Thursday, April 09, 2009

And so the saga continuums

Dear god does it...Take a guess what I've been watching with my recet spare time!

Bt we shall continue. I consider it a target now!

Series 3

Seriously, how many people tried to read the star wars crawl no matter how fast it got? And how many went back and froze it when they got the video?

The changes are dramatic here, and the show becomes the Red Dwarf that most people consider the peak period. They've changed bunk-room to something glossier, we get Starbug, a rock theme, the Canadian-voiced version of Kryten and the permanent female Holly. There's effects, monsters, science...Tis is where the show moved to the (relaively speaking) mainstream.

But the writing didn't suffer - far from it, now there was someone other than Lister who could touch something and could be bothered to do so in Kryten, and the exposition could now be split between Holly and the newcomer, thus removing the curious situation of Holly having a low IQ yet being able to explain things like future echoes, the Holly-hop drive, the power calculations to run two holograms.

Look-wise not just the sets had been polished. Rimmer got the second of his multiple iconic costumes as captain emerald (although thank got the hat didn't appear that much!), Cat has clearly stepped up the fashion stakes with the costumes (and is clearly more part of the group than ever before), and Lister is now in the leathers and fuzzy cap that everybody remembers him for. The colours of the new set and budget are caried into the costumes, and the show seems to gain a spring in the step from it.

At the same time you have to note that this series came out around the same time as the first novel - "Infinity welcomes careful drivers". Why? Because when that book came out it retold the story of the first two series...with a few differences. In that Lister had dated Kochanski. Rather than a crew of 169 (of which he WAS number 169) there were now 1,169 (of which he was number 1,169 - still bottom of the barrel). The century of the show's origin changed. And gradually, all these changes made their way into the show itself. Some say that the crawl implies that we're looking at another dimension, who knows...?

Backwards“It’s not a bar-room brawl, it’s a bar room tidy! Un-rumble!”
“Booties down!”

A fan favourite, and deservedly so. One of the most traditionally sci-fi concepts the show had handled to that date, with some brilliant concepts and word-play. Llewellyn fits in perfectly, the first scene with him sets up the new take on both his character and the newer Holly so well. Probably the least convincing prosthetic head though - so little movement or expression compared to later years.

The Cameraderie between Cat and Lister really started to come alive in this series - right from the opening classic discussion. Until now, Cat had been a reluctant part of the team, there but always separate. Now we started to see him and Lister interact in their leisure time as well as during key moments.

Backwards earth is so simply realised, yet so effective. just a few simple reverse shots causing a few nauseating yet effective moments (the cafe one's particularly more nauseating when you run them forwards in your head, actually), a great adlibbed fanboy rant by Arthur Smith, and srely the most eye-watering punchline of any show ever.

The "glossy" era of Red Dwarf had arrived!

Best moment: What a way to start...Wilma Flintstone!

“I was Alexander the Great’s chief eunuch.”
“Kryten, fetch the hacksaw!”

So often the mark of a show is when it can make a fantastic "bottle" episode - Soaps like Eastenders do them with one or two characters just stuck together in a single location for a while. They alow for character development, revelaton, and really show the actor's talent off.

But sitcoms don't do that. Where are the laughs in a dramatic episode? Where's the action? The slapstick? And don't forget, these guys aren't actrs - they're poets, dancers, comedians.

But this works. It really does. We think we know all about Lister and Rimmer, but by stripping the pair of them of everything, we get to see more of them - how they cope with their situation, with each other. We get to understand just how analy anoracky Rimmer actually is - Napoleon's Armee du Nord, his father's Camphor-wood chest (echoing back to "better than life") - and just what importance Lister's guitar, becoming ever more part of the character, actually holds to him.

For me, probably the best episode of the series. So simple, yet so effective.

Best moment: “Now I know why dogs lick their testicles – it’s to get rid of the taste of the food!”

“Let’s get out there and twat it!”
“This isn’t a meal, it’s an autopsy!”

Finally we get a "monster of the week" story - but in true Red Dwarf style there's still no alien. The Polymorph is the first of a long tradition of Genetically Engineered Life Forms (GELFs) over the shows next few years.

It's such a great idea too. It changes shape, so it can be any number of comic items - a killer kebab??? - and you don't need a fully mobile model to realise it, plus it allows for different takes on each of the characters. And whilst conscience-free Kryten and Down and out Cat are great in themselves, again the spotlight falls on the two leads. And even though Craig Charles as the ultra-agrressive Lister utters one of the most famous "destined for t-shirts" lines in history with "Let's get out there and twat it" (I still have mine to this day) it's Beatnick Rimmer
who steals the show.

And we also get our first sight of the weapon of choice for Red Dwarf - the Bazookoid. But seriously, would you let ANY of this lot near a gun? Especially one with long-life heat-seeking rounds?

Best moment: “The committee for the liberation and integration of terrifying organisms and their rehabilitation into society...only one drawback, the abbreviation is CLITORIS” – even if you didn’t know what it meant, the whole delivery made you understand just what they were getting at!

“No more troughing!”
“Why do you want to look like that smeghead Rimmer?”

Apparently, we never really got to see the best version of this one - during filming, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie - never the best of friends in those days - were doing viciously accurate impressions of each other for the scenes where they played each other in their own bodies.

It's still a good litte idea - Rimmer has been ethereal since his death, so now he can touch what will he do? Ok, so you have to ignore his simulated ability to taste from "Thanks for the Memory" (The expression certainly suggests he can taste in that one) and his brief corporeal moments in "Better Than Life", but the idea holds.

The whole thing comes, of course, from one of the last appearances for a long time of one of the original crew...Bob the skutter, aka "stabbim". It was due to how many problems they had controlling it, but it showed that just a brief cameo could work so well.

Best bit: The self destruct scene at the start

“Hello Sabrina, hello sexual extacy!”
“Unpack Rachel, and get out the puncture repair kit!”

Quirky...mutated photo development fluid. At the same time, like Rimmer's "Tribute" video tape, a sign of the pre-digital era the show was made in.

The idea has a few good angles to it. The ability to go anywhere you have a photo, the limitations of the frame, off-the-wall moments like the Neuremberg Rally, and the question of how much you can affect history - timelines be damned!

It's great to see that Lister was still Lister, even with money and a life of luxury. But one question I have is who took a picture of boys sleeping in Bonehead's dorm room?

Best moment: I want to say it's Rachel - a moment that has lived in the show's folklore and spawned later jokes of it's own - but just for the delivery, I'm saying it's Holly and Rimmer working out what has changed to make the others disappear – “It’s my duty as a complete and utter bastard!”

The Last Day
“Where do all the calculators go?”
“I think I feel a Jackson Pollock coming on!”
“You’re forbidden passion fruit.”

So THAT's what Rob Llewellyn looks like! Hands up anyone who, eve when the episode was over, ddn't realise that was part of the joke back then? (puts hand up!)

It really was the start of an annual trend - getting to see Kryten sans prosthetics as a suporting character. With it being the end of the series as well, it was not guaranteed that he would be coming back, so in true "end of series" style, we get a story of the last hours of a character's life. And this is Kryten's episode.

And he remains at his most neurotic throughout, his feelings about the locaton of his "leaving do" and his repair schedule the next morning bookmark his journey of self-exploration (or, as Lister puts it, "star trek whacko-jacko").

And then there's Hudzen, the replacement. Gordon kennedy's steely-faced performance is so eerily evil that only the most insane of ideas could stop him. Cue "Silicon heaven"!

A strong send-off to a strong season

Best Moment: Hudzen’s analysis of the crew status

I will be back, I will finish this - even if the Back To Earth DVD is out before I get to it!

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