Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum I hate Back to Earth

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  • #211497
    Jawscvmcdia
    Blocked

    I don’t know why, but for some reason, the cast just don’t seem committed to doing it. Everybody seems tired and unenthusiastic. Particularly Craig, but maybe compared to his youthful Series 8 appearance then perhaps this is why.

    Also, the writing seems off and I hated the whole idea of Craig meeting his Coronation Street double. I think if Craig ever left CS, then the whole idea behind it is lost.

    #211499
    Phil
    Participant

    “I think if Craig ever left CS, then the whole idea behind it is lost.”

    Fortunately there’s no chance of that happening.

    #211503
    Jo
    Participant

    >Particularly Craig, but maybe compared to his youthful Series 8 appearance then perhaps this is why.

    Hold on… you mean Craig had the audacity to age 10 years in a 10 year period? What a prick eh?!

    #211507
    Jonsmad
    Participant

    The cast were committed. But they are playing with out an audience, and its a different kind of acting that they are doing at times. Also some of the early lister rimmer scenes are played deliberately with a sense of Ship Tedium, Chris barrie refers to this as “losing the will to live acting” on the commentary. He is talking about rimmer as a character at that point.

    If you dont like the “meta” fiction idea also, i can see why you dont like those shows.
    Fortunately i watch dr who with sci fi and comedy and no audience and i like meta fiction, i avidly rewatch those episodes often. The directors cut, in some ways its a little red dwarf tv movie.

    #211557
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    I actually, really super-like Back to Earth (or Series IX). Here’s why: it’s not VIII. When this glorious series originally ended with the Grim Reaper on such an awkward cliffhanger, it kind of haunts you. That’s how it ends? This great series that stands for so much just sort of fizzled on this unmeaningful, absurd note? The lack of closure is crippling. It would have been one thing if Only the Good… had some sort of gravitas or finale feel to it, but it just sort of ended. It left us disappointed and hanging for years…

    Whatever you want to say about Back to Earth, you have to admit, if that was going to be the last outing of Red Dwarf, it’s an INFINITELY better series-ender than Only the Good. It pays homage to the previous years of Red Dwarf, and really extremely respects the characters.

    Is it anywhere near as funny as the other series of Red Dwarf? Hells to the no. But in its defense, it’s not really trying to be. It’s a reunion special, not normal episodes, and I personally reveled so much at just the fact that it even existed that I didn’t really try to compare it to a normal series. It was doing its own thing. It was just so FUCKING GOOD to see these guys again. I loved it. (Though thank god I had, by mere coincidence, happened to see Blade Runner for the first time mere weeks beforehand. Otherwise I would have had no idea what the fuck was going on. But since Blade Runner was a big inspiration for Red Dwarf, I’ll allow it.)

    Now I usually watch shows for entertainment value, and to be entertained, I don’t necessarily have to laugh. That’s why I don’t mind VII so much and kind of like it. Was I laughing all the time? Not really, no. But god damn it if those sci-fi and dramatic stories and characters didn’t catch my imagination. Same thing here. A lot of the jokes in BTE were okay, but there were so many periods of non-jokes that you have to acknowledge that maybe being a laugh-a-minute romp isn’t the story’s main objective. It’s about Lister and his emotional state, and I think BTE nailed every single fucking part of that. The tantalizing teases of Kochanski and Chloe Annett showing up, Lister’s grave scene or his speech at the end. This was a comedy drama, and if the drama thing isn’t your fancy, that’s your right. But on its own terms, I really liked it, and its respect of the emotional states of the characters was something not seen since V or arguably VII, which really made the whole thing for me.

    And not to mention, I thought large points of BTE were really funny. Part 2, especially with callbacks like the Pricesmashers bunkroom scene, were not just sentimental homages but had actually good jokes and plots. The whole meta-story falling into place was like watching classic Dwarf all over again.

    #211559
    Ridley
    Participant

    or arguably VII

    #211564
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >But since Blade Runner was a big inspiration for Red Dwarf, I’ll allow it.

    (whistles nonchalantly)

    >This was a comedy drama

    (continues whistling)

    >The whole meta-story falling into place was like watching classic Dwarf all over again.

    I really wish Back to Earth had been an actual proper meta-story. Unfortunately, the world in which it’s set is so inconsistent and odd because of the Blade Runner stuff, that it fails on that front. If they’d attempted to set it in *our* world, I’d have fewer problems with it.

    I’d have loved a scene where the show had acknowledged the mixed reaction to the last two series. Few shows would have the balls to do this (but I can think of examples, particularly US shows). Mention Doug Naylor by name (if not cameo) rather than the bizarre Blade Runner counterpart.

    Or failing that, just some kind of nod that Red Dwarf was an audience-based sitcom (rather than just a nondescript “TV Show”). They could have deconstructed the show…instead the BR homages informed where the story went.

    Stuff like the PSI-Scanner being a lazy device to give exposition, Craig Charles having flashbacks…these bits work a hell of a lot better than nodding towards a film with tenuous links to the show.

    #211565
    John Hoare
    Participant

    I have an opinion on Back to Earth.

    But you don’t wanna hear it right now.

    #211567
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    Pete, I actually do agree with everything you just said. Make no mistake, I don’t think Back to Earth is a masterpiece. To say it’s flawed would be a gross understatement. The handling of the Blade Runner stuff was sloppy, and yeah, that world was inconsistent and it was disappointing when it became evident that it wasn’t “our world.” Your suggestions would have definitely made it exponentially better. BTE definitely belongs near the bottom of ranked Dwarf episodes and series.

    But the reason why I at least respect BTE and definitely don’t hate its existence is that it shows effort, and deference to the characters and narrative. Its heart is in the right place, which is something you couldn’t say about VIII. Red Dwarf is a sentimental thing for me, and for all its inconsistencies and wasted opportunities, BTE demonstrates a basic respect for what Red Dwarf is and is supposed to be that hadn’t been displayed for years. Bringing the old team back together, returning the focus to Lister’s journey, touching on classic moments and being truer to the characters.

    Does it suck? Yeah, big time. But from VIII it was a huge step in the right direction, and the way it deviates from VIII and the directions it chooses are a tacit acknowledgement that mistakes were made and that an effort was being made to return to the classic status quo. BTE was the thematic progenitor of X in a lot of ways. You could see, both at the time and definitely in hindsight, that it was the show shaking off a lot of the recent series’ bullshit and going, “Yep. Done with that. Now let’s get back to business.”

    Even the most fervent apologist of BTE has to admit that it’s extremely flawed, the execution was sloppy, and the jokes themselves are way too few and far between. But, I respect the attempt, and honestly, seeing these guys again in a semi-classic setting after so many years was just so awesome.

    #211568
    Jonsmad
    Participant

    In my head cannon the creator is called Grant Naylor, and its the Rob Grant half of him thats won control in whats written and so the gun sequence is him killing the crew, as he pretty much left the show with the characters shot dead in starbug end of VI. As lister squashes his head he becomes more just Doug and immediately needs a lie down instead due to exhaustion of making something from nothing in a rush at a tough personal time in his life so he just lies motionless on the bed.

    #211573

    I remember hating BTE when it was broadcast. A couple of years later I showed my girlfriend RD from the start as she’s never seen it before (it’s amazing how funny a joke you’ve seen a hundred times can be when you’re in the company of somebody who’s never seen it before and laughing heartily!) She bailed out after Tikka to Ride (without forewarning of VII’s reputation – she was actually struggling with elements of VI, saying it had become formulaic), but I decided to watch on to the end.

    Having just watched the first six series, almost vicariously through the eyes of a newcomer to the show, I truly realised how utterly horrible VIII is. My biggest issue in the past was how broad it had become, but it was only then that I noticed just how at odds it is with pretty much everything that made the show great. It was genuinely depressing viewing. I picked up a copy of BTE just to round things off, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Even though I didn’t laugh that much, and still found some of the jokes appalling (the letterbox one being a particular low point for me), it was amazing just how ‘Red Dwarf’ it felt. Not great Dwarf, of course, but the tone of the show was definitely in keeping with the spirit of the earlier series, as opposed to VIII which bears no similarity other than the actors. Listening to Doug’s commentary was even more enjoyable, as it was so relieving to hear him talk about what he’d learned from the mistakes of the previous series or two, and it was obvious that he was making a genuine effort to reconnect the show to what made it great in the first place.

    #211584
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    I honestly think BTE is better than X at this point. BTE hits many of the buttons the first few series hit, and is probably more successful at VII at being a dram-com.

    #211605
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    >I honestly think BTE is better than X at this point. BTE hits many of the buttons the first few series hit, and is probably more successful at VII at being a dram-com.

    I wouldn’t go THAT far. I mean surpassing VII’s drama, sure, but being better than X, I’m not so sure. Where BTE surpasses X admittedly, is that it doesn’t aim for constant laughs, so it kind of sets an easier target for itself. X tries to maintain the comedy and pacing of the previous series, and while still very good, it still has a bunch of the jokes not land right. X swings more, so it misses more.

    Actually, now you’ve got me thinking. Because I think the highs of X surpass the highs of BTE, but the lows of X surpass (in lowness) the lows of BTE. Which isn’t hard because BTE’s problem was more of a dearth of jokes, where as X actually did some irksome things.

    Damn it, you might be selling me on BTE being better. Definitely better-executed, given what it was trying to do. Nah, I’ll probably still side with X just because of The Beginning and “Was he Swedish? A moose!” But its close.

    #211607
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    I’m still VII > X >>>>> BTE > VIII

    I can stomach Tikka, Stoke, Blue, Trojan, Lemons and The Beginning of latter day Dwarf. If that had been Series VII, I wouldn’t be such a jaded fuck.

    #211608
    Ridley
    Participant

    Which was the one you went to see?

    (VII > X > VIII > BTE > Identity Within > Red Christmas > Taiwan Tony)

    #211609
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >Which was the one you went to see?

    Dear Dave, but I’d happily swap the bucket-list memory of “seeing Red Dwarf live” for the diminished 18 years of negativity towards the show.

    I’d still be here in that parallel universe, just moaning about Red Dwarf Remastered and Hogey the fucking Roguey instead.

    #211610
    Dax101
    Participant

    for me the problem wasn’t that there was no audience it was that the material just wasn’t very good and i know if you asked the cast they would say the problem was that there was no audience but reallt would that really have made the material more funny? or should it really depend on the cast to make something more funny if the material just isn’t very good?

    and when people say the cast looked tired… was it that or was it the material was just kinda dull?

    i actually remember in SFX magazine doug said he felt it was the best story they had ever done… but lets be honest it doesn’t top back to reality

    #211611
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    For me:

    X > The episodes of VII with Rimmer > BTE > The episodes of VII without Rimmer > VIII.

    #211612
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    > For me: X > The episodes of VII with Rimmer > BTE > The episodes of VII without Rimmer > VIII.

    Nailed it. I think that’s exactly right for me as well.

    #211613
    Moonlight
    Participant

    I’ll defend X adamantly considering how good it was even despite the fact that not only were two and a half of the episodes written at the last minute, all the others still had a far shorter scripting period than I think any show should have.

    Kind of reminds me of how much better South Park used to be when they spent longer a week on each episode.

    #211615
    Ridley
    Participant

    i actually remember in SFX magazine doug said he felt it was the best story they had ever done… but lets be honest it doesn’t top back to reality

    Seems odd to consider a mini-series that draws heavily on other work (including your own) as the best story.

    #211616
    John Hoare
    Participant

    I’d have to go:

    X > VIII > probably BTE > probably VII, though swap those last two around depending on how annoyed about BTE I am that day

    That is less a comment on VIII, and more a statement of my absolute hatred of VII. My grandma’s funeral had a funnier comedy atmosphere.

    #211630
    clem
    Participant

    I don’t think I’d have a problem with BTE’s “real world” being a different kind of slightly strange, off-kilter world that was obviously not *our* world (obviously that would make sense story-wise, because they’re hallucinating), but the Blade Runner stuff is just so totally overdone. I don’t get what Doug was going for with that, and none of it really works at all for me.
    I agree with Pete that going further down the meta-fiction route and deconstructing the show could’ve been good but, as I think has been suggested before, maybe then it might have been better to do something that wasn’t meant to be canon? Some sort of special anniversary celebration of Dwarf rather than proper new episodes. I actually really like a lot of the meta stuff in BTE. I love Rimmer wondering how he’s hilarious and neurotic, and Kryten telling him for example. Also like some of the more dramatic moments like the Lister and Kochanski stuff but again, the Blade Runner “homages” spoil it somewhat.

    One thing I don’t like about the Director’s Cut is that there’s a really good Rimmer reaction shot in Part 1 that’s not in the DC.

    #211631
    clem
    Participant

    > My grandma’s funeral had a funnier comedy atmosphere

    #We had not laughed so much since Grandma died
    Or Auntie Mabel caught her left tit in the mangle

    #211632
    pfm
    Participant

    > One thing I don’t like about the Director’s Cut is that there’s a really good Rimmer reaction shot in Part 1 that’s not in the DC.

    Whereabouts?

    #211633
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    That is less a comment on VIII, and more a statement of my absolute hatred of VII. My grandma’s funeral had a funnier comedy atmosphere.

    See, one of the things I loved about VII was the atmosphere. I agree it wasn’t especially funny – it felt like people trying to impersonate the sort of jokes Rob and Doug did for six series prior – but some of the mood, and tone, and atmosphere stuff was, I think, pretty marvelous. If a better balance can be struck between that and the comedy, I think VII could be a strong template for something really rich.

    #211634
    clem
    Participant

    Scene in the bunkroom where Cat’s telling Rimmer about being attacked by the squid.

    #211635
    clem
    Participant

    Sorry, that was in reply to performingmonkey asking where the missing Rimmer reaction shot is in Part 1. Hadn’t seen Ben’s post.

    #211644
    John Hoare
    Participant

    See, one of the things I loved about VII was the atmosphere. I agree it wasn’t especially funny – it felt like people trying to impersonate the sort of jokes Rob and Doug did for six series prior – but some of the mood, and tone, and atmosphere stuff was, I think, pretty marvelous. If a better balance can be struck between that and the comedy, I think VII could be a strong template for something really rich.

    See, I run into contradicting myself at this point. I’m very much a fan of a show being what it wants to be, and I thoroughly disagree with people who want shows to stay the same and never change. I believe I’ve defended the later Buffy seasons on this charge before, for instance.

    But when it comes to VII… no, I don’t go with it. The very things which drew me to Dwarf in the first place are changed or missing… and I can’t go with what’s left.

    Why that is a tricky one, and after ten years of this fucking site I’m still not entirely sure I can put it into words. Partly I just don’t think the writing and actors suit a more drama-led approach. But it’s partly that Red Dwarf is special to me *because* it fuses audience sitcom and science fiction. With VII taking a step away from that – I mean, it has the laugh track, but inevitably it has a different feel when the audience isn’t actually THERE – it just turns into something I didn’t sign up for, in effect.

    Mind you, my thought experiment on this subject is always: “Imagine what the show would have been like shot like Series VI”. Some of it I’d undoubtedly like more. But then there’s stuff like the “I’ll have pasta” scene in Tikka which feels like material I’d *never* like, shot in front of an audience or not. And all the Kochanski material feels like the weakest material in the entire Red Dwarf “canon”. I despise every last thing about it.

    Having said all of that, whenever we talk about where the show will go in the future, I’m very much of the mind that Doug should do what he wants, and then see if people like it. Fan entitlement syndrome bullshit is… well, bullshit.

    #211650
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    Having said all of that, whenever we talk about where the show will go in the future, I’m very much of the mind that Doug should do what he wants, and then see if people like it. Fan entitlement syndrome bullshit is… well, bullshit.

    I agree entirely, and I actually do agree with much of your post, all told. I do think there’s definitely potential for a single-camera, filmic dram-com approach to Red Dwarf, but I concede that dropping it on viewers who were more accustomed to a studio-audience sitcom is probably unwise.

    I’ll keep talking about a potential Galactica-esque Red Dwarf reboot until I’m blue in the face, mind. With the right cast and a line-up of good writers, I think it could be aces. Red Dwarf is filled with strong scifi concepts that would lend themselves very well to the drama, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to inject humour into that template.

    #211653
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    > Having said all of that, whenever we talk about where the show will go in the future, I’m very much of the mind that Doug should do what he wants, and then see if people like it. Fan entitlement syndrome bullshit is… well, bullshit.

    Well, said. I think you’re right. Making a TV show, or any other endeavor, is a Promethean task, since you’re literally digging into the ether and creating something new and that affords with it a certain level of freedom and respect and deference.

    That said, I think there’s a difference between “fan entitlement” and “fan constructive encouragement.” Honestly, this is Doug’s baby, and if XI and XII are just like X again, that would still be laudable and fantastic. However, I think at times, especially in the later series, there are conceptual and execution flaws that don’t necessarily undermine just expectations from the fans, but the show and Doug’s own goals. Sometimes the show can let itself down, never mind us, and I wouldn’t always call prats whinging on about that fan entitlement. Though many times, of course, it is. Not sure where the line is. You make a good point.

    #211660
    John Hoare
    Participant

    Not sure where the line is. You make a good point.

    I should point out that I wasn’t thinking of your posts when I wrote that!

    Indeed, I was very much thinking of mine. I know if I’m not careful I could have the tendency to spiral out of control into fan entitlement… so it’s something I just make sure I remind myself of occasionally.

    #211663
    pfm
    Participant

    I don’t agree that the cast weren’t into BtE. I enjoy their performances more than in VII and VIII. Yes, Craig is good in VII & VIII, but he’s fucking great here. It does help that the material he’s given IS good, from a Lister development pov. It may not necessarily be funny…but it gives the character a kick up the arse and reminds us why we ever gave a toss about him in the first place.

    Of course, the line in Trojan ‘if Kochanski was here right now wanting sex’ or whatever the eff it was, kind of tramples over it. In fact, that line is, for me, the worst moment in the entirety of X (worse than ‘slag’, but then that choice moment also makes little sense coming from the more mature Lister). Doug has an ‘interesting’ take on female characters (human ones at least…).

    #211664
    Ridley
    Participant

    There’s only two jokes you can make with Kochanski. I used womanski twice.

    #211665
    srmcd1
    Participant

    I actually REALLY like Back to Earth, because it made me care about Lister again. His story arc is the strongest part of the miniseries. I remember caring about through the first few series, but sometime during VI through VIII, I just started to not like him anymore, seeing him as devolving into the idiot hero – I think it really starts in ‘Rimmerworld’ when he rigs the readouts instead of explaining the situation to the others so they can work out a better plan. So BTE made him likeable again, which is important to me.

    #211668
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    BtE also worked at making Lister’s credibly smart. Not intelligent, but smart. That’s something that had been undone with some of VIII’s jokes, which were more about getting a laugh than character consistency. With the exception of the “Jane Oosten” joke at the top of Part I, Lister isn’t stupid in BtE. That’s a huge step forward.

    Also, important to point out, his “…sometimes I can be quite brave” moment at the end with Fauxchanski still makes me cry. Every time. Without fail.

    #211671

    Yeah but how funny was it when he didn’t know the dot-to-dot was a bucket and spade?! lol

    #211672
    pfm
    Participant

    It was hernia-inducing.

    #211710
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    Remember that time Rimmer murdered a sapient hologram woman? Oh…. good times.

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