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The space slobs are back!
April 11, 2009 8:10 AM   Subscribe

The classic British comedy sf series Red Dwarf returns for three episodes.

With all of the original basic cast -- Craig Charles as Lister, Danny Jules as the cat, Robert Llewellyn as Kryten and Chris Barrie as Rimmer -- the show finally brings our "heroes" to Earth, in 2009, no less.

Too bad the projected movie fell through, but there is a lot of buzz about another series for the smegheads of space, who first crashed into TV 21 years ago. The first episode of the new series has been transmitted, and the second one is due on mere hours...

It's a good day to be an sf fan!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course I mean Danny John-Jules. And, yes, written and directed by Doug Naylor!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2009


:Edits cheat sheet in time machine: Cats left in lockers are different one million years later.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:16 AM on April 11, 2009


Just not feeling the magic. Maybe I am seeing it through a haze of nostalgia.
I remember eagerly discussing it with classmates in high school Chemistry in 1988...
posted by artaxerxes at 8:19 AM on April 11, 2009


Tries hard to forget that Hyperdrive ever happened.
posted by Artw at 8:21 AM on April 11, 2009


We started wacthing Red Dwarf on Netflix a while back, and completely by coincidence, just finished the 8th series.

Does anyone know if this will be shown on any kind of American TV, or online?
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2009


Oh, and the scrapping of perfectly good model work in favour of bargain basement CGI that looked dated at the time was a mark against the series.
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, Craig Charles is in Coronation Street now? Man, a lot happens when you leave the UK for..um.... nearly 3 years.

Hmmm. Ok, that's longer than I thought it was.
posted by Brockles at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, a lot happens when you leave the UK for..um.... nearly 3 years.

It was the prime minister taking an interest in Jade Goody that got me. WTF?
posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of my ex-girlfriends was really into Red Dwarf. One weekend a few years back some channel had an all-weekend marathon, and she got really excited about the prospect of introducing me to the show. But every time we tuned in she'd exclaim "Oh, this is one of the bad ones!" We never did get to see one of the "good" ones. I take it the series was a little...uneven?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


:Edits cheat sheet in time machine: Cats left in lockers are different one million years later.

I always got a kick out of the conceit the one cat 'evolved' over a million years to a cool black human cat. It's stupid but it's funny.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:43 AM on April 11, 2009


The total lack of the rest of the species wasn't covered either, was it? The fact that a life form evolved over a million years into just one human-shaped cat.
posted by Brockles at 8:46 AM on April 11, 2009


The total lack of the rest of the species wasn't covered either, was it? The fact that a life form evolved over a million years into just one human-shaped cat.

Well, it was covered in the books. Felis Sapiens had a holy war and split into two factions leaving the small, rouge one and going in opposite directions. They abandoned two defectives who found each other and had....Danny John-Jules.

Got a badly-synced d/l of Episode 9.1 last night and watched it..... oh dear. It was poo-like. One of the bad ones. Maybe 9.2 will be better. Never in my life before did I think something critically needed a laugh track.

I get laugh tracks now. They're the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.
posted by codswallop at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2009


Holy shit, Craig Charles is in Coronation Street now?

Brace yourself...

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:57 AM on April 11, 2009


The same story was covered in one episode in the first season too. The one with the old man that was distraught that he'd destroyed his hat.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 AM on April 11, 2009


I
Dave
Brand New
hate
Dave
Brand New
this
Dave
Brand New
channel. For some reason I seem to be medically incapable of ignoring superimposed text.
posted by you at 9:10 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a terrible day to be a sf fan!
posted by ver at 9:10 AM on April 11, 2009


The total lack of the rest of the species wasn't covered either, was it? The fact that a life form evolved over a million years into just one human-shaped cat.

As I remember, there is a brief appearance by another living cat in the first series - a very elderly, dying one. And the books fill in the blanks: Lister's original cat was pregnant when the crew died (so no need for breeding partner), and the radiation leak that killed the crew accelerated the cats' evolution.
posted by WPW at 9:34 AM on April 11, 2009


I take it the series was a little...uneven?

Seasons 1-6 were generally excellent, getting better and better - watching them again, the early seasons do show their age a little more obviously. However, at the end of Season 6/start of season 7, they lost one of the writers (Rob Grant) and one of the stars (Chris Barrie), and things went precariously downhill. While they got Barrie back for the terrible season 8, the damage was largely done, and it was proved that Grant was the bigger loss to the series.

That's my concern about these new episodes, really - if they'd gotten Grant back onboard, I'm certain they'd be excellent... now I have that horrible trepidation that I'm going to be bitterly disappointed when I watch. Still, at least the only way from S8 is up... I hope.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the lack of Rob Grant in the seventh and eighth series really showed. I'll probably give these a whirl though, for nostalgia's sake if nothing else.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:03 AM on April 11, 2009


Oh, and the scrapping of perfectly good model work in favour of bargain basement CGI that looked dated at the time was a mark against the series.

As the one-time recipient of the pink baby scutter from Series One, I heartily agree - the cut the whole baby scutter gag from the DVD remasters entirely! Smegheads!

The baby scutter still resides in the Emerald City and I recently leaned on the current custodian to slot it in at the SF Museum. He's thinking about it.

Regarding the eventual possibility of a US broadcast, I can't imagine that they WON'T do it. KCTS (Seattle's PBS affiliate) has MILKED the show as a fundraising tool over the past decade and I am sure they are slavering over this new content.

Amusingly (to me) I learned about this during the Great MetaFilter Outage due to a retwitter from Wendell of Robert Lewellyn's tweet announcing the deal to shoot the new episodes (sadly, not locatable via search.twitter.com).
posted by mwhybark at 10:19 AM on April 11, 2009


whoop, tweet in question quoted in full in the second link provided by the OP, and the tweet itself is here.
posted by mwhybark at 10:27 AM on April 11, 2009


As I remember, there is a brief appearance by another living cat in the first series - a very elderly, dying one. And the books fill in the blanks: Lister's original cat was pregnant when the crew died (so no need for breeding partner), and the radiation leak that killed the crew accelerated the cats' evolution.

It basically worked out that Frankenstein gave birth, and over the millions of years of feeding on the dry food stores, eventually they figured out how to use a can opener and felis sapiens evolved. In time, a great holy war was fought. Everyone knew that Cluster (Lister) was going to lead them promise lands of Fushal (Fiji) but there was a rift over whether the hats they would wear would be red or blue. Millions died.

Eventually a peace was brokered, and both sides left in different directions to find the holy land, leaving behind the sick, the disabled, and the useless.

Cat was among "the useless".

I am so glad to hear this is coming back. I am a huge fan of the series and I hold high hopes that this might mean that the omnibus for the book might come back into print. I lent mine out a decade ago and it never came back.

And while the TV show is entertaining, the book is amazingly funny.
posted by quin at 10:29 AM on April 11, 2009


I saw the first of the three new episodes on Friday. It was really weak - a real shame given the characters and universe built up over seven series.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 10:38 AM on April 11, 2009


No one seems to have mentioned actually watching it. It wasn't very good. There was a distinct paucity of jokes which is pretty important in a sitcom.

Oh, and the scrapping of perfectly good model work in favour of bargain basement CGI

Yes, the Scutters looked shit in the new episode.
posted by ninebelow at 10:41 AM on April 11, 2009


Oh man, I loved that show. I watched it on PBS religiously. It was awesome. What, were you haters trying to watch it clean and sober or something? That will never work. I had a giant crush on Lister then and, when and if I ever get to see the new episodes, I probably still do.

My pointless Lister anecdote: I was once - right around New Years, 1999 - in a bar in NYC somewhere near Times Square. Got into a conversation with a British guy at the bar. Somehow, Red Dwarf came up and so did my crush. "Craig Charles?" said the guy unbelievingly, "You have a crush on Craig Charles?!" "Yes," I said, "Why?" "He's a good friend of mine," said the Brit. "Wait til he hears about this." And he pulled out a large and ungainly cell phone and tried to call him. But the call, alas, did not go through.

Told you it was pointless.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:03 AM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Last night's episode was terrible. Makes me want to watch the early series again though. And I'll be watching the next two episodes desperately hoping that they get better.

And, yes, superimposed channel branding text is evil. It's like what all the social media people keep saying: do something interesting and you don't have to advertise or 'brand' yourself.
posted by tommorris at 11:59 AM on April 11, 2009


All six of my nipples are tingling WITH... wait, that's not delight, is it? Is that shame? BABY I DON'T DO SHAME.

Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish. Fish.
posted by loquacious at 12:30 PM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The first episode is waiting for me to watch on my PVR, so I can't opine on it one way or the other yet; I heard that this special was supposed to be a 2-parter that was then stretched to create a 3-parter. Hopefully the special will pick up over the 2nd and 3rd episodes.

For the love of smeg, I hope it does. Many, many fond memories of this series.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 12:48 PM on April 11, 2009


The first episode was merely lacklustre; tonight's 2nd episode was awful. As bad as the lowest points of the later series.

/comic book guy
posted by WPW at 1:49 PM on April 11, 2009


Red Drawf is the television series most like potato chips. After watching an episode, you feel like that was kind of fun. It's not entirely filling, but after one episode you want to watch just one more. One afternoon later you realize that you've eaten the entire bag and you aren't sure how you feel about that.
posted by cotterpin at 2:15 PM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I loved Red Dwarf. I loved the idea of being trapped in space with your most annoying coworker with no hope of reprieve. It wasn't GREAT TELEVISION, but it was fun.

I still sing the 'I'm gonna eat you little fishie!' song on occasion when I am about to feast upon some fish.
posted by winna at 2:31 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Once they made what's-her-face (it's been a while) a full character, that was basically it for me. It misses the fundamental point of the first few series: Boredom, yearning, despair.

If they're going to bring back the dead love interest, they might as well set those episodes in Fiji.

It's like, the song in the end credits is there for a reason, y'know?

Smegheads.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:47 PM on April 11, 2009


WPW: "As I remember, there is a brief appearance by another living cat in the first series - a very elderly, dying one. And the books fill in the blanks: Lister's original cat was pregnant when the crew died (so no need for breeding partner), and the radiation leak that killed the crew accelerated the cats' evolution."

There also was an episode that was supposed to center on the Cat, with a female Cat appearing and the male one going into some kind of Pon-Farr-sex-fever thing; it's included as a narrated storyboard on one of the DVD collections.

And yes, I... acquired the first episode of the new series, and it's been - well, not really good. For one thing I also hated that stupid "Dave Brand New" logo hovering intrusively smack dab in the middle of things; and some of the CGI effects didn't fit really well with the low-budget, hand-puppets-and-milk-carton sets that seemed left over from the old series. I knew there had to be some compromises in style and layout with the show moving away from the Beeb, but still...

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW ***

But that aside, what really got my goat was that there was no real connection to the old series - it ended, as we all remember, with one of the greatest cliffhangers of all time; and the new series starts out with - well, basically nothing. Kryten, Rimmer (hard-light, Gazpacho soup version), Cat, and of course Lister are alone aboard the Red Dwarf. What happened to the other crew members, Kochanski, Holly? We never get to know. How did they stop the imminent destruction of Red Dwarf? Never mentioned. Even worse, later on another(!) hard-light(!) hologram shows up and introduces herself as a science officer, outranking Rimmer and taking command. Wasn't it established that the ship's computer could only sustain one hologram? And as she shows up immediately after the crew watches some kind of interdimensional monster disappear into thin air (and they have plenty of experience with shape-changers), why isn't anyone skeptical of her sudden unexplained appearance?

I'm sorry, but at least this first episode didn't work for me on a whole lot of levels; there were some nice moments, but too much of it just wasn't... well, Red-Dwarf-y enough for my taste.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 4:05 PM on April 11, 2009


Red Dwarf is awesome.

I hope these are too, but I'm worried.
posted by koeselitz at 4:22 PM on April 11, 2009


That was the suckiest press-release-masquerading-as-news I've ever read. I don't expect entertainment news to be especially insightful but they really didn't need to copy the publicity material so slavishly. I could feel my mind rotting a little every time I encountered one of their exclamation marks. Tell me, is there any excuse for these?

I walk up those cobbles five days a week and all of a sudden I'm walking up dressed in leather with a robot! laughs Charles.
...
It can get quite mind-melting, especially when you're 300 degrees and your head's covered in rubber!
...
One of my costumes is inspired by Mama Mia and the other by Strictly Come Dancing!


One of the high points of the show is Craig-Charles-as-Lister appearing on the set of Coronation Street, a long-running soap opera in which Craig Charles has a different role. What larks. This is presumably to catch the crossover potential between the people who watch cheap SciFi and those who watch ancient soapies. The funny thing, if there is a funny thing in all this, is that Brits are actually paying for this crap to be produced.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:54 PM on April 11, 2009


Brace yourself... (<< the Craig Charles on crack link)

Not much worse than Lister's vindaloo addiction!
posted by Mael Oui at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2009


Not much worse than Lister's vindaloo addiction!

I always want to say that TV doesn't influence me, but the first time I went to an Indian restaurant, what do you think I ordered? I had no idea what a vindaloo was, but felt compelled. Good thing I didn't know about the whole crack thing then...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:22 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there some dubious sex thing a few years back as well?
posted by Artw at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2009


Probably to do with some battle robot.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2009


Art: Yeah, I was leaving that one alone, but yes. There was a certain "John Leslie" moment...
posted by Brockles at 8:42 PM on April 11, 2009


Wasn't there some dubious sex thing a few years back as well?

Not Guilty
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:02 AM on April 12, 2009


You know, I read that Daily Mirror link, and whoever ratted out Craig Charles is a fucking dick. What the hell does some random reporter care if Craig Charles wants to smoke crack?

Besides, I thought the whole point of America was to give the Brits an opportunity to get rid of their Puritans. Looks like some hung around, after all.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:44 AM on April 12, 2009


Specifically, I'm talking about this part :

The Mirror will be making its dossier of evidence available to police.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2009


It does sound like The Mirror might be responsible for saving Craig from himself. Call it an intervention.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2009


whoever ratted out Craig Charles is a fucking dick.

From a recent interview:
He had, he claims, already booked himself into the Priory when the photographs were published. "I was going to take time off work and sort myself out. But my driver knew my family were all moving up to Manchester, so he'd be out of a job. He'd been with me for three years. So he sold the story. He got 30 grand for it.

"It's not that much, is it?" he adds bleakly. "Not for your soul".
posted by ninebelow at 12:08 PM on April 12, 2009


the 3rd part is better. but it should just have been an hour long special.
posted by fistynuts at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2009


It's a good day to be an sf fan!

I am as far from a sf fan as it is possible to be, but I did once stumble on the original show and liked it quite a lot. The the extent of making a point of seeing more of it. Here's hoping it lives up to high hopes
posted by IndigoJones at 5:58 PM on April 12, 2009


Just finished watching all three; they are about average as episodes go IMO. Worth seeing if one is at all a fan.
posted by Mitheral at 11:58 PM on April 14, 2009


Just finished watching all three; they are godawful, I don't understand why they bothered making them, and as a fan I recommend that you avoid at all costs. God. Awful.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 AM on April 15, 2009


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