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  • #280028
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    You asked for it. Ahead of the forthcoming 35th anniversary poll, the G&T community is embarking on a big old rewatch, tackling half a series (or one feature length special) per week. This is your designated thread to make notes, share observations and start pondering your rankings.

    This week, we’re watching the entirety of Series IX, also known as BACK TO EARTH. You are of course free to tackle it any way you wish, but bear in mind that we treat it as three individual episodes for the poll. Have at it!

    Previous threads:

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    Series III Byte 1
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    #280031
    Dave
    Participant

    This week, we’re watching the entirety of Series IX

    I now expect the thread discussion to be mostly about this.

    #280032
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    Cappsy dared me to do it in the title, but I didn’t have the balls.

    #280034
    Warbodog
    Participant

    I’ve only ever watched it as a staggered daily three-parter, so I’ll stick with the schedule.

    Back to Earth part 1


    Not really that good, but those 2009 good vibes are still there and haven’t faded like Back in the Red’s, though I’m now spared the nervous anticipation of desperately needing it to be any good.

    I’d say it scrapes by as inoffensively watchable, which is disappointingly enough to put it above nearly all of the last two series (ffs). I had realistic expectations of its quality at the time, so was neither disappointed nor impressed. It was nice to have it back, now build on it.

    – Time wasn’t passing in real time previously, but why not just say it’s been 10 years anyway?

    – The discussion about Kryten’s holiday spot seems to establish this region of space as a barren void, without the moons and derelicts they were always bumping into previously. A fourth-wall reference to the long hiatus?

    – Cat’s whole scene was a bit awkward, but I thoroughly enjoyed the cliched gag of Relaxed Kryten. Best bit since Cassandra (wow, that’s an achievement!)

    – I was wondering how the blatant Back to Reality references ever slipped me by. Of course, they didn’t, but then they throw us off with the interdimensional red herring explanation as soon as the hallucination begins, which then proves relevant to kicking off the (imaginary) plot, so it just looks like homage. It’s a good deception really, putting it right under our noses but anticipating that we wouldn’t expect them to make the revival special all a dream, and in the exact same way we’ve already seen. It’s like the bomb gambit from Beyond a Joke.

    – Rimmer’s just annoying rather than funny most of the time, so he must be the nanobot one. Even as someone who really doesn’t care for Stoke Me a Clipper or Only the Good, I prefer them following through with the continuity rather than making it a complete waste of time. Rimmer is Rimmer.

    – I had a question, but we’re in the old “doesn’t matter, it’s not real” territory yet again, so fuck it.

    – Katarina’s questions are a reasonable Psirens-style catch-up for new and returning viewers.

    – “In my country, we have several” was my second laugh. Rimmer accepting what he is shows a kind of maturity.

    – I knew what the ending was going to be, but its abruptness still annoyed me. How do you not make the cliffhanger a shot of them back on Earth?

    #280035
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Ahead of the forthcoming 35th anniversary poll, the G&T community is
    embarking on a big old rewatch, tackling half a series (or one feature
    length special)
    per week.

    Back to Earth: not half a series or a feature length special, but a secret third thing.

    #280036
    Stilianides
    Participant

    Back to Earth 1

    I look forward to reading some wildly diverging opinions on the remaining episodes…

    I’ve always felt that parts of these specials feel like Doug saying, “Hey, I could make a movie if you give me the money.” That’s certainly true of the opening slow pan across which would work much better as part of a feature rather than as part of a 22 minute episode.

    Slow is a good word to describe the entire first section and you can see why (if my memory is correct) Andrew Ellard mentioned that there were pacing issues and the idea of the episode ending on Katerina’s arrival had to be rethought. There is also the desperately obvious gag about, “the last time you had sex.”

    The scene at Kochanski’s grave is much stronger and Craig is by far the best actor in these specials imo. There was a fan edit that placed this before the opening credits and I think that worked much better than the finished episode. A nice touch to include the Mel Bibby picture, too.

    There are some very drab performances over the following minutes, with both “I already am packed” and “monkey boy” standing out for the wrong reasons.
    Rimmer listening to music is mildly amusing, but the whole sequence is overlong and rather implausible.
    One comment that I remember reading at the time, especially on forums for regular sitcom fans rather than Dwarf obsessives, was that the hype wasn’t matched by the number of laughs in the episode. I have to agree that there isn’t all that much high quality comedy in this first part, but I do smile at, “You really don’t like me, do you?”
    Katerina standing behind Rimmer is far too similar to a terrible old joke from Series VIII.
    To show her setting up the equipment is a damp squib of a way to conclude the first instalment. Despite being such a short episode, there are big chunks that don’t do anything for me and I think Back to Earth would have benefited from being much, much shorter than the 60+ minutes that we ended up with.
    #280039

    Cappsy dared me to do it in the title, but I didn’t have the balls.

    #280040

    I was wondering how the blatant Back to Reality references ever slipped me by. Of course, they didn’t, but then they throw us off with the interdimensional red herring explanation as soon as the hallucination begins, which then proves relevant to kicking off the (imaginary) plot, so it just looks like homage. It’s a good deception really, putting it right under our noses but anticipating that we wouldn’t expect them to make the revival special all a dream, and in the exact same way we’ve already seen.
    It’s really nice the clues are there. It’s also really clever of the squid (as if the squid can actually manipulate the hallucination, it’ll be their collective minds) to start the hallucination aboard Red Dwarf  rather than immediately snapping them out of reality. That’ll be the difference between Joy and Despair and why we as the audience miss the obviousness of it.

    Thinking about it. It’s a bit like Infinity in that respect. The game hides the fact they in a game by starting them out at the point they entered it and then uses real world stuff to trick them into thinking they made it home.
    Joy squid does the same thing. True it has to concoct a scientist, but we the audience and the crew know that there are fairly smart scientists as part of the crew (the matter paddle) and we’ve seen FTL/dimension jumping type tech in-universe so it’s not a leap to accept these things as true at all. 


    Katerina standing behind Rimmer is far too similar to a terrible old joke from Series VIII.

    Dave era reuses a few jokes but I think that’s by far the worst as it’s not really funny. And it’s the show coming back after 9 years rehashing stuff from its last series 
    #280042
    Dave
    Participant

    It’s also really clever of the squid (as if the squid can actually manipulate the hallucination, it’ll be their collective minds) to start the hallucination aboard Red Dwarf  rather than immediately snapping them out of reality. That’ll be the difference between Joy and Despair and why we as the audience miss the obviousness of it.

    The Despair squid does the same thing though, doesn’t it. It’s never 100% clear exactly when the hallucination starts in Back To Reality, but we see a scene of Lister taking the mood stabiliser on Starbug before the squid attacks them and destroys Starbug, and we know that none of that happens for real.

    I guess the BTE hallucination spends a bit longer on board ship before the jump to a different reality, but both of them ease the crew into the fake reality to some extent. 

    #280043

    Yeah you are right. But it is a fairly quick transition. They’re back onboard Starbug and then crash and “lose” fairly quickly.

    BtE spends a fair bit more time having them believe it’s all over. To the point that you’ve basically forgotten about the squid at Katerina has taken over as main focus.

    at least for me anyway

    #280044
    Dave
    Participant

    Yeah that’s true, there’s definitely more of a distraction in BTE which covers up the squid plot nicely.

    Did anyone correctly predict the ending of BTE on the basis of part 1 when it was originally broadcast?

    #280045

    Actually that said. For it to affect Rimmer it must be just before they start trying to escape the squid?

    Kryten even says they’ve been exposed to a small dose on the Esperanto. And they don’t bring any back to affect Rimmer with.

    So whilst it might be kicking in a little for Lister, Kryten and Cat before hand, it must be after they’re back on board that the hallucination starts 

    #280046
    Dave
    Participant

    Looking at the “let’s talk about” thread from the original broadcast, it looks like it came up as a possibility once or twice but was dismissed as unlikely that Doug would go with such a straight retread of BTR…

    #280047
    Dave
    Participant

    Actually that said. For it to affect Rimmer it must be just before they start trying to escape the squid?
    Kryten even says they’ve been exposed to a small dose on the Esperanto. And they don’t bring any back to affect Rimmer with.
    So whilst it might be kicking in a little for Lister, Kryten and Cat before hand, it must be after they’re back on board that the hallucination starts 

    I guess so. How does Despair Squid ink affect a hologram anyway?

    Sometimes it’s best not to ask these questions. 

    #280051

    I’ve only watched this as separate episodes twice: on broadcast, and with the cast commentaries. It’ll be nice to properly rank them this time. 

    Part 1

    I still don’t like the cast names over the titles. Never will. 

    Opening on nine years later is a bold move. Quite admire that. 

    Lister laughing to himself is really unnatural. 

    Lister is allergic to tomatoes. The man who eats nothing but curry. Because there are never tomatoes in curry. 

    Fucking hell the lack of laugh track is so awkward. 

    Ugh CG skutter is worse than I remember. 

    Mel Bibby photo is lovely. 

    Danny is acting like Cat again, after two series of… whatever he’s been. 

    There’s no logical way of writing the squid into it so I’m not going to try. 

    Kryten’s relaxation disappearing immediately is my first laugh of the episode. 

    Chris has a couple of good Rimmer reactions in the diving bell bit. It’s nice having them as their actual characters again. No matter how Not Very Good IX is, it still feels more like the bubble than the previous two series. 

    Rimmer dancing to the music is fucking awful cringey nonsense. 

    Girlfriend: “where are the jokes?”

    Katarina. Plot stuff. But not very funny. 

    Oh good, another “she’s behind me isn’t she?” Rimmer scene. 

    Craig in particular seems to be tonally… off, he’s definitely not acting in sitcom mode, but his lines are very sitcommy. The lack of audience really not helping here.

    God it ends so abruptly. 

    So that was basically half an episode of decent Red Dwarf with all the jokes removed.

    #280052

    Actually that said. For it to affect Rimmer it must be just before they start trying to escape the squid?
    Kryten even says they’ve been exposed to a small dose on the Esperanto. And they don’t bring any back to affect Rimmer with.
    So whilst it might be kicking in a little for Lister, Kryten and Cat before hand, it must be after they’re back on board that the hallucination starts 

    I guess so. How does Despair Squid ink affect a hologram anyway?

    Sometimes it’s best not to ask these questions. 

    There’s a cool concept in it not affecting Rimmer and he being the one trying to save them without being able to touch things. 

    #280056

    Part 2

    Even knowing the plot before I watched it, this opening scene was a really fucking weird moment. It’s such a reality-breaking moment. 

    “It’s a version of HD ready” is a great line. 

    I love the idea that the recession was the most memorable part of the early 20th century. 

    “Any bit of exposition, ask the psi-scan” – ask Kryten for his best guess, more like. 

    Ah, modern culture satire. It feels more natural here than on the ship in the later series. 

    “It recounts all our adventures – every single one of them” – really? What about the pan-dimensional liquid beast from the Mogadon Cluster? 

    Nice advert for the DVDs. 

    “I hate three parters” – Rimmer obviously saw VIII then. 

    Lister washing his arse. Still struggling with the jokes then, Doug. 

    Rimmer reading the carpet book is quite funny. It’s a shame the bunk scene here is missing. 

    The whole sci-fi shop scene is great, a real step up. “Listening to music?” is a highlight, the Blade Runner photo investigation also brilliant. The listing of past plots feels like a pisstake of Doug Dwarf’s reliance on reusing ideas. 

    “Tell Rimmer he’s a smeghead” – sounds like the kid writes letters to the Smegazine. 

    God they all look so uncomfortable walking down that staircase. 

    I find the idea that the series we haven’t seen is the best material, despite being smack bang in the middle of the show’s worst era, so ridiculous I actually found it offensive at first. 

    I wish I hadn’t seen Carbug before watching the episode. It made me angry at first. Without the context of it being owned by the fan club guy, it seemed like a bit of VIII-esque bollocks. 

    Better than the first part but still pretty lacking in good gags. 

    #280058

    Part 3

    The landing sequence is terrible. Awful, awful, awful nonsense. 

    Kryten thinking the letterbox is a droid is the low point of BtE for me. Proper VIII-level dreck. 

    Nowt on Telly is a great title. 

    Craig plays Craig way better than he plays Lister in this. That Corrie scene is pretty great. 

    Ah yes, now we’re in full on Blade Runner mode. It’s obvious how much the film inspired the film because this is just like the classic series. 

    I was always disappointed the creator wasn’t played by Doug. 

    Rimmer Munchkin droids are the creepiest thing in of Red Dwarf. 

    The spin-off series chat is pretty great. Rimmer not realising Red Dwarf is a sitcom is lovely. 

    Hard to deny the chase scene is about as good as Red Dwarf has ever looked. 

    Lister crushing the creator’s head is a bit… much. 

    Him controlling Rimmer is hilarious through. The amount of time he smacks his crotch against the corner is the desk is fantastic. I hate the rakes though. 

    Lister choosing to stay in the hallucination despite dying in the real world is very Better Than Life in the novels. 

    Ah, a Kryten best guess. It wouldn’t be a Dave episode without it. 

    Kochanski stuff is all really good. 

    “I’m going to eat you little fishy” really brings a smile.

    I actually think this would have worked better as an out and out drama. The plot is mostly good, the serious scenes are excellent, it has a great tension and atmosphere. There are just too many terrible broad gags that don’t land. 

    On the whole I think IX gets better as it goes along. It’s still near the bottom of the running because it fails at being a sitcom, the shit humour ruins the drama, and the lack of audience spoils the performances and atmosphere. But it’s still nice to have Red Dwarf back again after the hideousness of VIII.

    #280064
    desbug
    Participant

    For me the first episode hit my expectations for BTE at the time – basically not as funny as I used to find Red Dwarf (and maybe a bit too childish? even though on rewatching for this exercise I can see that some of these tendencies were always there…)

    I quite enjoyed the second part in the main, I felt that was quite well done and I for one liked Rimmer’s “mind the bus what bus splat” hologram murder after explicitly confirming it was at best not immoral. And the ridiculous photo enhancement was good stuff. But from the ‘nose guy’ onwards… no thanks. 

    The third episode then was just a bit meh. The chase sequence looks absolutely fantastic and dramatic. But the comedy isn’t that great, and I too wish Doug had been the creator (though maybe he thought it would offend the other creator as really it needed the gestalt entity). I also never understood how Lister got out of Carbug so quickly at the end, or why he decided he had to leave after all. 

    #280075

    I remember coming away from episode one feeling really let down, having not laughed once.  My instant reaction all weekend was negative.  On reflection I think BtE (as a whole piece) isn’t terrible, it’s a good story and funny in places. But it isn’t laugh out loud funny.

    Episode one is the closest we get to “traditional” Red Dwarf across the whole show.  Had that one episode (and maybe the final 5 minutes) been shot in front of an audience, I think even with largely the same script with out have been funnier.  The pacing, the acting, just having the audience laugh track on there would have really heightened the comedy within the episode for me.

    And I think think there’s an argument to be made of using the audience and then lack therefore of during the Earth/hallucination scenes as a way of jarring the audience at home.  It really would sell “now they’re no longer in TV universe, but ours” and this is where it’s a bit more dramatic.

    I know for all the various reasons that wasn’t possible but hell, nice to speculate isn’t it

    #280078

    Back to Earth: not half a series or a feature length special, but a secret third thing.

    But it is the length of half a series.

    – I had a question, but we’re in the old “doesn’t matter, it’s not real” territory yet again, so fuck it.

    Okay Phil Jupitus.

    (for context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvmq66op0G8 – what the clip doesn’t show you is that every so often afterwards he’ll respond with “don’t tell me, it’s not real”, so similar territory.)

    Cappsy dared me to do it in the title, but I didn’t have the balls.

    You missed a trick, Quinn.

    I find the idea that the series we haven’t seen is the best material, despite being smack bang in the middle of the show’s worst era, so ridiculous I actually found it offensive at first. 

    I mean, is it so outlandish to assume that had a Series IX been commissioned around 2000/2001, Doug would’ve taken on board the fact that Red Dwarf doesn’t work when you focus too much on the sci-fi or the comedy, and instead focused on trying to nail the characters as he should’ve been the whole time?

    #280079
    Stilianides
    Participant

    I mean, is it so outlandish to assume that had a Series IX been commissioned around 2000/2001, Doug would’ve taken on board the fact that Red Dwarf doesn’t work when you focus too much on the sci-fi or the comedy, and instead focused on trying to nail the characters as he should’ve been the whole time?

    Doug spoke very proudly of Series VIII both on the website and in the DVD documentary. At that time, there is no way that he was thinking that it didn’t work.

    #280080

    Doug spoke very proudly of Series VIII both on the website and in the DVD documentary. At that time, there is no way that he was thinking that it didn’t work.

    Even if you know something is well received, as a creator you’re going to think fondly of a thing.  No-one sets out to make terrible tv/film/music etc. Doug probably was very proud of it, even if the fans aren’t.

    But also, I have friends that will very proudly show you the most horrendous bowel movements so there is that …

    #280082
    Warbodog
    Participant

    I watched BTE with friends, at least two of them fans (of the normal, non-obsessive variety). I mainly remember their reactions at the beginning, when I would have been the most hypersensitive and nervous: general goodwill about its existence, Lister chuckling in the silent corridor setting a slightly uncomfortable tone, attempts at [probably] polite laughter during the tomato/sneezes bit, becoming gradually relaxed during the ‘testicle’ bit.

    I think that was the general atmosphere the whole weekend, no one outright slating it, but it just being a thing that was on. Jonathan Creek won the 2009 returns, we were more enthusiastic about that one (I was, anyway).

    #280085
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    But it is the length of half a series.

    No, it’s the length of a whole series.

    #280086
    Rudolph
    Participant

    Noddy and Swallow don’t know where the Creator can be found. Maybe try the honking great pyramid in the middle of the city they live in?

    #280089

    No, it’s the length of a whole series.

    Now I may not be the best at maths, but I am fairly sure that half of 6 is 3.

    #280090

    Noddy and Swallow don’t know where the Creator can be found. Maybe try the honking great pyramid in the middle of the city they live in?

    Actually, that raises a good point – presumably the creator must have had a lot of money to be able to buy up prime real estate in the heart of London (and right next to the Houses of Parliament, no less) and get the rights to bulldoze the whole place and build a giant flipping pyramid in its place. Not only that, but presumably he’d also have to okay it with whoever owns the design of the Tyrell Building so nobody sues for copyright infringement.

    Which begs the question – did Red Dwarf’s popularity explode in that world and make enough money to do all that? And if so, why is everyone acting like Back to Earth isn’t a big deal? I mean, it’s a reunion special, but it’s also going to be the final Red Dwarf ever.

    Wait, I just realised – in that world, Red Dwarf ends with Back to Earth because Lister killed him/he made Lister kill him/he killed himself/whatever the fuck that was all about. That means those poor suckers never got any of the stuff that came after that, and their version of the show ends with a VIII-esque cartoon skit where Lister uses the typewriter to wish everyone a happy ending and then stops mid-flow. And that’s assuming the people making it actually use that ending, and given Lister disposed of the original end it’s not likely that they’d have much else to go on. Hell, they might just abandon the project altogether after the shocking murder that took place.

    I guess as some consolation they did at least get two fantastic post-VIII series first. Lucky sods.

    #280093
    Rudolph
    Participant

    I get confused over the status of Back to Earth itself in the Backtoearthverse.

    They’re running trailers for it on TV, with footage from the first two episodes. And the DVD is already available for pre-order in the shops. But Craig Charles confirms they haven’t started filming the last episode yet, and the script is due in a few days. Simon Gregson also says they’ve only got one episode left, implying that the first two have already gone out.

    #280094
    Warbodog
    Participant

    It’s a dream.

    #280096
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Back to Earth part 2

    Historically my favourite part of the story for its Red Dwarf-based metafictional wanking, I rated this excessively highly in the Silver Survey on that basis before a rewatch brought me more to my senses. Third time around, it’s hit rock bottom, splashing around at the fetid bottom of the well with the other stinkers. It’s not funny or clever and the low budget isn’t even charming.

    My favourite thing was the faux-Vangelis music in Nose World, since I love the Blade Runner soundtrack several orders of magnitude more than the film. Hopefully more of that next time.

    “It recounts all our adventures – every single one of them” – really? What about the pan-dimensional liquid beast from the Mogadon Cluster?

    More concerning is the idea that Nano Rimmer (if this is he) has hardly had any experiences outside of Series VIII and the legendary IX.

    The listing of past plots feels like a pisstake of Doug Dwarf’s reliance on reusing ideas.

    I didn’t pick up on that. More self-aware meta critiques of the special’s own failings would have been appreciated, but Doug would save that for Timewave.

    #280097
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Now I may not be the best at maths, but I am fairly sure that half of 6 is 3.

    I’m just saying that “a series” is not a standard unit of length equal to 6 episodes, and if you did measure it that way, that would mean for each of the past 4 weeks we’ve been covering two thirds of a series.

    #280098
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Back to Earth Part I – After experiencing the crushing disappointment of Series VIII’s cliffhanger ending on DVD, I remember being SO hyped when I started seeing adverts for Back to Earth, and that hype sustained up until it broadcast. But after watching Part I, my reaction was predominantly “… was that it?”. Jokes felt a bit thin on the ground, a lot of the ones that were there didn’t really land, and the combination of leaving gaps for laughs but then not showing it to an audience was clearly the worst of both worlds, and just gave the whole thing this stitled, awkward vibe. On this rewatch, my feelings are broadly the same, but I can at least appreciate the plot and character groundwork being laid here, particularly with the way they establish the squid. And the characters do feel far more like themselves than they did in previous solo Doug Dwarf, so that’s progress.

    – It only occurred to me since first watching how strange it is to make the very first thing you see “Nine Years Later”. Nine years later than what, eh? Could be 9 years later than The End for all we know. For simplicity’s sake, though, I’ll just assume this is 9 years after Nanarchy, the most recent new episode.

    – Lovely to see Red Dwarf again, looking like its proper self, and not how it did in, uh, Remastered? (OK, I actually can’t be bothered to keep the pretense going with this one.)

    – Craig Charles really sells the scene where he visits Kochanski’s memorial, though it is undermined slightly by him having forgotten who Jane Austen is, despite him having visited an AR world based on her novels with Kochanski. Doug could and should have just picked another classic author for this.

    – Rimmer reading a car magazine really feels more like something Chris Barrie would do than Rimmer would do.

    – One joke is that Cat says he’ll only need 3 minutes to get ready, but this is completely opposite to the way he usually behaves.

    – Rimmer distracting himself and putting on loud music and dancing around while he’s meant to be monitoring the diving bell is much more annoying than it is funny (and as others have said, it goes on way too long). It also doesn’t even seem in character for Rimmer. He should be playing up his supervisor role to cover for his cowardice being the reason he isn’t in the bell. It would be forgivable if Lister being pissed off with him for nearly getting them killed was the start of a Rimmer character journey where he learns he needs to take his responsibilities more seriously and look after the rest of the crew, but it isn’t. As it stands his incompetence is just a reason for Katarina to show up, but it’s not even confirmed that the 2 things are causally related.

    – What exactly was their plan with the diving bell? They went down there to directly attack and kill the squid, but every time they thought they might be about to encounter the squid, they acted like that was a reason to do an emergency evacuation.

    – The in-hallucination explanation of the squid is that it came from another dimension, and it resides in water, so…. is it the pan-dimensional liquid beast from the Mogidon Cluster???

    – The “BIT CRAP” readout is the funniest bit in the episode for me.

    – It’s a nice clue that Rimmer questions why Katarina and Rimmer can be generated at the same time (and why she’s hardlight) but she ignores the question. But it’s not too blatant, and you can easily just read that as Doug acknowledging the plot holes while telling the audience not to care about them.

    – Katarina’s plan for using interdimensional travel is deranged. She could use it to find a universe with a thriving human population for Lister to settle down in, but instead she wants to find and recruit/kidnap a woman, take her away from her home universe, and make Lister and her start a new, highly incestuous human race together. (And it’s not like the specifics of her plan matter to the broad direction of the hallucination, because their ultimate destination is an accident).

    – Shout out to the Back to Earth DVD, which is still keeping the dream alive with its CG animated menus and transitions. And the Blu-ray has a sub-menu just to tell you how to set up HD, which is adorably quaint.

    #280099

    I mean, is it so outlandish to assume that had a Series IX been commissioned around 2000/2001, Doug would’ve taken on board the fact that Red Dwarf doesn’t work when you focus too much on the sci-fi or the comedy, and instead focused on trying to nail the characters as he should’ve been the whole time?

    Ignoring the general lack of criticism of VIII from anyone official other than Norman, what’s outlandish is that VII, VIII and BtE are the least funny series of Red Dwarf, and the later Dave series still struggle to properly reach the heights of the bubble, so the idea of Doug pulling out a run of episodes better than 2, III or V is inadvertently one of the funniest moments in the series. 

    I don’t know why this bothers me as much as it does.

    #280103
    Warbodog
    Participant

    The mythical Series IX (and X) could be a joke rubbing in what the fans were deprived of thanks to the BBC dropping the series, but was Doug even trying to get new series made when he was focusing on the movie? Or maybe it’s a joke about BTE being the best substitute we can get for a real Series IX (but that’s a bit apologetic). I’ve become dependent on jokes being explained to me now.

    Like ‘Nine Years Later’ not being ‘Ten Years Later,’ the Series IX & X references didn’t need the X. Maybe that was to make it sound like they’d been getting up to more stuff in the meantime, but then there was a real X three years later. A bit short-sighted / pessimistic, Doug.

    #280104
    Dave
    Participant

    The “BIT CRAP” readout is the funniest bit in the episode for me.

    The highlight of episode 1 for me too. It’s the closest it comes to feeling like the classic era’s humour.

    #280106
    Stilianides
    Participant

    Back to Earth Part 2

    This is my least favourite of the three parts.

    It’s an interesting idea to have the characters entering the electrical store and being on the TV screens, but I do have an issue with the incredibly slow pace of the opening few minutes. This would be an issue in any ep, but especially one that is only around 23 minutes long.

    The ‘joke’ about freak shows on Saturday nights is pretty desperate and there is a shortage of laughs as this section drags on interminably.

    I cringe during Danny’s “Does this mean that I’m not really good looking?” and Robert’s whiny “We’re not real, what are we gonna do?” 

    I quite like the cut for the advert break. Not that it works that well on the DVD, of course.

    The scene in the sci-fi shop has some purpose and they really should have got there much sooner. Jeremy Swift does a fine job, but I think they could have trimmed the scene down quite a bit.

    The trip to nose world is then utterly pointless, unfunny and Doug really going way too far down the Blade Runner rabbit hole. The scene after the shop could just as easily have been a train/coach trip up to Manchester (with Noddy having told them where to find Craig).

    While Carbug looks cute, this part also ends with a minute or so of no laughs and the following episode doesn’t exactly start strongly either. What I mean, is that including Carbug ended up taking up 4/5 minutes of the story and it really wasn’t worth it imo.

    #280112

    The mythical Series IX (and X) could be a joke rubbing in what the fans were deprived of thanks to the BBC dropping the series, but was Doug even trying to get new series made when he was focusing on the movie? Or maybe it’s a joke about BTE being the best substitute we can get for a real Series IX (but that’s a bit apologetic). I’ve become dependent on jokes being explained to me now.
    Like ‘Nine Years Later’ not being ‘Ten Years Later,’ the Series IX & X references didn’t need the X. Maybe that was to make it sound like they’d been getting up to more stuff in the meantime, but then there was a real X three years later. A bit short-sighted / pessimistic, Doug.

    It’s a joke for us, but in universe it makes sense  There’s more series as there’s 9 years where Holly went offline, Kochanski ran away etc. They’d expect to see those adventures on the DVDs

    now they missed a trick not mocking up a series IX DVD that Kryten has in his hand in the DVD store 

    that said, BtE *is* IX so that DVD is there. But only in a meta sense.

    #280114
    Dave
    Participant

    BtE only isn’t IX in a universe that doesn’t exist.

    #280116
    Jenuall
    Participant

    Rimmer reading a car magazine really feels more like something Chris Barrie would do than Rimmer would do.

    I think this was definitely them channelling Chris to be fair

    #280121
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    I watch Red Dwarf: Back to Earth for the plot.

    Screenshot of Katerina from the Red Dwarf episode Back to Earth Part II

    No seriously, I watch it for the plot. The comedy is only so-so.

    #280134

    I’m just saying that “a series” is not a standard unit of length equal to 6 episodes, and if you did measure it that way, that would mean for each of the past 4 weeks we’ve been covering two thirds of a series.

    It is in the context of Red Dwarf, or at least has been pretty consistently throughout its run, with three exceptions.

    As it stands his incompetence is just a reason for Katarina to show up

    Ignoring the general lack of criticism of VIII from anyone official other than Norman, what’s outlandish is that VII, VIII and BtE are the least funny series of Red Dwarf, and the later Dave series still struggle to properly reach the heights of the bubble, so the idea of Doug pulling out a run of episodes better than 2, III or V is inadvertently one of the funniest moments in the series. 
    I don’t know why this bothers me as much as it does.

     now they missed a trick not mocking up a series IX DVD that Kryten has in his hand in the DVD store 

    that said, BtE *is* IX so that DVD is there. But only in a meta sense.

    I would have loved to have seen that. It’d be really easy to pull off too given the number of publicity shots they did around 99 where they’re all dressed in an approximation of a weird melding of the costumes from VII and VIII.

    #280136
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    It is in the context of Red Dwarf, or at least has been pretty consistently throughout its run, with three exceptions.

    Right, I understand that. I just wasn’t sure why you initially replied “But it is the length of half a [typical] series”, and I thought maybe you were arguing that calling BtE half a series would be kind of correct. Apologies for the resultant pedantry attack.

    Anyway, we should have been arguing about whether Back to Earth is Series IX. That’s the more important issue to the man on the street.

    #280137
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Back to Earth part 3

    I enjoyed this part the most this time, maybe just because things come together (as much as they can), but the humour’s still the glaring weakness.

    I used to be fixated on the preposterous line about Blade Runner inspiring Red Dwarf, but this time I took the stance that this was just some nonsense said in a hallucination, and that this is really just as random as doing a dinosaur two-parter because they want to. It helped.

    – Rimmer was established as being familiar with car operations in part one of this very story, and they never do this kind of landing procedure, but never mind.

    – Coronation Street was my family’s background soap of choice when I was growing up, and I went to the set on the Granada Studios tour a couple of times, so it has some nostalgic ambience and warm vibes that cushions the WTF. Seeing what some of the other cast members were getting up to would add some much needed variety to what can seem like a ridiculous Blade Runner / Coronation Street mashup otherwise (even though it’s not that), but that’s obviously impractical when they couldn’t even afford to do proper Red Dwarf.

    – Hearing playground standard “mint” in Red Dwarf dialogue was pretty buzzin’.

    – Mentioning the namesake red dwarf star for the first time in the series is quite nice, even if it’s just gilding a Blade Runner reference.

    – Rimmer guessing the incest twist is so on the money. I enjoyed it more than the psi-scan diss in part two.

    – Back to Reality II: Future Echoes III: Cassandra II: Back to Earth, Part III. Except this time there’s no pretense of reality, so determining determinism ends up at rake gags. Weak, but some revenge for Lister after Tikka to Ride.

    – Spelling out exactly how the squid’s supposed to function is inviting rigorous analysis. I can’t be arsed, but I guess the bus kids were Lister’s unconscious realisation or Kryten’s guilty subconscious confession. All the TV and movie references are hard to explain in the new context, or any. Kryten dreaming of a western in Gunmen is pretty random too, but that was a genre rather than specific shows and films the characters don’t seem to be familiar with.

    – It’s good to be back on Red Dwarf with Red Dwarfy dialogue at the end, but shame about the cringe ending.

    I felt like we had to be nice about this [miniseries/special] at the time, when the future of Red Dwarf depended on it, but it was ages ago now. It’s more promising than VII & VIII, and has legitimate excuses, but I see it more as part of that block (disappointing multi-parters and weird decisions) than part of X’s new Beginning.

    #280138
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Okay Phil Jupitus.

    *Phill

    #280141
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Back to Earth Part II – A marked improvement over Part I. Throwing our heroes into the mismatched setting of ‘real’ contemporary England instantly makes it fun, even when it isn’t being outright funny. Plus we’re now into the plot proper, so there’s a much greater sense of momentum and emotional investment. I remember when I first watched this part I had a similar upswing in enjoyment, but this was combined with a great sense of disappointment over Doug breaking the Red Dwarf setting like this. It’s funny to know that Back to Earth was made with one eye tentatively pointed towards the possibility of making more new series after it, because based purely on Part II alone, I got the impression that Doug was like “fuck it, I’m never going to get to make any more Red Dwarf anyway. Let’s just Byker Grove the shit out of this”. So I was relieved when Part III came on and revealed that he had in fact been a tad more considerate than that.

    – Them all portaling in to the shop is a bit too drawn out, but I do enjoy that Cat lands on his feet.

    – Does anyone here have an authentic “Too Weird For Words” poster, with the many pointing Listers? It would take pride of place on my wall for sure.

    – Peculiar that the DVD blurb maintains the lie about Kochanski being dead, when it’s made clear that the truth is known in this universe. Perhaps when they’re together, Kryten’s desire not to be found out makes the hallucination cover up the truth, but when they’re a bit more apart (like on the bus) the information can slip.

    – Considering they just found out that they’re just figments of someone else’s imagination, the Dwarfers are actually incredibly chill about the whole thing.

    – Noddy is a very enjoyable one scene character for this, with his nonchalant, matter of fact responses to the craziness. Although it does seem like everyone they come across in this world immediately knows that they’re the real characters and not the actors. I can only assume that fictional characters are breaching their way into reality all the time here. It’s probably boring for most people, if anything.

    – Ooh, They Walk Among Us has a Kryten Head Knocker. Jealous.

    – Is Lister’s bath genuinely only £4, or did I imagine the decimal point and it’s actually £400? Either way, I’ll just take the Head Knocker, thanks.

    – The Blade Runner analysis of the photo to get Swallow’s address is pretty darn fast. I don’t think it actually would have been quicker to look him up in the phone book, so that gag didn’t really work.

    – Rimmer says “when I’m Lord of the Star Fleet”. That’s a naughty bit of novel continuity to sneak in there.

    – Kryten told Lister that Kochanski was dead even though she was just gone, finally getting his sweet revenge for that shit Lister pulled in Stoke Me A Clipper. Though I guess he must have also lied to Cat and Rimmer, which is messed up.

    – The kids say they “worked it out”, that Kochanski wasn’t dead, but based on what they say next, it’s pretty clear that Kryten’s deception was explicitly in the story of the show. I bet these kids got halfway through Batman Begins and felt like geniuses for piecing together Batman’s secret identity.

    – Knowing what the twist is, I’m on the lookout for any moments that could legitimately be considered “joyful” for any of the characters. So far: Lister – gets his ego stroked by some kids, Rimmer – gets to murder a woman without consequence.

    – I agree that Nose World feels like it’s just killing time. It further solidifies the Blade Runner parody aspect, but it’s not particularly fun, or funny.

    – The meta-ness of it not just being a story about them finding out they’re fictional, but them finding out they’re fictional is all still within the confines of the story, despite them being in the ‘real’ world during it… well, it’s ambitious, I’ll give you that. I think it works for what the story actually is, but it doesn’t work for what we’re meant to believe the story is at this current moment.

    #280146
    srmcd1
    Participant

    While I don’t think BtE has aged terribly well — I loved it when it first came out but I’ve gone lukewarm on it lately — I do appreciate it for one thing in particular, and that’s that it made me care about Lister again. Maybe Craig had just improved that much as an actor, or maybe he’s fairly well written compared to the last few series, but starting around Series VI, he just became increasingly frustrating, taking a level in dumbass and making increasingly daft decisions (“I rigged the readouts! I didn’t want to cause any panic! Aren’t I sensible?”). BtE, he’s still a bit daft sometimes, but back at a level closer to the earlier years.

    Also, a thought just came to me — instead of having Rimmer reading carpet samples in Part 2, they could’ve had him reading the booklet that came with the “Series IX” DVD, wherein he could’ve resolved the VIII cliffhanger. Might’ve disrupted the flow of the episode, but they could’ve at least filmed it and included it in the Deleted Scenes.

    #280148
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Maybe Craig had just improved that much as an actor

    #280181
    Rudolph
    Participant

    Since listening to Athletico Mince, I can’t help but imagine Reg Wharf as looking like Roy Hodgson.

    #280182
    Stilianides
    Participant

    Back to Earth – Part 3

    This might be the most successful of the three parts, but I still have massive issues with it. Particularly the fact that so much was nabbed from Blade Runner and from Back to Reality.

    The Carbug opening is stupid rather than funny and the same goes for Kryten talking to the post box. These are characters who have spent year upon year watching old movies and TV shows, so the idea that they wouldn’t know how to behave on earth doesn’t really add up.

    Simon Gregson is great, and he and Craig give the best performances imo. Their scenes together are some of the strongest of the special.

    The Blade Runner references then become ridiculously heavy handed, and I dislike almost everything about the Creator sequence. The miniature Rimmers are amusing, but so much of the physical comedy feels pretty desperate.

    Also, the scenes where the crew are chased all look very impressive (especially considering the budget), but I don’t think they add anything to the plot at all. It’s another case of Doug saying, “Hey, look what I can do.” There is a fair amount of self-indulgence throughout these 3 eps imo.

    A shame that the Kochanski stuff is affected by the Blade Runner obsession, but kudos to Andrew Ellard for making the suggestion that she ought to make an appearance. If she wasn’t part of this section, there would be little to commend it.

    It would have been nice if the script had rejigged a little and the final scene could have been Lister deciding to return to the ship and real life. The opening to the first ep could have been him at Kochanski’s grave and the closing to the finale could have been him walking away from her. 

    I personally find Cat’s, “I’m gonna eat you little fishy’ to be a little embarrassing and I think there are way too many callbacks to episodes much better than this one.

    I do like some elements of Back to Earth, but think massive chunks could have been cut.

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