Red Dwarf X – First Impressions.
How many Red Dwarf fans does it take to change a light bulb? The same as it does for Doctor Who fans – none, they just sit around and wait for it to come back on by itself!
I have this love / hate relationship with Red Dwarf, if I’m honest. I’ll level with you, I’ve never really found it all that funny. Yeah, from time to time I will titter, chortle and occasionally gafaw, but never have I had a truly belly aching laugh with the show. I suppose that you could say that I find it amusing at best.
What attracted me to the show was first of all (and foremost) the physical model effects and the set design, then later on, Robert Llewellyn as the android, Kryten. There’s just something about Robert in the way that despite all the rubber that he’s encased in, he still manages to get bucket loads of expressions through that mask of his, then there’s his gait and voice. You really have to watch him in action to see what I mean, trying to explain it to you here would be about as effective as trying to describe a spiral stair case without wildly flailing yer arms about.
So then, last night on the “Dave” channel, Red Dwarf came back after a long period of … rest. 13 years I think it’s been now, I could be wrong. I’m not including the “Back to Earth” trilogy from a few years back. I only manged to catch about half of that and really, that was all I needed before I gave up. Come on now, it was crap and I’m fairly certain that the cast would agree.
I’m not going to review series ten, there’s plenty of places on the Interwebz where you can find such pieces, I’m simply going to give you my initial impression of what I saw. My verdict? Yeah, it was pretty good. It seemed to go back to its roots without getting bogged down in continuity – which I can barely remember at all anyway, so that was a good move on the writer’s part. No, they just dived straight in as if there hadn’t been a break – and quite right too. Why dwell on it? It’d just get in the way and you’d have to have some really contrived dialogue to crowbar the notion in.
The sets were very effective, quite modern in feel without being a huge departure from what’d gone before. They’re still using that scrap pile look, pioneered in the “Alien” film, so they’re carrying on that vibe to excellent effect. The model work was a treat too, for the most part it appeared to be physical models with the odd CG element added in here and there for garnish. I think that I’d read somewhere that the Red Dwarf ship itself was the original that’d been refurbished by William Pearson‘s crew, if true, that’s a bonus. The only thing that I wasn’t sure about is this ring thing at the rear booster end. Had that always been there? I don’t recall it, but seeing it there, I thought that it looked a little odd – sort of out of balance to the rest of the structure.
Above. The ship in question before the cameras. Doesn’t it look nice? Apart from that stupid ring at the back there… Bleurrrgghhhh!
And here is the very talented Steve Howarth working on the model. The look of concentration on his face says it all.
If you’re interested in model work, then I would highly recommend Steve’s own site:
What about the cast then? Well, it’s clear that just over a decade has passed by since we last saw them and naturally they do look older, as you’d imagine. Had the series not taken a break, we probably wouldn’t have noticed at all and to be frank, it really doesn’t matter either. The crew are back and that’s it. Dare I say it though, but Kryten doesn’t half look haggard in some shots and there were some really unflattering angles used in last night’s episode.
There’s something about the mask that doesn’t look right to me too, these days it just doesn’t seem to favour Robert’s face. I think too much of the nape of his neck is on show and where the prosthetic meets the eyes really could be looked at again. In several sequences, poor Robert looked as if he was having a stroke as the mask just sagged – maybe it hadn’t been applied properly or was simply coming unstuck. Who knows.
Talking about the lovable Kryten, here’s a thought.
Kryten has been “upgraded”. Has there been a cross over episode with Doctor Who that I’ve missed where Kryten gets partially converted into a Cyberman? Look at him from the chest down. Maybe they use the same stylist, darling. Oh, they look sensational – it’s all the rage this season.
Oh and by the way, here’s Robert Llewellyn’s blog. You can find his YouTube channel and wotnot through here too:
Right then, that’s enough from me. I’ll be tuning in next week to Red Dwarf because I really do think that it’s very good, much better than the last few seasons of the show, so that’s a huge bonus.
Over and out.