Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #39: Red Dwarf: Back to Earth (2009)

It was a long wait for Red Dwarf fans. Series VIII ended in 1999. Over the ten year gap Dwarfers grew jaded (if they had not already been so) and milled about in great and murderous street gangs, causing mischief and violence wherever they went. Hanging out in vindaloo joints. Drinking lager. Smoking kippers. Petting cats. Vacuuming. You know, British things. When they heard that a new installment of their beloved Red Dwarf was on the way, they returned to their old homes and waited. When it came, they seemed mostly disappointed. But while many of my kin thought Back To Earth was crap, I actually thought it was pretty good. Maybe they liked the old days with the laugh track best.

The show has always had a dramatic leaning, and has preferred to construct characters with some real pathos. Their dynamics and psychologies have been the crux of the show to satisfying and impressive effect. Back To Earth decided to get a bit heavier on that element and present Dwarf fans with a little less comedy and a lot more emotional closure, in case this would end up being the very last of the Red Dwarf crew's adventures. As I've heard it, there's more on the way, and I'm glad for it.

Back To Earth's plot leads from an old and favourite episode from an earlier season, which might be awkward fan service to some, but comes to serve more as a useful and somewhat eerie contrast between the vibe of the earlier series and its current incarnation. This episode's filled with Blade Runner references, and the set work and scene recreations are fun to pick out and ponder in terms of their relationship to the characters. Oh, they visit the Coronation Street pub as well. It all gets pretty meta, which is of course often very trite in television, but in this case, works reasonably well.

So: If you like Red Dwarf and its characters, you really should give it a shot. If you've never seen any Red Dwarf and like sci-fi and laughter, you've got a lot of joy heading your way.

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