Red Dwarf is a show that’s close to my heart, it was often quoted in the playground, I also took my school nickname from it (not through choice I might add, but as my name is Duane, well it speaks for itself) but most importantly it’s a show that my partner and I watch over and over again, in fact, she struggles to sleep at night unless we’ve left it playing in the background. It’s return to TV thanks to Dave has been a bit of a mixed bag, but even so, when the crew get the word out that they’re working on a new series, we both get a little excited. Add in that it was going to be “feature-length” after decades of rumours about a Red Dwarf movie (and an ill-fated attempt to make an American version of the show, don’t Google it, it’s atrocious), plus they then said it would be released on April 9th, my OH’s birthday, and everything was set for a good night in front of the TV.
But was it?
Well, yes and no.
Plot-wise, it was a bit all over the place. A bunch of Cats who still believe in Cloister (having never met Lister unlike The Cat, who we must remember remained behind on Red Dwarf as he was a bit stupid, though not as stupid as his “jelly-brained” father who chewed his own paws off) are being chased by their “Feral Leader” who is trying to squash the cats who believe in the Holy Poppadom. The small group of religious cats escape and send out a distress beacon, which is picked up by Red Dwarf and from there we’re treated to something I’d describe as a Greatest Hits of Red Dwarf.
Throughout the entire thing, we obviously get lots of dialogue discussing Lister not being the deity the Cats believe him to be (“The End”), them expecting miracles of him and the crew bundling through every obstacle placed before them that only intensifies the moggies belief. Holly returns, with Norman Lovett returning to the role, except he’s been rebooted and now does everything by the book then later returning to the Holly we know and love (“Queeg” but Holly also changed from being portrayed by Norman Levvet to Hattie Haydridge and back again during its original run). Rimmer becomes a better version of himself and also goes through some heavy self-reflection (“Holoship” and any episode with Ace Rimmer), I could go on.
As fans of the show would expect, its finest moments come when the crew in confined area’s. Kryten pulling out the Haynes manual for Starbug may remind me of “But we’d have to change the lightbulb” but it still properly cracked me up and Lister having a heart to heart with Rimmer harks back to Lister having a similar conversation with Cat about realising how much he needed Rimmer (though the two will never admit it to each other) and Lister’s dream about him returning.
The thing is though, whilst it all doesn’t feel fresh, it does work and the cast pull off their performances as comfortably as you’d expect. Besides, after all this time, who could really complain about the show going down the route of rehashing some of its finest moments? I certainly can’t. That’s not to say it’s a laugh a minute, and at two hours (including ad-breaks) it does begin to out-stay its welcome just a little, though that could also be a symptom of my partner and I normally being about ready for bed at around half past 10.