Monday, December 12, 2011

Red Dwarf--"Back to Earth"

“Back to Earth” is a three part revival series made in 2009, a full ten years after the show ended. I have refereed to it as a miniseries before, but the new series set to air in 2012 is becing called the tenth, so back to earth is officially the ninth series. The eighth series cliffhanger is disregarded, as is apparently other bits of continuity. Rimmer is a hologram again, for instance. Nevertheless, ‘Back to Earth” is a love letter to fans with its numerous references to past episodes. Maybe a little too many, in fact.

The story opens nine years later. Kochansky is dead and holly has been damaged by a flood caused running a faucet left running for nearly a decade. Otherwise, the crew is older and more hardened, but still kicking. They are suffering from a water shortage. They discover the problem is a giant squid that has taken refuge in the water tank. The Dwarfers, sans Rimmer, dive into the tank in order to kill the squid, but barely escape with their lives. Once on the surface, the squid apparently vanishes--a big hint as to what it is--and a hologram, Katrina Bartikowski, appears. She is a former science officer on Red Darf. she announces she is going to shut down Rimmer to replace him. Her first mission is to open a rift to another universe to find a mate for Lister so they can revive the human race.

The rift sucks the Dwarfers into the real world of 2009 where Re d Dwarf is a television show. They learn that “Back to Earth” will be their final appearance, so they need to track down the creator of the show to beg for their lives. They swipe a copy of the DVD from a department store and follow the chapters to where they are supposed to go. Along the way, the meet crazed fans, Lister actor Craig Charles, and the creator himself in an over the top homage to Blade Runner.

The truth, which was hinted at by the squid’s disappearance, is this is all an illusion created by a relative of the despair squid the Dwarfers encountered years ago. This squid feeds off joy instead of sorrow, so it tempts Lister, heartbroken over the death of Kochansky, with the prospect of a relationship with actress Chloe Annett. He resists after learning the real kochansky way be alive back in reality. The Dwarfers return to their reality, wherein cat reveals he brought the squid onboard years ago in order to eat it.

“Back to Earth” relies heavily on nostalgia and tweaking obsessive science fiction geeks for laughs. The former would probably mean more if I had not spent the last seven weeks watching the show on a daily basis, but the former got a few knowing laughs out of me. I was mostly applying the gags to comic book geeks I have met over the years, but the analogy holds up. One definitely needs to be well versed in Red Dwarf lore to find much of the show funny. It helps to know about Craig charles’ unfortunate troubles with the law and substance abose, as well as Chloe Annett’s post-Red Dwarf. the final fifteen minutes or so is a direct homage to Blade Runner. I confess to not being a big fan of the film, so the alleged cleverness bypassed me completely.

Overall, I thought “{Back to Earth” was fun, but not very original. A despair squid, dimension jumping, and meeting alternate versions of the Dwarfers has been done numerous times throughout the show’s history. It is one thing to pepper the story with references to the past. It is something else to lift entire plot elements from past episodes and pass them off as something new. Still, it was fun to see most of the cast again. It was enough of a pleasure for me to loook forward to series ten. “Back to Earth” successfully revived the show, so it did its job.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment