Feels like…

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    Kris Carter

    Fan perception of Dave-era Red Dwarf is a curious thing. The new Red Dwarf episodes have the same writer, the same core cast, many of the same creatives on the production team… yet despite that commonality, fans seemed geared to view episodes after Series VIII as having less of an assured identity than the BBC-era.

    I guess what I mean is, everyone went into the X set-reports with an ‘this felt like a series II episode’ or ‘this felt like a series IV episode’ inclination. And now we have almost all of X, XI & XII in hand to view, people still try and classify these episodes as being ‘like’ earlier series. I don’t recall the filming reports of VI or VIII as being so heavily comparative to the earlier shows. Have we as a fanbase now hit that point where nostalgia for the BBC-era is so strong it colours our openness and ability to accept the Dave-era episodes on their own terms? or are the Dave-era still not quite stamping enough of their own identity yet? Then again, what exactly makes one series, feel like that series?

    Saying that, I think it is quite easy to classify newer Dwarf – Back To Earth feels very much like it’s own thing (even if the constant Blade Runner parody reliance means it still relies on something else to identify it). X feels small, contained, and rooted in family. XI feels like the properly confident spreading of new wings, often overstuffed with ideas, and riddled with overly quick endings. XII will fly close to XI, and we’ll see how that bears out over time.

    I don’t think we need to keep trying to shoehorn new Red Dwarf into past series types – but then again, I guess this sort of comparison is inevitable given the length of time the show has run, the past glories, and the type of fan-base we are.

    Then again, maybe I’m talking complete shash.


    International Debris

    I think X, XI and XII, in some sense, intentionally feel like older episodes. After the various approaches of VII, VIII and BtE, X almost felt like a hard reset to me. Although some of the broader jokes add a sense of continuity from VIII, I’d say X onwards doesn’t feel like a continuation of the other post-Rob series, stylistically. With Doug and the cast mentioning a return to an older style, and countless references to earlier episodes, it’s sort of hard not to.

    I think when something lasts quite a long time – especially if it goes through a period of unsuccessful experimentation and/or goes away for a while – it seems to become inevitable that comparisons to the ‘classic’ era become unavoidable. I don’t think the show feels quite as ‘natural’ as it once did, Doug, the cast and fans have a sense of hindsight, an awareness of the legacy of the show, which doesn’t exist in the same way when you’re producing a series a year without any opportunity to fully reassess from a distance. Nowadays, every series is “a new series of the hugely acclaimed cult show that went shit and now has to prove itself, will it be as good as the first six series?” rather than simply the next six episodes.

    That said, for every comparison to older series, I do think these are mostly just elements rather than full episodes. There are very distinctive things about the Dave series, it’s just that they harken back to older eras more than the show has done before.


    Ben Saunders

    Even Doug was giving it the “this feels like III, IV and IV” on the press tour for Series X, it’s just shorthand for “it feels like Red Dwarf and it’s good.”

    Mechocracy doesn’t really feel like any previous series, it feels like its own thing, which is nice. Parallels are drawn to Series I/II because it’s set entirely on Red Dwarf and there are vending machines in it, but I feel a comparison like that is lazy and limiting. Siliconia felt pretty unique, too, and the ending of Kyrsis.

    There are obviously some deliberate callbacks to previous series, and some episodes like Twentica feel like an attempt at writing another Series VI script, though.



    The Dave era clearly has a strong sense of nostalgia – the Microgramma font, the return to the setup of the four boys being alone on the Dwarf not seen since Series V, the set design, the costumes – which isn’t present in any of the BBC run (mostly because for the first six series there was nothing to really be nostalgic *for*… but VII, still lacking the titular ship and a studio audience but adding the film effect and a shift towards ‘comedy drama’, and VIII, which drastically alters the show’s premise, don’t feel particularly tilted towards nostalgia either). Which perhaps prompts the comparisons towards past glories.


    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    Yes, I think that certainly for X, the set report comparisons to previous series always had the subtext of “don’t worry, it’s not like VII, VIII or BTE”.



    Fan perception of Dave-era Red Dwarf is a curious thing, makes one man weep and another one sing.

    I love Krysis and Mechocracy above anything in X but I love the way X hangs together more than XI & XII. I think the show presents itself as it did in the early 90s and for me it’s that version of the show we’re seeing now. I’m sure I’ll cram in a complete re-watch of the Dave-era before the Pearl Poll. It has highs and lows but it’s unmissable and there is much to love.



    I’ve never been able to see Dave era as ‘oh it’s like that series’ because we’ve bever had the four boys, on Red Dwarf, with no Holly. That’s still got its own mildly post-apocalyptic feel to it, especially with some of the types of ships they run across.



    It started with series VIII’s deliberate callbacks and nostalgia for series I-II didn’t it? I don’t know about set reports, but as a viewer that was clearly what they were going for, especially as it came out during or just after the broadcast of series II remastered (at least that’s when I remember seeing the trailer and thinking “oh, they’re doing series I-II”).



    There’s an article in VII/VIII’s legacy somewhere.

    For me, XI felt like a product of the current old-is-new-again trend that people loved with Force Awakens (I didn’t) but XII feels like it leans into callbacks/continuity more. XI is a redo, XII is… I dunno, a remembrance? It’s to its credit that XII isn’t just XI again.



    I do wonder where Naylor grabbed the Hey Baby, Don’t Be Ovulating tonight reference from whether he went back to the books, or used someone or something like Total Immersion.


    Ben Saunders

    The Force Awakens was shameless nostalgia pandering, an excuse to wheel out some old actors and props to say “hey, remember this?! You like this!”, Without actually offering anything new or interesting to justify itself. Series XI actually gave us new stories and the callbacks weren’t 100% the only reason anyone ever liked anything in it, do I wouldn’t compare XI to tfa



    Well I did.



    I’m reading Infinity right now. Found loads which could be picked out and have been used in Series XI and XII. Stuff like Kryten insisting he is just a service mechanoid and not knowing about the Duality Drive is similar to Snacky and hacking stasis booths.



    Say what you want about Series XI, unlike The Force Awakens it did not just regurgitate the entire plot of the of the first outing of the show.



    Should the Star Wars sequels have continued after The Force Awakens?


    Ben Saunders

    The Star Was sequels should have stopped before JJ Abrams



    Its odd because doug said in an interview around the time of XI that his memory isn’t great when it comes to the early shows and he often gets reminded to his surprise that he has already done certain jokes before.

    So i do wonder how the references work.


    International Debris

    Mm, he claims that yet almost every episode in the Dave run has had at least one reference to the classic series, many of them containing several.



    Most of the references are to big, iconic stuff though – Boys From the Dwarf, “it’s a pair of golfing slacks”, Space Corps Directives, etc. It’s not like we’ve had, say, the return of Big Meat or references to “Attack of the Giant Savage Completely Invisible Aliens”.


    International Debris

    Most of the references are to big, iconic stuff though

    Like ‘Hey Baby, Don’t Be Ovulating Tonight’.



    Well, obviously, apart from that one. Do you really think it’s that obvious?


    Ben Saunders

    If he remembers something, he might reference it. If he doesn’t, he won’t. Sometimes you remember little details, sometimes you don’t. What’s the big conspiracy here?


    Renegade Rob

    I think it’s interesting that even recent reviews and analyses of XII episodes compare it to X. Example: “the vending machines in Mechocracy are very Series X-esque.” My guess is that it’s a factor of time and distance. Each of the classic series’ has its own feel to be sure, but there’s also been many years of analysis that help each series gain their own identities in hindsight. Series X has already started to solidify its identity in the fan consciousness. (I just think of it as “the red one” and XI as “the blue one” but I’m a visual thinker.)

    I believe that Series IV, for example, has a very distinctive “feel” but a lot of that comes down to realizing how the music and effects are consistent, and also, importantly, how the series compares to ones before and after it (i.e. it’s more assured and less broad than III without being as dark serious as V). Their original airings are admittedly before my time, but I can imagine in the moment seeing episodes like Camille, White Hole, and Meltdown as very different and diverse, whereas now they can be definitely identified as being IV-ey, which again is down to the production and the overall tone.

    All of this is an overly long way of saying, I believe that with some time and distance each of the Dave-era series will become more distinctive. The use of earlier series to describe these newer episodes is more as a solid frame of reference than an indication that these series lack their own identities. If in another 20 years time we’re not using Series X and XII as points of comparison with the newly aired Series L, I’ll eat my crevice brush.



    >It’s not like we’ve had, say, the return of Big Meat

    the fuck is Big Meat? and why is he called that? who would willlingly let themselves be known as “big meat”



    >the return of Big Meat

    who is Big Meat? and why is he called that?



    He’s the bloke in “Only the Good…” who makes Cat his prison bitch, and is played by that guy who was later a Slitheen in Doctor Who.


    Pete Part Three

    I’m glad I didn’t know that.



    i was thinking Big Meat was the curry monster from DNA tbh

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