I’m not the biggest Red Dwarf fan in the world. I think it’s great and hilarious and has just the right mix of ramshackle sets and quirky sci-fi concepts to be quaint without also being irritating. I just mean…I don’t have the t-shirts or box sets or anything, it’s not a key influence (as far as I’m aware) on my sense of humour – I just think it’s a good show.
Or I did, until I saw Back to Earth, but the less said about that the better.
Which is why my hopes weren’t especially high when I sat down to watch the first episode of the tenth series tonight. Thankfully, my hopes seemed to be exactly where they needed to be for me to get the most out of it, as I was pleasantly astonished that it could have passed for any of the early episodes – with a few minor exceptions.
The story was typical Dwarf – some genuine peril here and there offset by the mundanity of life in deep space and the inherent self-indulgence of most of its characters, with the occasional surreal joke thrown in for good measure – but what most amused me was the fact that Lister and the Cat, the two characters that should appear to have aged the most, looked positively sprightly compared to Rimmer and Kryten, whose wrinkled eyelids were pouring out of his rubber sockets like so much cheap jelly.
That an android and a hologram should have appeared to have aged at all is a ludicrous notion to pull off in even the softest science fiction, but in Red Dwarf X it’s easily forgiven; it’s all part of the slightly naff charm – it comes with the cheap sets and dodgy accents – and the show has a legacy, after all. What better way to remind an audience of that than with a receding hairline or two?
I’m not sure about the smooth camera moves or HD picture quality, though. A big part of me feels like Red Dwarf should always be watched as if it’s been filmed on second-hand cameras then taped onto a slightly mouldy VHS cassette.
But that might be a bit too much to ask.