Twenty-four years after the first series aired and over three years since the disappointing mini-series Back to Earth was broadcast, Red Dwarf has returned to our screens for the long-awaited Series X. But after the previous lacklustre comeback and thirteen years since the last proper series, has time been kind to Red Dwarf and its characters?
Beginning with the original gang of Lister (Craig Charles), Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) and Cat (Danny John-Jules) once again on Red Dwarf, minus Kochanski and the rest of the crew– with no mention of the big cliffhanger at the end of Series VIII – we find Rimmer still being tortured by his lack of authority. But years of resentment and self-hatred coupled with the discovery of the abandoned ship, Trojan, leads to an unlikely reunion with his overachieving brother, Howard (Mark Dexter).
For fans of Red Dwarf, the anticipation for Series X has been building for well over a year, and while this first episode is probably not the strongest of the new six-part run, it has the traits and the humour that made the original series so groundbreaking. The audience and laughter track return, as do the puerile jokes and toilet humour that were missing from Back to Earth (although sadly, there is no sign of Holly). The core characters, too, remain unchanged by time, in terms of drive and personality, although the jokes about waiting on hold for useless products seem a little out of place.
However, the question remains, is Red Dwarf X a good enough follow-up to the earlier, and much-loved episodes that preceded it? To be honest it’s probably too soon to tell. While this episode continues the franchise’s attempts to subvert the sci-fi and comedy genres, can Lister et al still disgust and entertain with their adventures and personal hygiene? Perhaps, although, with Red Dwarf now far from being the only British sci-fi series on air, is it ever going to be as groundbreaking as it once was? Does the emphasis on better special effects belittle the work of the early years?
These questions all remain to be answered, but Trojan is an episode that frequently displays sparks of the wit and the originality that made the series so remarkable, and for that all involved must be congratulated.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 4th October 2012 on Dave.
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