic book guy,

    I would have loved it if they’d had the balls of say, The Simpsons, South Park, Buffy – and taken some proper potshots at the show itself. Deconstruct the thing properly. Make mention of the fact that VII was badly received. Name Doug Naylor as the creator. And FFS; mention that Red Dwarf is a SITCOM and people find the crew’s life and death situations amusing. Part two (the middle third) had huge promise and then it’s just tossed away.

    And a celebration of Red Dwarf should not descend into frankly bizarre nods to a film with which it shares little in common. We could have had a wonderful adaptation of the ideas in Better Than Life (the novel), instead we get “let’s try and make this scene as similar to a movie from 30 years ago”. I think I’ll gloss over the fact that it’s a rip-off of a far better episode or I’ll vomit another paragraph of bile.

    By the way, I think it’s amusing that people are quibbling about this being stated in amazingly positive reviews of Trojan. If you don’t agree with their negative opinion on BTE, their positive comments on Trojan should be meaningless to you.

    #201324
    si
    Participant

    I rewatched it (Director’s Cut) when it was on Dave 3 weeks ago, then watched the three episode version as I reached the end of the 1-55 rewatch I’ve steadily been partaking in over the last few months.
    I reread my comments from the G&T ‘on the night’ pieces, and, though I was perhaps OTT in places, I more or less agree with what I said back then.
    Post Part One:

    …on the whole, well worth the wait…Yeah, a 7/10. Not too much wrong with it, really.

    Post Part Two (note I’d never seen Blade Runner prior to this):

    Loved the extra scene after the recap, loved the entrance into the shop, really loved the ‘bunk room scene’ with Rimmer and Lister…Mugs Murphy inclusion was great. The kids on the bus. The way Rimmer disposed of Katerina! Chloe in the magazine – Brilliant touch!! …
    That was 200% better than last night’s ep, which means this episode deserves a 14 out of 10.
    Immense….the ad break (after, what, five minutes?!) – hilarious!!!
    …what was with The Cat’s Origami stuff? That I didn’t get.
    (Although my sister’s suggesting it might be something from Story Makers)
    I’ve never seen BladeRunner, and although I may have missed a reference or two, I thought tonight’s was brilliant….I’m loving it, and am somewhat saddened by the fact that there’s only one more episode

    and just before Part Three:

    I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve given the impression of blindly loving it simply because it’s Red Dwarf. So I’ll concede it hasn’t felt like ‘traditional’ Dwarf – the stuff on the ship wasn’t as good as the classic stuff, and, ironically, some of the best stuff in part one was once Katerina turned up. Episode two, which was as far from ‘trad’ Dwarf as possible was, on the other hand, hilarious…

    But then a few hours later, post Part three:

    Sod that. Really disappointed tonight. And yet everyone who hated last night loved it…
    The stuff on Coronation Street was fine – not overlong, and some funny stuff (loved the ‘Nowt On Telly’ magazine – that was the best scene by far). After the Rimmer Munchkins led them into the Creator’s office, it just became…what? It wasn’t even because it was too much of a mindfuck, I just didn’t have the same, content, inane grin on my face that I’ve had on my face for the past two nights.
    The Creator was just…bad. Maybe that was a major Blade Runner reference? If not, it was bad….
    I think keeping Chloe quiet was possibly the biggest surprise – yes, we had our suspicions after last night, but still – but her hair, in both scenes…my god. From Horse and Rider to…oh, I don’t know.
    I can cope with RD being Comedy-Drama, but there were periods of that second half that just went too long without a laugh. The resolution of The Cat bringing the threat aboard originally was a little flat, and I would have liked a chuckle at the end, which I didn’t get.
    Rating: Part three – 4/10, overall – 7/10.

    So, yeah. I watch it now – having seen Blade Runner a couple of times – and I think some things are better than I did then, while other things don’t work for me. But a 6 or a 7 out of 10 is fair. Some very good stuff, but an over-reliance on the BR stuff made it hard for me to follow and hence enjoy.

    That thing about me not having the grin on my face for part three holds true, but I must say, having watched it again twice recently, the diving bell scene is one of the best RD scenes ever.

    But, in summation – no, Back to Earth *isn’t* shit.

    #201325
    Ridley
    Participant

    G&T ‘on the night’ pieces

    Maybe I was thinking of them then.

    #201326
    Carlito
    Participant

    I’ll preface by saying I still haven’t seen Blade Runner…

    I think the reason the opinion of BTE has soured is because, if there are people out there like me, it doesn’t have a great deal of rewatch value. I can sit and rewatch a series I-VI episode that I’ve seen twenty times before and still really enjoy it. There are a few select episodes in VII and VIII that I can do the same with. But other than in the immediate aftermath of the broadcast and subsequent DVD release, I have rarely returned to the well of BTE. I think sitcom is generally far more rewatchable than drama, no matter how good said drama may be, and even though you couldn’t call BTE a drama, the tone is quite obviously different. I duno, I’m kind of rambling and not articulating my point all that well… hopefully you get what I mean.

    Having said the above, my opinions at the time were that episode 1 was great, episode 2 was disappointing and episode 3 was okay. But I think my appreciation of episode 2 has increased while my lukewarm feelings towards 3 have degenerated. I still think episode 1 was the best of the bunch. Still have no problem with the squid resolution as I understood that the special was a celebratory nod to the shows history and thought it was fitting.

    #201327
    Carlito
    Participant

    I still think they missed a trick by not having a studio audience or at least a (genuine) laugh track for the ship based portions of the show and have the audience disappear when the crew entered ‘the real world’.

    #201328
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    I still think they missed a trick by not having a studio audience or at least a (genuine) laugh track for the ship based portions of the show and have the audience disappear when the crew entered ‘the real world’.

    I actually think that would have worked beautifully, though obviously the budget didn’t allow this to happen.

    #201329
    si
    Participant

    And me. Starting with an audience, then losing it the minute they left the ship not only would’ve been a great touch for the story, but there’d be less spoilers for the audience to risk leaking. :)

    #201332
    MANI506
    Participant

    The only bits I don’t like about BTE are the tomato scene and the toilet discussion in the bunk scene.

    All the performances are great and Mike Seymour deserves a medal. It is definitely not shit!

    I laughed like a twat at the zoom in bit and the priory line.

    #201335
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    The tomato gag is a brilliant idea, and the performances are brilliant, but the dialog just doesn’t quite make it.

    #201339
    srmcd1
    Participant

    I think the tomato gag should’ve ended with Lister having to go to the Medi Bay for some inoculations, just to show how badly the prank has gone for him. Could’ve had his tongue start swelling up and everything.

    #201341
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Had Back to Earth been a single, 26-minute episode then yeah, I can see that working as a button for the end of the show. But with the miniseries format, it just wouldn’t have worked.

    #201342
    Pecospete666
    Participant

    I think it was brilliant concept! Doug picked out the major points of the original movie and added his comedy and it worked brilliantly. If you didn’t like it or thought it was shit maybe you should watch Blade Runner and Then BTE and then maybe you can appreciate the show. I have no complaints about it.

    PS Mr Stabby can I have you old Avatar?

    #201343
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >If you didn’t like it or thought it was shit maybe you should watch Blade Runner and Then BTE and then maybe you can appreciate the show.

    I’ve seen Blade Runner. I don’t why I should though to enjoy the 20th Anniversary Special of a BBC sitcom which has little to do with it. You should be able to enjoy something on its own merits – not in relation to something else.

    >Doug picked out the major points of the original movie and added his comedy and it worked brilliantly

    Yeah, I’m failing to see much comedy in any of the actual nods though. They’re mostly just THERE.
    http://www.reddwarf.co.uk/features/analysis/back-to-blade-runner/index.cfm

    #201347
    pfm
    Participant

    The idea of BtE is great, and the show itself looks amazing. In fact, everything about its production is pretty inspiring (lots of people working for peanuts or as a favour, just for their love of Red Dwarf), and seeing the guys back together in the roles was a real joy; a feat I was slowly losing hope for.

    The biggest plus points were Craig’s performance, and what Doug had given the character (possibly brought on by him thinking ‘oh shit, Craig’s not really up for this, so I have to give him something with a bit of meat’). Also, Chloe’s appearance towards the end never fails to make me smile. I don’t know how anyone can slate that, or dismiss BtE as ‘crap’ when these moments exist. Plus, Sophie Winkleman… ;)

    Of course, it’s not a particularly funny episode (BITR, the complete cut, for example, has a ton of laughs in comparison), and a little in no man’s land in regards to what it’s trying to be. You could settle for ‘comedy drama’ but that’ll never sit right. However, I think it’s far more successful than VII in developing the show’s format and proved, to me, that the movie WOULD have been great.

    #201348
    Pecospete666
    Participant

    Pete Part Three I wearer of you! time for you to die!
    Everybody’s entitled to their opinion :)

    #201349

    Ah, so you’ve moved on from wanting fictional characters to die and now it’s real people. WHO’S NEXT?

    #201350
    Pecospete666
    Participant

    You! Stay out of AZ USA :)

    #201360
    Jimboid
    Participant

    PP3 – Your initial post in this thread…yes. All of that. Very true.

    #201362

    >Everybody’s entitled to their opinion :)

    Including PP3.

    #201369
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    once it becomes abundantly clear that it’s not happening in ‘our” world, but in some weird reality where “dimension skids” are treated with disinterest by comic book guy

    See, I don’t think it becomes “abundantly clear” until they get to Swallow or, alternatively, the “Tyrell” building. I never took the line about dimension skids as a sign that they’re a common feature of the reality they’re in, so much as a sign that Noddy is completely fucking batshit insane.

    #201370
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    And FFS; mention that Red Dwarf is a SITCOM and people find the crew’s life and death situations amusing.

    And not to just go ragging on all your points, but the fact that it DOESN’T do this is one of my favourite elements of it, and a great bit of subversion that I never would have thought of. Because we all think of Red Dwarf as a sitcom, I think it’s hilarious that even when discovering that their lives are a TV show, the characters assume it’s a drama. Because to them, it would be.

    #201395
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    To not explore the actual reality of it feels like a missed opportunity to me. Merely concentrating on the fact that Lister et al are fictional characters is ground that was covered in…um…another episode so there was mileage in being properly meta about it and setting it in the “real world”.

    It seems odd to dangle the premise that Red Dwarf is a TV show [of indefinite genre, starring Chloe Annett and Craig Charles from Corrie] in a universe that iooks like ours, but then get restless with this idea and throw a load of Blade Runner homages at us because, hey, it’s not our universe after all and we can do movie-spoofs well.

    For Doug to later admit that Blade Runner had little to do with the creation of Red Dwarf is…confusing. What exactly was the point of all that then? The Last Day homages The Terminator, Polymorph homages Alien…but these are natural homages due to the stories of those episodes. The Blade Runner stuff is just odd. Had the crew been watching it before they had the hallucination? What has Red Dwarf got to do with Blade Runner? Actually, sod that, what has Back to Earth got to do with Blade Runner aside from the bizarre amount of homages?

    The Coronation Street stuff gives an idea of what this could have been had they gone along with taking the piss out of themselves a bit. It’s certainly more in keeping with an anniversary. I think I’d be able to overlook the lack of laughs, if they’d taken that idea further.

    The final line of the episode (I hesitate to call it a joke) makes mention of the audience at home and the crew wander away laughing smugly at their expense. But the audience at home isn’t “us” as the universe they’ve visited isn’t ours, so the line doesn’t even work.

    #201396
    Carlito
    Participant

    I would agree that the premise was a great idea, and the Blade Runner stuff sidetracked it. I really liked episode 1, and the scenes on Earth which didn’t revolve around Blade Runner (the department store/mall, the bus journey, Corrie etc.)

    I would have preferred The Creator actually be Doug Naylor, even if he didn’t portray himself. If part 1 had been the same, then part 2 and 3 had been more along the lines of the aforementioned scenes I think it would have been overall a better show. Why did they only meet Craig? Why didn’t they go looking for Danny, Chris and Robert too? That would have been more interesting, I think. Even if they had tracked down Norm and Hattie, imagine a scene with the characters meeting Norm and Hattie at the same time, how weirdly cool would that have been? BTE is one of those “what could have been” scenarios I think. Fantastic idea spoiled by over-egging the homage. Just the zoom scene and origami would have done as a nod to Blade Runner.

    #201400
    si
    Participant

    I would have preferred The Creator actually be Doug Naylor, even if he didn’t portray himself.

    Or better still, a ‘Grant Naylor’ gestalt character

    By the way, those on-the-night pieces are easy enough to find in the archive – April 2009 – but the ones I quoted my own comments from were:

    Let’s Talk About Back To Earth Part One


    http://www.ganymede.tv/2009/04/lets-talk-about-back-to-earth-part-two/ and

    Let’s Talk About Back To Earth Part Three

    Plenty of interesting comments (and arguments) there, including some from folks who don’t frequent G&T anymore, for whatever reason.

    #201403
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with the zoom joke, because it works in the context of the show and is not weird enough to make you think “I don’t get it… Is this a homage?”.

    >Plenty of interesting comments (and arguments) there, including some from folks who don’t frequent G&T anymore, for whatever reason.

    I scared them all off with my incessant moaning. Sorry.

    #201422
    locusceruleus
    Participant

    Jimboid said it well, for me. I absolutely loved BTE when it was first broadcast and on the 4 or so occasions I’ve watched it since. I’d agree with Ben, the director’s cut has far better pacing.

    The thing with BTE is that more casual fans have never seemed to like when Dwarf plays up the comedy/drama angle. I’m not surprised that they were disappointed, but when I hear that fans who have followed the show through every series didn’t enjoy it, I’m surprised. The characterisation was dead on, the Kochanski stuff was moving. Scenes like Lister on the bus with the two kids were fucking magic. It was Craig’s show, really.

    #201429
    Ridley
    Participant

    Or better still, a ‘Grant Naylor’ gestalt character

    And Rimmer should have wanted a sitcom in a leisure centre.

    I’ve got this mental image of the Dwarfers going to find ‘Earth’ Holly and it’s Lovett and Hayridge in a flatshare. Except it isn’t Hayridge but Lovett popping on the Beat the Geek wig.

    #201430
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >Except it isn’t Hayridge but Lovett popping on the Beat the Geek wig.

    Yeah, and he keeps on having to change into the wig while the Dwarfers are there so as to keep up the pretence that him and Hattie are different people or else the Social Services will take the Dwarfers away from him.

    #201437
    Jonsmad
    Participant

    Back to earth compared to previous sitcom dwarf, is different and time has passed, and a lot of people judge early and dissmiss, and that voice of past fan not returning in joy is bound to be pretty large on a show with such a long history. Although doug bigs up an audience of 11m for it. It’s sort of like 2million on broadcast episode. So 6 million less than it’s bbc 2 last audience and some of the recent 2 million must be made of newer fans etc watching since getting into repeats/dvds. it’s a massive voice of glimpsing no longer into it fans seeing something different or reading about it and passing on the idea it’s shit.

    Twats.

    Presumably they arent reading here so i can call them that! Some will probably dimiss Red Dwarf X too.

    I’ve rewatched back to earth more times on dvd than any other series episode in the last few years. Cus it’s a great mini movie. It’s as good as, and similar to the best of new dr who which is clearly comedy as well as sci fi drama. And
    i still get the fun of it being back from it, especially the part they arrive on earth through to the corrie stuff.

    With Red dwarf x bringing back the sitcom element, and generally feeling so great it is shining a light on the imperfections of back to earth, particularly on how unfunny the ship based stuff was in it. So it’s rating is falling i think.

    For me I agree with Mani506 those bits dont work. The rest does.

    >You should be able to enjoy something on its own merits – not in relation to something else.

    I dont agree. This discounts any level of inspirational homage/parody. Casablanca case in point.
    I agree that works better some times when it still works as say story or exagerated moment with out knowledge
    of the source. And indeed i think the more heavily you do it in a show the more problematic it becomes for
    a wider audience. And I certainly would agree if you were to say that back to earth more than any other show
    on tv ever didnt so much dip into homage/parody but scoff at it like a five course meal without clear enough reason,
    but it did at least mention it in set up.

    #201441

    >Casablanca case in point.
    I disagree with this. I’ve never seen Casablanca but I still get Camille and Holoship.

    #201442
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >Casablanca case in point.

    I assume you’re referring to the homage in Camille. The difference is that the ending of Camille is about the breakup of a relationship, so referencing lines from a film about the breakup of a relationship doesn’t jar with anyone. If you haven’t seen Casablanca (or been exposed to the sheer number of times that’s been parodied) , the scene still makes perfect sense.

    The creator being dressed weird, Kochanski having an odd haircut/costume, the building being that shape, the odd environment of the streets, the presence of the Rimmer Munchkins…all of these are aesthetic choices which don’t have anything to do with the story of Back to Earth.

    Homaging something should not be so awkward and overt. It shouldn’t be a case of the audience questioning “Why is that there like that?”. It shouldn’t draw attention to itself and detract from the actual material. If you’re familiar with what is being referenced, then that’s nice. The person who doesn’t spot it shouldn’t be wondering why stylistic choices have been made.

    Blade Runner has an amazing look to it. It’s been ripped off and homaged countless times but you can do it, just do it subtlely and, er, maybe reign it in a bit.

    #201451
    Phil
    Participant

    >If you haven’t seen Casablanca (or been exposed to the sheer number of times that’s been parodied) , the scene still makes perfect sense.

    Yeah, that’s kind of my litmus test for cultural references. If the joke works without the knowledge but is _enhanced_ by the knowledge, it’s fair game. If the joke (or “joke”) is meaningless outside of the original context of the reference, it tends to get under my skin…even if I am very familiar with the original context. It needs to work on both levels, otherwise it’s lazy Family Guy-style reenactments masquerading as comedy.

    #201452
    Bezzy
    Participant

    I always associated BtE as a comedy drama. I liked it and felt Craig’s more mature Lister was great.. especially his emotional pieces.. yeah it was flawed in many ways but it wasnt shit at all.

    #201457
    Plastic Percy
    Participant

    I really, really loved ‘Back to Earth’. But I still don’t understand how ‘Blade Runner’ was its inspiration? Doug and Rob always used to say they were inspired by the films ‘Alien’ and ‘Dark Star’.

    #201465
    John Hoare
    Participant

    The problem with the dramatic bits in Back To Earth was that – for me – they didn’t earn them by being extremely funny as well.

    Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, this is something Hi-De-Hi! does perfectly.

    #201466
    Danny Stephenson
    Keymaster

    Blade Runner was more for the books I would say.

    #201467
    thomasaevans
    Participant

    Well… I never saw Blade Runner before watching Back To Earth – yet I have always thought It to be excellent.

    Having watched Blade Runner since, yeah I felt I enjoyed It more so. But I’ve never swayed from It, I always thought It was excellent, and I’m rather gutted to find that nearly ALL my friends who like Red Dwarf detest Back To Earth with a passion – So much so, I’ve literally had to fight tooth and nail to persuade them to watch the new series, constantly getting ‘If It’s like the last one, I wont fucking bother’ thrown back In my face.

    Back To Earth – FAR better than It’s made out to be. I love It.

    #201468
    John Hoare
    Participant

    Having watched Blade Runner since, yeah I felt I enjoyed It more so. But I’ve never swayed from It, I always thought It was excellent, and I’m rather gutted to find that nearly ALL my friends who like Red Dwarf detest Back To Earth with a passion – So much so, I’ve literally had to fight tooth and nail to persuade them to watch the new series, constantly getting ‘If It’s like the last one, I wont fucking bother’ thrown back In my face.

    This does bring up something odd – because I’ve had exactly the same. Everyone I’ve talked to about Back To Earth outside fandom – they hated it without fail. Including one person who doesn’t seem to get passionate about anything… but got very passionate when I got onto this subject.

    Not that I’m saying the people I know are necessarily representative of the general audience, mind!

    (What I also found strange is how few questions there were about Back To Earth at Dimension Jump XV, considering how many fans loved it. But then I’ve complained about fans not being interested in the DVDs before either, so I don’t think that proves much beyond a lot of fans being RUBBISH.)

    #201470
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    I really, really loved ‘Back to Earth’. But I still don’t understand how ‘Blade Runner’ was its inspiration? Doug and Rob always used to say they were inspired by the films ‘Alien’ and ‘Dark Star’.

    The way i see it, Blade Runner inspired Back to Earth (obviously) but not Red Dwarf, despite publicity at the time (which, frankly, we could’ve done without, especially in light of the “revelation” that Blade Runner wasn’t actually that much of an inspiration for the show in the first place).

    #201475
    pfm
    Participant

    The reason people outside of fandom won’t like BtE is that it relies too much on the viewers BEING fans (of both Red Dwarf and, to a lesser extent, Blade Runner) to even appreciate what Doug is trying to do.

    A similar thing would apply if Back To Reality was your first experience of Dwarf. There’s no way you could fully enjoy the idea of the characters ‘discovering’ they’re not who they think they are if you don’t actually know who they are in the first place! That doesn’t mean to say episodes like this shouldn’t be made, it’s just that BtE was the first Dwarf for 10 years, and it should have been something that drew newbies in from the get-go as opposed to resting on 52 episodes of history.

    #201483
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Very few of my mates actually watch Red Dwarf. Two of them who I dragged to an X recording (and were very positive about it) are “lapsed” fans who gave up on BTE about half-way through the weekend. I notice that whenever the show is reported about on TV websites, you only need to glance down towards the comments and see several comments that Red Dwarf hasn’t been good since the early 90’s (and it’s not me making them!).

    So I get the impression that BTE is either unpopular or just not widely seen (which is at odds with the viewership of 27 billion or whatever that Doug’s currently claiming for that Easter weekend ;-))

    >Blade Runner inspired Back to Earth (obviously)

    Maybe I need to listen to Doug’s commentary again, but I don’t recall him saying how it *inspired* him to come up with Back to Earth either. There’s not actually much in the dialogue that references Blade Runner, most of it is stylistic choices. There’s the origami and the DVD blurb that I can think of.

    And that DVD blurb is…odd.

    “Knowing they will die in the final episode the Dwarfers, in best Blade Runner traditions, decide to track down their creators to discover how long they have left to live.”

    If “in best Blade Runner traditions” wasn’t there, how many people would actually think “Oh, just like Blade Runner”?. Not many, I wager. It seems shoe-horned in to explain the later stuff.

    I just get the over-riding impression that the references came later…and got out of hand.

    #201484
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Having watched BtE over the weekend, I can confirm that Blade Runner is mentioned by name a few times in the scene with the Creator.

    I didn’t mean to imply that Back to Earth exists because Doug wanted to “do” Blade Runner, but the structure of the story would have been completely different had Doug not consciously decided to base the special on that movie.

    Another thing to consider with BtE: It wasn’t written for new viewers. It was written for fans. It was supposed to be a celebration, an anniversary special, which is why it’ll always piss me off when people accuse it of “ripping off” Back to Reality.

    I’m not saying this approach is without flaws, obviously – considering the bulk of the show’s potential viewership would likely have been casual viewers it might have been more sensible to produce a special that stands on its own rather than being dependent upon callbacks and recycled jokes (which, in fairness, is the same reason I didn’t enjoy “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score” when I first watched it) but I do think complaining about the plot being predicated on rehashing an old story – arguably the show’s most popular and successful episode – is idiocy.

    #201486
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    > It was supposed to be a celebration, an anniversary special, which is why it’ll always piss me off when people accuse it of “ripping off” Back to Reality.

    I think a better way to celebrate a programme is to remind people of why it’s worth celebrating, not remind them of a previous episode.

    >I do think complaining about the plot being predicated on rehashing an old story – arguably the show’s most popular and successful episode – is idiocy.

    So you don’t think it’s a bit of a flaw that on watching BTE on the first time, it was painfully obvious how this was going to end as soon as squid ink got sprayed around five minutes into episode 1?

    >the structure of the story would have been completely different had Doug not consciously decided to base the special on that movie.

    Maybe I need to watch Blade Runner again too as I really don’t see many parallels beyond the stylistic homages in the final third..

    >Another thing to consider with BtE: It wasn’t written for new viewers. It was written for fans..

    ..of Blade Runner.

    I’m joking! :-) I realise some people love it who have never seen Blade Runner. To them I say, “go watch Blade Runner”.

    #201489
    mick
    Participant

    I have to judge any comedy on how much it makes me laugh, and continues to do so on further watches, I’ve never said I got no enjoyment out of BtE, on the contrary I did enjy waching it.
    However for me personally it was really low on the amusement factor for the most part.

    #201490
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    I think a better way to celebrate a programme is to remind people of why it’s worth celebrating, not remind them of a previous episode.

    That depends, really. “The Five Doctors” is an example of an anniversary special that’s basically a cobbled-together “best bits” story that only barely stand son its own two feet. Stargate SG-1’s 100th episode, “Wormhole X-Treme”, is an absolutely ridiculous self-referential meta-story that wouldn’t mean anything to anybody who hadn’t seen the show before.

    So you don’t think it’s a bit of a flaw that on watching BTE on the first time, it was painfully obvious how this was going to end as soon as squid ink got sprayed around five minutes into episode 1?

    Firstly, you’re exaggerating. Ink wasn’t “sprayed around five minutes into episode 1”. In fact absolutely no ink was sprayed around at all – the only thing we see in the episode that could have been the ink is the purple gloop lightly covering the Dwarfers, and the visual clue is that the gloop is the squid’s blood, the result of Lister having hacked off a tentacle. In hindsight, yes, it’s ink, but the visual cues don’t match this.

    And that happened about ten-to-fifteen minutes into the episode.

    I win at debating.

    #201492
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Well, I’m sorry that it was obvious to me that this was all a hallucination a la Back to Reality. As soon as the word “squid” was mentioned in the synopsis prior to screening, it seemed like a fairly obvious nod, especially considering how controversial it would have been had the effects of the episode “stuck”. And, um, it looked like squid ink to me.

    >And that happened about ten-to-fifteen minutes into the episode.

    You’ve clearly watched it more times that me. When I watch it again, I’ll be sure to jot down the exact timecode.

    >I win at debating.

    That’s debatable.

    #201493
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    That’s debatable.

    Probably, but I’d win that one too.

    #201707
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    I think I’m experiencing some form of Dimension Squid, but I tend to agree with PP3 more often than not reading this through. Outside to G&T mob (I always think of you as a mob, maybe we should start leaving replica Spare Head Three’s in people’s beds) I only know two others who watched BTE, one enjoyed the Corrie bits, the other whenever I bring up RDX asks “It’s better than that other thing they did then? Because that was awful”.

    BTE will for me always be about that ridiculous Bank Holiday weekend at the House of Dwarf, which I remain very honoured to have been part off. I remember sharing some very knowing looks during certain scenes some ginger goit who used to be part of the G&T team essentially because we were bigger Blade Runner fans than the rest. However, whilst it all looks lovely in terms of Blade Runner recreation the execution in terms of story felt rather leaden. The dramatic bits with Lister and Kochanski I preferred to almost all of the gags.

    I agree with this “Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, this is something Hi-De-Hi! does perfectly.”

    It’s also something Dwarf in earlier episodes does damn well too (and hopefully will again in RDX).

    I think I enjoyed the Lister story within BTE more because I took it in the context of the overall Red Dwarf “arc” rather than within an isolated three episode story. A story that overall I rate below bits of VII. That said I really like some bits of VII.

    #201717
    locusceruleus
    Participant

    I think I enjoyed the Lister story within BTE more because I took it in the context of the overall Red Dwarf “arc” rather than within an isolated three episode story.

    That’s exactly the way I feel, except you somehow managed to express it coherently. Neat trick!

    #201723
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    I’m not ginger, you twat.

    #201728
    Tarka Dal
    Participant

    Strawberry blonde?

    #201755

    If it makes you feel any better, Seb, I had no idea it was a reference to yourself.

    #201785
    Stephen R. Fletcher
    Participant

    When BtE first aired over that Easter weekend of 2009, I did enjoy it overall but I think I did feel a slight bit underwhelmed at the same time. I didn’t love it or hate it. Not having seen Blade Runner did ruin it/ confuse me and I still need to watch it.

    Over the past few years, it has grown on me much more and I would rank it up there as some of the best that Red Dwarf has ever done. Strangely, my opinions on each part has changed too. Part 3 was my favourite when it first aired – mostly because of the emotional impact the Lister/ Fake Kochanski moment had on me. But now I would say that I probably prefer Part 1. It does get to me when I see or hear people dismiss it as “crap”. I think it deserves better than that.

    My two younger brothers, who have never seen Red Dwarf, absolutely love ‘Back To Earth’. They’ve watched my BtE DVD quite a few times, and recently been watching the recording I did on Sky+ of the Directors Cut on Dave a few week back. They’ve also been watching some of the recent DAVE recordings of The Original Series. They’ve been enjoying them and laughing a lot. There’s still more episodes they need to watch, but they still say that BtE is the “best”. It’s nice though because they’re are just as excited as I am for the new series. Over the past few weeks they’ve been getting into the show properly – watching episodes for the first time from the DAVE Countdown weekends, and today, I got to see them watch ‘Thanks For The Memory’ and ‘Stasis Leak’ for their first time ever. They loved them :o)

    #201787
    clem
    Participant

    It’s great that your little brothers are getting into Dwarf, but don’t let them watch the butchered Dave repeats. Show them the DVDs complete with all the bastards, retards and rude gestures – I don’t care if they’re only 8. :-)

    #201789
    Stephen R. Fletcher
    Participant

    I’ve been trying to get them to watch the DVDs, but they’re too lazy to bother going through the rigmarole of getting the DVDs from the shelf, turning the Xbox on, putting the disc in, etc. For them, it’s easier just putting the Sky+ recordings of the Dave repeats on. But I’m hoping that at some point in the future they’ll ask me if they can watch the DVDs, like with the BtE DVD. Though the eldest of the two did actually watch ‘Polymorph’ and ‘Bodyswap’ on DVD with me, during my DVD marathon in anticipation for Series X :o)

    Oh, and they’re 13 and 14 – so just the right age for bastards, retards, and rude gestures, I’d say.

    #201860
    NoFro
    Participant

    My take:

    I’m always surprised at how much I enjoy Back to Earth. Not because I always think of it as bad but because I always seem to forget about how many good scenes and moments there are. I always seem to forget that most of part 1 exists. I just watched it again for the third time since upgrading to the Blu Ray in April (so I’ve watched it quite a few times recently) and I’m always surprised at how the 70 minutes flies by. It’s not perfect and there are a few things that I’d change if I could (an opening scene that starts with Rimmer walking in on Lister watching Blade Runner? Even if the film doesn’t become the topic of conversation it would provide some explanation for the hallucination) but I see most of the problems with Back to Earth as being a result of the production situation. As we know it changed from being a two parter to a three parter and the manic production is what I’d blame for the whole thing feeling like a bit of a rough draft. As if maybe a few things from the beginning could have been changed to make the end work a bit better and vice versa. Like when I write essays for Uni I often start off with one plan and throughout the writing process my argument generally mutates into something quite different and so I go back and change some things at the beginning to make my argument stronger and more cohesive. It feels like Doug maybe didn’t get a chance to do this with Back to Earth so Blade Runner homages, Multiverse 101 theories and other things don’t work in the way they could.

    All in all though I enjoy Back to Earth and would rather have the general vibe of it and it’s not-so-gag-a-minute style rather than the joke-a-minute/cringe-a-minute of VII and VIII. Not to say those series didn’t have some great jokes in, it’s just for every good joke there is one that makes me cringe. Doesn’t really happen that way in BTE, couple of jokes fall flat (banks anyone?) but it’s nowhere near as bad in my humble opinion.

    It’s a crazy and enjoyable experiment and it annoys me that some people bag on it with such blind hatred.

    #201895
    Karnie
    Participant

    I’m actually going through BtE now for the Encyclopedia; watching it again after re-watching Blade Runner, I happen to think the Nose World scene and final confrontation with the creator were absolutely brilliant, and the revelation at the end justified the entire 3-part series in my opinion. I do think they should have at least used a laugh-track for the ship-board scenes, then removed it while they were on “Earth”. I think this would have worked on several levels; one, it would have made the ship-board scenes more Dwarfy, and wouldn’t have instantly put off so many people; it would have also strengthened the contrast between their reality and the ‘real world’, and finally, I don’t think the Earth-bound scenes needed it, as the focus on humor switched from situational comedy to sci-fi parody. Unfortunately so much of the latter scenes’ humor relies on an in-depth knowledge of Blade Runner (The character of “Swallow”, for example, being modeled and named after Hannibal “Chew”!, or pretty much everything having to do with the Creator, from his look, to his ‘munchkin’ minions, to his death) with dialog taken practically word-for-word from the movie.

    #201896
    NoFro
    Participant

    I still love “We want more life… smegger”.

    #201897
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    I think you’d be ahrd-pressed to find someone who disagrees about the shipboard laugh track idea. It’s just a shame the budget precluded it.

    #202113
    Karnie
    Participant

    OK, I actually have a serious question regarding BtE… during the Coronation Street bit, what’s the general consensus: was it meant to be a “Real Life” location, or were they supposed to actually be on the set of Coronation Street? In other words, according to their perception, did they actually drive through the town of Weatherfield, or were they, either knowingly or unknowingly, really on the set of the television show? There’s evidence to support both, but I want to know what the general population believes to be the case.

    #202114
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s a TV set, though the show bends the rules by having the pub and shop interiors inside the actual locations (which doesn’t match what we know to be reality, of course). That said, the “reality” they experience is already established to be a fiction of its own, so we can forgive that particular piece of creative license.

    So, yes. Set.

    #202118
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    Exactly. They’re on the set, but they’re also on a fictionalised version of the set where you can just drive up to it from the street, and where the shop/pub/house interiors are actually on-location.

    In retrospect, this should have been a <spall>blatant</spall> clue.

    #202123
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    If it was a real place, they’d have met Lloyd Mullaney instead of Craig Charles.

    Mind you, according to a recent episode of Corrie, Lloyd Mullaney was in Ghostwatch.

    #202139
    Karnie
    Participant

    Thanks! I think I have a better grasp of what they were intending, I think the “On-location set” is the only thing that explains why there is mail in the mailbox, or why there’s a cashier working in the shop that’s supposed to be a set, selling magazines that actually mention Coronation Street. (mind you, this is not nitpicking, I’m just trying to get the entries straight for the Encyclopedia…)

    #202140
    Carlito
    Participant

    > Mind you, according to a recent episode of Corrie, Lloyd Mullaney was in Ghostwatch.

    Do elaborate…

    #202141
    HelloMabel
    Participant

    I’m guessing it was probably not so much breaking the fourth wall as giving it a little nudge?

    This is one of many conversations I missed out on by avoiding the site during Trojan spoiler season.

    > the tomato scene

    I’m with Mani on this one; I just can’t bring myself to enjoy that scene. But there are so many parts of BtE I love: Rimmer and Kryten talking out of the sides of their mouths. Lister grieving over Kochanski, then finding new hope from two kids who know everything about him. Rimmer grooving to awful music while his only friends are in mortal peril.

    Looking at BtE as a thank-you to us fans also made me appreciate it in a whole new way.

    #202144
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    >there’s a cashier working in the shop that’s supposed to be a set

    I think in that instance, it’s just that the actress is hanging around that bit of the set between takes. Again, she’s playing Michelle Keegan, not whatever-the-heck her character’s called in the show.

    #202149
    Jo
    Participant

    there’s a cashier working in the shop that’s supposed to be a set

    I think in that instance, it’s just that the actress is hanging around that bit of the set between takes. Again, she’s playing Michelle Keegan, not whatever-the-heck her character’s called in the show.

    The character is Tina and I believe that in the Corrie storyline at the time, she was living with Rita in the flat above the shop, so that explains why the actress would have been in there. I seem to remember that there was a sign in the shop telling actors not to eat the sweets… or have I just made that up?

    #202152
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    Do elaborate…

    Lloyd’s storyline at the moment involves him having discovered a long-lost daughter, so he shows her some old photos of himself so she can get to know him better. One of these photos is of him in the family’s kitchen in Ghostwatch.

    #202156
    NoFro
    Participant

    That’s like in Chronicle when there’s a childhood photo of Michael B Jordan’s character that I’m pretty certain is a promo shot from “The Wire”.

    #202157
    Karnie
    Participant

    I seem to remember that there was a sign in the shop telling actors not to eat the sweets… or have I just made that up?

    There was; in fact, that was the first clue I had that they were on a set, and not on an “actual” street. The thing that threw me was the magazine cover mentioning Coronation Street in the same store. Why would that have been there if it was a set (even an on-location one) ?

    #202158
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    Same reason there’s no massive Tyrell building in the middle of London.

    #202161
    Carlito
    Participant

    The magazine must follow the same logic as the DVD stand in the store advertising a DVD for a show that hasn’t aired yet with the script not yet written. It’s some speedy publisher that manages to print and distribute a magazine featuring a cover photo of something that is happening in the present.

    #202169
    clem
    Participant

    “How can there be a cassette of Spaceballs: The Movie? We’re still in the middle of making it!”

    #202170
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >The magazine must follow the same logic as the DVD stand in the store advertising a DVD for a show that hasn’t aired yet with the script not yet written.

    If you really want to pick holes in it, take a look at the scene in the department store where the “previews” of the show are actually “live” shots of the crew arriving. 20 seconds into the story and it makes bugger all sense, even from a meta point of view.

    I think it would have been good if the story had just opened with the start of “an episode of Coronation Street”…then it pulls back when the scene ends and we realise that Lloyd is actually Craig….but then it twists again when Rimmer, Kryten and Cat show up looking for him and we realise that “Craig” is actually Lister suffering a weird delusion.

    Hmm. I seem to have ripped off Gunmen of the Apocalypse. Oh well, makes a change from Back to Reality.

    #202173
    pfm
    Participant

    > One of these photos is of him in the family’s kitchen in Ghostwatch.

    O.O

    Mind = blown.

    #202188
    Seb Patrick
    Keymaster

    The magazine must follow the same logic as the DVD stand in the store advertising a DVD for a show that hasn’t aired yet with the script not yet written. It’s some speedy publisher that manages to print and distribute a magazine featuring a cover photo of something that is happening in the present.

    It’s almost as if the whole thing’s some kind of crazy dream, or something.

    #202192
    Carlito
    Participant

    Of course it makes sense when you know the end reveal, but at this stage in the story you’re not supposed to realise this.

    #202193
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    At this point in the story they’re a) hallucinating, and b) not really experts on the 20th century anyway (with the possible exception of Kryten who, as previously mentioned, is hallucinating). So it doesn’t make any difference one way or the other.

    #202211
    Karnie
    Participant

    Got it, thanks! Seems I have a bit of re-writing to do……

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