Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Do mechanoids dream of electric skutters?

Red Dwarf Back to Earth: caught episode 3 tonight and was pleasantly surprised - perhaps there actually was a point to this exercise after all. While TV characters entering the real world and tracking down their creator is not an original concept by any means, this final episode actually managed to wring some decent comedy from the situations, while the many nods to "the show's original inspiration", Blade Runner, were welcome and, if not bringing actual depth, at least added some perspective and dimension to the show. Two of these scenes, the crew fleeing for their life through a Chinatown market and the appearance of Kochanski as Rachael, were also beautifully filmed.

While the concept for this three-off appears embarrassingly contrived, it's consistent with Red Dwarf past episodes that have brought the crew back to Earth temporarily in a variety of ways - from the slides taking them back to the mansion of the Tension Sheet inventor, through the Backwards contracting universe scenario, to the classic episode Better than Life - Back to Earth is in some ways a remake of the latter.
I was trying to work out whether Red Dwarf was really inspired by Blade Runner. There aren't too many obvious connections! However after tonight I'm willing to give the Grant Naylor gestalt the benefit of the doubt, because a) inspiration can be as lateral as you like, and b) it's one of those things that would be cool if it were true.


Tom said...

(A quick search for a 'sci-fi blog' and I find one written by someone who watches all the same tv i do, whodathunkit?...)

I watched all 3 recent Red Dwarf episodes out of loyalty, but I really didn't enjoy them.

Back when Red Dwarf was good all the humour stemmed from who the characters were: in Better Than Life, Rimmer was so unpleasant that his own subconscious wouldn't allow him to be happy. In Dimension Jump Ace Rimmer was funny because he was so different to the real Rimmer.

Since series 7 that depth of character has gone, replaced with bad slapstick. It just isn't funny any more.

The ending of the 3 parter redeemed the rest slightly, at least in the show's reality they aren't really fictional characters, which would have devalued the characters even further. But really, if Doug Naylor doesn't know how bad his writing is now, why isn't someone telling him?

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Thanks for your comment Tom. I think you've hit the nail on the head with the characters, particularly Rimmer. Also the early episodes really played on the Cat's feline attributes - eating fish, doing stuff in cupboards, marking territory etc, while in later episodes he's just vain. When Red Dwarf was good it was very very good.