Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum Worst episodes of series 3-5?

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  • #259997
    tombow
    Participant

    I thought I’d start this thread because as a kid I only had series 3-5 on video (later had them all, but only had 3-5 for a couple of years). And I thought they were pretty much perfect and the high point of RD. However I always skipped over Backwards and Meltdown or at least found them lesser when I did watch them. Backwards I just didn’t like the idea that much and felt like it was one joke that didn’t stand up to repeated viewings (and I didn’t like the eating scenes). Meltdown I just found too silly and over the top with the historical characters. Looking back now I feel like it’s not I thought they were bad so much, they just didn’t feel very like the show and I felt like they could have been sketches in any comedy show. Any other less popular moments?

    #259998
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    I don’t think Bodyswap or Timeslides are highlights, really. Both are very silly and I don’t remember the latter being the funniest episode ever. Bottom half. The ends of DNA and Dimension Jump are rather pony. One ends on a fairly lame gag and the other ends…………………………………………. Demons & Angels just feels grimy and less well-directed than usual.

    That said, I love Meltdown, now much more than I did when I was younger. I ended up rating it top 5, I think.

    #260000
    tombow
    Participant

    I loved Bodyswap and Timeslides when I first had the video. The cheekiness of them fighting over who gets to be the Tension Sheet creator, and the grossness of Rimmer over-indulging in Lister’s body really tickled me at the time.

    #260002
    RunawayTrain
    Participant

    Meltdown I’m not sure I fully understand, I feel like there might be a layer to it that I’m missing? It also feels odd because there are so many extra characters which is unusual for the show – and we don’t actually get to know any of those characters at all (beyond knowing who they are, of course), unlike most others they meet throughout the rest of the show. There are still bits that make me laugh whenever I do watch the episode though.

    Backwards was a real technical feat, but I don’t enjoy it as much after the first several viewings. There’s nothing wrong with it, and the attention to detail when they’re on the backwards earth is remarkable (occasional lapses in logic/chronology aside) – I enjoy watching it occasionally, but it’s not one I would necessarily choose to watch even once a month, whereas some episodes I would happily watch on repeat (no exaggeration).

    I think I read a comment about Bodyswap not having the foley in with the overdubbed voices; if that’s the case then that would explain why I enjoy it less than I feel I should. When I do watch it I enjoy it more than the others on this list, but I’m never quite drawn in, and I think that might just be because of the missing foley. (Can fan edits rectify that sort of thing?) Everything else about it I enjoy which is why it feels odd to be including it in this list.

    Back to Reality I don’t enjoy as much as it seems others do – but when looking at it in context in the original run, I absolutely get why it’s often cited as a fan favourite. It feels a bit like Backwards in that respect, that in context it’s much greater than what the episode does with the characters, for me. Again, enjoyed more with infrequent viewings rather than frequent.

    I absolutely would not say any of them are ‘bad’ episodes, just … ones I overall enjoy less. They all have scenes or lines I really enjoy, and the beauty of watching some eps less frequently means I forget about some of the great lines in them and enjoy those all the more when I hear them :D

    4 lesser out of 18, not bad. From the same 18 I would rate 6 of them as my favourites, leaving 8 of them in the ‘good’ area between favourites and … whatever this list is.

    #260003
    Dax101
    Participant

    Probably The Last Day and Meltdown. The tone of The Last Day is a bit of a downer. and Meltdown focuses a bit too much on the look-a-likes guest stars angle

    Although I do disagree that it feels like a sketch show. if Meltdown was made today it probably would be a sketch show of comedic impersonations. but really I think Meltdown was the opposite. it wasn’t about the impersonations. it was about the absurdity of having all these famous figures fighting in a war. the only 2 that were really played for laughs were Elvis and Caligula.

    I don’t dislike them. they would just be in the least favourites for 3-5

    #260005
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    the only 2 that were really played for laughs were Elvis and Caligula

    and Stan Laurel and Einstein and Pythagoras and the “oh, shot” guy and Ghandi and St. Francis of Assisi and Sartre

    #260006
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    and the old lady with the machine gun and probably one or two others

    #260007

    Backwards, Timeslides and The Inquisitor would probably be my bottom three of the era. Backwards is very gimmicky and lacking in character depth, Timeslides always feels incredibly down, and The Inquisitor has long stretches of relatively little humour.

    I mean they’re all still great, but if I had to pick out least favourites they’d be my choices.

    #260008
    Dax101
    Participant

    and Stan Laurel and Einstein and Pythagoras and the “oh, shot” guy and Ghandi and St. Francis of Assisi and Sartre

    They were not used in the same way. for them, the comedy is very much in the unlikely situation you put those famous figures in. like “lieutenant colonel” Mother Teresa with a machine gun for example. while with Elvis he was a bit of an over the top caricature that was played for laughs.

    Clayton Mark did a really good job though. he is a stand out.

    #260011
    tombow
    Participant

    I think Last Day seems sadder now. At the time, Kryten to me was just a bit of a creepy new character who had possibly killed/neglected his previous crew, had a scary vacuum attachment and a slightly sinister voice/face/manner.

    #260012
    Katydid
    Participant

    Backwards was always a beloved episode in my youth but largely bores me as an adult. Aside from a few standout gags, a lot of the episode seems to be reliant on you being wowed and amused by the mere visual of a tape playing backwards.

    I don’t know, I always especially loved Series III as a kid but nowadays it’d probably be my second-lowest ranked series of the original six above I. But while Series I is clearly finding its feet and absolutely does by Future Echoes and Me2, III feels often distracted from the show’s core in a “we have all these new toys to play with so we’re gonna milk them for all they’re worth” sort of way. Then you have Marooned kinda weirdly placed in there, which if not for elements like Starbug probably could have fit pretty seamlessly into Series II.

    I always facetiously say that Marooned is the best Series II episode.

    Why do we have to exclude Series II from this discussion, though? I think Parallel Universe is one of the weakest episodes in the original 36, and every time people argue to me that I’m wrong and it’s actually a really great episode they seem to only pull quotes and moments from the opening scene or two – which is the section of the episode I think is absolutely fine.

    Demons & Angels makes me uncomfortable to watch in a way it didn’t used to, but that’s because I once made the mistake of watching it while extremely high. It was…legitimately uncomfortable and slightly terrifying in that state, and since then I can’t really unsee the version that only existed in my brain for that one viewing. I know that’s kinda meaningless as a criticism to anyone who isn’t me, but that’s my personal feelings about an episode I was never crazy about.

    I don’t dislike any Series IV episode but I also don’t really love any Series IV episodes that aren’t Justice and to a lesser extent White Hole. Whereas even though V has Terrorform (which isn’t a bad episode by any stretch but feels weak among the line-up of Rimmer character analysis stories) and Demons & Angels, it’s still got half its episodes in my Top 10 and really high up too.

    Honestly though, even though there’s episodes I don’t really care for in every era, if I were sitting down to watch through the entire series in order I would probably only skip VIII and Timewave. I’d still watch Parallel Universe and Emohawk even though I think both absolutely fall apart after their strong openings.

    #260013
    tombow
    Participant

    I think as a kid I really didn’t like Backwards or Better Than Life because I just didn’t like seeing the Dwarfers in modern day normal Earth, it just felt wrong and dull to me. I like them on planets which are like, swamps or dark forests, or grim futures like Back to Reality. I even think Back to Earth does it better with the meta-twist making it a bit more unusual.

    Terraform to me always felt like a bit of a dull lull in rewatches, not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just a bit low key compared to the epic episodes around it.

    I think I way over-rate Series 3 because I had it all on video when I was about 11/12, so it was pretty much my introduction to, not just RD but a lot of the concepts of the episodes, like… time travel changing the past, android life, religion, how losing anger/pride could change a person so much, etc. It was pretty much the first philosophical sci-fi I experienced in any format, and I re-watched it a lot just trying to get my head around some of the ideas, so it’s hard for me to be dismissive about its flaws. (outside of Backwards)..

    …looking at the episodes now I don’t think there’s a single one across 4 and 5 that didn’t blow me away, other than Terrorform and Meltdown…I loved all of 6 too. In fact I liked Gunmen the least of 6 because I wasn’t really enthused about the idea of the Dwarfers in a western. I haven’t even rewatched Gunmen since the 90s so I can’t rate it fairly.

    #260014
    Stilianides
    Participant

    I think Timeslides is an excellent ep with many classic moments, so I can’t agree with that one.

    Demons and Angels doesn’t quite work as a whole for me and, perhaps this is hindsight talking, but it feels a little clunky and disjointed. That makes sense due to the production problems.

    Meltdown has some great moments, but it is basically people in silly costumes messing around in a field. It doesn’t exactly look like another world.

    Bodyswap was filmed without an audience and the atmosphere feels a little restrained. I admire the ambition of the idea, but the execution is less than perfect.

    #260015
    tombow
    Participant

    I guess as well watching it now I find Gandhi being in it a bit dodgy/uncomfortable, I mean whatever you think of him, he was a real person that didn’t live that long ago like Napoleon or someone.

    #260017
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    They were not used in the same way.

    I cannot think of a -more- arbitrary distinction that has ever been made about anything. And I post on Ganymede & Titan.

    #260018
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    Not to get political, but wasn’t Ghandi a bit of a prick? Mother Theresa, as well. She was still alive when Meltdown went out. Died in ’97. And Ghandi only died three years after Hitler.

    #260019
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    I’m too lazy to think about this fresh. I’ll just look up my Pearl Poll submission and assume my opinion is broadly unchanged.

    So, the worst episode of Red Dwarf series 3-5 is… White Hole! Yeah, OK, why not. Still the 38th best episode of all time (not taking The Promised Land into account) so nothing to be ashamed of.

    Compare the actual Pearl Poll result, in which Camille is the worst episode of series 3-5, but at the higher position of 30th.

    And of course, anyone suggesting The Last Day – the no. 1 episode of the show as a whole – is just objectively wrong. Might as well suggest Back to Reality.

    #260020
    clem
    Participant

    III feels often distracted from the show’s core in a “we have all these new toys to play with so we’re gonna milk them for all they’re worth” sort of way.

    I think so too. III is a series I have to be in just the right mood for. It’s a bit too cool for school and while there’s plenty of great stuff throughout, it feels like Rob and Doug reined themselves in a bit with IV, in a good way. Also I know people say the Cat is too stupid in later series, but if anything I think he’s slightly too cool and cocky in III.

    Why do we have to exclude Series II from this discussion, though?

    Because tombow didn’t have the videos as a kid.

    I think as a kid I really didn’t like Backwards or Better Than Life because I just didn’t like seeing the Dwarfers in modern day normal Earth, it just felt wrong and dull to me. I like them on planets which are like, swamps or dark forests, or grim futures like Back to Reality. I even think Back to Earth does it better with the meta-twist making it a bit more unusual.

    The Blade Runner stuff spoils that for me though. If it had been the actual contemporary real world rather than the bizarre real world/Blade Runner amalgam, and they’d leaned into the meta aspect, I think they could’ve had a lot of fun with the concept. In hindsight I think BTE should’ve been done as an explicitly non-canon thing tbh. What we ended up with was neither one thing nor the other, and it seems hardly anyone thinks of it as proper Red Dwarf anyway.

    it is basically people in silly costumes messing around in a field.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    #260022
    Hamish
    Participant

    Because tombow didn’t have the videos as a kid.

    I think this governs a great deal of fan opinion actually. Which Dwarf you were first introduced to I mean, not tombow’s personal viewing habits.

    Series V and II were the last of the Grant/Naylor era I got to see in full, and while Series II is now one of my favourites, I have always found Series V to be overrated, and it seems to have been the gateway drug for a lot of people around these parts.

    #260024
    tombow
    Participant

    Not to get political, but wasn’t Ghandi a bit of a prick? Mother Theresa, as well. She was still alive when Meltdown went out. Died in ’97. And Ghandi only died three years after Hitler.

    maybe it’s a realism thing. If a Dwarfer mentions Gandhi or Hitler, you can imagine they share the world with the real figure, but when there’s a actor there who looks and acts nothing like the real one…

    #260025
    Renegade Rob
    Participant

    Polymorph is a sloppy episode. Funny? Sure, at times. But far from Dwarf at its best. While I can appreciate that it’s Dwarf intentionally letting it’s hair down and is often referred to as part of a one-two punch with Marooned, I still think it’s my definite low point for Series 3-5 because even when Polymorph is funny, it’s not the kind of funny of I look for from Red Dwarf.

    Series 4 and 5 are largely perfect, and even entries I don’t prefer like Dimension Jump or Demons and Angels I still respect as objectively good episodes.

    Series 3 though is tough because even in classic episodes there’s usually something dodgy about the execution somewhere in the ep. Polymorph is dodgy throughout, but even a classic like The Last Day has a sloppy battle at the end. Hudzen himself is a fine enough performance, but that whole Hudzen sequence is so haphazardly shot once the action starts that it takes me out of the scene, like I barely even registered the gibberish Hudzen was saying, etcetera, which is a blemish in an otherwise classic episode.

    The plotting is looser in Series 3 which I don’t much prefer either, with the storytelling being much more polished and tightened in subsequent series. So whatever the weak point is from the Series 3-5 range, for me it’s gotta be somewhere in Series 3, definitely Polymorph in particular, but that whole Series 3 as a whole is a low point in just the way it was executed.

    #260026

    When I think about that era of Red Dwarf, the darker is gets “literally and figuratively”, the less my heart if warmed to it. Inquisitor and Terrorform both top that list for me, and both in the middle of the 5th series before it lightens up again in series 6.

    #260053

    and it seems hardly anyone thinks of it as proper Red Dwarf anyway

    What is proper Red Dwarf anyway? In 30 years and 13 series (yes 13) its had 7 different iterations of itself. 1-2, 3-5, 6,7,8,BTE, Dave era.

    Dave era is the longest lasting and most consistent, so really we should all look to that to define what Red Dwarf is. But we tend to look to the original 6 series, which change every couple of years and sort of re-invent itself a bit.

    The only thing people can really mean when talking about “proper Red Dwarf” (if they ever do, I’m not sure I even support the premise of statement) is that there are broadly things we understand Red Dwarf to be from across the whole show. In which case, BTE definitely broadly hits anything you could say Red Dwarf is. It’s going to be slightly different in some respects and more closely resembling others, but it is still by and large Red Dwarf. More so than some versions of itself the show has been cough VIII cough

    #260055
    si
    Participant

    I always facetiously say that Marooned is the best Series II episode.

    Impressive, it wasn’t made until the following year.

    #260056
    Dave
    Participant

    Impressive, it wasn’t made until the following year.

    That’s the point, I think.

    #260060
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    Don’t have many negatives about 3 or 5. Backwards is probably a bag of old shite, but that’s a rare one where it’s quite hard to divorce myself from the feeling of first watching it and being excited about Red Dwarf’s new look.

    4, I’m less precious about. Never really got on with Meltdown, but that may be being swayed by the consensus in the fan club in the mid-nineties that it’s rubbish. I certainly don’t like the editing, or the guest cast or Rimmer’s choices being blamed on a light-bee glitch. Huh, maybe I do I dislike it.

    #260061
    clem
    Participant

    The only thing people can really mean when talking about “proper Red Dwarf” (if they ever do, I’m not sure I even support the premise of statement) is that there are broadly things we understand Red Dwarf to be from across the whole show. In which case, BTE definitely broadly hits anything you could say Red Dwarf is. It’s going to be slightly different in some respects and more closely resembling others, but it is still by and large Red Dwarf. More so than some versions of itself the show has been cough VIII cough

    VIII is still an audience sitcom with real sets rather than virtual ones, though. I dunno, so many things about BTE combine to give it a really odd atmosphere that I think most people do consider it to be a quirky anomaly, even if they like it, and even though you’re right of course that Red Dwarf has gone through several different incarnations. It was made under unusual circumstances and Doug has even said it “wasn’t Red Dwarf – it was our ticket to get back into the game.”

    #260067

    VIII is a studio sitcom with sets is about the only real comparisons you can make between viii and Red Dwarf IMO. The core concept of the show is torn up and a real, generic, sitcom in space replaces it.

    BTE is no more a quirky anomaly than VII is in that respect really in having a lack of audience and using CGI to make up for not being able to do physical effects.

    And the only CGI sets in BTE are part of the corridor and the cargo bay right? The bunk is real, although it something doesn’t look it, and all the other bits and pieces are legit. And the cargo bay looks fantastic.

    Regardless of whether Doug feels it’s Red Dwarf of not, he has made some colossally maddening decisions when it comes to the show, which again just sort of shows Red Dwarf if many many different things.

    BTE is an exploration of character with some weird and meta sci-fi shit going on. Granted Red Dwarf doesn’t usually get meta but it does do movie references and shit, again not to the same scale as BTE but it has all the right ingredients, just cooked in a bit of a rush.

    #260068
    tombow
    Participant

    Personally I think BTE feels more Dwarf than VIII. BTE feels to me like the ambition of the novels. VIII is …I dunno

    #260071
    clem
    Participant

    VIII is a studio sitcom with sets is about the only real comparisons you can make between viii and Red Dwarf IMO.

    That was my point in a way. “BTE definitely broadly hits anything you could say Red Dwarf is” you said. Well, we could say Red Dwarf is that – except for BTE. Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was being deliberately pernickety but as I said, it’s other things as well that make BTE the odd one out, moreso the meta stuff really. As for VII, fair enough it wasn’t recorded in front of a live audience but it does have a laugh track.

    #260078
    Plastic Percy
    Participant

    I don’t particularly rate Polymorph. Kryten’s lament over what he said about Rimmer’s mum goes on far too long, to the point where his crying just gets awkward, and the episode ends rather too quickly and conveniently.

    The one thing that always throws me about III – in Backwards and Marooned especially – is how shoddy the Starbug cockpit looks. It’s a few keyboards, styrofoam tubes and some fold up chairs. Even the Blue Midget set – which looks like Rimmer, Cat and Kryten sitting on crates in a cupboard – looks better.

    #260090
    tombow
    Participant

    Polymorph is what I’ve always said my favourite episode is. It was one of the first ep I saw properly as a kid (for some reason the first one I watched all the way through was Queeg, then I didn’t see another repeat till Marooned and Polymorph.) I loved the combination of the tight Alien type horror story with the silliness of how much they all change, especially Rimmer and Lister. Not sure I’d rate it as the show’s best now, but I do still think it’s a good capsule of what makes RD great. I also found it really exciting to see the lower boiler room type area they hunt the Polymorph in. As I’d only seen the series 1/2 sets by then.

    #260091
    clem
    Participant

    Kryten’s lament over what he said about Rimmer’s mum goes on far too long, to the point where his crying just gets awkward

    Yeah that’s one of a few clunky moments that drags Polymorph down for me. I’ve never liked Kryten’s Alsation dog insult either, but worst of all is Rimmer’s confusion about what the heat-seekers are homing in on, because holograms and mechanoids don’t produce heat (I mean, don’t they??), even though the Cat is right there with them! Also I’d forgive the snake prop looking so fake if it wasn’t clearly much shorter than the real snake. I guess the Polymorph turned into a draught excluder for some reason.

    #260100

    because holograms and mechanoids don’t produce heat (I mean, don’t they??)

    Clearly hologram technology is so efficient that none of the energy it used to create light is lost to heat.

    As for Kryten, I’d definitely call bullshit. We see him in series X with an heat exhaust in his arse so there’s definitely some heat generation.

    What’s more incongruous is why a mining ship has heat seeking missiles for it’s mining bazookoids.

    #260110
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    If Kyrten doesn’t produce heat why is he always so god damn sweaty in series III?

    #260119

    That’s his intelligent circuits melting

    #261102
    By Jove its holmes
    Participant

    That’s his intelligent circuits melting

    What about his stupid circuits?

    #261104
    tombow
    Participant

    It’s only just occured to me that in Me2 it’s kind of strange that Rimmer gets tired exercising, or even needs/wants to exercise…I guess it’s a mental battle of discipline between the Rimmers, but why get tired? Does it just overload their bee charge or something?

    #261105
    Dave
    Participant

    It’s simulated tiredness.

    (I always asked myself similar questions about Queeg and the punishing exercise regime.)

    #261149
    Kris Carter
    Participant

    Worst of 3 – 5?

    Years ago I’d have said Meltdown, but no – it’s great. I ‘get’ it now. So I think the eps that fall flattest for me would be Demons & Angels, DNA and Camille. But they still tower over VIII.

    #261169
    Shoes Have Soles
    Participant

    Tricky one as the standard between 3 to 5 was so ruddy good. In fact I would challenge any other British Sitcom who had such a consistent run for 3 series/seasons. Overall I would probably say Bodyswap as it was basically just one funny concept stretched out to half an hour. Also I would say Lister would never have let Rimmer in the soft light era ever have his body! The other two I would probably mention are Meltdown and Terrorform but really they are still very good.

    #261170
    Toxteth O-Grady
    Participant

    Androids not producing heat seems like a violation of the laws of thermodynamics, no?

    #261276
    Ben Kirkham
    Participant

    Series 3 – Backwards isn’t great, but neither is Bodyswap.
    Series 4 – Camille.
    Series 5 – Can’t choose one; it’d be like choosing a favourite child.

    #261278
    Ridley
    Participant

    Series 5 – Can’t choose one; it’d be like choosing a favourite child.

    #261294
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    I disagree with the opinion, Ridley, but the method of delivery is perfect.

    #261350
    ARossiEsquire
    Participant

    III – Very hard to choose, this being the first series of Dwarf I watched, but probably The Last Day. Not that it’s bad, just not as memorable as the rest of the series (in my opinion, at least)
    IV – Meltdown. Most of my reasons are the same as yours, a couple of funny gags but it ultimately just falls flat for me, I tend to skip this one.
    V – Demons and Angels, just for the tarantula scene. I’m fine with bugs, but I remember watching that and nearly being sick.

    #261363
    Ben Kirkham
    Participant

    I think Meltdown is just one of those episodes that you either get or you just don’t. Maybe some people see it as too broad and silly but I think it’s absolutely glorious. I think it works within its own world, in a way that (for example) VIII doesn’t.

    #261592
    PhilPagett
    Participant

    Backwards – the logic is so flimsy that it falls apart even as I watch it, and for me the individual scenes are impressive technically, but not all that funny. Plus Rimmer and Lister share hardly any scenes, and Rimmer becoming a cabaret act always felt off-model to me. Why would he do that?

    Meltdown has some moments I really love and the basic premise is great, but the location stuff totally knackers it. It’s completely atmosphere-less and doesn’t feel in any way like they’re on an abandoned theme park planet. It reminds me of those unofficial DTV Doctor Who spin-offs from the 90s that were shot guerrilla style in fields.

    Terrorform. Beginning the episode basically in the middle of the plot is a cool idea but without any lead-in I struggle to get any purchase on what’s going on. Shirtless Rimmer being oiled just feels like a weird abstract sequence that I find mildly unsettling.

    Having said all this, Red Dwarf is good.

    #261627
    RealBigOleDummy
    Participant

    Series 3 – Backwards. Its only saving grace ,for me anyway, is the last scene with Cat in the bushes. Makes me laugh just thinking about it ;D. I used a screenshot of it as my Avatar for gaming for awhile actually.

    Series 4 – DNA, but only the second half or so. Kryten’s bewilderment at being human is hilarious and the look on Daves face when he sees “the photograph” are just sublime imo.

    Series 5 – Heresy to even suggest a “worst” episode of this series.

    #261639
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Yeah, but it’s blatantly Demons & Angels. No need to be coy.

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